The restaurant-lovers guide to tipping

Restaurant-lovers guide to tipping

Tipping your waiter after they’ve attended to your needs throughout the course of your meal is your choice. You are not obligated to leave a tip. But it’s a physically demanding job that requires excellent customer service, it’s a kind gesture that shows your appreciation.

They rely on that kind gesture more than you may realise.

Why do we tip?

The tip you leave your server is a way to thank them for their attentiveness and good service throughout your meal. Your tip is for that service, not for the food they brought out. If you didn’t like the food, leaving a bad tip only punishes the server. Remember, they had nothing to do with the food preparation.

If you have an issue with the meal itself, but the service was excellent, a generous tip for the server is still in order. You can, and should, address the problem with your actual meal with the manager after that.

How much should I tip?

It’s generally accepted that a 10% tip is the amount you should leave your server after a meal at a sit-down restaurant. A tip isn’t necessary if you’re having a takeaway and you’ve picked up your own food.2 You also aren’t obligated to throw change in the tip jar at takeaway tills, although it’s a nice gesture if you’re so inclined.

What if the service was poor?

There are lots of reasons why you might feel you didn’t get the kind of service you deserved, but leaving a poor tip — or worse, no tip at all — might not be the best course of action. It may feel good in the moment to stick it to the server, but remember that servers are human. They have bad days too, and often situations beyond their control can contribute to delays or long wait times. A far better course of action is to leave the minimum tip and then speak to the manager if there were long delays or you feel your server was rude or unhelpful. You might even get a free meal or some discounts out of it.

What if the food wasn’t good?

Food prep and quality isn’t the server’s responsibility, so they shouldn’t be penalised when food isn’t up to par. Tell your waiter if your food is cold, overcooked, or too salty, and give the restaurant a chance to make it right. If you’re still not satisfied with the food, tip your waiter for trying their best and then speak to the manager about the poor food quality.

What if we’re just having drinks at the bar?

In the UK it’s not necessary to tip a bartender, but if you get exceptionally good service it’s kind to offer a small sum. Tripsavvy recommends offering the price of half a pint of beer and saying something like, “have one for yourself.”

What should I tip when I’m travelling?

It’s good to remember that common tipping practices in your country may not be the same in other parts of the world. For example, in the UK you generally don’t tip at all if service is poor,3 and in many European countries, a service charge is automatically added to the bill, making tipping unnecessary.4 If you’re planning a trip to another country, make sure to do a bit of research so you don’t end up over- or under-tipping when you’re eating out.

When you can save money on products, services and attractions, you can comfortably leave room in your budget to leave good tips.  

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