Why Your Reasons for Demanding a Tip are Wrong

Waiters are understandably upset about why I don’t tip and have given many illogical reasons in support of this ridiculous practice. Here’s a rebuttal of the most common ones.

Bullshit 1: We only Pay for the Food. Service is Extra

The menu price doesn’t include just the cost of preparing the food and paying the chef. It includes the restaurant setting, the tables, the cutlery, the effort and investment that the restaurant owner has put into the dining area. Now guess what? Since I’m paying for it, the restaurant has to give it to me. And how do they accomplish this?

Waiters. Ding ding!

See without waiters, the restaurant has no way of delivering the dining experience to me that I’m paying for. I’m paying for sitting down in a nice place. I’m paying for the air conditioning. I’m paying for the nice tablecloth and for my food to be delivered to me in a reasonable time. The menu price covers all this. Waiters are just the restaurant’s way of bringing me my food. Of fulfilling their part of the contractual obligation.

Bottom line. Servers are not independent contractors. They’re not an “extra” that you have to pay for. By hook or crook, the restaurant needs to deliver the product. Whether they use waiters or conveyor belts (a term that many seem to object to), is not my business. I don’t care. The waiters can just melt into the background and let me enjoy my food in peace. If the menu includes free refills or whatever, then waiters are required to deliver that as well. Why? Because…wait for it….I paid for it!

Bullshit 2: It’s the custom. It’s ‘merica!

Yeah right. You do realize that not all customs are created equal don’t you? Slavery was a “custom” back in the day and so was race and sexual discrimination. Anyone with an ounce of integrity does what they feel is right. There are many harmless customs in the world like bowing instead of shaking hands, or using chopsticks instead of forks etc that are morally neutral. It really makes no difference if you follow them or not.

But tipping? Hell no! It’s not morally neutral. If you get better service because you’re a good tipper, then you’re essentially paying a bribe to servers to get them to do their job properly next time. All customs have a limit. And tipping is such a convenient custom isn’t it? Hell, I wish I had a custom in place for people to just throw money at me.

And just in case someone feels I don’t appreciate the US, there are many great things about this country that I love and I’ve blogged about repeatedly. Freedom of expression, the way Americans show respect to their armed forces, the politeness of people as you walk by on the road, the work culture, the individuality.

I just don’t like tipping. It’s not as if a person has to blindly accept everything in a country without judgment. There are good things. And there are bad things. Just like everywhere else.

Bullshit 3: The cost of food will increase dramatically

Someone needs to do basic math. Increasing the price of food to pay minimum wage to waiters will not double the price of food. Some have even gone so far to claim that it’ll increase 4-5 times. Ridiculous. Totally, utterly ridiculous. Let’s dissect this rubbish.

As an example, I’ll take Chili’s. A waitress at Chili’s was so kind as to comment saying that the price of food at her restaurant will increase by 3 times – $30 for a $10 burger. Using the statistics she herself gave in her comment, there are 12 waiters (at full capacity) who need to be paid minimum wage. That’s $5 extra per hour per waiter making it a net total of $60 per hour that has to be added to the price of food on a full day.

$60/hr? For 12 waiters. That’s it! It’s peanuts. If you assume even that each waiter is serving just four tables. That’s $5 an hour extra they have to make from four tables. Even if we say that each table sits for a massive two hours, the extra paid per table is way less than $5. On the total bill. Worst, worst case scenario.

You know what? Customers won’t even notice. So stop the garbage about the prices of food going up several times to pay minimum wage. It’s utter nonsense. The only reason waiters don’t want this system in place is because they earn a hell of a lot more than than minimum wage using our tips. And they come across as the victims.

Waiters are Struggling Mothers/Students

Look, it’s not as if I don’t have sympathy for those who struggle in life. I just don’t think it’s my problem. And I specially don’t like it being impinged upon me. Generosity is one thing. Having money demanded from you is something totally else. Any tip I give is out of the generosity of my heart and I expect some gratitude for helping those in need. It’s not something I have to do since…refer to Myth 1.

Bottom line: Socially mandated tipping is a scam. I can’t believe how intelligent people have been hoodwinked into it. Probably because they like to come across as “nice” people and feel sorry for servers who hover around looking expectantly. Well, I find that irritating and I won’t buy into it.

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  1. While i vehemently disagree I understand your pov. Basically your goings with a “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” mentality. I agree if tipping spontaneously ceased it would not bring the food industry crashing down; it would simply leave the US waiter system as one only upscale restaurants (where tipping is usually required and worked into the bill) would use. All lower tier joints would be forced to become buffets which you admitted you prefer.
    I will say you should avoid restaurants with waiters knowing you won’t tip if you can. People who don’t eat out are frugal or cheap for whatever reason which is fine.Those who “Dine and dash” are screwing everyone over which makes them scum, but they’re crooks acting like crooks.
    Paying the establishment but not your server? That’s just bad form. It may be a cultural norm you disagree with and thats fine. But by tricking waiters into serving you for free you are basically a parasite. I don’t think you’re correct about owners being legally required to pay minimum wage; I do know most don’t.
    It is a system set up by the greedy which preys on those too unfortunate to pursue other options. Thats not your doing, but your philosophy only awards the amoral. To be fair, more liberal minded do the same by shopping at WalMart – albeit to a much lesser degree.
    Long story short: stick to buffets, or kindly inform waiters upfront you dont’t beleive in tiiping, but do believe in gojng to management with complements or complaints…. and examine your food carefully.


  2. Good luck finding 5 waiters to wait tables for min wage with no tips, you show me a waitress that works every night and clears at minimum wage, and I’ll show you a waitress that is looking for a second job or a replacement job. Restaurants would have to pay $15-$20 an hour to keep a staff. That’s how you get a $30 hamburger.


  3. People will hate me, but I agree 100%.
    It IS in fact the responsibility of the owner to PAY THE PEOPLE HE IS EMPLOYING.
    Not mine, not yours, not anyone elses.

    I dont tip my mailman, or the delivery guy, or the girl at the grocery checkout counter.
    Why not?
    Because thats not my job, its not on me, and as the post said, should not be impinged upon me with an added helping of guilt.


  4. I felt the same way about tipping as the author does for a long time. I realized that the reason why tipping exists is that even people with no skills (most waiters/waitresses/actors/actresses) have to be motivated to do this kind of service work for any period of time beyond a few months. In any low wage job, there is a lot of turnover as the workers aren’t incentivized to keep at it because there is little upside – typically these people are not going to make more money and training them to do anything else is going to come at a cost to the employer, who has already invested significant capital into setting up a restaurant. Most low-wage jobs happen to be service jobs where low-skilled workers are dealing with people, and this is a tough thing to do, day in and out, driving many people to leave this type of work with astonishing frequency. Serving people can be awful. While there are lifer waiters/waitresses, customers expect to see quite a bit of turnover in these roles when visiting their favorite restaurants. When I was in college, I worked in retail prior to graduation, and working with the general public is something that I’m happy to never have to do again. Why do you think we make people with low skills work with the general public? Because the general public is mostly petty, demanding, entitled and stupid and people with more skills definitely won’t agree to do a job like that. If I were an owner of a high end restaurant, either I would pay more to the servers as they are one of the faces of the restaurant, as a customer’s experience at the restaurant is also colored by the service received, not only by the quality of the food, or I would explain in the menu that there is a separate charge for gratuity that will be calculated as a percentage of the bill (also unfair, but that’s a simple solution). Right now, I see that restaurants are reluctant to impose a required gratuity rule as they feel that some of the decision of how much to tip should be left to the customer’s discretion based on the service the customer received. When restaurants do this, if a customer is upset about the service, the restaurant has effectively maintained an arm’s-length from having to be responsible for the waiter’s poor service, which is also shitty. A restaurant can keep a customer and fire a bad waiter. The waiter is also put into a tough spot by having to behave as an independent contractor without any of the autonomy of an independent contractor (and no commensurate ability to command wages like an independent contractor – you can’t be an independent contractor if your work isn’t in demand). I don’t like the restaurant chickening out like this when they back away from paying the server what they should because it places the burden of an additional transaction, separate from the meal, onto the customer. Personally, I think the restaurants should just build in the amount of money it would required to entice someone with low skills to work at a job like this for an extended period of time into the cost of the dish. Most restaurants won’t, which means that the waiter/waitress will shake you down for tips even though their skills don’t justify the additional compensation – they should feel thankful that they even have a job, let alone one that will allow them to benefit from the kindness of strangers even though their skills are rudimentary. One day, Silicon Valley will figure out how to make robots do this job and people without skills will receive the greatest tip of all, a guaranteed minimum income set by the government.


    • In reply to Raina

      I am a single mother and was raised in Christian faith and by a very good family. I enjoy the restaurant industry and have been working in it for almost 12 years. I am a kind and humble person. I have a college education and was raised by a family of teachers. I named my son after my grandfather who had his Ph.D. In the science of teaching. I am very insulted that you said multiple times that people working in the restaurant industry have low skills. You and the people you agree with are what is wrong with this world and it saddens me that I was even compelled to respond to your arrogant remarks because I a low skilled server bartender shouldnt let assholes like you get the best of me. Gods peace.


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