“I give God 10 percent. Why do you get 18?”
Some folks might recognize this statement from a 2013 Reddit post that went viral when a St. Louis, Missouri, Applebee’s tried to impose an automatic 18 percent tip to Alois Bell. Bell, the pastor of Truth in the Word Deliverance Ministries, crossed the tip amount out and scribbled these words across the top of the check.
The receipt passed to fellow server Chelsea Welch, who posted the check on the internet. In a blog post, Welch said she made $3.50 an hour. The tips she earned were split between the rest of the wait staff and then taxes were taken out. In the end, she made less than $9 an hour.
“I posted a picture to make people laugh, but now I want to make a serious point: Things like this happen to servers all the time,” Welch said on her blog. “People seem to think that the easiest way to save money on a night out is to skip the tip.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about tipping recently. Maybe it was because I recently got my nails done and I wasn’t sure what the correct total should be after a tip. I’m also trying to save money, and it’s tempting to skip out on the tip.
My mother waitressed for years to pay for her college and still has plenty of horror stories to tell me. Since I was young, it’s been instilled in me to tip generously. I’ve witnessed my friends rounding up a couple cents on the restaurant check for a tip. I’ve seen people tip a couple of dollars at hair studios. And while I understand that situations happen that make money tight, it makes me cringe. The tip is an expense that occurs when we go out. No exceptions.
So I did some research, and here’s what I found out:
Haircuts: 20 percent is the standard rate, and tip a couple extra dollars if the stylist washes your hair.
Nail salons: Also 20 percent, or 30 percent if your nail technician really spent a lot of time on designs or cuticle care.
Deliveries: Most delivery services use their own cars to bring you food. A good rule of thumb is 15 percent with a $3 minimum, maybe adding a couple extra dollars if he or she had to drive out very far to get to you.
Towing services: $5 is the minimum tip for a tow truck to help, whether you’re locked out, have a flat tire or need a tow. An extra dollar a mile is a good way to measure whether to add onto this or not.
And here are a few pointers for an average night out at a restaurant:
Waiters: Nowadays tip 20 percent is the standard if the waitress was good. A tip of 25-30 percent is expected for above-average service.
Splitting meals: With the economy being what it is, I see a lot of people splitting meals. That’s all well and good. But one person can order the same meal, require less attention and tip the same as you and your friend. You require more attention with both of your refills and unlimited chips. The bare minimum for tipping as a couple should be $5.
Paying rent: How many of us have sat around at a restaurant after getting a late-night dessert or snack and sipped our drinks and talked with our friends? It’s fun, but we are taking seats that paying customers could sit in, causing our waiter to lose some tips. If you want to chill out at a booth, I’d say you have to pay rent. By that I mean if you are enjoying yourself and costing the restaurant and your server money, then pay anywhere from an extra $10 to $20 an hour. Between you and your party, that’s not a lot to ask for having a good time out.
Remember, tipping is about expressing gratitude. It’s important to let the people who work hard know that you appreciate all they do.
Miranda Wilcox is the managing editor of the Anna-Melissa Tribune, the Prosper Press and the Van Alstyne Leader. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.