Travel Blog


Restaurant Tip Reporting

Restaurant tips can vary a lot depending on the location. Also the quality of the food, the level of service, even the decor. As well as the customer who may or may not be feeling generous.  Restaurant tip reporting can vary depending on may factors. The average seems to be 15% for average service.  Some people feel obliged to tip as much as 20%. If you are either part of a large group, the restaurant will levy a tip of 18% regardless of the type of service that you receive.  In fact when the waiters and waitresses know they’re getting 18% quite often the level of service declines.

Some people tip much more just because they feel obliged to tip more. They are embarrassed and worried that the waiter will give them a bad look or create a scene, or bad service if they come back again.  Many people will leave no tip at all. Which actually is really bad form, particularly if you received excellent service and excellence for food.

Restaurant Tip Reporting – Sending a Message

Many tips are on credit cards and are just added onto the total bill.  In fact the credit card machines already have the amount calculated for you or a selection that you can pick in terms of the percentage amount or the dollar amount.  But what is the right way to tip and what you do if you want to send a message.

In the industry a 15% tip appears to be the average tip that is expected for average service, average food and average surroundings.  I like to think that to apply 5% to each of these categories is the right approach.  The waiter is in control of the level of service, and to some degree of making sure that your food arrives hot and is exactly what you ordered.  The quality of the food is up to the chef and the surroundings are really up to the owner.  Should you penalize the waiter by tipping less when the quality of the food is not great or the surroundings of the restaurant is not great?

Tip Preference

The writer prefers to tip 15% and then call the waiter aside to mention any comments or concerns that they might have.  If you did not like the food or the food was bad you should send it back.  If the surroundings and the quality are not what you would like, then you should not have gone there in the first place.  When the service is terrible and the food is terrible then definitely send a message by lowering the amount of the tip.  Some people have left a one penny tip just to send a serious message to the waiter and the staff.  I think a better approach is to call the manager or the maître d’ over and explain the situation.

Accounting is easy for tips since most of them are pre-calculated. Use the credit card machines and easily added at the end of the night.  These are on record and must be reported by the restaurant accounting.  But what about cash tips?  Can cash tips be somehow siphoned off to avoid the tax man?  Many tax agencies have now ruled that waiters and waitresses should receive 15% of the total food and bar take regardless of whether it was paid via credit cards or in cash.  There’s no getting away from the taxman.

Hiding Income

Many servers consistently receive more than 15% in tips. Most waiters and waitresses will hide that money and avoid paying tax on it where they can.  However once it gets into the system in terms of credit card receipts there is little they can do but to report this income.  If the servers are ever audited, there’s a good chance that they will pay much more in income tax.

In summary consumers should consider 15% average, 20 percent for excellent service and 10% for poor service. However we suggest that you call the waiter, the manager or the maître d’ over. Explain why you’re providing a lower tip.  This gives everyone a chance to improve their service the next time.

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