Should Restaurants Ban Bad Tippers?

Should Restaurants Ban Bad Tippers Should Restaurants Ban Bad Tippers?Tipping has been on my mind a lot lately. Yours, too, judging by the volume of comments we saw on Facebook when we raised the issue — not once, but twice. It’s on my mind again, as Slashfood’s Hanna Raskin reports on a restaurant (not on OpenTable) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that banned a bad tipper. It may sound harsh, but restaurants certainly aren’t the first businesses to fire their clients. In doing so, the restaurant’s management may have felt they were protecting their employees’ interests (and wages!).

What do you think? Did the restaurant go too far in showing the patron the door — permanently? And, did the diner in question go too far by retaining a lawyer? Share your thoughts on this touchy topic here or on Facebook.

31 Responses to “Should Restaurants Ban Bad Tippers?”

  1. Forchetta

    A tip is earned, not mandatory. A tip is based on the quality of service. Bad service results in a bad tip. Great service results in a great tip.

    The diner should not have hired a lawyer, but how ludicrous for the restaurant to ban a paying customer! If restaurants paid their wait staff fairly this wouldn’t be such an issue.

    To the wait staff, want a better tip, give better service. I have always found while waiting tables or bartending, that the friendlier and more attentive I was the better my tips were. You get what you give in this instance.

  2. Steve

    No. Tips are supposed to be voluntary and reflect the level of service, but none the less, voluntary. And, yes, I have worked as a tipped employee. It irritates me when I hear about places automatically adding tips to checks for the same reason. I hope she sues this place and takes them for whatever she can.

  3. Stephen

    As a server/bartender myself, I can see both sides. Yes, a tip is optional and based on the service given, but far too often a server will give impeccable service and only get a $2 tip on an expensive bill. What people need to realize is that good service does not mean good tip even though the reverse is true (typically — after all, who would tip well for crappy service?). Any server who says you’re not doing it right since you don’t get good tips is either a girl with big breasts or works in a fancy restaurant.

  4. DJZonta

    So we have one person here who is assuming the service was poor everytime (?) and another that thinks eating out is a right and if you are a cheap SOB, well, deal with it. I think there are many people out there so cheap they flatulate through their mouth. Yes, the restaurant dealt with it in the wrong way. They should have slowed her service to a snails pace and over cooked her food until it was leatherlike. 2 no-tippers go to a restaurant and after being served, the first tightwad says, “this food is terrible”, to which the other pennypincher respoded, ‘Yeah, and the portions are so small.”

  5. Fred

    No. Restaurants should not ban customers for not tipping. I agree that tips are earned. While I know there are some jerks that are too tight to tip appropriately, I believe most people tip based on their experience.
    I believe management has a roll to play by evaluating average tips based on tips placed on charge slips. Even though many tips are made in cash, monitoring how customers are tipping on charges would give managers a pretty good idea of how their servers are doing with customer service. A little positive education about proper tipping in the form of a menu note wouldn’t hurt anything.

  6. Ed

    Sure, let them ban bad tippers. If I receive poor service and leave a bad tip I probably won’t want to return.

  7. Dale

    If a patron leave a low/no tip for poor service, then they should not be banned. However, if a patron consistently gives poor/no tips for good service, then yes, they should be banned.

  8. Katelyn

    I agree with this person being banned, as a person who has been waiting tables for 6 years I HATE people who think that they can have me wait on them hand and foot for an hour or two and you leave me 10 percent. I understand only if the service is poor, but for me I am a great server. I hate the people who no matter how good and fast you are, they are still tipping you 3 dollars. WHat is three dollars doing for me when I get paid $2.83/ hour. There are so many cheap people out there that dont udnerstand the hard work a server puts in. Its embarrassing that people can go out and tip so poorly. If service is even only good, I believe a 15% tip at least, should be given. My paychecks every week are approx. 5 dollars so I live off of what people give me. And with people tipping 10 percent they dont give me a chance to make enough to live.

  9. Brad

    I would suggest for everyone to look up Tip Credits. While a server’s set wage may be well below minimum wage, in States that have minimum wage laws, no server is making below minimum wage. If a State participates in Tip Credits (which North Carolina does), then the restaurant itself must supplement the difference between the minimum wage and what the server is making in hourly wages plus tips if they do not equal at least minimum wage. For States that do not participate in the Tip Credit program but have an established minimum wage, then the restaurant must pay at least minimum wage to all of their servers regardless of what they may make in tips.

    While it is true that you may not be able to afford your bills if people do not tip, it is certainly not because you are not getting paid the equivalent of minimum wage, but because your bills exceed what you would be allocated as a set income (you would face this same problem at a standard minimum wage job as well).

    As for my personal opinion, I tip based on my experience with you as a server. If it is the first time dining at an establishment and I am provided with poor service, then I will not tip period. If I have eaten there multiple times before and you have been great but have an off day, I may not tip or tip at a lower percentage than normal, but if I do not, I will certainly give you the opportunity next time to make up for that and will tip accordingly then. However, if I see you just to take the order and deliver the drinks, someone else is constantly having to refill them for me, and I do not see you again until the bill is delivered (as seems to be very common), then certainly do not expect a tip from me.

  10. Mary

    This over dependance on tips really is a US phenomena… as a visitor to the US I was shocked to find that the “expected” tip is around 25%+ in often mediocre establishments… not talking white linen/glove service. I obviously upset a few waiters with my 10-15%. The base issue seems to be not paying the wait staff a proper wage, as even they have off days when they should not have to keep dancing to entertain customers,or be dependant on how a customer feels or how the chef cooks that day to make their days wages. Tipping, often not even encouraged in many countries, as being demeaning, should be voluntary. Just charge for the food in accordance to the cost of bringing it to the table. And tipping on top of highly marked up liquor – don’t get me started!

  11. Andy

    I don’t run my butt off for pushy and often rude people to earn minimum wage. Yes I have been a server for 2 yrs. I have good and bad days just like anyone else does and things sometimes are out of my control that effect the quality of someone’s restaurant experience. There is no reason ever for someone to not give at least 15% on a bill when eating out. Anyone who has had to work in the service industry understands that it is a very difficult job. If you don’t tip at least 15% then you should be embarrassed and the people you are out to eat with you should be embarrassed for you.

  12. rest manager

    I have worked in the same establishment for almost a decade, starting as a waitress, moving on to bartending, and now have been managing for quite some time. I’ve always prided myself in exceptional service and have built a wonderful repoir with many return customers who requested my sections and always left at least 20%. But there are many, many, many customers who have come in and regardless of my service have left NOTHING. Tipping is voluntary and has always been viewed so. But don’t be so quick to point the finger at what ownership is paying either. When you are independently owned, are constantly fighting against cutting costs to survive against the big chains, you can’t afford to pay servers much over the $2/hr. And if the clientle decides they don’t want to pay the server either, you end up with no one working at the restaurant, or staying long enough to make an impact. When you go to a buffet, or a hotel, no one minds paying the handling fees, service charges, or included gratuities because it’s included in the bill… These people who choose not to tip will single-handedly kill the little guy and ruin the chain. The ambitious, intelligent wait staff will leave for greener pastures and you’ll be left with the idiots who are so desperate they are willing to work for free. Whatever happened to the Golden Rule people? If you don’t want to tip, it’s called take-out, or cook your own damn food. Half the time your tip goes to others in the restaurant too (ie busboy, bartender, expediter). Just think about it, please!

  13. britney

    i wish restaurants would ban bad tippers its unfair giving good service to jerks who do not tip and then having to tip the bartender expo and busser out, so after all those tip outs that loser tipper did not acquire you any money and in some cases you actually lost money for having to take a table! If people want to have good service and have someone clean up after them then they should tip appropriately

  14. Rachel

    I’m not from America but have been here for 10 months and I am so sick of tipping. In Australia, we don’t tip but restaurants/cafes pay their waiters a good wage and you pay exactly what you see on the menu – no tax and no tip. It is pleasant, because waiters are being helpful and generous without doing so only to get more money. I have experienced many rude waiters and I get so annoyed that they think I will tip just because that’s the way it works despite their rudeness. If waiters give great service I do tip but I just hate the whole idea – you feel so awkward if you don’t give a certain amount and you never know how much to give. America should just raise minimum income and let employers pay their employees – why should we have to when we only want to get a meal for the price it is on the menu?

  15. Another rest mananger

    A few things to keep in mind here:
    1) The restaurant has the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason, right or wrong. – In this case, they’re wrong, in my opinion; but for the guest to hire a lawyer is yet another example of a frivolous lawsuit that I assume will wind up on Judge Judy soon enough.
    2) The server is being taxed by the IRS, for the assumed receipt of a tip; whether they get a tip or not. – Furthermore, the server is ‘on-the-hook’ to tip-out their support for the shift, whether they get a tip or not. Now while I don’t support “banning” a bad-tipper, I think too many people like Rachel don’t understand how the whole tipping scenario works, and filters to people beyond just their server. – Additionally, in some states categorized as “tip-credit”, such as Colorado & Texas; servers are paid BELOW minimum wage, (as low as $2.35 an hour), because it’s assumed that the servers are getting tips.
    3) If Rachel thinks she gets better service in a society where the individuals performing the service don’t have a gratuity-incentive that can increase with a better performance; she’s truly fooling herself. An American will get better service in Australia than an Australian will; merely due to the fact that the Australian server knows that the American guest will tip them at the end of the meal.
    - Now I’m of the belief that “bad-tippers” are part of the cost of doing business in the guest-service industry, and that “banning” one is a bad business decision. These situations have happened at every restaurant, everywhere. My approach with these folks is to coach the service team to “suck it up”, do their best to dazzle these tight-wads, and turn it in to a competition with their fellow servers… “Who can get the best tip from Mr. or Mrs. Penny-Pincher”.
    Cheers!

  16. doc7655

    Tips are earned–they’re not automatic. It is insufficient for a server to simply take an order, bring the food out, and then process the check at the end; the server’s job is to provide a pleasant dining experience and the tip earned should reflect how well the server accomplishes this. This means keeping glasses full and frequently checking on the needs of your tables while maintaining a pleasant demeanor (even when you’re feeling terrible). If you don’t like it, get another job! I worked as a server while in college, so I’m well aware of what the job entails. The fact is, though, that working as a food server doesn’t require an education, so waiters have no reason to expect as much pay as someone who has invested years of their life and tens of thousands of dollars toward obtaining one. If your pay doesn’t cover your expenses, then it’s time to cancel the cable TV and cell phone plans!

  17. just a server

    I think that if you go out to eat and you want the experience of being waited on, you should experience tipping.I work as a waitress at a chain food restaraunt in NC and this is what I can say about my experiences:
    1. NC legislation sucks. Minimum wage for tipped employess was highered twice federally and lowered twice by the state of North Carolina, so if you are going to blame someone for server not getting paid enough, blame the state, not the server. The server may not have been able to find another job.
    2. If you get bad service it is ok not to tip. If I give bad service I don’t expect a tip. The same goes vice versa: If I give good service with a pleasant attitude I should get a twenty percent tip.
    3. You really shouldn’t mess with the person messing with your food. This is an example of something i’ve seen but not participated in: Servers remember faces of the people that don’t tip them. Ever go into a restaraunt and recieved great service and food the first time, didn’t tip good, and haven’t recieved good service or food since? Servers talk and tell each other what tables to avoid. Don’t be suprised if your food died in the hot window before you recieved it and don’t ask for your mashed potatoes to be heated, they won’t be.
    4. This is how America works Rachel. It is the land of opportunities and the land of failures. We as a people have had a government that has failed us. But if Australia is so good, then go back there! But when you go out to eat and don’t tip remember number three.

    As for the restaruant that banned the bad tipper, they weren’t right. That person was still their client. Sometimes servers should ban together and make that person not want to come back. Other times, table rotation just sucks but eventually you have to wait on the good with the bad.

  18. Holly

    I am a server in Texas and I have only recieved a few checks with money at all. Usually I get a check that says void all over it because of all the taxes. How am I expected to live if people don’t tip? That’s all I make is tips. And I’m expected to pay taxes and bills and go to school on $2.13 an hour? What do you people want in order for me to deserve a tip from you? A dance? A bunny out of a hat? I talk to the people who want to talk, I respect people’s space if they don’t. Really, how many of you go to a resturant with the intent to chat with your server? I don’t. When I go out, I go to spend time with whomever is going with me. But seriously, how hard is it to tip at least 15%? If you have enough to spend on the works you can spare a few extra bucks to put me through school. Since now it is nearly impossible to get a job without a college degree. In the field I am intrested in, a masters degree is required. If you’ve been blessed with a comfortable life, why not help those who are trying to help themselves? It’s not like we’re asking for a handout. We SERVED you. We deserve to get paid for our work. If you don’t want to tip, vote for a pay raise for servers. Until then, tip.

  19. jillian harris

    I would suggest for everyone to look up Tip Credits. While a server’s set wage may be well below minimum wage, in States that have minimum wage laws, no server is making below minimum wage. If a State participates in Tip Credits (which North Carolina does), then the restaurant itself must supplement the difference between the minimum wage and what the server is making in hourly wages plus tips if they do not equal at least minimum wage. For States that do not participate in the Tip Credit program but have an established minimum wage, then the restaurant must pay at least minimum wage to all of their servers regardless of what they may make in tips.

    While it is true that you may not be able to afford your bills if people do not tip, it is certainly not because you are not getting paid the equivalent of minimum wage, but because your bills exceed what you would be allocated as a set income (you would face this same problem at a standard minimum wage job as well).

    As for my personal opinion, I tip based on my experience with you as a server. If it is the first time dining at an establishment and I am provided with poor service, then I will not tip period. If I have eaten there multiple times before and you have been great but have an off day, I may not tip or tip at a lower percentage than normal, but if I do not, I will certainly give you the opportunity next time to make up for that and will tip accordingly then. However, if I see you just to take the order and deliver the drinks, someone else is constantly having to refill them for me, and I do not see you again until the bill is delivered (as seems to be very common), then certainly do not expect a tip from me.

  20. Si

    First off, they may have banned this person for reasons other than tipping. We’ve had these awful ladies banned at my old job because they were not only rude, but demanded so much for free. The managers finally had enough. That they were horrible tippers was only a trait, not a reason.

    Second off, all you people talking about “tip credit” need to learn that it does nothing for servers. It doesn’t go by a day by day basis. So let’s say Monday through Thursday it was really slow and I made only $15 a night. However, on Friday and Saturday I made $100 each because it was busy. I’ve now made above minimum wage on a pay period, yet I’m still making below $300 a week, and still have taxes and tip out as well as medical insurance to take out. Tip credit really does nothing unless you literally get no tables. I’ve never had a job have to pay out over this.

    Lastly, get another job huh? Ok, but I bet you’ll be the first person whining that there’s no one to wait on you. Also I doubt people would like the cost of food if every tipped employee was given a real wage. There’d be no lunch specials or 2 for 1 deals. They wouldn’t be cost effective. Your $6.99 lunch is now $15. Even tipping your server $5 on that would make you come out ahead. Ask some kitchen managers about food costs before you want us to get real wages. :)

  21. john lee

    All of the ignorant comments saying tips should be earned, have not been servers or were servers for short periods of time. Try being a server for 15 years and seeing the exact same customers coming every day and leaving bad tips. While thanking you for the extraordinary service every day. This is called a “verbal tip”. “Verbal tips” don’t pay the bills, so those type of customers truly are horrible and not appreciated.

    Honestly most of the comments saying tips are earned probably are decent or above tippers. However most of us who are in the business are referring to tippers who will “ream” you no matter what. If I have to explain what “ream” means then you haven’t worked in the business.

    Btw Australian customers are probably some of the worst tippers. Because unlike Asians you can’t explain tipping to them and unlike Americans they don’t base their tip on service. Australians will want to talk with you, be as pleasant as can be, in other words waste a lot of your valuable time, then leave 5-10% if your lucky.
    Figuring out 15% isn’t hard, if it is then the customers need to go back to school.

    Btw I have a Master’s degree, but I can make more money by working on tips. The key word being “can”.

  22. A Server

    I would also like to add that just because it is not your exact server with you the entire time, if somebody filled up your drink, stopped by with bread, brought out your food, doesn’t mean you can tip less. Servers work together as a team. We are trying to take care of you more efficiently. You are still getting good service.
    Also, if you are the kind of person who guzzles down three glasses before you even get your salad, understand that it may take a moment for your server to get back to you. That server has other guests that are just as important as you. Slow down or ask for a water with your drink.
    If your party is setting at a table for an extended amount of time, throw some extra in for taking up the table time. You are basically renting that table from your server. Servers expect a 30, 45, or 60 minute table turnover and you are taking their ability to make more money when you decide to camp out.
    If you have a gift certificate, tip on the total amount, not the discounted amount. Your server never gets gift certificates to give you discounted service.
    You would be amazed how far a server will go to make your experience fantastic if you just work with them. I’ve seen servers go to great lengths for their guests and cater the bill and the food to precisely what you want/need as a customer. Tip well, and let your server give you excellent service. Again I’d like to reiterate that you should never mess with people who don’t handle your food. Some of us keep name books, just to remember who you are, what you do, what you like just so we can better serve you, but please believe we remember if you tip badly and we are only happy to share that information with our fellow servers.
    Remember that we pay taxes, and we tip out 3% of our food sales (not our tips) in a lot of cases so that 2.83 is already gone. If you want good service, tip for it.

  23. Nicole

    I completely agree. I am a waitress and I have dealt with SO many ridiculously bad tippers. We make not even 3 dollars an hour.. and we make a living with the tips. People who get paid an hourly or salary wage job, gets that constant amount no matter how hard they work, so my point is this; you should ALWAYS ALWAYS atleast tip 10/15% and if the service was amazing..then tip even higher. Our tips is our “salary/hourly” wage. So if you want to go ahead and tip like a cheap ass, then go make yourself some damn mac and cheese at home.

  24. Brandon

    I have been working in the restaurant industry for 9 years. I don’t know if anyone knows this but in Nevada I get allocated tips from my paycheck the government assumes I get tipped from my guests. So if I make 7 dollars an hour the government assumes I am making 20 and hour assuming I get tipped a certain percentage. after all is said and done my bi weekly paycheck is $160 dollars. That’s after my insurance comes out and all the other taxes I have to pay on top of the government assuming I am meeting there allocation minimum. Not only do I pay taxes on my tips and my paycheck but I also have to tip out a bar tender, busser, stocker, cooking captain and hostess with the money I get tipped out by at the end of the night. If everyone thinks servers make a lot of money..we don’t! we barely make enough to split around between us and if we don’t get tipped a certain percentage by a guest we pretty much worked for free. So if you go out to eat tip what you think is fair. Don’t be rude and stiff a server or leave loose change cause you are probably affecting a lot more people than your waiter.

  25. Kirstin

    Sometimes it isn’t even about the service at all it comes down to the person them self. The service could have been perfect and beyond what they person ever experienced but if they tip 15% everywhere they go and they think that is a good tip then they will continue to tip like that. People need to realize that we do not keep the entire tip and what we have to tip out at the end of the night is based on our sales. So if the entire night we were getting $5 on $65 bills we would end up paying for those customers to eat there because we still have to tip our bartenders, bussers, food runners, and door people. So everyone needs to quit saying it is so simple to get good tips if you give good service because that only goes so far.

  26. Kirstin

    Also if you have NEVER worked in the restaurant industry you should not be commenting on this. Everyone should work in the food industry once in their life. If you haven’t you have no clue what you’re talking about.

  27. Victoria

    Servers are doing a service..making sure u can sit and be waited on and get ur food ..and drinks and clean up after u …like we are ur mother…after u leave. I don’t know who in their right mind would think its ok not to tip or tip less then 20 %. U people that make an hourly wage don’t get docked pay based on ur day. Please don’t take it out on a servers tip if everything is not perfect. And please tip at least 18% ..no less. Servers do a hard job ..(if u think everybody could be servers) which they can and would not. We put on a smile and wait on people without knowing if u can pay ur bills from it..so think about that. This is their job..and ur tip is how they make a living. Please don’t tip badly.

  28. Ren

    Tipping should be banned, or at least not calculated as their minimum wage. They should be paid the same way everyone else is. If they need to raise the cost of food in the establishment to do so, fine!

    Tipping is a stupid custom, and I will not do it. Period. Just the same as I won’t support companies or other things that are stupid/I don’t like.

    Stop begging people to help these “poor waiters”, it makes you look pathetic, and stop calling non-tippers cheap or rude – instead, try to start a movement to fix this nonsense. People in America are way too complacent. Change needs to come to this country.

  29. arkaya

    I agree completely with Ren. This method in america is just begging. in the UK restaurants have now adopted the system of adding a gratuity to your bill, but not telling you, except in tiny tiny print on the menu, so you pay the extra 12.5% AND leave a tip! Good one. I boycott these places or announce that I will not pay the gratuity. The UK law does not force you to pay a gratuity.

Leave a Reply