Tipping 25%: The New Normal?

Categories: News
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Flickr user wonder_al
What percent are you? 15? 20? 30? 

No, this isn't a new Occupy movement or another Romney gaffe. We're talking about tipping. According to consumer experts, the norm is higher than ever. 

The New York Post reports that in the Big Apple, "suggested" gratuities for service industry workers can run to 25 or even 30 percent. (For non-math majors like us, that means you'd be spending $65 on a $50 bill.)  

Steve Dublanica, author of a book called Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper's Quest To Become the Guru of the Gratuity, calls the epidemic "tip creep." There's an endless parade of tip jars in places where they were previously unseen, he says, and "people are aggravated to no end by it." And it's not just happening in the big city. One professor of consumer behavior studied 9,000 credit cards from a restaurant in Poughkeepsie, NY, and found that 37 percent left a tip greater than 20 percent. 

The issue of tipping is one that has long rattled both customers and service industry workers. Gratuity generally represents a reward for good service, and many patrons believe there should be no requirements or pressures to shell out a predetermined amount. 

Others see it differently. 

"Tip 20 percent," wrote Jonathan Gold in his infamous Squid Ink post on tipping. "Every time. Pre-tax? Post-tax? In practice the difference is no more than a buck or two, unless you're Joe Pytka. In which case there's a $10,000 wine tab, so it works out. But the idea that a tip is optional, or variable, is a useful fiction, even when the soup goes tumbling into your lap. The owner gets to pretend her prices are lower, the busboy makes rent, and you get to feel like a philanthropist. A win-win for all." 

What makes it more tricky is that restaurants have set wages so that tips are not a reward but rather a crucial income source for workers barely scraping by. Jason Quinn of The Playground caused a small uproar in his decision to tack on a 3-percent chef gratuity to all guest receipts. It's a policy that is typed out at the bottom of each menu and designed to highlight the hard work of kitchen workers, who are almost always underpaid. 

"It's a way to show appreciation for people busting their asses," Quinn said in our cover story on The Playground earlier this year. "To be honest, we don't have the budget for these people. When you see all they do and see the 3 percent gratuity, you'll be like, 'Okay, who cares? It's 3 cents on a dollar to help these lunatics have families." 

Or you can take it from singer/songwriter Meiko, who wrote a song about it: 



Here's a lesson for those of you who don't like to tip 
It's not mandatory but it's really nice: twenty percent 

You gotta fuckin' tip 
You gotta fuckin' tip 
You gotta fuckin' tip 
You gotta fuckin' tip 

OK maybe you're a hundred and three 
Or from some foreign country: Tip! 

You gotta fuckin' tip 
You gotta fuckin' tip 
You gotta fuckin' tip 

La La La La 
Lala Lala La La La La 
La La La La 
Lala Lala La La La La 

I can barely pay my gas bill 
I can barely eat 
I can barely buy a pair of shoes 
Or a bag of weed. Tip! 

You gotta fuckin' tip 
You gotta fuckin' tip 
You gotta fuckin' tip 

La La La La 
Lala Lala La La La La 
La La La La 
Lala Lala La La La La 

You gotta fuckin' tip.

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6 comments
RocketJ
RocketJ topcommenter

"others see it differently"

Quickly browsing the comments for both the New York Post and Squid Ink articles I beleive most support tipping according to quality of service and that 15% is still the standard.. Perhaps "food writers and workers see it differently"  would be more accurate.

As at least one poster pointed out the standard reimbursement rate for tipping on expense reports is 15%. When that changes there might be a new normal.

I'm not quite Mr Pink but will continue to tip according to quality of service, starting at 15% and adding or subtracting according to the quality of service.

Monica Satcher
Monica Satcher

Maybe 10% @ the order & sit places. Upscale and service was 'thumbs up', I'll certainly do 25%. Generally, I shoot for 15% most places. | I do eat out pretty often... and sorry, but service experienced lately has been kinda distracted and slow-ish in N OC.

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