The art of tipping

Christina Stavale

Customers must reacquaint themselves with the proper tipping etiquette

Sometimes deciding how much to tip someone in the service industry can fluster people. Photoillustration by GAVIN JACKSON | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Steve Schirra

It is sometimes difficult to know how much to tip and when to do it.

Rob Heiman, assistant professor of hospitality management, said it is courteous to tip workers in the service industry. This includes, but is not limited to, servers, bartenders, cab drivers, hairdressers and casino dealers.

He said the service industry expects all employees to go beyond customers’ expectations, but different professions reward employees differently for their services.

Some employees, such as cab drivers, have a gratuity included in their salary. For these services, customers generally give an extra dollar or two as a tip, without calculating a certain percentage, as a simple courtesy gesture.

Other professions, including servers and bartenders, rely on the public to reward them through tips.

“My salary relies 100 percent on tips. Tips are how we make a living,” said Tiffany Frey, senior human development and family studies major. She said she has worked as a waitress and bartender at Rockne’s, Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and Outback Steakhouse.

Over the years, the average expected amount to tip a server has changed, leaving many customers confused as to how much to tip.

“The average used to be 15 percent,” Heiman said, “but now 18 percent is almost the norm.”

Michael Barnard, sophomore exploratory major and server at Alexander’s Restaurant, said 15 percent is still acceptable for decent service if a server forgets one or two small things, such as not filling an empty glass of water. Customers should tip 20 percent if the service exceeds one’s expectations.

Servers agree tips should be based on quality service.

Frey admitted that while 20 percent tips are ideal, a lot depends on the server.

“Great service equals a great tip,” said Jessica Jarvis, junior justice studies major and waitress at Parasson’s Italian Restaurant.

But what if the service does not meet a customer’s expectations?

The server should still be tipped, Heiman said, but “if the service is far less than adequate, customers should not feel the need to tip as much.”

Barnard, too, said that if a server is not friendly or hospitable, he or she should not expect a 20 percent tip.

It is important to remember, though, that mistakes in food orders are not always the server’s fault. They often have no way of recognizing a mistake until a customer says something about it, so this should not affect a server’s tip.

For example, Heiman said if a person’s food is brought to them cold, the server can bring them a new dish, but he or she cannot test the food before it is brought to the customer.

“People don’t realize that it’s not the server’s fault if the food is late,” Jarvis said.

Frey said it is sometimes courteous to leave a larger tip if there is a group of about eight or more people and the server is required to do a lot of extra work.

Heiman said no matter what the case, “tipping rewards quality service.”

Contact features correspondent Christina Stavale at [email protected]