Dear Joan Actually,
What is the deal with bad tippers? I went out with a guy three different times–once at a lunch spot and two times at fancier dinner places. He seems like a reasonable guy, but he leaves the worst tips! One time he only left a few dollars on a $100+ bill. It’s embarrassing and the BIGGEST turnoff. How can I bring this up without being insulting or unappreciative? Should I just nix this guy altogether?
A stingy tipper can kill the mood faster than your grandmother’s colonoscopy story. Whether he’s cheap or clueless–the reason won’t matter. It’s hard to feel chemistry when you’re feeling embarrassed and unimpressed. Your date is also failing to grasp the true economics of this situation: That extra $10 he saved himself on tip money has actually cost him a future with you. Since he has already invested 3 dates worth of time and money, he’s losing all of his principal investment.
“Some people don’t tip because they feel the server didn’t do enough to earn it or perhaps the service was extraordinarily bad,” says The Bitchy Waiter, a sassy service industry blogger. Many customers look for one single mistake to justify a lower tip, forgetting that if they make one single mistake at their job, their income doesn’t change. Some people don’t tip because they ‘don’t believe in tipping’.”
When it comes to the appropriate tip amount, Patrick Maguire, author of the Server not Servant blog, says that “20% is the baseline for good service. Even if service is lacking, it would be tough to tip below 15%. A lot of people don’t realize that a server’s base pay is usually less than $3 an hour–that’s practically netting $0 after taxes. Tipping is a must. It’s part of our social contract in America.”
Stingy tipping is a no-win situation for everyone. Save yourself the hot shame–and give a nod to your waiter–by bringing it up delicately.
“It would be the apex of uncouth to be a guest at a meal and then chastise your host on the level of the tip,” says founder of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, Ms. Jodi RR Smith. “But if you’re planning on pursuing a relationship with this person, then his generosity levels should be gently discussed.”
Make your point by setting the example or bringing it up in conversation.
Teaching by Example
- Go on your next date with plenty of small bills. When the check comes, say “You are so kind to take me out. Here, let me help with the tip.”
- Take him on a date. When you handle the bill, say, “The server did a great job, I am going to leave 20%.”
- Emphasize the server’s appreciation: “Did you think the server did a good job? For a few extra bucks, let’s leave 20% and make her day.”
- Downplay the additional dollar amount: “I used to be a server, so I know just a little bit more will go a long way.”