Society has determined that service at a restaurant is worth between 15%-20% of the final bill, but is it ever acceptable not to tip?
Science tells us there is almost no correlation between tips and good service, but surveys show that Americans relish the power to tip because we falsely believe it provides an incentive to provide good service.
Let’s consider a situation: you go out to one of your regular dinner spots for a snack with friends. The place isn’t too busy, and you’re not too hungry, so you only order a salad and a side dish. Your friends don’t get their food for almost 40 minutes. You get nothing. After repeatedly flagging down the waitstaff, you still can’t get your salad. Another 30 minutes goes by before your food finally arrives, around the time your friends are finishing their meal.
Obviously, it’s not the end of the world and there are far more disturbing stories littering the internet. Before asking what kind of tip this service merits, let’s travel with the New York Times to San Diego to visit a small restaurant called the Linkery. The Linkery’s waitstaff doesn’t accept tips. Instead, they levy an 18% service charge on all sit-down meals, which is split 3-1 between the waitstaff and the kitchen. If customers want to tip more, they are invited to donate to the restaurant’s charity of the month.
…every so often diners at the Linkery take offense. “I’ll go over to the table and ask if there is a problem with the service,” McGuan, the general manager, says. “If there is, then I offer to remove the service charge. Almost always, the customers’ issue isn’t about the service but about not being able to handle their loss of control.”
In some instances, this restaurant with a uniform charge completely removes the service fee, resulting in no tip.
Keeping that in mind: