How Far Would You Go To Tip Your Server?

Many, many pixels have been on this site over the subject of tipping in restaurants, but how far out of your way would you go to give a tip? -Joe and his wife had dinner at Red Robin, paid for with a few free entrée coupons and a gift card. Only the gift card receipt didn’t have a line to authorize a tip, and the couple only had a dollar in cash between them. In a culture where we often don’t talk about tips, should they just leave the dollar that they had in their wallets and feel guilty about it, or actually address the problem and talk to the server about it directly?

Yes this is a message about tips, but no, it is not about a horrible
server or a person who doesn’t believe in tipping. This is a story of
how one major restaurant chain needs to change a policy that could
leave their servers empty handed.

My wife and I dined at Red Robin this evening as we had both a “free
entree” coupon and a gift card to use, essentially netting us a free
dinner out. When the bill came, the server took the gift card, rang up
the charges, and brought it back with the check to sign… all the
usual things. The difference in this case is that the check I signed
had no line for a tip.

“Do you have any cash?” I asked my wife, noting that I only had one
dollar. “Not even quarters.” she replied.

We looked around and wondered, what should we do? Here are the options
we came up with:

1) Give the server the dollar, leaving a note on the check explaining
why only the dollar was given – not acceptable to either of us.

2) Buy something else with a credit card, even though we didn’t want
anything else at that time.

3) Explain our predicament to the server .

Having worked in the service industry, my wife and I know how much
servers rely on tips, so we chose option three. We explained the
problem to the server and she said that while they can’t put tips on
the gift card, we may use a credit card to only pay for a tip
(something neither of us have heard of before).

All is well that ends well, but it got me wondering, just how far
would the average person go to tip? And more than that, why does a
company have a policy like this? Admittedly I don’t use many gift
cards at places so I’m not well-versed on every business’ policy, but
I’ve never come across this.

I tried filling out Red Robin’s survey to explain the need for change
to them but the survey only lets you put two lines of text. This story
was abridged to “Please allow tips on gift cards. I almost had to
stiff the server today.” Let’s hope someone reads it.