This morning’s post on the minimum wage and tips brings a question to my mind:

Two couples eat at the same restaurant. They sit at adjacent tables, have the same server, and receive identical service with identical food, with one exception: the first table has a bottle of house wine that costs $20, while the second table has a bottle of vintage wine that costs $300. The question is: what did the server do for the second couple that justifies the extra $42 tip?

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Don in Oregon · September 30, 2021 at 9:47 am

Back in the day, the guideline was to base a tip on the price of the meal, but not on the drinks.

Done. · September 30, 2021 at 9:52 am

Answer: they risked dropping a $300 bottle of wine or even corking it as opposed to a bottle of grape juice. The difference between getting fired or merely laughed at.

Always tip as though you would yourself rely on tips for 75% of your income.

    Divemedic · September 30, 2021 at 11:22 am

    Hahaha. That isn’t my problem, and even if it were, there isn’t a 15 percent chance of that happening. Not buying that one.

Chris Mallory · September 30, 2021 at 10:24 am

IRS rules require restaurants to report tips for waitresses and waiters amounting to at least 8 percent of gross sales. In your example, say the couples spend $100 on their meal before the wine. The expensive wine couple would pay a $60 dollar tip on the $400 check at the standard 15%. If the couple only tipped the same as the $120 check couple, they would leave a tip of $18. But the waitress will be required to pay taxes on 8% of the $400, or $32. Not a big amount, but little amounts add up over time.

    Divemedic · September 30, 2021 at 11:24 am

    That isn’t my problem. That’s between them, their employer, and the IRS. Again, what did the server provide to the second couple to justify that extra tip?

      Getfreight · September 30, 2021 at 6:09 pm

      That a server would have to pay for the privilege of serving a customer. You could say it is our problem.

      The issue in question is between We The People and the IRS. Not the server, employer, and the IRS.

        Divemedic · September 30, 2021 at 7:04 pm

        You think you are the only one who pays taxes? Again, it isn’t the customer’s responsibility to pay the restaurant’s employees. In the example above, the owner of the restaurant just made more money by selling that $300 bottle of wine. Take it up with him. Perhaps he should give you a bonus for the upsell.

      Kurtz · September 30, 2021 at 7:08 pm

      In my experience the people that buy $300 bottles of wine are 80% of the time major assholes. That alone justifies the extra IMHO.

Irish Democracy · September 30, 2021 at 12:18 pm

Waitresses used to make $2.01 per hour in Red State and fam always based tips on service and the demeanor of the host.
My parents owned an Irish themed pub that served bar food in the drinking section plus steaks with entrees at the restaurant area in the 1980’s and the tips were placed in a jar as a collective with all wait staff splitting the proceeds at the end of shift.
It was the only way to keep everyone happy as Sheila got better tips than Sally and so on.

    Weetabix · September 30, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    See, I’m thinking they should get individual tips and report them at the end of the night. Whoever has more tips at the end of the night gets more hours since they’re selling more food or providing better service.

    SAM · October 3, 2021 at 6:43 am

    So this week Sheila works harder than Sally, next week she works out no reason to work as hard, and Sally has no reason to do any more.

Guy · September 30, 2021 at 7:02 pm

Completely agree. My tips are relative to the task, not the bill total. Sometimes those correlate, other times they don’t. Getting a drink is a flat rate, modified by the speed and courteousness of the server. Making a drink is a higher rate, modified by the same factors plus complexity. Delivery, I modify a little for the number of items they’re carrying, but mostly for speed. Uber, for smell, mostly, but also for lack of obnoxious radio.

Clipster · September 30, 2021 at 7:54 pm

I’ve asked the same question before, and the best answer I received was this: tip the wine at the same percentage as the food but only up to the corkage fee. So the $20 bottle would be $4 (@20%), but the $300 bottle would be $20 if that was the corkage fee. The task is the same if the bottle is yours or theirs.

Tom K · October 1, 2021 at 6:51 am

How are you gonna splurge on a $300 bottle of wine and then stiff the waitress? Spending $300 on a bottle of wine and then trying to rationalize a short tip for the server is the veritable definition of miserliness. I would be embarrassed to stiff the waitress after spending so much on a bottle of wine. You are showing off by buying the expensive bottle of wine in the first place, don’t squander your status by stiffing the server. If I was gonna buy a $300 bottle of wine, I would continue to show off by dropping a $100 tip on the waitress. That would be appropriate, make the serving staff feel good, and make yourself magnanimous. Don’t be miserely, it’s just filthy lucre.

    Divemedic · October 1, 2021 at 9:30 am

    It isn’t about the wine. You miss the point, which is that tipping is basing a person’s pay on the price of the product. Tipping is ridiculous.

Andy · October 1, 2021 at 9:20 am

I tip normally in most places unless the servers were exceptionally personable and gave better than normal service. The big exception to my practices is when going to our local places. The hamburger joint I go to regularly where I know all the kids I tend to tip them above and beyond. They’ve had a great bunch of teenagers over the years that for the most part were working for college money. One could say you were buying friendship, but experience has told me that that most of them treat everyone the same no matter. I’ve spent enough time around them to know the difference.

SAM · October 3, 2021 at 6:47 am

I’ve just looked up tipping at McDonalds, after all they are serving food and on little pay/hours and the company rule is this.
Why are staff not allowed to accept tips from customers?
Tips are not accepted as McDonald’s restaurants have a team environment which is not about rewarding individuals. If a customer would like to make a donation then they can do so in the RMHC boxes.

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