I'm still a bit astounded by the concept that someone would order take out to avoid paying a server a tip.
I don't believe anyone actually said that though. I brought it up only as an illustration of the different cost models when purchasing food. I also mentioned going to the grocery store, but you'd never assume I meant that you buy food in a grocery store to avoid paying a tip at a restaurant, would you? There are a host of reasons one might choose to obtain food one way or another. Cost is one factor. Convenience another. Time another.
I actually agree with Alma as far as the minimum wage thing goes. Maybe it's because I'm from Oregon and we pay our servers minimum wage out here, but I think it's stupid and cheap of restaurants to get away with paying their servers less than minimum wage because obviously they'll make it up in tips. And? It's a minimum wage for a reason. Tipping is optional. You can't call it a minimum wage and have there be loopholes.
Most states (all?) require that the employer prove that the average hourly wage after tips is still higher than the state minimum wage in order for the lower minimum wage to be legal. So the whole "but that's the minimum, so they should always be paid the minimum!" isn't really a good argument. Now, if you just want to argue that waiting tables is tough work and they should be paid more, then that's a fine argument. Completely subjective, but absolutely fine one to make.
My boyfriend was a server for two years and he has plenty of stories of people being cheap skates. There was one time where one of his coworkers had a near $100 table, and they tipped her just enough to make it the 100 dollars. The manager actually came over to talk to them and asked if there was anything she had done wrong, if they were happy with their service from her. The man who was paying the bill was rather astounded that they'd even ask that and said she was great. Apparently he was either clueless or a cheapskate, one of the two. Maybe both.
Yup. It happens. Hell, I've been out to eat with cheapskates. It's painful to sit there are watch someone just rounding the bill for a whole table to the next ten dollars and thinking that's a sufficient tip. But on the flip side, I'll bet your boyfriend has plenty of stories of people giving really great tips as well, right? I've brought this up earlier in the thread, most young people gravitate to wait positions because they are broadly considered the best pay you can get as a still relatively unskilled laborer. That's because of the tips. It's always interesting how often people make the argument that waitstaff are underpaid because of the whole lower base minimum wage thing, but it's really rare to have someone actually say that they made really crappy pay when they were waiting tables. Sure, individual stories of the "bad tip", but overall pay is much better than they could get elsewhere and they know it, even with the lower base pay.
At the end of the day, isn't that the bigger issue? I just think that it's a bit misleading to make a huge deal about a technical pay level while ignoring the actual pay that waitstaff get.
I personally try to tip 20%. Sometimes i might do 15 depending on my mood and the pocket book, but I don't go out much. It's what my bf calls server karma. Don't know at this rate if he'll ever be a server again, but just in case.
Yup. I tend to tip well as well (and try to make up for the idiots I know who don't). I tend to tip 15% (rounding up to some convenient value *after* that calculation). I will tip more if the service was particularly excellent, and I'll tip less if it was particularly poor. But it's really got to be me being pissed off at something the server did for it to be that bad, and that's honestly only happened once. I've had a few occasions where other factors in the restaurant were so horrible that I simply never returned (just bad food, bat atmosphere, etc). I usually try to let the staff know why I'm never coming back, but I don't penalize the server for things which often aren't his/her responsibility.
And sometimes, as I've mentioned in this thread, it's not a matter of the food not being good, or the service not being good, but that the price for what you get just isn't worth it. There are several restaurants that try to be high-end and charge high-end prices, but really don't have high end food and service. Fancy tablecloths and nice uniforms doesn't transform $20 food into $50 food. Sorry, it just doesn't. I know that for some people decor and ambiance matter more to them than the food, but I'm a food guy. Those other things are nice, and I'll pay a bit more for them (cause I know it costs more), but the food really needs to be better for me to be willing to pay more. And "better" does not mean a pretty presentation with small portions to make people think it's fancier than it really is. That's pretentious crap that I can't stand. Yes, I'm looking at you Wolfgang!