The Most Annoying Tipping Habits Waiters, Baristas and Bartenders Deal With

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You work hard for your money, so you expect excellent service when you dine at a restaurant, have a drink at a bar or spring for a latte at your local coffee shop. The thing is, the waiters, bartenders and baristas serving you also work hard to earn the fair tip you might not be giving.

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Generally speaking, you should tip 15%-20% for sit-down wait service, according to the Emily Post Institute. Similarly, bartenders should be tipped $1-$2 per drink or 15%-20% of your total tab. While there’s no obligation to leave money in a tip jar, the Emily Post Institute recommends tipping occasionally if your server or barista provides something extra or if you’re a regular customer.

If you’re not currently following these rules, it’s time to step up your tipping game.

Monique Soltani, who worked in the restaurant industry for more than a decade as a bartender and server and currently serves as the executive producer and host of “Wine Oh TV,” has seen plenty of bad tippers throughout her career. Some of the most annoying offenses include not tipping on the wine, not tipping on the tax, doubling the tax as a way of calculating the tip and not tipping on the full amount of the bill after an item is discounted or comped.

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“When someone orders a bottle of wine, whether it’s $50 or $500, the server dedicates a certain amount of their time and energy on picking the wine, opening the wine, serving the wine and then pouring the wine tableside until the bottle is finished,” she said. “You get extra service and attention when you order a bottle of wine.”

Therefore, she said it’s important to thank your server for their hard work by tipping accordingly.

“To not tip on the wine is the most annoying habit I have seen consistently over two decades,” she said. “What I always tell people is this, If you have enough money to buy a bottle of wine at a restaurant, then you have the money to tip on that bottle of wine.”

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Charlie McKenna, founder and chef at Lillie’s Q, a Southern BBQ restaurant with locations in Florida and Chicago, echoed the sentiment that — frustratingly so — some people don’t tip for drinks.

“They act as though being served drinks is completely separate from being served food,” he said. “Then there are some customers who are somewhere in between — they will tip if they ordered a cocktail, but not for a beer or wine.”

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He said this lack of tipping is fueled by customers believing the bartender didn’t do enough to merit the extra cash by simply pouring a drink.

“My advice is to tip your bartender or barista, no matter what you ordered,” he said. “They appreciate it more than you know.”

Jamie Hickey, an SCA certified barista and founder of the site Coffee Semantics, also has experience with receiving seriously low tips — for no apparent reason.

“As a barista myself, I find that most people leaving change for a drink, but not tipping is the most annoying factor,” he said. “Or tipping the waiter, but [not] the barista. The positions are separate and don’t share the tips.”

You might think this level of tipping is rare, but he said it’s actually quite common.

“After working full-time at two different places, I can say this with confidence,” he said. “A lot of customers will leave 2-5 cents per drink as if their order is no more important than those of those around them — and one time someone left me 10 cents on $4.”

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It’s possible you didn’t realize your tipping habits were cheap, but now you know. When going out, always factor proper tipping into your budget, because the people providing you with excellent service deserve fair compensation for their efforts.

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About the Author

Jennifer Taylor is a West Coast-based freelance writer with more than a decade of experience writing about anything and everything. Since earning her MBA, personal finance has been her favorite topic, as she’s passionate about writing stories that educate, inform and empower. Specifically, she specializes in budgeting, debt repayment, savings and retirement.
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