The etiquette of modern tipping has become so vague that consumers are confused about what is expected and why. The art of tipping comes without instructions, so some people just do their own thing and hope that their action will get them the kind of service they value.
Tipping goes back to the 18th century where in English Inns and Coffee Houses it was customary for the patron to drop a coin into a box placed on the wall for benefit of the servers. On the box was a little sign which said TO INSURE PROMPTNESS. Later, just the initials of the phrase were put on the box.
Since the late 1970s for casual dining, the going rate has been 15%. That is still the norm. In better restaurants, 20% or more is given, depending on service. Tips are a way of expressing satisfaction. Tipping is not a duty or an essential thing. It is an act of kindness for good service.
If you tip less that 15%, it is because you felt the service was well below expectations. If you are unhappy with the service, leave a 10% gratuity and, if the owner or maître d’ is available, discuss your issues with them if your waiter did not acknowledge your complaints.
Most people are left wondering what should I tip? Without a calculator or tip table, you have two choices. 15% of the bill before taxes is standard. Take 10% of the total, divide that number by two to get 5%, add those two figures and you will have your tip amount. (Ex: Your bill is $44.24, 10% is $4.42 and half of that is $2.21, add those two numbers and you get $6.63, which is 15%) If you include tax and tip on the total, your tip will come to approximately 18%.
20% is customary in fine restaurants or for parties of six or more people. Upscale restaurant policies usually require all tips to be pooled at the end of the evening and shared between the wait staff, the waiter, the assistant waiter, maître d’, etc.
There are no “rights and wrongs” when it comes to tipping. Behaving politely should always be our way of doing business. Tipping is a voluntary practice to reward a job well done. No one has a license to be rude. It has nothing to do with manners.