Despite never working a day in the restaurant business, I am very appreciative and intrigued by the serving profession. Besides the candid look at human nature they receive each shift, I feel waiters and waitresses have a thankless job. I love to hear the stories but I hate to hear about the hardships.
Although I feel I am on the conservative side when it comes to spending my money in general, people tell me I am a good tipper. Chalk that tendency up to the respect I have for the service industry. But when I receive this comment it is usually just regarding the percentage I tack on, not necessarily the way I leave it. With that said, I would like to ask restaurant people and non-restaurant people alike a basic question:
When you leave a tip, should you make it a flat dollar amount or should you leave it in a way that will result in flat dollar amount for the entire bill?
Let me quickly explain. When I tip (90% of the time I am using a debit card), I leave a round amount such as $10 or $15. Other restaurant customers will leave an amount that will round out the total bill, such as leaving a $9.14 tip that will adjust a pre-gratuity meal of $30.86 to $40. Or, for the sake of clarity, leaving a $4.22 tip on a pre-gratuity meal bill of $15.78, thus rounding it to $20.
This is my thinking: It must be much easier for a server to add a flat tip amount to his/her earnings at the end of the night. Isn’t it simpler in life to add up amounts of $8, $14, $17, etc. as opposed to $7.89, $11.13, $15.83, etc.? I have thought this way for the past 10 years. But lately I have started to think that my brain might be back in the 1960s.
Fueling my action of always giving a round gratuity amount was the vision in my head of servers crunching the numbers on their tips from card transactions and adding it to the cash tips they received. After going through the headache of adding up a bunch of random amounts, they leave for the evening with a dollar amount plus 67 cents in change. Who wants a couple quarters, a dime, a nickel, and two pennies? If everyone tipped like me, he/she would be taking home 33 cents more and thus hauling out just paper instead of some annoying metal mixed in!
But then I realized that maybe the process doesn’t really work that way. Are tips recorded electronically and then just applied to a paycheck? Do servers really not even have to deal with non-round dollar amounts? Are they saved from taking home pennies at the end of the night?
I want to get this down straight for the sake of servers because one thing is sure for someone like me: it doesn’t matter either way.
As someone who almost always pays with my card, it doesn’t matter if I leave a $9 tip or a $8.67 tip. It isn’t the end of the world if my bank transaction for my dinner at the Olive Garden was $50.89 as opposed to $51. I am not worried about my transactions looking messy, and, although I try to do my best to save money, I am not sweating over a couple coins at lunch.
So let me have it, everyone. Besides the basic requirement that the tip itself is actually a good one, would you prefer it to be a round amount or an amount that raises the total bill of the meal to a round amount? Check please! Don’t Blink.