What kind of tip do YOU want?

One of the most uncomfortable situations I faced as a bartender was the inevitable question. "What kind of tip do you want?"

I hate this question for three reasons. One, if I tell you what I really want for a tip you will think I am A. Greedy and B. Rude. So to avoid seeing your jaw hit the floor I tell you the more reasonable response.. which is twenty percent.

Which brings up the second reason. I have to size you up in about two seconds. Are you the type of person who is the average tipper or will you be astounded if I suggest anything more than twenty percent. If are a cocky guy I will test you. I will say something like forty percent and watch your face. If your jaw hits the floor, as most do, I will say ohhh ok well how about and go for twenty percent.

Now the third reason I hate this question comes into play. I start wondering why you asked me this question. Because most of the time you don't want me to say some ridiculous number and empty your bank account. Are you assuming that I'll be a good employee and only suggest the minimum fifteen percent? Do you know that I will say twenty percent and you were planning on paying that.. so you are trying to show off how much money you have without actually spending any of it? Sometimes I misjudge the person and they are actually willing to tip more than I suggest. They say something along the lines of "Oh that's it?" Which makes me disappointed because now I'm thinking about how much I could have actually gotten you for.

What I hate more than this question is this question with a twist. "What kind of tip do you think you deserve." This is like asking someone what their best qualities are. It's uncomfortable and presumptuous to compliment yourself. If I say something that you have never seen in me then you think I am full of myself and delusional. And if I don't answer you assume I have no confidence. Well the same goes with this question.. if I assume I deserve the best tip possible then you think I'm full of myself and delusional. And you might even point that out. And if I say I don't know then you say something along the lines of "Ok then if you don't care .. I'll just give you fifteen percent".

These are not hypothetical situations. These have actually happened to me. Have you ever had this question posed to you? And if so, how do you respond? What goes through your head? Why do you think they ask this question?


Cielo Gold said...

I hate it when people ask me that same question. I never really understand why they ask it in the first place and what their motivation is behind asking. My response is always the same: "Whatever you want to tip me."

I'm in the business to make drinks, not to tell people how much they should tip me.

Now if someone really doesn't know how much they should tip, asking their bartender isn't the way to go about that. That's something I think they should research on their own. There are plenty of articles online, written on the subject. I should know. I've written a few myself. ;)

ChopandCut said...

We dont tip barstaff really over here in the UK only if its table service...but even then I would never ask, I would just tip what I thought you deserved/was fair. I have been to the US alot and have never really thought much about tipping, in restuarants I was told by an American friend to just double the tax and thats fair... since reading your blog I will certainly think more before I tip in the future... think of all those bartenders that must hate me for not tipping!!!



Kristin said...

Wow, nobody ever asked me that. I don't know how I would answer. Annoying!

BB said...

CieloGold- You do have some pretty good articles on the subject! I'm thinking it's more of a cocky thing than a ignorant thing though.. at least when I've been posed the question.

Chopandcut- Thanks for being my new follower! You know, it's better late than never.. on the tipping thing. It's different over there so you don't know, but now you do so that's good! Over here I need tips to make a decent wage. For instance, my last pay check was for two weeks and it was $17.50. I can't even use that to pay for a tank of gas!!

Kristin- You're right, it is annoying!! You're lucky you never got that question cause it's awkward to answer.

seriouslyright? said...

I just say that it's completely up to them. Then I bat my eyelashes :)


BB said...

lol, well there's always that route. Thanks for stopping by seriouslyright

Anonymous said...

I usually always have the same response "$1,000" (while flashing a smile) .. any jerk who says shit like this does not deserve a serious response

Anonymous said...

However, I must admit they are almost always male customers and I always thought this was some twisted attempt at flirting... my sarcastic response always gets a laugh and a decent tip but i just use it to hide my uncomfortableness with the situation..

ChopandCut said...

BB- I have followed you for a while just never pressed the actual button to follow until now! haha

I can't believe how little you get paid? so the bar owner must make a fortune???? I know its not your fault but there is something wrong with a system where you need to make your money from a customers whim to tip instead of the owner paying you a decent wage for your work.

Anonymous said...

I just respond with whatever you think I deserve. Anyway they will tip you what they will tip you anyway. Doesn't matter what your answer is.

BB said...

Yay, I love comments. Thanks to everyone for stopping by!

Anon- I agree about the flirting to some extent. And it always has been male for me. In one instance, though, the guy was with his wife. So, I HOPE that it wasn't flirting. yuck.

Chopandcut- I'm glad you decided to commit to me :) I think where the difference lies is idea of profits is that the owner can offer very inexpensive prices for things because it does not include the cost of our labor. As where most services you pay for already include labor in the price. So if the owner were to pay us labor they would have to charge the customers more for food and drinks to offset the labor costs. So, in essence, he is letting customers tip a percentage instead of upping the actual food/drink prices for labor, taxes, etc. I guess it sort of evens out, but good observations.

Waiterextraordinaire (whew you need a nickname)- I wanted to pose a question to you since you have such good insight (anyone else can offer up a response too). I agree that for the most part they have a set tip quantity in mind already.. but then why do they bother askin that question.. what is their motive? It's always bothered me that I can't really pinpoint it. My opnion is that it has to do with wanting to show off. Someone else has said it can be a way of flirting. Any opinions on the matter?

BB said...

Chopandcut- I just thought of this and wanted to add it to the explination of my paychecks. We work a VERY short amount of hours.. which is the norm in restaurants. The average is a four hour shift. If I'm scheduled five or more it's considered a double shift. So, in reality on an average week I might work three nights a week.. but I only work around 2-4 hours a night. So that 4.65/hour pay .. doesn't add up too quickly on the paycheck. I just wanted to add this in because it adds to the reason why our paychecks are so low. Have a good day!

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Kelly said...

I know my comment is a little late, but I have had this happen to me a few times.

However, they generally ask me that right before I make their drink. As in, they're asking me how much tip do I want in accordance to how much liquor I put in their drinks.

I generally tell reply, "depends on how much you're willing to offer", which leads to, "depends on how much alcohol you put in my drink", which ends in me putting a bit more alcohol in their drink and ending up with a $10 tip on a $6 drink.

I don't really mind this question.