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Don’t Forget to Tip When Dining in a Restaurant in America

When dining at a restaurant in Great Britain or anywhere else in Europe, you will not be required to leave a tip for the waiting staff after your meal. That is because most restaurants in Britain and in Europe add a service charge to the bill, usually 10% of the total price of the meal. It depends on the restaurant if it will accept any tips or gratuities from its customers, and it is usually indicated on the bill itself if they accept tips or not. Nonetheless, it is not common practice for diners in Great Britain and in Europe to leave tips after dining at a restaurant.

However, if you travel to the United States and happen to dine out at a restaurant, you should never forget to leave a tip for the waiting staff whether you pay with cash or with your credit card. Tipping is a big issue for the Americans, and it is considered a big faux pas if you do not leave a tip.

The Psychology of Tipping in Restaurants for Americans

Why is tipping such a big issue for the Americans? There are many reasons behind the concept of tipping. Basically, tipping is the American way of saying “thank you” to the waiters who have served them their meals, unless they have dined at a fastfood outlet or in a self-service diner. Leaving these waiters tips is a show of appreciation for the service and is also meant to encourage them to continue giving quality service to their customers.

Still, many Americans still feel compelled to leave tips even if the service they received from the waiting staff at the restaurant was positively shoddy. Behaviourists have a number of explanations for this custom. Some say that this is a way for some Americans to assuage the “guilt” they feel at the “inequality” they perceive between themselves as customer and the person waiting on them. The tip is meant to compensate for this inequality. Others simply feel big when they leave tips, especially when the tip is large enough.

The Anti-Tipping Restaurant Experiment

However, there are a few rare establishments in the United States that discourage tipping from their customers rather than go with the flow. The most notable of these restaurants is the Linkery in San Diego, California. The Linkery’s owner, Jay Porter, has set up a policy wherein they will not accept tips from their customers. If customers insist on giving tips, they are encouraged to donate to the charity that the Linkery sponsors. In lieu of tips, the establishment adds a service charge amounting to 18% of the total bill.

When the New York Times asked Mr. Porter to explain his establishment’s policy, he said that it was his observation that tipping creates a rift between the waiting staff and the kitchen staff. After all, the waiters are not obliged to share the tips they collect with the kitchen staff. Also, Mr. Porter felt that increasing his employees’ salaries instead of making them rely on tips improved morale as well as the quality of the service at the Linkery.

Ironically, this anti-tipping experiment was met with disdain by other restaurants and by customers as well. What makes it so ironic is that customers feel that an 18% service charge without tips is exorbitant, but they would not think twice about leaving tips amounting to 20% of the bill. Nevertheless, it goes to show that tipping is indeed a huge issue in the United States, so when you travel there, never forget to leave a tip when dining at a restaurant.

Luke Wildman PhotoAbout Author
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