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How Much Is Too Much To Tip?

Posted by Peter Post  August 27, 2013 07:00 AM

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What percentage do you think is reasonable for tipping at a restaurant?

15%? 20%? 25%?

How about 2336%? That’s right: two thousand three hundred thirty six percent.

That’s what a $5,000 tip amounts to on a $214 bill. And that, according to a story on the Huffington Post, is what the lucky bartender(s) at Brewskis Bar in Ogden, Utah enjoyed a few days ago. The big tipper didn’t stop there either. He went on to another bar, ran up a $49 tab and left a $1,000 tip. Maybe he was feeling a little less generous because that tip only amounted to 2040%.

In a similar incident in May, The New York Daily News reported that a waiter received a $5,000 tip from a couple who wishes to remain anonymous. He works tables at Rice Village restaurant in Texas. A couple he had served for years knew he needed a car—it turns out his car had been totaled during a bad storm in Houston. Interestingly, while he appreciated the gift the couple gave him in the form of a tip, “To me, it would be more of a gift if it was a loan.”

Now, I’m not suggesting we start tipping the way these people did. Their tips were acts of kindness and generosity that transcended the traditional tip. But in today’s world just how much is a traditional tip? For a long time tipping advisors suggested 15%. But, frankly, the math was complicated for many people: figure ten percent of the bill, divide that in half and add it to the ten percent to get the fifteen percent tip.

Most everyone I speak to about tipping says they now tip twenty percent. “Why?” I’ll ask. The answer is, “It’s easier.” Simply double the bill and whack off the right most number. For instance, the tip on that $214 bill is easily figured: 214 doubled equals 428, so the twenty percent tip is $42 or you could round up to $43.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."

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