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Eat & Drink

On the art of tipping at Toronto restaurants

Posted by Derek Flack / January 16, 2012

2012116-tips-toronto.jpgIs the standard restaurant tip on the rise in Toronto? According to an article published by the Toronto Star today, some restaurateurs are using wireless debit and credit machines to prompt diners to leave more than the generally agreed upon 15 per cent. Although it's yet to be determined how widespread the practice is, the fact that some restaurants are urging customers to up their gratuity is enough to get people talking about what's fair and reasonable when it comes to compensating servers in this city.

Earlier today we asked our Twitter followers to share what they think the standard tip should be in Toronto and to weigh in on whether or not 20 per cent was too high. The answers are expectedly varied, but one trend worth noting is that diners aren't jazzed with the idea that they'd be obligated to tip more because restaurant owners aren't willing to bump up their employees wages.

"We feel we are providing great service. Waiters don't get paid too much," Tom Earl, co-owner of The Westerly, told the Star. Earl might be kicking himself for uttering that line, but it seems like he has half of it right: if the service is top notch, most diners seem willing to pitch in extra tip.

Where do you stand?

Photo by cafemama on Flickr

Discussion

92 Comments

AV / January 16, 2012 at 02:39 pm
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The tip meter starts when I walk in the door (but if a host or hostess is involved it starts when I am seated), and ends when my plates are cleared and I ask for the bill. My tip can go from 0% to 25% depending on service. I get that you're in a tough industry, but you chose your path in life. Don't make me feel like a dick because I won't tip above and beyond for lacklustre or haphazard service.

rob / January 16, 2012 at 02:46 pm
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Sorry that the wages for server staff are so poor but tipping is a silly concept. I like it in the rest of the world, particularly Japan, where they take pride in their work and find tipping an insult. Heck, they'll actually chase you down in Japan to return your money if you leave a tip.

That said, if service is adequate then the tip is 10%. If very good then 15%. If outstanding and accommodating unusual requests then 20%+. If everything sucked from beginning to end, you make me wait, you appear lazy or grumpy, and I don't enjoy my time (or the food) then your tip will be ZERO. The tip is a bonus, not a requirement.
Rob / January 16, 2012 at 02:53 pm
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I recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong, Sydney, and Melbourne over the xmas holidays and I must say they are much more appreciative of tips rather than expecting a tip (as per the standard in north america) whether or not they did their job properly.
when I asked a local about tipping in Melbourne, she said that tips are not expected...if you like the service and are happy then you leave something small, even a buck or two after dinner. If you werent satisfied, then no tip will be left. This was how it went the entire trip and those who did receive a tip were extremely thankful.
I WISH this would be the standard here in Toronto rather than throwing money at people who dont deserve it.
Mark / January 16, 2012 at 02:53 pm
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I'd look at Europe- in France, taxes and 15% service are in the price. In Italy, the tip isn't in the bill, but the staff is clearly paid. In Tuscany recently, I was pulled aside and given back most of the 15% tip we'd left with the admonition that north Americans are creating a problem (for Italians) by tipping in excess of 5%. I like this approach, where essentially, the cost of the meal is the cost - taxes, tip and all. Just pay the staff properly. Food is better there as well.
JR / January 16, 2012 at 02:55 pm
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FYI: Technically, tip should be calculated on the subtotal (before tax) not on the TOTAL
John / January 16, 2012 at 02:56 pm
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Nothing ticks me off more than when a server gives you back change in the largest denomination possible in hopes you'll leave it for them. If they make it too hard to tip too bad for them.
Oh, and 15-20% is fair for good service.
Krys / January 16, 2012 at 02:57 pm
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I often tip 15-20% but I often get bad service and don't bat an eye at tipping very low in those cases. I was a server for 7 years myself. If someone tips a server poorly they often think the patron is cheap when they should really be looking at how they served the table. Getting my order wrong, not coming back to refill coffees or drinks and bringing the appetizers out with the main dishes are big offenders in my books.

A lot of places have a mandatory 15% tip on tables over 6 people, I think it's bull, if the service is bad you shouldn't be forced to tip someone just because there is a group of you. There wage is to cover them doing their job. I think mandatory tipping should be illegal for a restaurant to enforce.
Hmmm / January 16, 2012 at 02:58 pm
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1) I steal tips = troll 2) rob - in countries where there's no tipping, the servers get paid way more.
geg / January 16, 2012 at 02:58 pm
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I was always taught that you calculate tip based on the pre-tax billed amount; I recently realized that these "pre-calculate" tip buttons calculate on top of the total (post-tax) bill.

Since HST is 13%, your pre-tax bill is (final/1.13), which means if you want to apply a 15% tax to the pretax amount you want the tip to be (final/1.13)*0.15 or in other words, if you want to give a 15% tip and are provided with one of these auto-calculating tip consoles you should enter 0.15/1.13=0.1327

... or in other words a 13% tip.
realzc / January 16, 2012 at 03:03 pm
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I wish north america would grow out of this tipping garbage. Incorporate the cost into the meal and pay your employees real wages.

Tips are for extremely exceptional service, why should i tip just because you are doing an average/good job?
mike in parkdale / January 16, 2012 at 03:08 pm
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you know what's even stranger? Tipping at bars. Does getting a beer out of the fridge and opening it for me really deserve an extra dollar? Sometimes there's just no logic in cultural practices.
Japhet / January 16, 2012 at 03:16 pm
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Jesus Christ, a lot of you guys are treating servers like children. A toonie stack?? How vulgar.

I agree that North America should pay their waitstaff more and tips should never, ever be expected but service is an actual career, to be good at it requires more skill than a lot of people would give it credit for.

There are a lot of shitty servers out there who are doing it because they can't get it together or are trying to make money whilst at school.

Don't lump me (or the other servers and bartenders) who love what they do) in with them. Every industry has workers who operate from the lowest common denominator.
- / January 16, 2012 at 03:27 pm
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I usually start at 15% and adjust according to the service provided. I've heard of places where they have chased after the customers asking for more tip. That's just ridiculous!
hendrix / January 16, 2012 at 03:27 pm
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What I never understood is why the tip is a percentage of the food cost. Can somebody explain that to me?
I mean, what does the cost of the food to the consumer have to do with the amount of the tip?

And does the waiter work hard carrying a plate of expensive food than a plate of cheaper food... I don't think so. A server in a restaurant with cheap food can be as good, if not better, than a server in a restaurant with expensive food. Yet carrying some plates and some drinks in either restaurant has a different tip.
Sophie / January 16, 2012 at 03:29 pm
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I'm shocked to see comments from people who don't tip. Waiters wage exists on the assumption that people are tipping, so until they make the same minimum wage some kind of tip should be seen as mandatory unless the service is particularly awful.

So many restaurants are running on such tight budgets that I can see why owners would be hesitant to pay more than the minimum. This isn't necessarily right or fair, but since diners don't know which restaurants are paying their staff a better wage, we should all be assuming that our waiters are making next to nothing before tip-out. If you don't want to pay for the service, stay at home and uncork your own wine and clear your own plates.
tippt replying to a comment from QU / January 16, 2012 at 03:34 pm
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Joey Eaton Centre ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha - sorry hold on - I have to breathe - ha ha ha ha ha ha
Sunshine / January 16, 2012 at 03:34 pm
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Wow, everyone!

First of all, GU, that was the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Toonie stack? IF the server is smart enough?
Are you training Pavlov dogs? Get off your high horse because seriously, if it was myself serving you, I'd tell you to keep your money. REALLY curious to know what you do for a living. You probably really offended a lot of people.

Mr. Mike in Parkdale. Really? Have you ever worked in a bar? You probably wouldn't even last one night. I invite you to work one night with me. Are you willing?
Simply, why would a bartender bother to try extra hard when they are getting slammed if they got paid the same?
Wouldn't they just sit back and watch the party? And leave you dry at the bar?
They are working for you. Someone has to do it. As much as people think it's a glorious job, it is actually an extremely hard job to do well. As is serving. If I had a videotape of the bar I work at, and people saw themselves and how they act, no one would ever leave their houses again. They would be mortified!

M- You're funny.
tippt replying to a comment from QU / January 16, 2012 at 03:35 pm
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If the owners paid the staff more per hour, the food prices would go up and you non-tipping cheapos would stay home, leaving the rest of us to enjoy ourselves, so I AM ALL FOR IT.
yankee style / January 16, 2012 at 03:37 pm
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I think it's an American thing, but I remember my dad telling me to always tip well and that kind of stuck with me. With that being said, I'm rarely impressed with much of the service in Toronto. I had a group of friends up from the states recently, and they were offended at how bad the service was. Let's be honest, it takes quite a bit to get Americans offended after bringing them food.
Japhet replying to a comment from hendrix / January 16, 2012 at 03:37 pm
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Depends on the meal and the level of service the restaurant generally provides. Service goes beyond just carrying a plate of food to a table.

If you can't afford to eat at a fancier restaurant and pay for a commensurate level of service, don't go. If you get crummy service at a fancy restaurant,leave a less-than-stellar tip. If it's really bad, complain. Shitty servers should get canned. They make the rest of us look bad.
Japhet replying to a comment from hendrix / January 16, 2012 at 03:38 pm
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That comment was in response to hendrix but it didn't show up as so.
the lemur replying to a comment from hendrix / January 16, 2012 at 03:41 pm
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It's not (just) about the cost of the food, it's that the number on the bill gives you a basis for rewarding service. You are free to leave less or more if you think the service was great or terrible. Obviously at a more expensive place, 15% of the total is more than it usually is at a cheap place, but you could be getting lousy, indifferent service at the former or a very attentive server bringing you lots of stuff at the latter. As for countries where tipping isn't customary or expected, it's generally compensated by the wages and/or the prices. Some places will actually throw on a surcharge at different times (such as public holidays).
the lemur replying to a comment from rob / January 16, 2012 at 03:41 pm
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I don't think Japan is a valid comparison at all - professional wait staff refusing tips is one thing, being secretly offended that you paid with regular crinkled bills rather than crisp new ones that you got specially from the bank is another entirely. Completely different mindset.
Aric / January 16, 2012 at 03:44 pm
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I always tip in cash when I can, as the establishments are starting to take the tips from the servers as an additional revenue stream. If it's in cash, it's harder to trace. Some bars take 10% of the final from the server regardless of tip amount, and it will come out of their pocket. While this is probably illegal, it is definitely happening.
Rmund / January 16, 2012 at 03:47 pm
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A toonie stack? Really?! You actually entered a restaurant with a stack of toonies to put on the table in order to teach wait staff a lesson? Boy, I can tell you'd be a lousy customer.

Working customer service, whether in the restaurant industry, or otherwise, can be enough of a pain in the ass without customers thinking they have to teach staff a lesson in doing the job right. One can tell here that most of you have never worked in the industry. You're probably mostly hanging out at Brassai trying to insert your gold card into the cleavage of the female staff there.

Instead of being a mature adult and just assessing the entire experience, and tipping accordingly, you have to go the way of pretty much humiliating staff by dangling a toonie in their face and saying: "earn it, baby! earn it! There's more in my toonie stack, but you gotta earn it!" If you don't get good service, fine, tip shitty, but don't be a jackass about it.

Alright, "Mr. Toonie Stack". You've now got a new name for yourself. Including "idiot".
X-Server / January 16, 2012 at 03:57 pm
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I served for a few years and it's a tough gig. Nothing worse than a table of 10 walking out on the bill. Out of your own pocket AND no tip. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that no one declares all of their tips come tax time. So this is basically tax-free income. Also, no server deserves a tip after bad service... I worked with one gent who was pretty terrible and used to freak when he got less than 15%. I think he eventually got fired for whipping pennies he was left at departing diners. "Are you sure no one else wants a drink?"
Jim / January 16, 2012 at 04:00 pm
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Tips are to be earned, If you tip for poor service, then there's no need for them to improve their service. They know they'll get paid something regardless and could care less how they treat their customers. What I love is how some not so elite restaurants bring you the debit card machine and the first thing you see on it is "How much would you like to tip" even before the price, I find that a bit rude and usually enter "0" When you tip for crappy service your promoting it.. Otherwise, if you're happy with the service, then by all means, you should leave a decent tip..
tippt / January 16, 2012 at 04:09 pm
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The only way the gov't can track how much tips you earned is by looking at credit card receipts, so servers gamble and claim only a % of their total tips, so 99.99999999999% of them cheat the gov't at tax time.
Rachel / January 16, 2012 at 04:14 pm
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I work in a cafe and I really enjoy it, but it is hard for me to deal with people who ask me how they can bypass tipping when they pay with a card. Often they don't tip in change either. I understand that eating out can be pricey, even if it's just a sandwich and coffee, but I think it takes real balls to look someone in the eye and say "I don't want to tip." It just encourages to work a little bit less. If you can't afford it, reconsider your spending habits.
mister_E / January 16, 2012 at 04:21 pm
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I do not frequent restaurants much these days. But when I did, I tipped well. But that was when I had disposable income. Now that I am older, I feel that tipping is ridiculous. Restaurants need to pay their employees more and have their prices reflect that. I have known a lot of people in the industry and it seems that they feel that they should be tipped on top of the tax, which to me is absurd. I am just a worker, so if I go to a restaurant and stay for an hour I will tip based on the time I stayed and not the bill. And I will never tip more than what I make in an hour, that's just stupid.
frank / January 16, 2012 at 04:22 pm
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In Ontario, the minimum wage is less for liquor servers than it is for the other jobs. In which case, why am I *expected* (or at least *suggested*) to tip at Starbucks, cafes, or other non-liquor places?
PeanutButter / January 16, 2012 at 04:22 pm
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Here's a tip for you...get an education so you don't have to lower yourself to being a glorified slave.
Mike P / January 16, 2012 at 04:25 pm
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I agree. Why does the server get paid more if I order a $50 steak versus a $20 stir-fry?
Jake / January 16, 2012 at 05:09 pm
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Tipping is totally sketchy. It's just a way for restaurants to get out of paying their employees a good wage. Instead, diners are guilt-tripped into feeling responsible for ensuring the staff can make a living. Then you've got some establishments skimming a percentage of tips for themselves, making servers share tips with kitchen staff, bartenders, etc. by certain percentages, and you've got servers dodging taxes by not reporting all of their income from tips.

Raise the wages of restaurant workers, raise the price of the food accordingly, and make tipping something that is only earned by exceptional service.
I have balls replying to a comment from Rachel / January 16, 2012 at 05:14 pm
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Rachel, it's your job to serve people. If you are encouraged to "work a bit less" because someone won't tip you, you should be fired immediately and your job given to someone who appreciates it.
James / January 16, 2012 at 05:20 pm
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Maybe Tom Earl of The Westerly should PAY HIS STAFF MORE. What a hypocrite.
SJ / January 16, 2012 at 05:23 pm
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re the Gladstone tweet -- every time I've been there, they've added a gratuity automatically on the bill (and have been inconsistent about pointing this out to me), even with a small party, so maybe that's why the waiter was surprised at a 20% tip?
sue replying to a comment from Aric / January 16, 2012 at 05:28 pm
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don't forget tip out - many places I've worked has you tipping out 1% to the kitchen, 1% to the bar, 1% to the hostess etc. On total sales, not the tips you've made. So a 0% tip just cost the server money to wait on you.
Am of many opinions on tipping - it shouldn't be necessary but at $8.95/hour, it is.
rory / January 16, 2012 at 05:28 pm
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Here's to all you that are wondering why we should tip more for expensive meals than cheaper ones....

For quite a few restaurants I worked at serving, we had to tip out at the end of the night. It varies between establishments but the rules can be -- based on total sales at the end of the night: 1% to busser, 2% to the bar, 3% to the kitchen and if there is one .5% to the host(ess).

If I had a shit night and didn't make a lot of money, the tip out money is coming out of my pocket.

Given all this, for me... baseline 15% on the pre-tax bill, adjusted accordingly up or down based on level of service.
sue replying to a comment from mike in parkdale / January 16, 2012 at 05:31 pm
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maybe reaching into a fridge and grabbing you a beer isn't worth the extra dollar. Of course, maybe grabbing you that beer out of the fridge BEFORE I deal with the group wanting rounds of complicated shots, the wavering debutante and the couple dozen people around you who also would like a beer out of the fridge - maybe that's worth a buck, don't you think?
-- replying to a comment from PeanutButter / January 16, 2012 at 05:36 pm
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Most servers have an excellent education, but the fact that you see them as slaves says more about you than those working in service.
Alex / January 16, 2012 at 05:43 pm
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I tip no more then 10% for good service. No tip for crap service. I consider it more than fair. 20% tippers are nuts!
Chris B replying to a comment from rory / January 16, 2012 at 06:03 pm
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Sorry Rory, you're still asking me to help cover for the fact that the restaurant you work at doesn't pay enough - no other industry expects their customers to do that. A tip is not a right, it is a reward for good service. No amount of attempted guilt by servers on anonymous internet boards will change that.

I would love to see a restauranteur show some balls and pay their staff more than the legally mandated minimum wage, and then not have their staff try to guilt us into compensating them for their piss poor wages.

What I don't get is that there's so many restaurants being started by people who once worked as servers, chefs, etc., and therefore presumably they know the problems with wages in that industry, and yet they perpetuate it by refusing to pay their staff any better than the shitty owners they once worked for. Explain that one to me.
jay / January 16, 2012 at 06:08 pm
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15% is always reasonable, because it is a percentage it is unaffected by inflation. Therefore the tip will always be indicative of real changes in prices and need not be changed.
Ritaboutit replying to a comment from PeanutButter / January 16, 2012 at 06:13 pm
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Wow! I have a University degree and guess what? I have chosen the restaurant industry as my career. Why? Because I have a real passion for food and working with people. I enjoy helping to create a great dining experience for my customers. I am trained in service, food and beverage. I love my job and would never trade it for a 9 to 5 desk job like the one you have.
Cass / January 16, 2012 at 06:25 pm
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My scale: average service gets 13-15%, good service gets 15-20%, exceptional gets 20%+; bad service gets 10% or less. A tip is just that - a TIP, and should not be expected nor a suggested value. If servers are underpaid, owners should pay them more. I don't leave a tip if it's somewhere like Williams where you stand in line, order, and get your food there and/or brought to you; no drink refills, servers coming around to check on you, etc. I don't get why those places even have the option.
Ola / January 16, 2012 at 06:30 pm
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Between 10 and 15% is what I tip, and rarely I go more. Reason: waiters' wages aren't my problem and if anybody from the restaurant business think that I should tip more as they don't get enough, go and find another career that will get you money you want. Don't expect me to fix staff wages with my money (that I have to work hard to earn).
Serveralso / January 16, 2012 at 07:04 pm
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I have worked in the service industry for over 20 years and tip between 15(min) to 20(plus)% for good to excellent service. I have also tipped 0% for atrocious service. Servers nowadays expect to be tipped regardless of the work they do. I try and place myself in the guests shoes and give them what I would want, anticipating their needs. I work with people who have the attitude that they "deserve" to be tipped even though the service is crap. I have even been served by colleagues who have given me terrible service. Servers need to educate themselves, learn proper etiquette and redraw the line of professionalism. Nothing worse than greeting me by saying "hey guys". We are not friends and you are not dining with me. So sick of this type of service when I am paying higher than normal food prices. Time to smarten up employers and train your staff properly.
genya / January 16, 2012 at 07:21 pm
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oh the art of tipping. Before thinking about the percentage remember that servers all considered less than minimum wage worthy because of tips. By the government no less. The minimum for these folks is $8.90 an hour. The other thing to consider is that the entire tip does not go to the servers. There are tipouts to the house. So the money you leave is not the money that the server gets. This is the most unpredictable, most unregulated, most strangest way to make a living. So before you make your determination consider these things. Chances are you are not paid the same way as your server. One more thought. Leave the tip in cash, whatever percentage you choose. The server will appreciate it.
Brent replying to a comment from John / January 16, 2012 at 07:44 pm
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And they give it back to you slowly or at their leisure. Hoping that you'll tip more for their crappy service. Tips start at 10% for me and go up to 25% for excellent service. I'll usually leave a penny or a nickel for crap service all around. I find it gets the message accross more readily than nothing.
a / January 16, 2012 at 08:05 pm
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the practice of tipping is as logical as a woman trying to express if her pants make her ass look fat. i don't even know why servers exist, because i am perfectly capable of getting up and bring the dishes to my table myself. every server you meet will suck up to you just to be able to squeeze more tips out of your ass. the level of genuineness in our society is non-existent it's almost hysterical. i see fake men and whores trying to suck up to one another to pursue the glorious materialism, and it's becoming ever more apparent everyday. i can't wait wait for the day in which everything collapses, because frankly it would be the most hilarious thing ever to witness in human history. but until then, continue doing what you are doing and don't ask questions. you are part of the system and this is how it's supposed to pan out.
Jason Kucherawy / January 16, 2012 at 08:39 pm
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I'd like to know who told university students they could eat and drink at restaurants like other grown-ups but were excused from tipping any more than 10%. When you've spent $70 on beer and wings, you shouldn't be leaving behind a small handful of change for service that was excellent because you are still in school.
Shana replying to a comment from Rob / January 16, 2012 at 08:41 pm
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I think Australia's got it right - tax included in the price, and the servers are paid reasonably so tips aren't expected. The service doesn't suffer from this arrangement. What I find odd, is that even though Sydney rent and food cost is even more inflated than Toronto is right now, restaurant prices are the same. Yet we pay restaurant price here plus 30% for tax and standard tip.
RZA_T / January 16, 2012 at 08:57 pm
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This isn't Australia, Japan, or Hong Kong. This is CANADA. If you are here, tip the standard. Which is 15% (up or down based on the level of service). Whether or not you believe the restaurants should be paying their servers more, the reality is they aren't. When travelling in the US my standard (for adequate) service is 20%, as they are paid less (as little as 4$ an hour). You should always investigate standards when travelling, it's the responsible thing to do. Whether or not you agree with the concept, this is our system, and it isn't going away any time soon, that's for sure. So TIP people!
innerherd / January 16, 2012 at 09:53 pm
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I don't consider the metrics behind tipping when I eat out. I am trying to eat. I do get woken up now and then by exceptional customer service. If you are great at what you do, I'll notice. I appreciate someone skillfully supplementing my not so exciting grill cheese with character and purpose. Not to the tune of a carefully calculated remuneration. a thanks seems to taste just fine.
Nerves / January 16, 2012 at 09:54 pm
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Having two small kids, I generally tip in the 20-25% range. Even if the service wasn't great, I'll still leave a generous tip to compensate for the extra clean-up required after we leave.
Genevieve replying to a comment from Rob / January 16, 2012 at 10:05 pm
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I am very surprised at the ignorance of some people. YES, in Australia (among other places) servers are more appreciative of tips and it is less of a common practice BECAUSE THEY ARE PAID AT LEAST 4-6 DOLARS AN HOUR MORE! Many people(some servers included)are all for upping the menu price for each item at least 4-10 dollars in order to pay the servers a decent wage, something at least above minimum wage. So for you consumers who are against tipping the floor staff even 5 or 10 dollars, those who are actually doing the work, I ask: would you prefer to spend and extra 10 or 20 on your meal per person to benefit the owners, the investors?
totemyoates replying to a comment from Nerves / January 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm
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As a former server, that is a very nice thing to hear. I would have been very grateful to have more customers with your mindset.
Ola replying to a comment from Genevieve / January 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm
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so that the owners, investors and the rest of staff will finally pay taxes like all of us do?! Yes, that would be a better solution.
Michael Greason / January 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm
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I tip 20% or so as a standard. At Swiss Chalet where the food bill is low and the activity by the wait person is high I tip 25%. Service has to be really bad for me to tip less and this almost never happens. One exception - if I am sitting in one place and they take my Credit Card it costs 75% of the tip. I have never dined and dashed - never will. I have however, been defrauded twice by persons unknown who knew my secret number on the back of the card and used my card to order online. I don't like to be without my card and feel that if I can't be trusted, why should I trust the server.
Michael Greason / January 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm
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PS: To be clear I mean when they take my credit card for my entire stay - not when it is time to pay.
Kieren / January 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm
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Everyone's greedy, no one works hard.

electric / January 16, 2012 at 11:07 pm
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You've it backwards, what you should discuss is the art of earning a tip or trying todo so. I have also heard the level of service in Toronto isn't the same as cities and countries where tipping is not customary. Strange.

Gravy Train / January 16, 2012 at 11:20 pm
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In the case that someone demanding me to tip a certain amount, my response would be leaving NO tip. They will be lucky that I did not dine and dash. I will tip generously for good service not because someone believes its their god given right. Tipping is a reward for providing a level of exceptional service.
Antisthenes / January 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm
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Bloody stupid. It was already a debate on paying your 15% on pre or post-tax totals, which either way makes for a bill about 130% over menu price. Servers are grossly underpaid by their restaurant, and if I go out I have little choice but to fix that with my tipping, since service is so often poor in Toronto you can only think servers assume the tip rather than work for it. Well Torontonians, at home or abroad (me, Tokyo), I suggest you do most of your eating out on work or on holiday outside of Toronto: the bill won't be higher (not even in Tokyo) and the food and service is most likely better.
Antisthenes replying to a comment from the lemur / January 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm
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Hey 'Lemur': "being secretly offended that you paid with regular crinkled bills rather than crisp new ones that you got specially from the bank"? So, you not only generalize about a whole people, the Japanese, you also have no clue what you are talking about: new bills are for gift envelopes - otherwise any bill will do just fine, thank you.
Daniel / January 17, 2012 at 12:30 am
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We only hear about the poor waiters out there. I would LOVE to know what a waiter at a high-end restaurant (i.e. splendido) nets out at the end of the week. If its over $750 cash + their wage, I will not cry for them.

Anyone willing to divulge what they make?
Bob / January 17, 2012 at 01:43 am
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I’ve been sitting here reading these comments about how some are complaining about how much people tip them.. I myself have been told by many other people in the past that if you're really not happy with your job or not making enough money, then do something about it, either choose another career or deal with it.. In other words... Why would you want to work for someone that pays you next to nothing? Do you not ask questions during an interview before your hire such your hourly wage, Do you have to tip out? These are things that should be considered even before taking on the job in the first place. Keep in mind not everyone is made of money.. Tips should be given to those who deserve them.
But the servers who are serving at the more high end elite restaurants can easily clear their weekly paycheck on a good night.. I do agree with allot of comments here saying that employers should be more responsible on what they pay their staff… It’s all just a question of greed..


guppie / January 17, 2012 at 07:40 am
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Just the tip. Just for a second. Just to see how it feels.
CuliNerd / January 17, 2012 at 07:56 am
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I tip based on the service I am given, Friday night went for dinner with friends meal was delicious, service was perfectly good the waiter was on point funny even threw in free espresso(5ppl) and a couple of scoops of ice cream for the table to share, in return gave him $55 for tip on $300 bill. So, 18% I think that is fair, We dont ask for much not the type to push a waiter to the point they hate your table, Maybe alot of the bad service comes from being bad patrons? BlogTO, do an article about shitty patrons and their shitty tips.
mike in parkdale replying to a comment from Sunshine / January 17, 2012 at 09:22 am
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Hi Sunshine - believe me, I think a proper bartender deserves a good tip, but I don't believe that every single drink deserves $1. If you're sitting in your local, dealing with a real bartender, then tip them well -- but if you're in a high volume bar (like a concert venue) where your interaction with the bartender takes about 20 seconds of their time, a buck shouldn't be the standard. And if the bartender if slammed from making a tray of blender drinks -- let the people that ordered those drinks tip for his/her time.
the lemur replying to a comment from Antisthenes / January 17, 2012 at 09:22 am
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They're not just for otoshidama. Okay, maybe it doesn't cause offence in restaurants to use regular bills, but some people do like to pay with new bills to make a good impression. Another aspect of Japanese restaurant that simply does not translate to here, just like always paying the cashier.
rory replying to a comment from Chris B / January 17, 2012 at 10:42 am
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You missed the whole point of my comment Chris B.
When you're tipping servers at a lot of restaurants you're not just tipping the servers. You're tipping the bar, busser, kitchen and host.

And I don't work in restaurants anymore, hence the past tense tone of my post. Does anyone actually read anymore?
Ben / January 17, 2012 at 11:09 am
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I don't like this tipping thing. I am from Germany where a tip is a bonus for good service and not to prevent the waiter/waitress from starving. I think the restaurants should pay their staff better (even if this would result in higher prices) and the tip should be a bonus for good or outstanding service.
Dave / January 17, 2012 at 11:20 am
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I stopped tipping when I reached College and realized that it was a silly concept. I didn't force you to have a low paying job so why should I pay in a tip? I do a great job at my career and I don't get a tip from the general public. Same goes for bars, you grabbed me a beer out of the ice bucket, you think that is worthy of $1? Not in the slightest bit. If you don't like the pay go back to school and get a different career.
Cam Hardy / January 17, 2012 at 11:57 am
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Daniel, I've worked with bartenders who make $300 on a good night, plus their (minimal) wage. It really does depend where you're working and how that restaurant is organized. You can make more money working alone at a moderately busy dive bar than you can at an overstaffed fine-dining establishment.

This is basically a collective-action problem. I agree that tipping should be a bonus, and that restaurant staff should be paid well by management, but any restaurant that raised their prices 20% and prohibited excessive tipping would probably fail, largely because of cheapskates like Dave above, who would miss the ability to stiff a server having a rough night. On the flip side, corporate bigshots and men on first dates would miss the ability to impress with their generous tipping.

Right now, tipping should be factored into the cost of dining. If you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to eat out. If you object in principle, you're being willfully ignorant of how society works, and are an asshole, too.
keven replying to a comment from Cam Hardy / January 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm
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"Right now, tipping should be factored into the cost of dining."

So if you get crap service, you should still pay for it?

At the beginning of the night, I tip 20%, as the night goes on, that tip either deflates or inflates, depending on the service. How is this unfair?
Daniel Sullivan / January 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm
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This article touches on something, electronic payment devices brought to the table. When your server hands you the debit machine the amount that you are tipping on is post tax, so if you choose the 15% or 20% option you are actually tipping on tax which really doesn't make sense to do.

I was a Bartender and it was my tool to earn a few extra bucks, I am all about tipping well. I usually leave 15% or more depending on the services.

However i just want everyone to take an extra second when on a debit machine at the restaurant because if you choose the standard 15 or 20% you are actually tipping approx another 6% on the bill. And when your bill is $100 or more that really starts to add up.

Dave replying to a comment from Cam Hardy / January 17, 2012 at 02:12 pm
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It isn't that I am cheap, the fact is if you don't like the job you are at and the pay isn't getting you by go somewhere else and get a better paying job simple as that. Why should I pay you extra to do YOUR JOB?
J replying to a comment from Dave / January 17, 2012 at 04:00 pm
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Dave.. i agree.. tipping is stupid.. restaurant owners should pay proper wages instead of lining their pockets with money.

i think if we can get enough of us to stop the tipping practice all together we can force a change!

FREE LUNCH / January 17, 2012 at 04:15 pm
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I hope blogto runs an ethics article on dining and dashing because there's a lot of self-entitlement going on here.
Cam Hardy replying to a comment from Dave / January 17, 2012 at 05:09 pm
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Dave, the point is that you're not "paying extra." Tipping is a part of eating out, which is meant to compensate for the fact that servers have a low minimum wage. Tips make up the majority of any server's pay. I agree that restaurant owners should simply pay living wages instead, but unfortunately, that's just not how things work right now.

The idea that restaurant owners are "lining their pockets with money" is somewhat bizarre too. Sure, some are. But most restaurants fail within a couple years of opening, and those that succeed generally have extremely tight profit margins. Tipping is used as an easy way to motivate servers and promote some sort of self-management among them.
linked / January 17, 2012 at 06:47 pm
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If the bill is small - no wine etc, then I tip 15 - 25% depending on service. If Wine is 14$/glass and the bill swells fast, 15 - 20 at best.
Dave replying to a comment from Cam Hardy / January 17, 2012 at 08:36 pm
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As I said before, if you don't like the job and the pay, work in a different field. If I woke up one day and realized that my pay wasn't etiquette with what I thought I should be getting paid I would move on and get another job. Not my fault they decided to settle on a crap job. I work 60 hours a week, overnights in 7 in a row stretches, I never call in sick and I do a damn good job each day yet I still get my yearly salary regardless, no one comes and pats me on the back and gives me some extra cash for doing the job that I was hired to do in the first place.
Adam / January 17, 2012 at 10:19 pm
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Tipping at 15% is a very reasonable amount. Being a Chef and working with servers I understand that that is where they make their income. Wages for servers are waaaay lower than minimum wage. I usually tip heavy handedly because I know they deal with a lot. If the service is bad, well the server would get next to nothing if any. As for the machines with the prompt for telling you how much to tip... Away with it. Truth be known, the server does not get that full amount. This new thing called "The House" takes part of that tip. I do not agree with that. Why does the owner get to pocket money out the servers pocket. This is not to be confused with tipping out the kitchen, or the bar. I have seen restaurants take 3% to the "House" On that note, 15-20% is good, anything more the server will remeber you, and make sure you are taken care of.
ree / January 18, 2012 at 02:02 am
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Some of the people commenting on this article should be embarrassed by their outright ignorance. Do you realize how stupid some of you sound? When and where in this section do you read any server complaining about hat they do? The amount of non-tippers and 10% ers is frightening. To tip is to guarantee service. TIPS = To Insure Proper Service. Oh and the person that thinks he/she can bring the plates to the table themself? Let me guess, you also know how to properly decant wine, to do food and beverage pairings, how to properly set a table, know the difference between an IPA and a stout, where foie gras comes from or how to fold a dinner napkin? Yeah, didn't think so. You wanna argue about tipping how about we talk about the hairdresser, taxi driver, bell boy or manicurist?
Meep replying to a comment from hendrix / January 19, 2012 at 11:36 am
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I've been a server and bartender for ten years. I love it and I am quite good at it. My current position actually pays significantly less than minimum wage at $6/hr.
Despite the fact that my hourly wage is ridiculous, I COMPLETELY agree that the cost of the food should have absolutely nothing to do with the amount of tip. I think it's ridiculous that if a table orders a $60 bottle of wine from me and nothing else, that table is expected to tip more than a table whose bill is $40 with a bag illusion items on it and numerous special requests.
Meep replying to a comment from Adam / January 19, 2012 at 11:57 am
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The house takes 10% where I work. Thanks for acknowledging that crazy concept!
Karen_P / January 19, 2012 at 05:31 pm
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Servers in Ontario make $1.35 less than minimum wage. Min wage is $10.25 and servers make $8.90.

I don't think they need to be tipped 20% by everyone in order to make an extra $1.35 per hour, to reach the min wage threshold. I’m sure even if they received an average of 10% tips all night, they would still make an extra $1.35 per hour to bring their hourly wage up to $10.25.

What if restaurants actually paid servers min wage, and tipping was abolished? I’m sure there would be a flood of people exiting server positions, as it would no longer be as lucrative as it is with tips. They would still complain if they made $10.25 an hour, they feel entitled to make more than that.
Not Dave replying to a comment from Dave / January 22, 2012 at 02:06 am
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Dave, extrapolating your dull logic leads to you not eating out, since the social convention is clearly to tip for service and you're apparently not prepared to play by that rule. I agree that tipping as a wage subsidy is a stupid system, but it is the system.

I also think it's pretty annoying that everyone who does anything expects a tip these days. On what basis should a clerk expect a tip or a taxi driver?
@sircelebritaire / January 24, 2012 at 02:35 am
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I have a friend of mine who is a corporate manager and makes almost $80k/yr. I asked her about her hubby working as a waiter at a high(ish)-end midtown TO restaurant... she said he makes about the same as her!!! Minimum wage, minimum bs! Most of the tips are of course non-taxable (hush-hush, stuff it in your pocket, say no more)... let's face it, he makes almost the same as her because the tax man is not grabbing 1/3 of ALL his earnings in the same way hers and the rest of us get stung!
educatedserver01 replying to a comment from PeanutButter / February 11, 2012 at 01:21 pm
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wow, you are an a-hole. Most of the people ensuring that you are having a good time while eating out are over-educated for their job. You are an ignorant douche, sir

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