UnderCover Waitress: Guest Post: Former Waitress Talks About Tipping

Friday, July 12, 2013

Guest Post: Former Waitress Talks About Tipping

Chloe Trogden is a former server and a writer. Please enjoy her guest post categorizing the tippers that we have all come to know so well...

I worked as a server for a number of years in college. It was a great way to make extra money but also a stressful one. While you could get seated with a couple of parties or a couple of big spenders who all turned out to be generous tippers, you could also get seated with a couple who wanted to sit at their table for hours just chatting and then leave you $2 (true story) and a single man who ordered a cup of soup and felt it wasn’t his responsibility to pay your paycheck and left you nothing (another true story).
I learned quickly that there are certain types of tippers – categories into which most people fall. While you can’t always tell what type of tippers people will be when they sit down, you can usually sweep them into one of these categories after they have paid the bill and left their tip. Here are a few of the most common types of tippers that I encountered:

The “I Don’t Need to Pay Your Paycheck” Tippers

They feel that the restaurant should pay you, so they leave you nothing. I got into a heated debate with one of these types of tippers in one of my classes in college. He really felt that the $2.13 servers were paid was enough, and that if it wasn’t, then it was our job to protest to make it so.

The “Why Should I Have to Tip?” Tippers

These people feel that it’s “entitled” to expect customers to tip you. They feel that they are paying for their food, and that should be all that’s needed. These types of tippers often cross over into the “I Don’t Need to Pay Your Paycheck” category.

The One-Size-Fits-All Tipper

This tipper leaves the same amount each time they eat out – no matter how much the bill is. This is great if you get a $5 tip on a $5 bowl of soup, but it’s pretty sucky when you get that same $5 on an $80 steak dinner for two.

The Calculating Tipper

While 15 percent is a good rule of thumb for tipping, these tippers take it as more of a literal rule. They pull out their calculators or tip charts to leave a tip that is exactly 15 percent – down to the penny. Sometimes they tip 10 or 20 percent, but the same rule applies.

The “Jump Through Hoops” Tipper

Some people take the idea that you are their server a little too much to heart, and they try to milk the situation for all it’s worth. That includes sending you back for extra butter, another refill, a clean napkin, a spoon that doesn’t have this spot on it (when there’s actually no spot), and a reheat on their steamed veggies – all in separate trips. They usually send you back to the kitchen the moment you bring whatever it is they just requested, hoarding all of your time. Surprise, these guests also usually tip the worst – or not at all.

The Penny Pincher

Everyone wants to save a buck. However, there are some diners who put together discounts and coupons to pay as little as possible for their meal – and then forget that they’re supposed to tip based on the original bill. Instead, they tip based on the discounted price. That means your tip is half off, as well, even though you gave full service.

The “I Don’t Have Money” Tipper

This tipper usually has a sob story or an apology about why they are leaving you a bad tip or no tip at all. “We just bought a house.” “We just had a baby.” Unfortunately, this miserly mindset wasn’t there when they were ordering steak and shrimp, but when it comes time to your tip, they start thinking about all the other things in their budget.

The Judgmental Tipper

When you’re dealing with this tipper, every move you make it being ranked, tallied and scored like you’re performing in front of a panel of Olympic judges. Every time you take a little too long to bring a refill, it’s counted against you. Every time you fail to flash a full-watt smile, it’s counted against you. By the end of the meal, all your demerits are mentally assessed and your tip is deducted accordingly.

The Generous Tipper

By far the tipper you most want to get at your table, the generous tipper always leave above and beyond what’s expected – usually regardless of the service or any other circumstances. The generous tipper sometimes does this to feel philanthropic and sometimes does it in recognition of the nature of the job, which requires a lot of hard work without a lot of pay. Generous tippers are especially common at the holidays.
What are types of tippers have you encountered waiting tables? Tell us about them in the comments!

Chloe Trogden is a seasoned financial aid writer who covers specific opportunities such as beauty school scholarships. Her leisure activities include camping, swimming and playing her guitar.


  1. My daughter is a server and she is pretty good at spotting the worst tippers before she even takes their orders. Does she stereotype? Yes, she's 18. lol

    Worst tippers: Sunday afternoon gaggle of middle aged women coming from church. They are critical and demanding.

    Best tippers: A group of college guys with the token gay man. The gay guy almost always ensures you get the best tips from each and the phone number of the most non-douche of the bunch. :)

    I raised her. Now it's someone else's turn! Haha

  2. Hmmm, the judgmental and the jumping through hoops tipper would be just the sort who comes across as the one you want to avoid at all costs...

    1. Yes. Everything you ever needed to know about who tips well...


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