Someone Says Tipping is a Choice, Not an Obligation. I Beg to Differ.

635759964452174303-notip-082415By now, we have all heard about New Jersey waitress Jess Jones who was stiffed on a $112 check because the customer said they waited an hour for the food. Not only did they stiff her, they were one of those smug assholes who decided to write a little note in the tip line too. “LOL,” they wrote, justifying the lack of tip by citing the extraordinary wait time for their dinner. “Even though they did wait an hour to eat, they remained satisfied with filled drinks and proper notice that the kitchen was a bit busier than normal. I’ve worked in the service industry for five years and I take pride in providing great service to my customers,” said Jess.

We are all used to the occasional shitty tip and taking the blame for things that are out of our control. If the kitchen is slammed and food times are through the roof, it’s the servers who pay the price. If a burger is overcooked and a customer is upset by that, the cook who burned that burger isn’t going to see some money come out of his paycheck, but the waiter might get less of a tip for it. It sucks, but that’s the way it is. Conversely, when the food is wonderful and comes out quickly and is exactly as the customer wants it, the cook doesn’t get extra cash in his paycheck while the server might benefit. It’s the way of the restaurant world.

The photo of Jess’s tip has gone viral and lots of people have written about. I wasn’t going to until I saw an article about it called “Tipping is a Choice, Not an Obligation.” It first appeared to me via a Facebook page called PuckerMob which led me to the article on their website. It was written by Jay Miletsky who, although he says he worked as a waiter during college, seems to have forgotten the importance of tips. “Our society has become so entitled that it’s now completely beyond comprehension that tipping is not a requirement and should never be expected,” he writes.

No, it’s not a requirement and we all know that. The issue lies with the fact that this customer chose to not tip because of something that had nothing to do with the server who communicated to the table that things were a bit slow. She did the best that she could under less than ideal circumstances and rather than leave less of a tip, the customer chose to leave nothing at all. Again, it’s not the law to leave a tip, but it is part of our social contract that you do it. It’s part of the same contract that we all try to agree upon in order to be nice people. There is no law that requires you to offer your seat on the train to a pregnant woman, but most people do it because it’s the right thing to do. It is not required that you pitch in a few bucks to buy a gift for one of your coworkers who is leaving, but most of us do it, because it’s nice. The world we live in is full of these social and moral obligations that we uphold and tipping at a restaurant is one of them.

Mr. Milestky writes that “It’s (tipping) not mandatory. Whatever is left should be appreciated, not expected. And if nothing is left, it’s not the ‘scorned’ food service employee’s place to berate, attack, or publicly humiliate the customer.” I’m sure Jess would have appreciated anything that was left but since she had nothing to appreciate, I guess she did the one thing that will make her feel better about working for absolutely nothing: she expressed her dissatisfaction on social media. And before someone jumps in to remind us that servers make a salary, let me remind you that the hourly wage for servers in New Jersey is $2.13 so you bet your ass that Jess depends on tips and it’s no wonder she was upset enough to take a picture and blast it out on Facebook.

Until this country agrees to do away with tipping and have restaurants pay servers a real hourly wage, this is what you do when you go out to eat: you tip. I’m not saying that every server deserves a 20% tip; you tip based on the service that you received. If your waiter or waitress did everything that was necessary for you to have a nice dining experience, tip them well. If the server was rude to you, ignored you, fucked everything up and then didn’t try to fix it, sure leave a crappy tip, they earned it. But when you’re disappointed with something that happened in the restaurant and it had nothing to do with the person who took your order, leave a fucking tip. No, it might not be a requirement and you didn’t sign a contract saying you would do it, but if you want to fit in with the majority of the people who live in this world you have to accept it. And if you’re not willing to leave a tip then you have to be willing to accept that an upset waitress from New Jersey might take a picture of your credit card slip and show the world what a cheap asshole you are.

Here is PuckerMob’s Facebook page. Tell ’em I said hello and that you don’t agree with Jay Milestky.

23 thoughts on “Someone Says Tipping is a Choice, Not an Obligation. I Beg to Differ.

  1. Andy Steward

    OK, I’ll bite. If I go to a restaurant to eat, someone has taken ingredients from the food market and turned them into a meal for me. That whole process is the “service” and that service is reflected by the difference between the food market price of the ingredients and the bill I am presented with. 1: Why should part of what I pay be determined by my satisfaction with the experience? If I’m unhappy, I’ll go away, never to return, and moan on TripAdvisor, FB or other: the business owner will get less trade, make less profit and adjust his practices accordingly. If I’m happy, I will give him repeat custom and praise his business on social media. 2: Which part of the eating-out experience deserves the reward? The person who designed the restaurant; the designer of the menu and the dishes within it; the persons who cooked my chosen items to perfection; or the drone who wrote down my order and later carried a plate from the pass to my table? 3: I am also unhappy with haggling, so I propose to combine and eliminate both my pet hates here: when your menu quotes me a price for my meal, I shall haggle the price down by 20% and then add a 25% tip to the resulting cost: everyone should be happy!

    1. Retired and still tired waitress

      Oh, I’m sure you are a real joy to wait on. God help the waitstaff from assholes like you.

      1. Andy Steward

        No, It’s the tipping system I’m complaining about, not the waitstaff – they are the chief victims of a severly f***ed-up system. While that system is in place, I _do_ tip – I was just taking this opportunity to ask: “Why is the restaurant industry one of the few where the customer determines the staff wages?”.

        1. Mangler

          Two reasons.
          Mainly, the business owners who lobbied for the below minimum wages did so to keep their over head as low as possible. There are huge tax and insurance savings for any restaurant that pays their servers in such a way. Secondly, a tip does act as incentive for the server to grin-and-bear-it for the occasional patron who is a pain. After all, most people do perform on an incentive basis.
          There are very few other jobs out there where people would willingly get paid below federal requirements based on the chance that the public they interact with will compensate for that.

  2. Gilbey

    “If the server was rude to you, ignored you, fucked everything up and then didn’t try to fix it, sure leave a crappy tip, they earned it.”

    I notice you do not say “Leave no tip.” Are you so biased that you can’t wrap your head around not getting a tip, no matter how bad and malicious the service may be?

    “…you have to be willing to accept that an upset waitress from New Jersey might take a picture of your credit card slip and show the world what a cheap asshole you are.”

    No, not at all true. Impotent rage. While these cunts might be taking pics and posting them, the customer identity is always blacked out. If not, that cunt waitress better be prepared to get fired. Again, the customers hold all the cards, the wait staff has none unless you want to resort to some illegal shit like food tampering. And she can’t even do that because she doesn’t know she’s getting stiffed until it all over. Jess Jones needs to be fired anyhow for fucking complaining. Any waiter does that puts their employer under public scrutiny and representing them as having entitled, ungrateful staff needs to be fired and blacklisted from the industry.

    Bitchy, why don’t you take a post to advocate doing away with this tipping system? Okay, maybe you don’t want to do away with it. So how about a post exploring what you imagine the affects would be, and not just on hoity-toity New York City restaurants like yours, but nationwide–from the Waffle House to the Golden Corral to your restaurant to $400 a plate restaurants?

    1. Kpgn

      Or, even better, we could talk about how it would affect the industry if BW explored the effects of changing the tipping standards of this country.
      Or the effect of incorrect word usage and how it affects society as a whole. Just sayin’

    2. The Bitchy Waiter Post author

      Gilbey, are you for me or against me? I can never tell. Most of your comments tend to lash out and people. And who the fuck told you I work in a hoity toity restaurant?

  3. Rachael

    I don’t know how this would work in the real world, but I wonder how this would work out:

    Restaurant raises prices a bit and pays the server a certain percentage of each sale. For instance, a server will get 20% of the total of each table or maybe a certain percentage depending on food classification (dish or alcohol). That way, the server has an incentive to upsell. Also, the restaurants them start treating servers like actual employees…..

  4. Gilbey

    I’m neither for you nor against you. I don’t see things in black and white. I don’t know where you work. I have a picture painted in my mind from what you have said over the years, it’s certainly more fancy pants than a lot of establishments. It may not be elegant, but I can tell there is a way of doing things where you work. Like a lot of places would start people out as waiters, with no more than 3 days training. Something tells me you got your job with experience and a resume, not just an application. You have a bar, you have outdoor seating and Mexicans in the kitchen. That might not be too hoity-toity for NYC, but it sure is to us rubes out here in the sticks.

    I’m for you making a living wage. I’m for you having an entertaining blog, making some appearances on the Today Show, CNN, Dr. Phil, even writing a book. But I don’t feel that it’s about you, not all the time. If you wrote solely about your personal hardships and triumphs in your restaurant, then it could be about you. But when so many blog posts are about the waitress in Jersey, an owner in Maine, etc. it is about the whole state of the industry in this country.

    Bitchy, why would you want to be black and white on your positions? Why would you want to be inflexible and unwilling to compromise? Is there some sort of waiter/waitress secret society that is conspiring against the IRS and the customers? Is there a code you live by where you’re not allowed to make a concession or admit that we’d be better off in a non-tipping system? You might have it good in NYC, you might be in demand, highly skilled, and you, personally, are not getting screwed. But on a whole, I think the system is bad for wait staff. It should be changed. I’d rather pay $10 for a hamburger instead of paying $8 and playing some sort of game where I’m supposed to add in $2 for the person that ferried it to the table. And like I said before, I only play that game at places where I intend to be a repeat customer. If I’m out of town or on vacation, or never intend to go back, I stiff’em or maybe give them 10%. And I’m totally free to do that, without consequence. So how is this a good system? If I ever went back to NYC and wound up in your section, I’d probably stiff your ass. I’d pay with cash and you’d never know my name. All because I know in a million years, I’d never wind up in your restaurant again.

    And as far as lashing out at people, I certainly do when they say something retarded or show themselves to be bald faced liars.

    1. FU

      You are an asshole. Stiffing a server just bc you are not going to be a repeat customer shows what a cheap sack of donkey shit you are. There is a lot more that goes into being a server than just “ferrying” your food from the kitchen to the table where your fat fucking ass then proceeds to stuff it down you gullet. Ppl like you do not understand that though bc im sure you have never had to sink so low as to wait tables. I hope someone wipes their ball cheese across the bun of the next burger you eat. 🙂

  5. Meggatronia

    A view from a country ( Australia) that doesn’t tip: we pay more for our meals as the resturant factors in waitstaff’s $20+ an hour wage into the overheads.

    Seriously resturant eating in the usa is much cheaper than here, even when I tip the usa staff generously (seriously I’m lazy and do lot of rounding up when calculating)
    But, service in the usa is better and more attentive. That check back thing you guys do? Only happens at really high end places here. Seriously, great service here is the equivalent of low end average there. So whilst tipping is odd, it does work to the customers advantage. So those who don’t tip are just cheap. No other excuse. I bet if we looked carefully at those who claim not to tip for any other reason we would see them being cheap and entitled in lots of other areas of their lives too.

  6. K

    Why is it my job to make up a server’s crap wages? Please just make the food a few dollars more expensive and tell me I don’t have to tip and pay the server more.

  7. Jay


    The whole things a scam….

    Got your blood boiling yet? Good…

    The issue is, Who’s scamming whom?

    The restaurant owner is the one pulling the scam… Prices in the states, vs prices in Canada aren’t grossly different, they’re essentially the same… yet, in canada our servers get a working wage AND the benefit of a tipping system… to REWARD good service…

    But down there in the states, somehow the restaurants have contrived a quirky way to.pass the cost of servers to the customer while increasing their income…

    Don’t blame the servers or the service, blame the greedy restaurateurs who don’t want to pat a working wage for working staff…

    It’s all a scam…

    Support a working wage PAID BY THE EMPLOYER… not by the consumer.

  8. Rich Coulter

    I agree the wages are shocking but this issue has been created by the owners who want to market their restaurant as reasonably valued. Thus they leave the customer and waiter with the awkward exchange at the end. Better to end the whole shenanigans by stating clearly price plus service on the menu and people can make their own mind up. And if ANY aspect – food, service, atmosphere – is not good enough the customer can negotiate their complaint as we would do if the food was uneatable. I sympathise with the waiters but also can see that it can be uncomfortable for the customer. Owners need to address this.

  9. Mel

    As a server I would not work for an hourly wage and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

    People are difficult and being expected to cater to their every whim with a smile on your face is tiresome. Not to mention being on your feet all day and carrying heavy trays and such.

    A lot of us truly enjoy our jobs and are passionate about providing service and hospitality. But we certainly appreciate the fact we can make more money in a shorter period of time than hourly jobs or even salaried positions.

    I highly doubt any restaurant would pay more than $12-$15 an hour in this scenario. Now if I was going to be paid in that range I’d take a job that involved less hassle. Retail work or being a receptionist in a doctors office, you get the idea. I like to think I’m a quality employee and I’m what a lot of customers envision when they picture who they’d want serving them in a restaurant. So let’s say servers like me start to leave the industry. Who are you left with to do our jobs? You’re not going to get the same quality of employee which means you’re not going to get the same quality of service. Dining out would become more like fast food service and yet you’re paying more.

  10. EmtheFinn

    I am late to the party, but have to say, tipping is absolutely an obligation. There’s absolutely a reason why every sit-down restaurant has a space marked tip on the credit card signature receipt, and a reason why if you pay with a gift card it will show you the amount left on the card, before you add gratuity. There’s a reason why many restaurants that are classy will refuse service to people who repeatedly don’t tip. I have happened to work for several restaurants that will refuse people who don’t tip and tell them it is their right to refuse service to anyone, and that they are refusing them service for coming in repeatedly and not tipping the servera. I don’t care what someone’s argument is for being the cheap person who doesn’t tip, you are wrong for saying it isn’t a social obligation, because it totally is. If anyone needs a breakdown when they say servers should depend on their tios:
    1. In Texas a server is paid an hourly wage of $2.13 an hour, and you have to report your tips, and your tips must be ten percent of your total sales, as you pay taxes based on that hourly wage of $2.13 plus ten percent of your sales, being assumed by the freaking GOVERNMENT that your were tipped. Yep our government assumes you’re making ten percent of your sales as a server and you pay taxes on that. You will get audited if you report less than percent of your sales as what you made in tips. Let us repeat that to the bold individuals who claim tipping is not a social obligation : SERVERS AND BARTENDERS PAY TAXES ON WHAT THEY REPORT ARE THEIR TIPS, AND THE GOVERNMENT EXPECTS EVER SERVERS AND BARTENDER TO PAY TAXES ON AT LEAST TEN PERCENT OF THEIR TOTAL SALES BECAUSE IT IS ASSUMED THEY WERE TIPPED TEN PERCENT OF THEIR SALES. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS EXPECTUNG YOU TO TIP.

    2. In almost every restaurant, there are bussers and bartenders. Since they rely on tips to live, as many are paid below the federal minimum wage, and most people don’t tip the bartenders and busses when they’re sitting in server’s station to enjoy their dining experience, the server tips out on their total sales (not total tips) to the bartender and busser (and in many establishments the host and Sometimes the even the chefs). So you end up tipping out up to threee percent of your total sales, often times more. For example, you may be tipping out two percent of your sales to your busser and one percent to the hostess and two percent to your bartender. That’s five percent of every check automatically being delved out to other people than your server. So if you don’t tip, the server is literally paying to wait on you. I know some sociopaths may enjoy the idea of forcing someone to wait on them. That’s not okay. You stiff someone and your total bill was $100? You just forced that person to not only pay to wait on you, you’re also forcing them to pay taxes to wait on you.


    Please stop writing blogs and personal belief essays about why you don’t believe tipping isn’t Nan obligation. It is. Don’t take your views out on your server. Eat somewhere where everyone gets paid a liveable wage. Most restaurants barely make a profit and can’t afford to pay servers a liveable wage, and they rely on their service to bring in good tips. No tipping twenty percent is not madatory. You should tip a lot based on how fantastic your server is. so no, you don’t have to tip twenty percent. You do have to tip ten percent. Don’t make people pay to serve you. You’re entitlement issues do not make it okay to treat others like this. The government expects you to tip, the restaurant expects you to tip, the server paying taxes on your meal expects you to tip and society expects you to tip.

  11. mike the waiter

    …. VERY well said
    applicable up here in Canada too … my province has two min wage levels … with servers who serve alcohol having the lowest min wage as we are expected to make tips by our govt too.

  12. jerriean

    Okay, here is a true story and I will say in advance, it is the only time I have ever refused to tip.

    My husband and I went to one of our favorite restaurants, our waitress was horrid. She had really long nails and was more concerned with those nails than serving us.

    She took our drink order, had a bus boy deliver them to our table, cause she could not fill the glasses because her nails were too long… she took our order, our food was delivered on a tray and my husband had to retrieve them from the tray, with out a hot pad, cause, you guessed it, her nails were too long… we never received any refills, even after asking every employee that walked past and had to get the manager to get us our bill. I DID however, search out the bus boy and tipped him, because in all honesty he did everything for us and the manager was NOT happy that he had to bring us our bill.

    Not all waitresses deserve tips!

  13. Diane

    America is the only country where tipping is an obligation both my husband and i have traveled to many many countries and America is the only place where you have to tip. It should indeed be a choice what if you dont get great service and the food is shit…does that mean you still have to tip because your restaurant owner pays you shit wages. Maybe the answer is to not work for shit wages, maybe the answer is the go on strike! Maybe the answer is to make sure your union doesnt allow you to work for shit wages and is on your side against the owner of the shitty paying restaurant! I dont expect as a customer to get involved with you industrial relations! So are you saying that a call centre worker who gives good service should also be tipped or a nurse who gives good care should also be tipped of course not…do you tip your childs school teacher 20% of her salary if she gives your child a good education. Do you tip the estate agent 20% for giving you good service in finding a house on top of their fee…no of course you dont so why should customers be obligated to pay an extra 20% on top of what they are paying for their meal! It should be a choice just like other countries!!!

  14. Frederick Warthen

    I didn’t see any one mention that most restraunts make servers clam atleast 10% of their total sales for tax purposes so if they get stiffed by 50% of their tables then they lose money. I my self work on the kitchen side of things but my sister has been a sever all her life. rre when I dine out I never tips less than 20% most of the time I tip 30%. all restraunt jobs are hard but severs deal with the people I just cook the food so tipping should be mandatory non tippers should really spend just an hour doing their job then they might change their mind…………

  15. H4CK 3XPERT

    I never tip. At least I’m jerk-lite about it and leave the tip line with 0 instead of a crude comment. Those are always unnecessary.

  16. charles

    See heres the thing. Did you choose to work as a tipped employee? Yes you did. Why did you choose that? Because you knew you would make more than you would if you were simply paid min wage. You chose to take that risk and frankly that’s not my problem. Now there is an argument that tipping ensures good service, well in any other job you just get fired if performance is poor.

    Regardless I don’t tip. It isn’t my job to pay a business’ employees, don’t like it, find a new job.


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