Attention Servers: Do NOT Do This to a Receipt

Every server wants a decent tip. I mean, it’s why we do what we do, right? It’s certainly not for the joy and fulfillment we get from burning off our fingerprints and having the smell of honey mustard permanently embedded into our clothes, hair and souls. We give good service with the hope that our customers will find it in their hearts to toss a few meager dollars our way so that we can pay our bills and maybe have a few pennies leftover to purchase a much needed cocktail.

And then came Emilee, a server in an unnamed establishment who wants the tip just as badly as any of us, but got a little bit desperate for it. You see, Emilee thought it was a good idea to write in a suggested tip at the top of the receipt so that the customer would know exactly how much Emilee thought she deserved. No, Emilee. That’s not how it works.

If a restaurant has a suggested gratuity factored into the bill and it’s automatically printed at the bottom of the receipt, fine. A customer may or may not see those numbers, and if they do they won’t think much about it. However, if the server personally writes a suggested gratuity down on the receipt next to a half-assed “thank you,” it comes across as rude, disrespectful, and needy. I can guarantee you that any customer who sees it will be turned off and may end up leaving less than they had originally planned.

Emilee, here’s why it’s wrong:

  • You’re assuming that the service you gave is worth at least an 18% tip. That’s not your decision, it’s theirs.
  • It makes the customer think that you think they aren’t smart enough to figure out how to calculate 20% of their bill. Never make a customer feel stupid.
  • It’s just tacky as fuck.

Servers, if you’re reading this, please don’t be Emilee. Writing a tip suggestion onto a check is the equivalent of standing next to a four-way stop sign with a squeegee and a bucket of water with a cardboard sign asking for money. Give good service, be polite and earn your tip. If a customer chooses to not leave a tip, don’t dwell on it and focus on your next table. Too many people already look down at us for what we do, so let’s not give them another reason to think we’re lowly beggars. And if you absolutely feel the need to have a suggested gratuity added to the receipt, let the restaurant take care of that so we can at least pretend we had nothing to do with it.

6 thoughts on “Attention Servers: Do NOT Do This to a Receipt

  1. Shannon

    If I did that my boss would rake me over the coals in Spanish, Greek and English, in case I didn’t understand it the first time.

  2. PMK

    Credit card machines in Canada give customers a button to choose what % they want to leave as a tip. Typically the options are 15%, 18%, 20%, or other. Don’t they do this in the US?

    1. Jennie

      I see it more often now in the States; it’s gradually creeping in. I live on the US/Canadian border so it’s possible it’s seen more here than in the middle of the country.

    2. blazinnathan

      In the US, a typical customer at a typical full-service restaurant does not come in contact with the credit card machine. The server takes the card from the table and swipes it at the POS terminal in the wait station, prints a receipt and brings it back to the guest to fill out. There is *sometimes* a suggested tip printed on the receipt, such as Emilee’s handwritten example, but even then the guest still has to manually write the tip, not just push a button.

      On the other hand, when you pay at the counter, whether at t a casual spot, music festival beer garden, or whatever, there is always a screen asking if you want to tip, and they often start at 20% and then go up from there. REALLY?! You think I should leave 25% on this $32 craft beer I waited 10 minutes in line for? GFY!!

      1. TA

        What bothers me about the suggested tip options at the bottom of a receipt is that they are often based on the total, not the pre-tax amount. Why am I tipping on the total if the tax was $20?
        Thankfully, I have math skills and I can figure it out without using the incorrect suggestions.


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