Why We Tip: Survey Shows Racial Divide
Black diners are more likely to link the gratuity to good service, research by The Root reveals.
Forty-three percent of respondents to The Root's survey said that they usually tipped 20 to 25 percent of the total bill, with 57 percent of whites and 40 percent of blacks saying that they did so. A greater percentage of blacks (44 percent) than whites (34 percent) said that they usually tipped anywhere from 15 to 19 percent of the total bill.
By today's standards, however, a 20 percent tip is the industry norm, says Hanson. "What's happened is 15 percent has become average," he says. "Twenty-five percent or more is required to be considered generous or reflective of outstanding service.
"Labor law allows employers to pay less than minimum wage to employees who receive tips," Hanson says. "So what has become an unfortunate reality is that if guests or patrons do not tip or tip low percentages, employees could be getting less than minimum wage."
But customers should do their math, he added. The tip percentage should be based on just the cost of food -- before taxes and without counting any alcohol on the bill.
That being said, it would be a mistake to make generalizations about any one group's behavior when it comes to tipping -- or anything else, says Steve Dublanica, author of Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper's Quest to Become the Guru of the Gratuity and Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip -- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter, a book based on his popular blog of the same name, in which he dished about the trials and tribulations of his nine years as a waiter in New York City.
"There is a stereotype that women are bad tippers. Women tend to order less, have smaller checks, smaller tips, but still in the 15 to 20 percent range," he says. "[But] I've had guys get salads and women who order porterhouse steaks. "
Tipping says much more about the individual paying the bill than it reflects on the expertise or character of the waiter, Dublanica says. So no matter who you are or what you plan to order, when you patronize your favorite eatery, tip and tip well, he advises.
"If you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to eat out," he says.
Dara Sharif is a writer, an editor, a graduate student and a member of The Root's editorial team.