We’ve all been there: You’re in that renowned restaurant at the tail end of a delicious meal and the server hands you the bill. These days, receipts are seldom the short pieces of paper with few figures on them like they used to be.
Nowadays, the tab often comes with all kinds of store serial numbers, the server’s name and even the tip suggestions at the bottom of them. It’s that latter item that holds a bit of mystery for U.S. diners.
The truth about those suggested tipping amounts on your receipt
Now it must be said that American waiters and waitresses are drastically underpaid, with many of them making a little more than $2 an hour no matter how big the party, difficult the patron or hot the plate. That’s why it’s always good to tip handsomely in appreciation for good service.
The rationale goes that those tip suggestions at the bottom of the receipt are merely guidelines to help the math-deficient among us give an amount somewhere in the ballpark of polite standards.
But the problem with those figures is that those suggested tip amounts are calculated with tax included. That means instead of paying for just the meal, you’re actually being asked to pay for the taxes associated with each amount.
Furthermore, as our picture clearly shows, instead of itemizing the tipping suggestions in a rationally systematic order (greatest to least or vice versa) many restaurants have resorted to putting the larger figure — in this case 18% — first, which coincidentally could lead a customer to believe that the other numbers are higher.
Is this practice perhaps disingenuous? Is it dishonest? You be the judge!
Here’s Clark’s motto when it comes to restaurant tipping
Money expert Clark Howard makes a concerted effort to always overtip his waiter or waitress regardless of the quality of service. His rationale is that they’re underpaid, and we wholeheartedly agree.
Just for emphasis, servers need to be paid more, but at the same time, the restaurant industry’s tactics may cause patrons to scrutinize not only their food tabs, but the help. And that may not be helpful.
Here are some more food-related articles you might enjoy from Clark.com:
- Here’s why your grocery cart has more fruits & veggies
- What happens to your credit card debt when you die?
- 11 foods at the grocery store that aren’t what you think they are
- 7 foods you should never buy at the grocery store
What your restaurant server won’t tell you about your receipt