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Edinburgh, United...
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139 posts
13 reviews
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I am curious about tipping in the US. I understand that waiters and waitresses depend on tips as there is no minimum wage. However, what if you are really not happy with the service? For example, last time i was in DC I went to a Chinese restaurant and not only was the service terrible, but the food was bad too. Do you still tip under these circumstances? Being a waiter myself, I too depend on my tips but recognise that the only way to ensure I receive a tip is by providing a great service.

What is the common consensus over tipping? Also, how much would you tend to tip taxi drivers or those who work in bars per drink?


Sterling, VA
Destination Expert
for Washington DC
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12,163 posts
141 reviews
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1. Re: Tipping

If you're not happy with the service from the waitstaff, then there are 2 things you should do; 1) Leave a smaller tip; and also 2) Tell the manager that you are leaving a smaller tip and the reason for doing so.

If you're not happy with the food, don't take it out on the waitstaff. They don't cook the food. So if the food is terrible but the person serving it to you did a good job, then you still leave a good tip. That said, if upon first bite, you discover the food is terrible, let your server know and s/he will take it back to the kitchen.

Tip waitstaff 20% for good service. I don't ride in cabs very much but I do tend to tip 20%. As for bartenders, I found this sentence in wikihow:

Tip $1 per drink as a baseline and tip more for increasingly complicated drinks

Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Arlington
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3,002 posts
45 reviews
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2. Re: Tipping

I generally agree with SueFee's advice. If I receive poor service in a restaurant I'll drop my tip down to 10% or so and tell the manager I was unhappy.

If I receive poor food I'll tell the server I don't like the food. How they handle the situation -- do they get their manager? Do they offer to take it back and exchange it? Do they just blow off my concerns? -- influences how I then tip. But I try not to take the chef's failures out on the server.

I tend to tip about $1.00 a drink in a bar, or 15% if I run up a big tab and the bar tender has been attentive. If I've struggled to get their attention / new drinks I have no problem dropping that to 10%.

On taxis I personally err on the generous side on short trips within downtown because most taxi drivers' margins are so small and my short trip might have cost the driver a much longer fare. The average ride for me around downtown D.C. is somewhere between $6 and $9 on the meter; my rule of thumb for a fare under $10 is to round up to the next $1 and then put $2 on top of that, which on a $6.xx fare can result in a tip over 30% but really is just an extra $1 we're talking about. On a longer taxi ride, e.g. from Dulles airport in towards the city which can be $40-$60 before tip, I'll usually tip a straight 20%, or a bit more for a good driver who keeps their cab clean and comfortable.

3. Re: Tipping

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