Your Excuses for not Tipping and Why They are Lame

In today’s American society, we are inundated with the option, or as some see it, the requirement to tip. I recognize that tipping has gotten a little out of control, when I find myself tipping 20 percent to every person who provides a service to me, even when that person is making $60 per hour. Tipping is, after all, supposed to be for minimum wage employees. But try as I may to tell myself that I don’t need to tip, I do it anyway, because I always fall back on the idea that it is better to be a giver. Sew a seed. What comes around goes around. Things of that nature. And I’ve never tipped someone and later felt bad for giving another human being a few bucks.

In the service industry though, all bartenders and servers are paid minimum wage.

In some states, that’s as low as $2.13 per hour.

These people, if ever there were any, deserve tips. They are providing a service to the customer, for which they deserve to be rewarded. It’s a fairly widespread norm to tip your bartender or server, but many people still refuse to subscribe to the notion and either don’t tip adequately or refuse to tip at all. I’ve heard every excuse in the book, and here I will debunk every single one of them.

The food or drink was too expensive.

The price of your items has absolutely nothing to do with the bartender. Punishing your bartender for the price of your bill makes zero sense. If you have a problem with the prices, then tip accordingly and don’t come back. It’s your fault for not checking to see if this was the type of joint that had prices that you felt comfortable paying.

The employer should be paying the worker whatever extra they deserve.

I get the impression when people say this that they feel smart for having such a great reason for not tipping. It’s not smart. It’s dumb. Here’s why: If the employer increases the workers’ wages, guess who that increase is going to be passed down to? You. The price of your drinks and meal will go up to cover the cost. Or, the restaurants will begin charging an automatic service charge. Some places in San Francisco have already begun implementing these new types of policies. You’re going to pay either way. So suck it up.

I work in (fill in the blank) and I don’t get tipped.

I believe this rationale mostly comes from people who work in non-service based jobs and/or who have never worked in the service industry. If they had, they would realize that running a register is not the same as running a bar with 200 people. Not even close. I’ve never had a retail worker come close to doing half the work for me that a bartender or server does. The guy who changes my oil doesn’t do the work my bartender does. Don’t use your own job to justify not giving someone else what he or she deserves.

They didn’t keep my water filled.

There are many moving parts to your experience and filling up your water is one detail of many. You also are probably one of anywhere between 10-100 other customers. Bartending and serving are jobs that take multi-tasking to an extreme. You should consider the one million other things your bartender may have been doing that kept them from noticing your glass was empty, like talking to the cooks about an order, accepting a liquor order, finding crayons for some children, running food, hand muddling a mojito…the list goes on and on.

Quit looking for one mistake as a reason not to tip. You’re not justified.

They didn’t talk to me enough.

Words cannot express how much I love this one. Let’s clear something up right now so that there isn’t any confusion. IT’S NOT YOUR SERVER OR BARTENDER’S JOB TO ENTERTAIN YOU. It’s really not! This isn’t Medieval Nights. Your drink doesn’t come with a show. Now, if there is no one else to service and nothing else to do like stock for the night shift, cut fruit, set up the bar or anything else that management has designated on your chore list, then of course. Your bartender will be happy to chat you up. Often times, at smaller bars, developing a rapport with clientele is absolutely necessary for the success of that bar. And the good service industry personnel will remember your name and your favorite items. But you need to take notice of the environment around you. If your bartender has other customers, they simply can’t dismiss those customers’ service in order to talk to you about last week’s vacation. Similarly, don’t be mad when a server doesn’t want to stand there and listen to your child’s baby talk and oh and ah over how cute it is. There are other people waiting. Get over yourself.

The food wasn’t good.

The quality of the food or how it was cooked has absolutely nothing to do with the person who brought it to you. The cooks get paid a higher hourly wage than do the servers to account for the fact that most of them are not tipped. So when you decide to stiff your server for your food, you aren’t punishing the cook. You are punishing your server for something he or she had zero control over.

The drink wasn’t good.

Maybe this is your bartender’s first job. Maybe it’s their first time making that drink. If you aren’t happy with your cocktail, politely tell them what you don’t like about it and ask for it to be re-made or order something else. Being descriptive is your best chance for getting exactly what you want: “I’m so sorry but this is too sweet for me. Would you mind re-making it with less juice?” They will happily oblige.

The food took too long.

Again, someone please tell what this has to do with your server? Your server cannot control the speed at which the cooks and runners bring out food. All they can do is serve it to you when it is ready. They’ve put your order in correctly and they’ve brought you your food when it was ready with everything that you’ve requested.

But you’re not going to tip because the cook, a person who they have no control over, didn’t make your food in the time frame in which you designated?

Additionally, I often hear of people complaining about wait times specifically on days like Mother’s Day. Ok, so let me get this straight. You came out to eat one if tge busiest days of the year. The restaurant is running at capacity and has their ENTIRE staff on the floor working as hard and as fast as they possibly can, and you’re pissed that your appetizer took more than eight minutes? SMH

The drink took too long.

I can understand frustration when you don’t get your drink in a timely manner, but you have to consider how many people are in the bar and how many orders they may have already taken. Is the place packed and your bartender is working as fast and as hard as possible? If the bar is understaffed, that isn’t their fault. If the bar is packed, that isn’t their fault either. They are doing the best that they can do. Don’t punish them for things out of their control. They could be having the worst night of their lives and maybe your tip is what makes their night.

I don’t have enough money.

If you don’t have enough money to tip, then you don’t enough money to go out. Period.   End of story. I once heard a customer tell a server after ordering their meal and margaritas, “You’ve been a really a great server. But, I’m sorry. I just don’t have enough to tip you.” Then you should have patronized a place where you could get your meal without service.

I need to teach them a lesson.

So you’ve had less than stellar service and believe that not leaving a tip will teach them that they must give better service in order to receive a tip. Here’s the thing.

When you do that, they aren’t thinking, “I did a terrible job. I deserved that.” They walk away thinking, “Non-tipping asshole.”

Even when I’ve had the worst service on the face of the planet, I cannot bring myself to not leave a tip (or even a poor one), because of this. Because I know that it teaches them nothing except to think that I’m cheap. Once, I left a receipt with a 20 percent tip and wrote on the receipt the five ways the service was so terrible. I’m not encouraging you to do that, but having a conversation with your server or writing them a note would go a lot further than stiffing them on a tip.

The order was incorrect.

Sometimes this is bartender’s fault. And sometimes it’s the kitchen’s fault. While I can understand the impulse to lessen a tip based on a mistake, the bottom line is that it is just that, a mistake. And we are all allowed to make them. You shouldn’t hold service industry personnel to this standard of being perfect 100 percent of the time. It’s not reasonable. You aren’t perfect every day in every aspect of your job, and no one is docking your pay for it.

You didn’t like your server/bartender

Sometimes, just like in regular life, personalities just don’t click. That doesn’t mean that your bartender is a hateful person or doesn’t deserve to be tipped. You guys don’t have to exchange numbers and be friends. Respect their job and the service they provided you and let the petty stuff go.

While you may feel that your reasons for not tipping are justified, the bottom line is that they are not. Most people don’t realize that in many places, your server has to tip out other restaurant staff, regardless of whether you leave a tip or not. Which means that when you don’t tip, or you leave something abysmal, they are literally paying to serve you. In no scenario ever should service industry workers have to pay for you to eat out.

The next time you are out, take notice of the environment and recognize that likely, you aren’t their only customers. That table of six with four kids just took fifteen minutes of your server’s time making up their minds about their order, and then had the server run back and forth to the kitchen six times, which may be the reason they haven’t filled up your water. Servers and bartenders are human beings and aren’t perfect all the time. But they are working hard, paying their way through school or supporting a family and trying to make a living, just like the rest of world. Do you really want to be the reason that someone can’t pay their power bill that month? Don’t discount the amount of intolerable crap that they put up with in a day, and consider contributing to their life in a positive way. Rather than holding onto every penny with some menial justification, bring yourself some good karma, be nice to service industry workers and leave them an awesome tip!

Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik


Lea Waide

Lea is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of  She is a former professional dancer and IFBB fitness competitor, triathlete and all around fitness and beauty aficionado. Her passion is sharing her knowledge with women beyond the age of thirty, who are looking to continue to feel beautiful and fabulous.

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