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Tipping Etiquette

Updated on January 6, 2013

TIP stands for To Insure Promptness.

What is Tipping?

Tipping is defined as a sum of money given as a reward for their service to an individual or a group of people. Earlier tipping was given prior to a service, but then it changed to after getting their meals or help.

Tipping is usually considered a service charge and is used in restaurants, hotels, food delivery, salons, casinos, golf courses, taxicab drivers, at weddings, porters and given to bellboys.


The origin of this custom started from the Roman Empires and today it is practiced all over the world except:

Countries, where Tips are not accepted
South Korea

When the natives of the above countries are tipped, it usually causes confusion or possibly could get offended if tipped.

However, Hong Kong (a part of China) practices the custom of Tipping.

Many countries do not expect a tip, but they usually add a service charge to any service granted. Thus, glancing at your receipt would be appropriate before tipping.

In some countries, bribery is considered a tip, but that is illegal and is considered corruption. If government officials ask for a tip, they should be reported and will be booked for corruption.

What are the ethics of tipping?

Ethics is defined as Morality. And if an individual is expecting a tip, he should be conducting their duty consciously and honor the person who is being served. Many a times, the service is awful, and the server still expects a tip.

Is that ethical?

However, the Economic Policy Institute states that the people who are working jobs where tipping is favored, are usually the minimum wage employees. With 6.3% of all workers living below the poverty line, 16.7% of tipped waiters are officially poor. Thus, tipping them in spite of the poor service is ethical for the customer.

Inflation is causing the percentage of tip to be increased. Currently we are at a 20% standard tip rate.

Experts comment that as long as the server does not spill food on the customer or is not flirting, the waiter/waitress is entitled to the customary tip.


Tipping indicates the class struggle of our society where it could be a spare change for one person while another human can have a decent meal from it. Getting tips is taxable income. Many a times we hear about generous tipping gestures from celebrates.

Barack Obama ranks amongst the big-hearted tippers along with Johnny Depp, David Beckham, Charlie Sheen, Bill Murray, and Drew Barrymore.

Some lousy tippers reign on this planet that flinch over a bitter server and land up giving lousy tips or no tip at all. Some of the examples are Jennifer Lopez, Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Lebron James, and Bill Cosby.

There are some tipping etiquette's that need to be followed by all citizens.

Tipping is Good Karma

We are aware of the low wages thus, we should be considerate towards our waiters, and the thought of not cooking and cleaning for a day and instead sitting at a table and ordering should be considered a boon.

However, if you feel that your server was not polite to you, there could be a reason behind it. Talk to the manager about the poor service but, do not skip his tip since, he is a meagerly paid person and that extra change of yours could provide him a decent meal.

Also remember the principle of Karma. What you give usually comes back to you in some form or the other. Thus, give with an open heart and be assured that you will be thanked for it some day in some form or the other. The answer to tipping a server lies within you.


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    • Molly Layton profile image

      Molly Layton 

      4 years ago from Alberta

      These tipping tips are great! Thanks for posting.

    • MickeySr profile image


      6 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Ruchira ~ I always want to tip more than those I am with, my wife included . . . she is the kindest and most honest person I've ever come across, but she's regularly fussing with me that I leave too much. However, while I seem to be inclined to consistently want to tip more than others, I do tip in reference to the manner of service I've received . . . if someone is both expert at the tasks of their job and genuinely personable while performing their duties, I own a great desire to demonstrate my appreciation (not just as their efforts made things nice for me, but in an objective recognition of a job well done) by leaving an over-the-top tip.

      But here's the things to consider about all this; since I was 8 or 10 I would stay-up to 2am for my mom to get home and watch her spill the change from her apron onto the kitchen table, and begin to count quarters and dimes, know as I watched her she was counting out new sneakers for me, glasses for my sister, the electric bill, etc, etc . . . my mom raised her household on waitress' tips.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I would give a generous tip if I had good service, in Croatia it is not compulsory to tip but we often do

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      7 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I always over tip when receiving good service as it is so rare these days.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'm not sure that ethics enters into it. You tip when it's customary in your country, and you don't tip when it isn't customary. Still, I'm voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Ruchira profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks Bill, Janine, Nanderson500, Kelly, Patty, Susan, Maria, Mhatter99, Nancy, Frank, Ruby, Edsledge, Michaelle, Nithya, Rajan for sharing your wonderful insight with me with regards to tipping.

      I appreciate each of your comment and Thank you for stopping by to share it.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      7 years ago from Nepal


      The only reason I don't tip is because some of the restaurants in Kathmandu include service charge in the check.

      I did not know the full form or the history. Thanks for this wonderful lesson.

    • Relationshipc profile image


      7 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      There are places that you can't tip? That's crazy! Tipping is a way to say, "Thanks, you did a good job and made me happy." Any time that I get served in any capacity, I tip.

      My husband and I tip very well, but there are some places I draw the line with a big tip though. If a waitress or waiter orders our food, doesn't come back to bring us the food or check on us, but rushes over when the bill is ready...I don't tip well.

      I was a waitress, and I know that I am not meant to be in the service industry. I am not patient enough to deal with angry customers...if people didn't tip me, I understood. I think if you are in the service industry, then you have to treat people with respect in order to get the tip you deserve.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      I agree that tipping should always be given, even if the service is poor. The tip should be a minimum amount if this is the case. Great advice for when others visit foreign countries -- don't want to insult or confuse the staff.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      7 years ago from Florida

      I waited tables when my Hubby was in Vet school, and we depended on tips to buy food. If service is good and the food is good, I tip 15%.

      Good Hub, I voted it Up, etc.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      7 years ago from California

      I am a decent tipper I feel-and a great tipper when the service is really good--great article Ruchira!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Tipping all depends on the service and the attitude. I'm a softie and always put myself in someone elses shoes so I usually leave a good size tip. I agree with tipping is good karma! :)

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I am surprised Bill Cosby is not a good tipper - not sure why but I was like 'really?'. I think it is important to tip when you get good service at a restaurant. I always think it supplements their hourly wages and if it were me I would appreciate it. I'm sharing this one!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 

      7 years ago

      there are 2 things that annoy me...the first is when good service is under-tipped - especially when it's by someone of wealth. There's not enough good service in the world today and what little there is - needs to be generously recognized! The other irritant is when bad service is over-tipped - it's like positively reinforcing a bad behavior...eventually - he won't be getting 'pity-tips' anymore - he'll be getting fired!

      Great hub topic..personally - it makes me happy to tip well but - 20% as a general rule seems a tad high..

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 

      7 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      I travel all over the country and the world. We live in San Francisco. My wife and I eat in a restaurant at least 4 times a week when we are home, when I travel every meal. 20% has been the threshold for a long time, at least 12 years. Now the tip should be a reward for favorable service not overwhelming service. The threshold for good service is relatively low so very seldom do I not tip the full or more than 20%. In San Francisco the city killed th waiters by forcing restaurants to pay minimum wage, this then reduces the number of waiters and forces a sharing of the tips with establishment. It has no effect on the amount or percentage of the tip. In the past and in most cities the waiters make less than minimum wage, keep their tips and many of the waiters drove Porsches..good for them!

    • tipstoretireearly profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Interesting hub! Its difficult to know how much to tip. It'd be great if we could feel free to tip more when the service is great, and less when the service isn't so great. But there's so much pressure to stay at 15 - 20%.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Very Interesting, Ruchira how the practice of tipping varies so, from place to place. As a teen, I was a tipped employee...and as a result, I am a big tipper! Most people who work and are underpaid due to gratuity being considered as part of their income......are very hard workers! I have always appreciated waiters, manicurists, baggage handlers, parking attendants, etc......I even tip the kids who pump gas and carry out groceries.......Love this hub! You did an excellent job as always....UP+++

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      I had no idea it could be offensive to tip in the countries you list in here. However I feel good service deserves a good tip and vice versa well, I don't tip well. The least I expect is good prompt service.

      Voted up.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      Great advice I never know how much to tip. The principle of Karma very interesting and true.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Good advice and a reminder on tipping and Karma, Ruchira. Thanks for sharing!! Am passing it on.

    • Ed Sledge profile image

      Ed Sledge 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      Excellent article. I am a tipper and often tip when it is not even expected. I didn't know it started with the Roman Empire. That can be a very interesting conversation starter. Thanks for the Great Article!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I didn't know that tipping was up to 20 %. I am a tipper because i know the person is working for minimun wage. I must admit there were times when i thought about not leaving a tip, ( Bad Service ). I am shocked at the celebrates who do not tip, shame on them. I must tell you a true story that happened this year, a friend who works in a cocktail lounge in Fl. She thought she would make a mint when the GOP held their get-together at her place of work, It seems they brought their own liquor, all she did was empty ash trays and deliver ice to their table.Ha. Thank's Ruchira, Great hub..

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      7 years ago from Shelton

      this is a much needed hub.. I tip 20% down the line except for busboys and caddies.. I tip them on how they do sometimes a great deal sometimes not yeah I can really use this hub info Ruch thank you

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      7 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      It is funny because some older persons that I know do not understand the concept of leaving a percentage of the tip. They still think $1 per meal is enough.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. My tipping habits are simple. 15% is average, It will go up or down based on service.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      7 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      I appreciate your stance on Karma and agree, especially with the issue of tipping.

      I am overly generous unless the service is blatantly apathetic...I never penalize the server for bad food but will ask to speak to the manager about that. I over compensate if I observe someone treating a server rudely or see they do not leave a tip when warranted.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Good service, above average tip. Bad service I'll either leave nothing or 2 cents. I figure if they get the 2 cents or nothing they'll know I was disappointed in the service I rec'd.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I agree with RealHousewife. Plus, in the 1940s and 1950s, when service was bad, the customers put down 2 pennies as a tip to indicate poor service. I don't think anyone knows what that means now.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Interesting Ruchira - I used to depend on tips when I worked in restaurants. For that reason I usually over tip a little bit and on special occasions or if they did something exceptional - I will leave a giant tip because I get a kick out of thinking I made their day extra nice too.

      I have refused to tip for service that is off too though - if the server has an attitude or is sloppy - I won't leave as much or none at all. If they hate their job - I don't want to know about that. I want them to hide it so I can enjoy my night out:) Selfish...I know:)

    • nanderson500 profile image


      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I didn't know it started in the Roman Empire either. That is interesting!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      We have always been good tippers, but recently I had a pretty bad experience at a restaurant and didn't tip as well as usually do. I felt bad, but what it boiled down to was the girl truly could care less, was not very nice to my kids and the service was poor. That said I do agree fundamentally with your article, but I guess I reserve my judgement until I see that I am not being treated properly.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tipping started in the Roman Empire? No kidding? I had no idea...thanks for that bit of trivia. :) I'm a pretty good tipper considering I never have much money. I wonder what that says? LOL

    • Ruchira profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      Hi lovedoctor926,

      According to the link attached to this hub where etiquette's are talked about...take out food is not subjected to gratuity. I think hair and nail salon requires about 10-12% of your service.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for this valuable information. At restaurants, it's 15% and 18% if you order drinks. Here is where I'm confused. If you go to a restaurant and order take out, then are you supposed to tip? The service at PF Chang's restaurant is awesome. I usually leave $2.00 because they go out of their way to make sure that you leave home happy. Tipping at the hair and nail salon can be quite an expense. 20% is too high and I'm afraid not too many people will afford it.


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