Should Rich People Tip More?

Because apparently every post I do for this website involves sports [Editor’s Note: No, you wrote one about Las Vegas…which involved sports.], let’s talk about a baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays, Melky Cabrera. Baseball fans will remember Cabrera as the guy who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs during the middle of the 2012 season, netting him a 50 game suspension. This suspension ended Cabrera’s season, and made him ineligible for the batting title, a race he led up until his suspension. Although he was a risky signing, the Toronto Blue Jays took a chance on Cabrera last offseason, signing him to a two year, $16 million contract.

Melky has battled injuries this year, and the Blue Jays recently put him on the 15-day disabled list. Cabrera is healthy again, but it’s a common practice to get a formerly injured player into a few minor league games as a way to ease back into real game action. This is why Melky Cabrera found himself at a Chili’s at Port St. Lucie, Florida on a Friday night.

His waitress was not happy with him. From Deadspin:

Melky Tip

Melky’s server, a Ms. Melissa Dickson, was not happy with his tip, and made sure all of social media knew about it. She posted it to her Facebook account (as seen above) as well as tweeting several times about it. Dickson obviously thinks the tip is a little on the small size, and is OUTRAGED.

(Upon further investigation, she has deleted the offending tweets and Facebook posts. She obviously realized all this was a bad idea.)

Let’s talk about the tip for a minute. According to social norms, people are supposed to tip 15-20%, at least according to my extensive 42 seconds of research on Google. Cabrera’s tip was a little below the standard, but not much, coming in at a mere 13%. Oh, the humanity! I’m not sure how long Dickson has been a server, but I’m willing to bet this is the first time she’s ever taken a complaint about a 13% tip to social media.

Hopefully we can all agree what Dickson did was over the top. By deleting the offending posts, she’s all but admitted it herself. She comes off looking more cheap and petty than Cabrera does, complaining about a tip that was a mere $2 short of what society has deemed acceptable. She obviously thought Cabrera owed her a generous tip because of his wealth, and for no other reason.

Let’s go off in a different direction. Should rich people tip more?

Maybe they should. After all, an extra $20 is nothing to someone like Cabrera who’s making millions of dollars a year. It would be painless to give her a little extra, and I’m sure the generosity would be greatly appreciated by someone who could really use an extra $20. Most waitresses aren’t exactly making the big bucks, remember. She’s probably having legitimate financial problems, while Melky is counting his millions despite testing positive for steroids a few months ago. Maybe Cabrera should have shared the wealth a little.

Let’s look at the other side of the argument. Cabrera went in for food, and we have accepted social customs when it comes to tipping waitstaff. Sure, his tip was a little on the short side, but not outrageously bad. Perhaps he’s just not very good at math, or perhaps he just does what many of us do, and that’s add an amount to the check that seems pretty close to 15%. He followed the rules and gave her some extra money. He did his part, what’s the problem?

Yeah, he gets paid a lot of money to play baseball, but why should that have any bearing on this? A waitress shouldn’t have any say on how anybody handles their money. The only recourse she has is to give him craptacular service the next time he comes into the restaurant. Waitresses have no claim on anyone’s wealth just because they happened to win the lottery of getting a rich customer. And if they don’t like the world of non-guaranteed income, maybe get out of an industry that is so dependent on getting paid by the whims of your customers.

Readers, chime in. Do you think rich people should tip more? Where exactly is the line between “kind of wealthy” and “rich enough to tip 40% of the bill every time?” And on a scale of 1-10, how badly do you want to go down to a Chili’s in Florida and stiff Melissa Dickson on her tip?

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22 thoughts on “Should Rich People Tip More?

  • I do not think it should matter if you are rich or poor. A tip should reflect the service. I have a problem with the expectation of a tip or that it is the norm for compensation in the form of a tip is expected. There shoul dbe an incentive to provide good service.

    • Very well said. I agree it should be based on the service. If the service is horrible, a $0 tip should be considered IMO. That being said, I think average service should still draw a 15-20% tip at a minimum and great service should be more.

  • And does the waitress still have her job or was she fired for publishing a receipt with a partial credit card number of a customer!

    I don’t think there’s any obligation for excessive tipping unless he got a huge discount on his purchases. If the establishment comps you $100 worth of food and bev, you tip on the total + value of the comps, not just the total. Same goes if you use a coupon – tip on the value of rhe food before coupon.

  • This doesn’t take into account the service rendered. Maybe the waitress wasn’t that great. Ever considered that? Tipping 15% shouldn’t be guaranteed. You EARN it. If you do a good job, then fine. But for a person to go so far as to blast one of their customers on social media like that… she doesn’t sound too nice. If she wants more pay and bigger tips, perhaps she should consider a different field of work. *shrug*

  • I don’t think the customer’s wealth should matter in this case. Even if you’re poor you should tip adequately for good service. Maybe this waitress gave particularly crappy service – that would elicit at 13% tip from us.

  • I don’t think you should tip more because of wealth, but I don’t think anyone should tip under 15% unless the service or the food was extremely terrible, you complained, and nothing was resolved. A little complaining goes a long way at a restaurant if it’s done properly and without rudeness. The minimum wage for waitstaff has not increased in decades and unfortunately, tipping is what makes up for the lack of salary increases compared to inflation. What the girl did by posting the receipt is totally wrong and worth firing her over, but on a check of that value, his tip was terrible and if the girl was a decent server, not appropriate. People who say otherwise have never been a server and lived exclusively on that income alone.

    As far as wealthy people go and tipping, when they eat at fancier, $150/plate digs, not all of those wealthy people tip the correct percentage. I’ve had friends working in $150 a plate restaurants where folks tip 10% because the bill comes out to $600. Just because $60 seems like a “good tip” to you doesn’t mean it’s fair for the amount of work entailed, especially when servers working in fancier restaurants have fewer tables and turnaround and they work hard to please the customer. Many times in those expensive restaurants, servers must tip out a percentage of their sales (often 5% or more), not a percentage of tips, to the busboys and kitchen staff, and when “rich” people get stingy on their tips, it negatively hurts the server.

    I feel that if you can afford to eat out and tip, ask around to see how much you should tip if you’re unsure. If you can’t afford to tip, don’t eat at a sit down restaurant.

  • I think 15% for average 20% for great service. YOU DO NOT GET TIPS ON TAXES. That said if the bill was subject to a 10% tax (which is fairly common) he was off by $0.38.

  • I worked for several years after college as a server in a higher end restaurant, and managed there for years after that. Yes, you do get some sucky tips, regardless of how great a server you are. But if you are good at your job, the good tips more than balance out the bad ones. And yes, I had to tip-out a percentage of my sales to the server assistants and bartenders.

    Our firm policy was that any server caught complaining about tips in a public area was immediately fired. It’s tasteless and rude to do so, and customers are offended if they overhear it, regardless of who the customer being spoken about is. No one wants to think that their server might be bad mouthing them to others, and it paints the entire restaurant in a negative light.

  • Assume there was sales tax and he could have very well tipped around the minimum 15%. If the service was poor, then I don’t think he was that out of line (though I would have made sure that 15% of the pre-tax total was at least included).

    And the waitress had no right to make that public, so even if he did not hit that threshold, the waitress had no right to share that.

    To the bigger question, the answer is NO. The server by now should know what to reasonably expect as an average for each customer he or she serves. If each person generates an average tip of $5 (and I’m pulling that out of thin air), what difference does it make if she serves someone who’s spending their last dollar to eat there (which I hope isn’t the case) or someone who has millions in the bank? At the end of the day, it has no bearing on what this person should expect from their job.

    She’s 100% in the wrong.

  • “According to social norms, people are supposed to tip 15-20%”

    Social norms would probably expect a celebrity will tip more.

    What’s the social norm for a celebrity tip? I’m guessing it would be 500% or higher.

  • I think tipping in general should not be expected. Why should the consumer have to pay the wage of the restaraunt’s employee? It makes no sense to me. If I want to tip, so be it, but it should not be expected because the server is making $2/hr.

  • Tipping has gotten out of control in North America. In no other part of the world is the customer expected to pay twice for labor costs. YES the cost of labor is calculated at a reasonable rate when the price of the meal is fixed. Then the restaurateur expects the guest to pick up the cost again so they can give severs $2 an hour?? The only disappointing thing is when some heartless person does not recognize a server’s dilemma but don’t feel sorry for servers. Ask them how much they tip out the staff who aren’t front facing and make similar wages to them!!!

  • The amount I tip the waiter/waitress depends on the quality of service I received. I am a very generous tipper when they are on point. But if I receive horrible service, they’ll get a horrible tip. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen often.

  • I don’t think the collective should dictate how much “rich” people should tip — it’s their money and their experience, and they should have the right to spend their boatloads of money however they see fit. Your observation about this waitress getting into another industry is spot-on. When people feel entitled to a tip as part of their paycheck, it ceases to be a tip, right? Interesting post!

  • I work in a swanky restaurant and get tipped by “rich” people all the time. Sometimes they are generous, and sometimes they aren’t, regardless of service (which is generally very good if I do say so myself). I take any tips with a grain of salt. Rich should not have to tip more, but it is nice when they do. It’s their money to do what they wish with it.

    To respond to people not wanting to tip– servers rely on tips. Blame the industry or what have you, but if all I got paid was my hourly wage, it would not be even close to enough. I just don’t see the industry changing (unless there are laws put in place) since restaurants not only pay next to nothing for servers, but then also get a big piece of their tips. Taking a stand and not tipping on the principle could be impacting someone’s ability to pay their bills. Not tipping means the server not only loses out on that money, but also has to tip out the kitchen still for your bill. If you think that restaurants are morally wrong for paying low wages and expecting people to tip, don’t go out to eat then.

    • Here in NYC it’s illegal for restaurants and even restaurant managers and those being paid a real wage to take a part of the tips. Many restaurants, even really famous ones, have been successfully sued for this. They’ve had to pay the employees AND pay a fine on top of it.

      The entire wage system for servers is stupid. I do like the European way of including the tip in the price so there are no surprises on anyone’s end.

  • I tip generously because I can…and that wasn’t always the case. Still, I am receiving the same “service”. If it is subpar I will talk to the server but have no problem tipping less for bad service…

    She was completely in the wrong to take this, and all those details, to social media…

  • She got a $10 tip. A lot of people have to work for over an hour to make $10. I suspect the time she spent on him was a whole lot less. Lady, be thankful for what you got. There are a whole lot of people who would have loved getting it.

  • No.

    Tips should also be based on service. However, people do need to remember waiters/waitresses are making below minimum wage and survive on tips. But I still don’t think that means you can demand a certain percent, even from someone you know is wealthy. If he had tipped a $1 on a $76.95 bill I’d understand…but come on.

    Frankly, wait staffs should just be making minimum wage and tips should be a pleasant surprise. When I worked at Starbucks we were paid slightly above minimum wage and split tips based on hours. It was a nice extra bit of cash, but I was grateful not to rely on tips.

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