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Christians are Bad Tippers

Photo by garryknight via Flickr
Photo by garryknight via Flickr

The other day I was reading Steve Dublanica’s blog, Waiter Rant, in which he had a post entitled “Who are the worst tippers? Essentially, Steve was querying his reading audience… people who make most of their money from tips… who are the worst tippers.

And the comments were revealing.

There seem to be two kinds of bad tippers in the United States.

  1. People from countries where they don’t tip.
  2. The after church crowd.

But the worst? Sunday Church goers who sit for hours and hours and leave 3 bucks on a $40 bill.

What does that say about believers that we think so little of the people who serve us that we, as a people group, are known as cheap?

‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:45

Let’s review. Here’s a link to some tipping ettiquette. This is what is expected, to not do at least this is rude.

If you are going to go to lunch after church and hang out for an extended period of time, it is also customary to double tip on your table since the server is actually losing another table because you’ve stayed so long.

Let’s presume that we, as a people group, are doing this because we just don’t know any better. But now that you know that “we” are known as bad tippers, I’d hope “we” adjust our behavior accordingly. I’d hate to presume that we really are cheap jerks!

By Adam McLane

Adam McLane is a partner at The Youth Cartel, co-author of A Parent's Guide to Understanding Social Media, blogger of 10+ years, and a fan of all things San Diego State University Aztecs.

23 replies on “Christians are Bad Tippers”

Any server will tell you that Sunday after church is the most demanding and worst tipping crowd. Maybe we should start a movement wherein we declare the 1st Sunday of every month Tip Abundantly Day. 25% minimum! And no proselytizing allowed.

@sandy- thanks for the link. Apparently I’m not the only one thinking this! I wonder if they read the Waiter Rant blog as well?

Yes, the tract as a tip… probably the worst thing ever.

I think it should be compulsary for everyone to spend at least one year in food service. I did it all through high school and 1/2 of college and, due to my experiences there, I now feel bad tipping any less than 30-40%.

I spent years as a waiter paying my way through college … it used to kill me how many times I would have to apologize to confused and angry waitstaff because they got a LOUSY tip with a tract. Sometimes people use that whole ‘stewardship’ thing as an excuse to be cheap.

Agree, agree, agree, agree and agree. When I was a server I tipped for the “Christians” who tipped poorly or not at all. I waited tables in a town that was the head quarters for a major denomination and their 4,000+ student university. In a town of 100,000, that’s a lot of church folk. It was very difficult.

I got some of those tracks too. I chased a guy out to the parking lot, handed him his track back and said, “you need this more than me. God bless.” I was happy to almost get fired for that one.

I also worked for Hyatt hotels, and the worse groups by far were church groups. They abused the property, cheated hotel systems, and left their rooms trashed. It’s difficult to explain to fellow employees that are not Christians, why people who are Christ followers would behave so poorly.

As a youth pastor I have educated my group. I make them tip when we go out, and when we stay at hotels. My students have made a lot of servers and housekeeping staff cry for all the right reasons. I go to our local Chili’s every Sunday night with a group of about 15 students. We are usually there for about an hour to an hour and a half. We only order chips and drinks, but we tip 100%. Our tab is usually about $30 and we tip about the same.

Needless to say we have our Sunday night waitress. She’s a young single mom. On her birthday, my students took it upon themselves to get her a birthday cake and balloons. They also tipped ridiculously that night. I found out later that she broke down in the back because of the students generosity.

If my students don’t walk away with anything else, at least they know how to respect and tip people in the service industry.

Totally agree! I get furious when I see people who don’t tip or think their food wasn’t perfect so they get their calculator or tipping app out and tip really poorly. I decided long ago that I would be a great tipper.
I have also asked several servers over the years about this and it always comes down to church crews and high schoolers (they just don’t get it…unless they are with me and I train them).
It is something that I advocate for and “teach” others to do as well.

I’m in total agreement too. I also experienced that horrible fake dollar tract and promised myself I’d never do anything to be thought of as poorly as I thought of that customer. I also over tip now. And I teach my youth to do the same. My goal is that wait staff will fight over who GETS to wait on our group, not over who HAS to.

This is definitely a good example of one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch.

I used to work at a place called Caffe Milano in Nashville. It was a restaurant / music venue. Some nights it was a jazz club and some nights it had Christian music acts.

Unfortunately the Christian music nights were a dud for everyone. The tips were a lower percentage and the avg ticket was way down ($12 pizzas and cokes vs $25 steaks and bottles of wine). I can appreciate the lower ticket averages, but the lower tip percentage was difficult to swallow.

I’m not sure but I would guess that a lot of the bad tippers probably don’t read this blog anyway. Anyone out there an on purpose bad tipper? Why? I watched my mom struggle being a waitress and absolutely think of her every time I leave a tip, so I guess I’m fortunate. Since I’ve become a Christ follower even more so. Even though Christians might be bad tippers I’ve been around some AA and NA crews after a meeting that might outdo the Christian groups for bad tipping and abusive treatment of servers. Sad.

Well, what’s your definition of a “bad tipper”. I read through most of that Waiter Rant blog and the waiters on there generally complained if the tips were below 20% and thought nothing was extraordinary getting 50%-100% tips, even on large bills. Now that is just as unreasonable as getting “stiffed”.

The rule I always follow is 10%(adequate)/15%(good)/20%(excellent). Since I’m single, this most often entails giving to delivery drivers that amount and they seem to appreciate the 15-20% a lot. Maybe because I’m on the college side of town. I’d never, ever consider giving 50%+ just the same as I wouldn’t give 0%.

I’ve never seen nor heard of the “Christian Tracts”. The only groups I’ve seen hand these out are Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and independent churches. None of which I’d classify as “Christians”. The first two are cults and the third is usually some religious guy acting as a pastor as a way to provide for himself.

@pilgrim- There is a link above for what is considered reasonable today. A delivery is a lot different than someone giving you service.

The expectation for 20% comes from the tax code. (Which servers can’t change) They are getting taxed assuming they are getting 17%. (or right around there) So a tip of less than that is actually costing them much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I will generously UNDER tip if the service is horrible. But my standard tip spread at a restaurant is more like 20-25-30%.

Some of this is cultural as well. So you have to know what is normal where you live.

As Christians why should we have a different tip for different types of service? Why not just show grace and tip big! We don’t know if it’s the servers fault if the food is cold, took to long or whatever! It could be the cooks fault! Just my 2 cents!

I think this goes to show that while Christianity may be the dominant theology of the world, the ideas espoused by Jesus Christ remain a philosophy practiced in the minority. Too often churchbirds would rather impress those they share a pew with than those who serve them.

If you can’t afford 20%, you cannot afford to eat out, that is why take-out exists. A large group eats up table space and service, factors that mean less revenue for the server, not only in lost tips from the tables occupied by the small-tipping party, but because service to other tables is reduced. Large parties have a collateral-damage effect to service restaurant-wide; hence mandatory gratuities. You should tip additionally, if the service was anything beyond minimal.

Large groups are also notorious for bad math: through multiple checks, good tips of 30%+ are watered down by people who don’t tip, or worse, don’t pay. So the perception of the whole group drops when there’s not enough left over for server’s pockets.

Fix this by making it clear to your party they should all tip well, remind them large parties are difficult, and if it’s a cash situation double check that the bill is met and the tip is satisfactory. This can be done nicely, free-riders depend on anonymity and the gentlest of ribbing will curb this behavior. Try pointing out that you eat there with your family and want to keep getting the service you’re used to, or that generosity _is_ testimony.

If that doesn’t work and your server looks grumpy, it’s time to tell to your pastor that unnamed cheapskates are besmirching the congregation’s reputation and a sermon is in order.

Think it really begins and ends with tipping? I’ve found this behavior is pretty descriptive
of the rest of the ‘tippers’ lives too….all I have to do is observe my ‘Christian’ neighbors or
avoid being run over by late arrivers at church, or avoid being hit by them as they
escape Sunday service.

Great post. Working as a server til the Economy decides to pick back up has caused me (as a Christian and avid follower of Christ) to question people and even sorta hate people who come into the restaurant especially on Sundays or after Church events. They end up being the most picky, most needy people who stay for hours ordering the cheap food and water, and you’ll be lucky if they leave you %10 on that. Sundays put me in the worst mood ever, which is upsetting b/c I start it off at the early Church service to hopefully put my attitude in good spirits.

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