The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


American Tipping Culture: “I’m paying for my meal and that’s it!”

Jan 23, 2024/12a

Tipping culture in America has gotten out of hand. At least, that’s how many Americans see it.

The food service industry in the US capitalizes on the ability for customers to give an extra couple of dollars to the person servicing them. Basically, the kindness of others determines how much the average server will make in a night.

Even establishments that do not seem like a “tip-able” place like at your local ice cream parlor or coffee shop, give you the loading screen at checkout with a “quick question” on how much you want to tip, with the “no tip” option being the smallest one at the bottom most of the time. This leaves me to question: where and how much should we be tipping? And should we even be tipping at all?

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According to a 2023 study done by the Pew Research Center, 57 percent of American adults would tip 15 percent or less for an average meal at a sit-down restaurant. A quarter of Americans say they would tip 20 percent or more, while 2 percent say they would not tip at all.

I would say in all the times I went out to eat with friends and family, I never calculated the tip. My older family members would do the math and add on the sum to their bill, but I never thought that was necessary. In this economy, I often feel like 15 percent can be too much for the average American young adult who wants to go out to treat themselves occasionally.

The economy is also a huge contributing factor to American tipping culture. After the pandemic and the inflation that is seen nationally, tipping has also been inflated as well. This is where the term “tip-flation” comes from.

The Pew study also notes that 77 percent of Americans say that the tip they give at the end of the meal is related to the service they received during their dining experience.

When I go out with friends or family to a sit-down restaurant for a meal, I always assess the ambiance, the service, and the overall quality of the food when determining the tip, I plan to give the waiter or server. Most of the time, if a restaurant accepts cash tips, I will scavenge my wallet for a few dollars and leave it on the table after I separately pay my bill.

To address the questions posed at the beginning, I believe the only setting which could be deemed appropriate to tip is in a sit-down restaurant with servers. As someone who has previously worked in food service, I know it’s no easy gig. The amount of time spent on your feet and the number of angry customers that blame all their life’s problems on you as soon as they walk in the door can be taxing, both mentally and physically.

Because of this, I do believe tipping is beneficial especially when some servers depend on tips to make a full wage at the end of the week. Even though I am often tempted to forget the tip and say, “I’m paying for my meal and that’s it!”

I understand the culture America has built behind tipping and if I have the money, I might as well show servers a little appreciation.

Overall, tipping in the US is just one part of a much bigger national issue: wage disparity. If businesses paid their workers properly, I believe that we would not be seeing the “tip-flation” we have today.

Tipping your servers at a restaurant should not necessarily be seen as a terrible thing. In all honesty, I commend food service workers who show up daily, and gracefully deal with hangry patrons, while delivering excellent service consistently. In the end, they truly deserve to be slipped an extra dollar or two.

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