Past the Tipping Point



Dear Dharma,

I have a friend that I go out for dinner with every other month or so.  We both take turns paying, and I have noticed the past couple times that she tipped under 10%.

The service was good and there was no reason to under tip. I could see maybe if we had terrible service…

Anyways, I feel so embarrassed to go out when she pays, but I would be so uncomfortable to say anything.

How do I address this? It’s making me not want to go out and eat with her anymore and I don’t want to lose her friendship.

Tipping Point

Dear Tipping,

The thing is, the amount a person tips is up to them.  It’s a social obligation, not a legal one, so they can leave whatever they want.

I agree that under 10% is definitely uncommon, unless, as you said, you had terrible service.

So really, it’s just a matter of your comfort level.

You could choose to say something like, “Was everything okay with your meal or did the server do something upsetting that I didn’t notice?”  When she says everything was fine, you could follow up with, “It’s just that a tip less than 15% generally indicates there was a problem…”

Or you could leave an extra $5 for the server without your friend’s knowledge – except, I just keep seeing that episode of Friends where Ross leaves a $20 on the table when Rachel’s dad doesn’t tip enough… if you get caught, as Ross did (of course), it can create quite the awkward situation…

Or you could change the scenario in which you spend time with this friend to something that doesn’t require tipping.  Or you could stop taking turns paying the bill and just pay your own each time and tip what you like…

None of these are fantastic options, but I think they are all better than you continuing to be mortified to the point of not wanting to see your friend anymore…



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