I didn't realize tipping is such a hot topic.

After I wrote about it last Sunday, my email, voicemail and social media exploded.

I particularly enjoyed the multiple Facebook responses typed by people who only glanced at the headline and didn't bother to read the column.

One person wrote: "Publishing an article that is going to empower a bunch of people to not tip servers? This article is gross and elitist and it is clear Dyer has never in his life worked in the service industry. This is really reprehensible."

Let's review.

I spent the FIRST SEVEN PARAGRAPHS talking about all of the people in various service industries whom I tip religiously. In the SECOND SENTENCE, I said I never tip less than 20 percent for decent service in a restaurant or bar, and tip more than that for excellent service.

My only beefs were tips being added automatically to a bill for only two people and restaurants adding an automatic tip without mentioning it prominently on the menu or on the check.

The responses from people who actually read the column were fascinating.

This came from Gary Liedes:

"We were visiting some friends in Hilton Head and decided to thank them by taking them out to dinner at The Old Fort Pub, which is in Hilton Head Plantation. It’s a very classy and pricey restaurant.

"There were six of us. We had a terrific meal and great service. When the bill came, we put a 20 percent tip on and signed our credit card slip and left.

"The bill was high, so we remembered the number. When our credit card statement arrived, my wife mentioned that the amount on the statement was lower than our receipt. It didn’t take long to realize it was lower by the exact amount as the tip we left.

"Since our server was outstanding, we were concerned he might have gotten stiffed. We called the restaurant and discussed this situation with the manager. What the manager told us totally shocked us.

"The manager said, 'We noticed that you tipped on top of the automatic tip we add on to parties of six. We assumed it was by accident, so we removed it.'

“Talk about class!"

Exactly.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was Don Heffner's experience at a local buffet on Easter:

“We went to the front desk and paid and they added a 20 percent tip to our bill and never said what it was for until I asked.

“They never served us anything at our table — not even water. We had to get everything ourselves. The only thing they did was pick up plates after we ate.

“I don't see where a 20 percent tip is called for.”

It is absolutely uncalled for, and I wouldn't have paid it. I would have left a few bucks on the table for the person picking up the dirty dishes.

No-tip cultures

This whole discussion would be moot if Grant Treloar had his way.

Treloar lives in Australia and recently flew home after a four-week visit to the States.

“Really you guys are running a false economy. Just pay everyone a decent wage and drop this stupid tipping s***.

“It will cost you the the same amount as a consumer, without the 'double dipping' which also seems to be creeping up in percentage as the years go by.

“I know nothing will change as this has become so inbred into your culture. ... I feel sorry for you guys and hope you can find a way to fix this embarrassing situation that most of your population do not even realize exists.”

However, a local reader who travels internationally said eliminating tips would be counterproductive.

“I like the tip system,” wrote Don Cirelli. “I've done a lot of foreign travel. Service has always been all over the map, and I suspect that's because they get paid the same, regardless of the quality of the service.

“The rudest service was always in Germany. Try and ask to 'have it your way' at Burger King in Germany. You'll get it the way THEY decide to make it, period.

“Yes, you'll find good service in Germany, too, but it wholly depends upon the luck of the draw.”

Before or after?

Another wrinkle in the tipping game was noted by Dale Dumek of Fairlawn. “Never tip on tax added to the bill. Subtract that out.”

Although I always tip on the total, that's a legitimate question. Many folks believe you should tip on the pre-tax total. A forum on TripAdvisor discussed the issue at length with no consensus.

Perhaps it's not worth worrying about. On a bill of $50, a pre-tax tip of 20 percent would be $10. If you gave the same percentage after Summit County's 6.75 percent sales tax was added, the tip would be $10.68. Big deal.

As for the proper percentage to tip, the Emily Post Institute suggests 15 to 20 percent. And a survey by CreditCards.com says most people are doing just that: The median tip in the U.S. is 18 percent.

Whatever you do, don't forget to tip your local columnist.

 

Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or bdyer@thebeaconjournal.com. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31