In the last year or so, I've noticed more and more restaurants are printing tip guides at the bottom of their receipts. Some of them give suggested dollar amounts for good/excellent/outstanding service, while others are solely focused on flat percentages. While I once received a receipt with the message "Please tip 20-30 percent if you enjoyed or really enjoyed your experience," the guides usually tend to suggest a more reasonable 15-20%, like the most recent one I encountered at Bandera.
It was the first time my dining companion had encountered a tip guide on a receipt - her initial reaction was shock ("Are people really that math challenged?!"), but that quickly faded into indignation and irritation. I usually ignore the guides because I have my own method of calculating the tip (the tax rate in Chicago is 9.5%, so you can easily take the tax, round up & double it for a 20% tip), but when I really thought about it, I completely understood her irritation.
While I'm not someone who is a anti-tipping or a cheap tipper (mostly because of the system itself - I do think it should be the responsibility of their employers to motivate & pay their employees a fair wage, but I understand that's not the case), it is slightly presumptuous of the restaurant to assume the server even deserves a certain standard level of tip. Shouldn't it solely be based on the service that was provided at that time? Also, are the guides really there for the math challenged or is it because restaurants owners are afraid patrons are unaware of tipping protocol? It kind of feels like they're passive-aggressively goading people into tipping (or tipping more than usual for standard service just so that the server won't think they're cheap). And what about the calculation itself - why was the tip amount at Bandera based on the after-tax total and not the subtotal? Um, since when did it become the standard to tip on sales tax? I'm sorry, but the sales tax I'm paying to the city has nothing to do with my restaurant experience or the service I received.
Today's LTP: How do you feel about tip guides on receipts? Do you think they're helpful or just annoying? Should there be a standard tip guide included at every restaurant or does the suggestion do more harm than good (especially seeing as a lot of people tend to err on the side of overtipping)?