10/20/2014 11:04 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why You Should Stop Tipping Your Server

Credit: Flickr/Steve Snodgrass

Stop tipping. Stop tipping 20 percent. Stop tipping out of custom. Stop tipping because your server makes below minimum wage, and after taxes it's basically nothing. Stop tipping. You're screwing everything up.


In September 2014, pro football player LeSean McCoy left a $.02 tip on a $60-ish bill at PYT, a Frankenfood burger lab that's been keeping Philly fat for the past half-decade. Offended by the 0.32 percent gratuity, the owner posted a picture of the receipt to PYT's Facebook page, where it quickly racked up a pro-football level of chatter -- some which was supportive of the restaurant's revenge play, and some outraged at its lack of professionalism.

A day later, a stiffed waiter at a Center City burger joint had become a trending topic. The nation dutifully flung itself into an indignity-fueled, class-baited, pseudo-intellectual Internet screaming match about the "rules" of tipping in America.


More: The Ultimate Guide to Tipping Everyone

People weren't debating whether McCoy was a jerk just because they love to debate. Sure, that's part of it, but there's a bigger reason this discussion persistently plagues American dining: it's because our gratuity system doesn't make any sense to begin with. I know this. Implicitly, you probably know this. Here at this publication (among many, many others), we know this.

But instead of spending energy finding a solution for this country's dysfunctional tipping culture, we try to decide if LeSean McCoy's "screw you" tip was warranted. No. No! It doesn't matter.

This distracting ideological argument usually divides into two readily-politicized, highly emotive perspectives:


  • If you don't tip 20 percent, you're an awful person/European/an awful European person!
  • Have any of you EVER waited tables?
  • Servers don't even make minimum wage, you asshole.


  • I earned my money, and I decide how to spend it.
  • Oh, you don't like the pay? Get another job.
  • If my server expects a tip regardless, he/she isn't going to be incentivized to do good work.
  • This entire scene from Reservoir Dogs.

I tend to throw my lot with the latter camp. "Customary tipping screws the customer." I wrote that. Since then, I've realized I made a mistake. Customary tipping doesn't just screw the customer -- it screws everybody. That's why you should stop doing it.

If you haven't scrolled down to this article's comments section to call me a libertarian/fascist/neo-con piece of trash yet, allow me to elaborate...

We'll tell you how tipping hurt the customer, how it hurts the server too, and why stopping tipping might be the best thing you can do for your server -- all on Thrillist!

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