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The Daily Dish Restaurants

Here Are the Top Reasons People Leave Bad Tips at Restaurants — And What Type of Diners Are the Worst

How much tip do you leave in a restaurant?

By Marianne Garvey

Here’s a tip — refill my water when I go to the bathroom or no gratuity for you!

Modern restaurant goers are thinking about so many factors when leaving a tip while dining out — analyzing everything down to yes, their water refill count, and how fast a server spots their wave for the check. Tipping habits, like leaving a generous 20 percent, or leaving nothing at all (it happens a lot), depend on so many things, it's as if a waiter is expected to spin plates on their head, too.

According to a new survey by Discover, what is left for gratuity is based on how fast, accommodating, and polite the waiter is; the food comes second.

Broken down across America, the results found that overall, women are more generous than men even when the service is poor, that men tip more if the server is attractive or flirts with them, and that seven in 10 servers have been left zero tip at some point in their careers.

The ideal tip across the country is 20 percent, but most people dock the tip for poor, slow, or rude service.

When asked, people named these as the top reasons why people left a low tip, or no tip at all:

If a hair was found in the food, but the meal wasn't replaced.

If a hair was found in the food, even if the meal was replaced.

If the server was rude.

If the server neglected the table for several minutes when a guest was in need of something, like the check.

If the server was overly attentive.

If the server didn’t refill the water glass.

If the guests were not seated at a desired table.

If unruly customers were disturbing or distracting guests from enjoying their time at the restaurant, and employees failed to address it.

If a server didn’t accommodate a request for fast service.

Even after dealing with a bad dining experience, women still offered a more generous average tip than men. Women gave on average a nine percent gratuity, while men only averaged seven percent when there was hair in their food, or the server failed to replace the meal. Women again tipped more than men when the restaurant wasn’t able to seat them at their reserved table.

Perfect service usually gets a 20 percent gratuity, unless the restaurant guest is just cheap, and there's not much anyone can do about that.

Across America, the best tips come from East South Central (Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama) and New England. Regions that don’t like leaving 20 percent, even when the service is good, include Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.

Perhaps surprisingly, personal wealth did not directly affect tipping percentages.

By generation, Gen Xers were the biggest tippers and more willing to forgive mistakes. Millennials were less forgiving when it came to overly attentive servers and were the least forgiving with their tips when it came to mistakes in the kitchen. Baby boomers left the smallest tip when servers were rude or flirty. Boomers’ generosity also vanished when they couldn’t get their desired table.

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