What to Do When Your Friend is a Bad Tipper

Young people at a restaurant where a woman is paying by credit card


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Leaving a decent tip for a service rendered is one of the ways customers can show their appreciation. However, there are some people who don’t tip because they forget, don’t believe in tips, or they’re rude and don’t care.

If you happen to be with one of these people, you may wonder what to do. There are actually several ways to turn the situation around, but in the future, you may want to have a talk with this person or choose to spend time with this friend at home to prevent your own embarrassment over their lack of generosity.

When a Friend Under-Tips

Some people don’t know proper tipping rules and how much they should leave a server, hairdresser, spa worker, or other service provider. Either they grew up not paying their own bills at restaurants, or no one ever explained that the majority of a server’s income comes from gratuities.

When you are with someone who leaves meager tips, you can do one of several things:

  • Carry around a card with standard tipping percentages and make an issue of referring to it when the bill arrives. Your hope is that the chintzy friend will request a peek at the card for guidance and do the right thing. Or you may want to hand it to the person and rave about how much this little card has helped you leave the acceptable amount of gratuity.
  • If you have the funds to cover the extra expense, you may ask your friend if she needs help with the tip since you noticed that she didn’t leave the standard amount.
  • Ignore the cheapskate friend, leave a generous tip, and don’t go out with that person again. If she asks why you keep suggesting a night in, bring up the fact that she never seems to tip the server.

When a Friend Doesn’t Tip at All

One of the most basic rules when being served in a restaurant, bar, or other establishment is that tipping is essential. Not doing so comes across as stingy and selfish.

After the bill arrives when you’re with a non-tipping friend, there are several ways you can handle the tip:

  • Cover the entire tip yourself.
  • Announce that you’re short a specific amount of money for the total tip and state what you added for the server.
  • Request separate checks, so the server knows who is generous enough to do the right thing and who doesn’t appreciate good service.
  • Let it go and not do anything.

The danger of not doing or saying anything is that the lack of a decent tip may reflect on you. If you ever plan to return to this establishment in the future, the server may remember you and associate you with bad tipping practices.

When a Friend is Rude to People Who Serve Them

There is rudeness beyond bad tipping that may embarrass you. Most people are polite to people who take orders and deliver their food, but just one rude customer can ruin a server’s evening. As someone who likes to treat working people with respect, you probably cringe when a friend you are with is impolite.

Find ways to make the event less embarrassing and awkward:

  • Before you go out, talk about how much you appreciate good service. If you know the rude person well, you may want to bring up a specific time when they weren’t on their best behavior. This can backfire, but it’s better to get the subject out there before the rude behavior starts than to have a scene in a restaurant.
  • When someone is rude to the person who delivers your drinks, you may want to apologize to the server for your friend. Let the person know that you appreciate the effort and hard work that goes into serving people
  • Don’t get into an argument or physical altercation with anyone—even a friend. But if you can discreetly request more polite behavior, do so when the server walks away. Perhaps the friend doesn’t realize she’s being rude by leaving a miserly tip or saying something embarrassing, and your comment will be a wakeup call.

Whatever you do, avoid drama. Don’t get caught up in your friend’s rudeness by matching sarcastic comments with your own.

If You Are the Server

When you serve groups of people who appear to be friends, remember that one bad tipper doesn’t necessarily mean they all are. Treat them as though they’re all the best tippers you’ve ever had, and hopefully, the ones with good manners will reward you with a decent tip. Every server has bad tippers on occasion, but most customers will do the right thing.

Important Points to Remember

One of the most important things you need to remember is that not everyone has great manners. Some folks are open to suggestions if they don’t know proper etiquette, but others may get upset if you call them out. The key for your good manners is to be as gracious as possible and avoid bringing attention to the situation that may cause you and your friend even more humiliation and embarrassment.