I was sitting at a Bar / Restaurant enjoying a beverage. A gentleman walked up to the bar with his bill for the food the group at his table received. I overheard that the check came out to $95 and some change. The gentleman handed the bartender a $100 bill and said "the rest is your tip."

As a former waiter, I was mortified. A $4.65 tip on a $95 check is preposterous. Even at 15% you're looking at a $14 gratuity. Since I have done this work before and I know what all goes into it, I typically tip 20% (but that is me).

Now, to be fair, I did not see the service this gentleman received. The server could have messed up everyone's order and poured drinks on the laps of half of the patrons. But I didn't hear any complaints from anyone from that table as they left. They actually looked like they enjoyed themselves.

I wonder if there is some confusion about who to tip and how much. Hopefully I can help clear some of this up. There are several websites that discuss this. I am offering my opinion about who to tip and how much.

Waiters / Waitresses: Typically I start with a 15% base and go up from there. I rarely give 15%. Most of the time I am impressed and happy with the service given to me, so I end up tipping 20%. I also know that a lot of these servers are making a lower minimum wage because they are in a "tipped" profession.

Pizza delivery: I did this for several years. When the weather was bad, the tips were awesome. But there were some houses that I hated going to because I knew I would not be tipped. I would still offer quality service (that was our job). Since I feel most for the pizza delivery drivers, I typically tip $2-$3 for a single pizza delivery. This worked in my favor when I lived in Chicago. Pizza Nova delivery drivers had a pizza at my door within 20-minutes of my call. I credit this to proper tipping.

Hairdressers: I always tip the person doing my hair. Since my normal haircut is around $12 - $15, I typically tip $2-$3. Women that get more done to their hair (perms, color, etc.), a larger gratuity would be in order.

Bartender: $1-$2 per drink. Simple open of a beer bottle will not warrant as much as a fancy mixed drink.

Coffee Shop Barista: If they hand me a cup for me to pour my own coffee, they get nothing. If they make me something fancy, then a buck or two in the jar is warranted.

I have seen tip jars at places like Subway or McDonalds. No, I will never drop anything there.

One more statement about tipping: if you use a coupon to get a discount when you visit a restaurant, it is customary to tip according to the total of the check BEFORE the discount is applied. It amazes me when I print food coupons for our Bids for Bargains Radio Auction and I have put "GRATUITY NOT INCLUDED, PLEASE TIP YOUR SERVER" on the certificate. Business owners have asked me to place this on the certificate because their servers are not getting tipped since patrons are coming in with a prepaid certificate.

If service is bad, do not feel obligated to tip. But do let management know that you received bad service, so the problem can be corrected. If service is good, let the server know with an appropriate gratuity.