The Politeness Tax

The other day, I ordered a small pizza for lunch. The delivery guy showed up, sweating from the summer sun, and told me my total was $10. I had a twenty-dollar bill on me. As I handed it over to the exhausted, out-of-breath pizza guy, I felt bad asking for change. So, against my better judgment, I gave him the entire twenty.  A 100 percent tip.

You're thinking it, and I'll be the first person to say it—that was stupid.

Sure, I wanted to be nice—it's nice to be nice. But I had also just voluntarily paid double for something. And I'm in no financial position to pay double for things.

I vowed that my “politeness spending” had to end.

But first—how much have I been spending on being too nice—on avoiding confrontation or making financial decisions based on guilt? Here's a look back on the past week.

Not Correcting the Sales Clerk–$2.00
As a kid, the worst thing that could happen during a shopping trip with my mom was the sales clerk wrongly ringing up her item. Oh man, the memories still haunt me. We could be late for an appointment, holding up a line—she didn't care. She was going to get her twenty cents off those grapes.

Not to blame Mom, but I think that's part of the reason I always shy away from correcting the sales clerks—even when they're wrong. Part of me still remembers that twinge of dull despair in their eyes as Mom Wong asked to talk to a manager. I feel bad.

So the other day, when the sales associate at Bed, Bath & Beyond rang up my item for $2.00 more than it was marked, I didn't say anything. There was no one behind me in line; he wasn't terribly intimidating. I just didn't say anything. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it; I wanted to be polite.

That cost me two dollars.

Paying for a Friend's Troubles–$10.00
I invited a friend out for happy hour the other night. I hadn't seen her in a while, so I thought it would be nice to grab some drinks and catch up. When she got there, she complained about the awfulness of sitting in LA traffic after a rough day at the office. Nothing new. But when the check came, I made sure to pick it up because I felt bad. Since I invited her out, it was obviously my fault she had a rough evening. Silly, I know, and she even asked, “Are you sure?” “Yep,” I insisted. It was a nice gesture, sure. It also cost me ten dollars more than I was prepared to spend.

Just Saying ‘Yes'–$30.00
We've all been in this situation. A friend asks you to go out, but you 1) can't afford it or 2) don't want to afford it. I didn't have the money to spend on brunch one morning. But a friend who I had already rain-checked twice in a row really wanted to hang out and have pancakes. I gave in (it was before I read this recent GRS piece). We had a good time, but I could have suggested doing something that involved not spending money. However, this friend enjoys brunch, and I wanted to please her. She was pleased. It cost me $30.00.

In the past week alone, I've spent $42.00 on being too “nice.” That's $168 a month and $2,000 a year I'm spending to be polite.

And it doesn't necessarily stop there. I've realized there are other instances in which this non-confrontational, people-pleasing side of me has literally had to pay for being polite. Examples include not asking for a raise and allowing a roommate to overcharge me for rent.

Why I Do It
You probably know this situation. You're unhappy with your restaurant meal or service, the waiter comes by and asks, “How was everything?” And even though everything was subpar, you respond: “It was great.”

Maybe you're an assertive person and this has never happened to you, but I think many of us have this problem. In fact, I know many of us have this problem, because a study found that people who do this—say “it was great” even though it wasn't—actually end up tipping the waiter more despite being dissatisfied.

What's all that about?

According to the researchers, consumers feel guilty about their dissatisfaction and try to cover up their white lie by tipping more. The phenomenon is so prevalent, according to the study, that waiters know about it!

The psychology behind this is an entire post in itself, but at its core, I think it has to do with wanting to be accepted. We avoid confrontation and try to make strangers happy because, instinctively, we want to be liked.

But how much money are you willing to spend on being liked? The clerk at Bed, Bath & Beyond is cool and all, but I wouldn't pay for him to like me, which is essentially what I'm doing when I keep quiet in order to avoid annoying him.

How to Stop
What I'm starting to realize is—all of this isn't really about being polite. It has more to do with fear. We fear confrontation. We fear not being liked. We fear losing our friends.

For me, what's helped to curb politeness fear-based spending is doing exactly what I've just outlined here—figuring out how much money has gone to being “too nice.”

Sometimes it's just a couple of dollars, but if I had a couples of dollars for every time I thought, “it's just a couple of dollars,” well—I'd have $42 dollars this week.

What's also helped is the realization that I have financial goals. So when I give the pizza guy a 100 percent tip out of what, at its core, is guilt, I'm being impolite to myself and irresponsible with my financial goals.

This isn't to say politeness should be completely tossed out the window. If I'm in line, there are ten people behind me, the store is closing in five minutes, and they have to go get a manager over my two dollars, I'm probably just going to tell them to forget about it.

It seems simple, but I'm learning that politeness is based on kindness and manners, not fear or unfounded guilt.

Sure, I can take a friend out for drinks, and maybe if I really feel like making someone's day, I can give them a big tip. But those decisions should be based on something positive.

And one final thought as we continue our journeys to financial success—as Bill Cosby once put it: “I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

J.D.'s note: Read that last sentence again, the quote from Bill Cosby. This is huge, and not just in personal finance. They key to failure is trying to please everybody. I wish I'd learned this decades ago. If you can learn (and apply) this knowledge, you'll be happier, healthier, and wealthier.

More about...Psychology

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William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
7 years ago

Great article – it’s something most of us are guilty of. Very perceptive! 🙂 I think there’s a difference between blessing a friend and caving to pressure from salespeople (which waiters are, by the way). The former is good, not bad. People (friends, especially) are more important than money. You’re right, though, about salespeople, and the fact that they trade on our reluctance to confront. If the amounts are small, I don’t make an issue of it, but if it’s more than $5, I will speak up. A trick I learned with this is to not accuse, but to ask… Read more »

Sheryl
Sheryl
7 years ago

There’s a difference between spending money on a friend or to spend time with a friend and paying more because you’re afraid to speak up, for sure. But either way the point holds that there’s no sense spending money that you can’t afford to spend just because you’re being nice.

As far as spending on friends goes, like with the drinks out, just remembering that your friends are more appreciative of your time than your things can make a difference in stopping yourself from treating them when you can’t afford to.

Lincoln
Lincoln
7 years ago

“We fear confrontation.” Lots of people fear confrontation, but certainly not everyone. Some people don’t mind confrontation. Some people seem to enjoy confrontation. The only person that needed confronting in situation #1 (the pizza delivery) was the author. It was the author’s idea to overtip. There was no pressure or expectation to do so. Spending money on friends is not the same as overtipping. Lots of times friends will try to pay you back sometime in the future. It’s not money out the window. It’s goodwill. Part of what you were paying for in situation #4 (brunch) was cancelling on… Read more »

Nurse Frugal
Nurse Frugal
7 years ago

Kristin, you sound like such a nice person! I am more like your mother: I don’t care if it’s a 10 cents difference, if they didn’t ring me up right I will do what it takes to correct the situation. Embarassingly, I will even take it a step further and ask for a discount on certain items (clothing for example) if there appears to be damage. The worst thing that could happen is that they will say no, and that’s the end of that.

amber
amber
7 years ago
Reply to  Nurse Frugal

Yeah, I’m a lot like Mom Wong too at the checkout but a lot closer to kristen on the paying to take care of friends thing. I had a weird situation recently of friend-friend-over-niceness-spending. Friend C. was bummed out. 3 of us took her out for drinks, offering to buy her one each as we went in. Later, C’s friend Z arrived. Z got some food, etc. When the bill came, the 3 of us paid for C.’s drinks as agreed, but then C turned around and bought Z’s meal! So all I did was help buy Z dinner –… Read more »

Lance @ Money Life and More
Lance @ Money Life and More
7 years ago

I often feel guilty when it comes to tipping at sit down restaurants but if something rings up wrong I always correct it if I notice it. I guess I should be more assertive when dining out because there are many times when the service doesn’t justify the tips I leave. Thanks for making me conscious of it.

Josetann
Josetann
7 years ago

“According to the researchers, consumers feel guilty about their dissatisfaction and try to cover up their white lie by tipping more. The phenomenon is so prevalent, according to the study, that waiters know about it!” I’m not so sure that people (usually) feel guilty about their dissatisfaction. I forget the exact terminology, but basically once you say something about yourself, you believe it a bit, and will act as though it’s true (i.e. if you say you’re a charitable person, you’re more likely to donate to a cause in the near future). And society also values consistency…if you say it… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat
7 years ago
Reply to  Josetann

I was about to suggest the “I changed my mind” answer for the incorrect item price also.

And, to dovetail on this – in many cases, stores have a guarantee that if an item rings up wrong, you’ll get it for free. That’s certainly worth the risk of speaking up about a $2.00 error in my book!

cajh
cajh
7 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

It’s actually illegal in California for a retailer to charge more than what’s on the price tag for an item (http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/BPC/1/d5/1/s12024.2). I have a second job in retail (have to pay off those student loans somehow) and we regularly have customers point out when an item rings up higher than the price tag (it normally happens when an item has been marked down as final sale and the computer doesn’t pick up the adjustment). I don’t consider it rude at all for them to mention the mistake. I actually thank them for their patience while I work on correcting the… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat
7 years ago
Reply to  cajh

Not all of us live in Cali, but I know what you’re referring to. Many times, the error isn’t with the cashier, but with the point of sale database that hasn’t been updated simultaneously with the shelf tags (or vice versa).

I also agree that a little tact goes a long way. I think sometimes people take stuff way too personally (on both sides), when it really is all about the situation, not the person.

Justin @ The Family Finances
Justin @ The Family Finances
7 years ago

I’m usually pretty good about asking about anything that rings up incorrectly at checkout. Typically if it’s just a few dollars, the cashier simply has to press an override button and not have to worry about getting a manager. Tips are a bit trickier because sometimes the quality of the meal doesn’t have anything to do with your server. If I have to send my meal back and have them redo it because they charred by steak, it technically isn’t the server’s fault. Sure, I shouldn’t say everything was “great”, but should I reduce the server’s tip because of the… Read more »

Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
7 years ago

Thank you for this! I’m a generous tipper if the server is good. If a mistake is the fault of the kitchen, bar, etc. I tell a manager, but I don’t change the tip. If the issue is with the server, I do reduce my tip, but I also still tell the manager. My biggest pet peeve was not being tipped and not knowing why. Was it something I could have done better? Or were my guests just stingy?

Kevin
Kevin
7 years ago

I believe that nowadays, in most restaurants, all tips are “pooled” and shared with the kitchen staff. Restaurants are realizing that it’s unfair to exclude them from tips when they’re such a key factor in contributing to the customer’s enjoyment of the meal.

Rachael
Rachael
7 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

I worked in multiple restraunts over the last 14 years as a waitress and I have never had to pool tips. In my experience that is a common myth that is around. The waitress’s are paid around $2.75 an hour plus tips while the kitchen staff and cooks make at least $8 but many make more.

CincyCat
CincyCat
7 years ago
Reply to  Rachael

I agree w/ Rachael. I never had to “pool” tips in any restaurant where I have worked. We used to “tip” our busboys, but that was more or less to “bribe” them to turn our tables faster. 😉

Sarah
Sarah
7 years ago
Reply to  Rachael

Agreed. When I was a server (just over a year ago), we didn’t tip share at all. The bussers and hostesses made $8/hr and the chefs made at least $12/hr, depending on position and experience. Servers made $2.75/hr, which basically all goes to taxes, so tips are all you really see.

Marla
Marla
7 years ago
Reply to  Rachael

I’ve worked in many kitchens of restaurants (in Canada) and have always had a share of the tips.

cathleen
cathleen
7 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

Pooling tips is illegal in many states.
Also, tipping the owner also illegal in some states.
Service charges, like for large parties, are legally split.

Each state has its own take on tipping, minimum wages, etc.

Katy @ Adventures in Serendipity
Katy @ Adventures in Serendipity
7 years ago

Great article and thought provoking. I make similar decisions all the time and I’ve been thinking about these more lately and how I’m not happy when I make them, especially when it comes to friend outings. At the same time, this concept can be even more complex in the context of a developing country. What’s 50 cents or $1 to me when my taxi driver only makes $13/day? Or the opportunity cost of not taking small amounts of change because it takes too long for the cashier to write the receipt out on paper and then go to the supervisor… Read more »

lorimoorepr
lorimoorepr
7 years ago

You can add to this list: attending a home party (you know, candle sales, clothing “trunk shows,” jewelry parties, etc.). I go for the camaraderie but always wind up buying something that I know, (a) I don’t need and (b) I could find for a lot less if indeed I really needed it. I’ve decided to just say no to home parties!

DB
DB
7 years ago
Reply to  lorimoorepr

Agreed – now I only go to home parties if I actually am looking for the objects that they are selling.

Eileen
Eileen
7 years ago
Reply to  DB

Same here. I decided many years ago to just not go – ever. When I used to work in an office (I work from home now), I just would just say “Oh, I’ll look at the catalog, but I gave those kind of parties up awhile back!”. That way it never seemed like it was that particular party or host, but just that I’d made a rule for myself. I made 1 exception a few years ago. A very good friend was hosting and even she knew my rule, but wanted me to come just to visit (and see some… Read more »

amber
amber
7 years ago
Reply to  Eileen

yes, I am sucked into one of these for a bachelorette party. I don’t understand why the other girls want it but they want something *racy* I guess so now I have to pitch in to by the pure romance stuff when I had already bought the bride some nice lingerie.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  lorimoorepr

Me too 🙂 I used to go for the company, but then realized my friends were better at selling than the salesperson! (“I have one of these and I love it!”) I felt like a downer saying no, but I did it anyway.

Most of this stuff is available online anyway. If I desperately need a piece of tupperware (doubtful) I know where to find it!

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago

So you paid for your friends happy hour bill becuase you dragged her out, but paid your own bill when a friend dragged you out to brunch? I’d like to see the gender breakdown on that study, because personally, I always say something and Im a dude. You don’t have to be a jerk when you say something about being overcharged, but it is important to say something. There are scams out there where retail retail clerks will overcharge everyone by a buck or two, and over the day, that adds up to a lot of money that they can… Read more »

getagrip
getagrip
7 years ago

We don’t want to be perceived as stingy, or rude, or cheap. I can also agree it’s fear of public confrontation, it’s easier to say it’s fine and move on. Saying it’s not fine involves people coming over to “make it right” and the issue gets dissected while everyone around watches. So it really depends on how important it is to you to stick to it. Additionally there is a fear of retribution. If I send something back to the kitchen, will they spit in my next dish because I’m causing them grief? Will they label me the pain in… Read more »

ilene
ilene
7 years ago

My husband is in the middle of a career change and has started at the “bottom” of his new industry so we are for the next year or 2 – “voluntarily poor,” as I like to put it. We have had to turn down an array of social invitations this year since we are literally scraping by, but I find the ones that I say yes to – I do so to be polite and then I have regrets about them later. Why does it have to be so darned expensive to keep friends? Remember the day that hanging out… Read more »

KP
KP
7 years ago
Reply to  ilene

I find that if I offer to host the backyard gathering folks are glad to come and chip in.

The reluctance seems to be willingness to get the house ready for company.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  KP

And a lot of us are apartment and “tiny house” dwellers – no space and no backyards.

cajh
cajh
7 years ago
Reply to  ilene

Why not go for a hike? LA has a ton of amazing trails. You can also do coffee – a tall coffee from Starbucks is $2.

If you feel like you need to go to a restaurant, order something inexpensive off the menu. I’m honestly curious, where were you going for $30 pancakes?

Rosa
Rosa
7 years ago
Reply to  ilene

when your friends have lifestyle creep, you get towed along behind. It’s really hard to resist.

One of the BEST things about my mom being so cheap is we can invite each other to restaurants safe in the knowledge that if either of us chose one above about a $12/person cost, it would be so odd we’d definitely say something ahead of time.

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago

Great article! I have been in similar situations. I never mind correcting cashiers if something rings up wrong, but I almost always tip well- even if I get terrible service. I used to be a waitress at one time and I try to tip more to make up for the people that don’t tip at all!

Lee
Lee
7 years ago

This is exactly why I despise tipping! Some people are just socially inept, or cheap, or rude. I really feel it’s the businesses job to make sure their employees are doing a good job, not the customers. I would love to abolish all tipping and just have people paid a regular wage, have the cost of the service worked into the meal, and have supervisors monitor employees’ performance so that great servers don’t get under tipped and poor servers are not over compensated. Don’t get me started on the tip jar EVERYWHERE… not sure why tipping irks me the way… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Lee

They do that in Australia. I knew a guy who was a waiter there while traveling and earned $15/hour. Food is priced accordingly. I think that’s about twice what a wait person would earn per hour in Ontario. (Min. wage is about $10, but wait staff are paid less because they get tips.)

I’ve learned to look at menu prices and automatically add 20-25% (13% in taxes + tip). Craziness.

Lindsey
Lindsey
7 years ago
Reply to  Lee

I despise tipping as well! Don’t even get me started on bartenders, baristas, etc. that spend about 30 sec helping you! In Oregon servers make minimum wage (not lower as in some states), so it’s not like they’re making less than everyone else by not receiving tips. There are a lot of jobs that make minimum wage and most of those don’t make tips. If you’re going to take a job that doesn’t have education or specific skill requirements, then you shouldn’t expect to make too much more. Now whether minimum wage is a livable wage is a whole different… Read more »

Sandy
Sandy
7 years ago
Reply to  Lee

I must disagree with you on the ‘working the service charges into the bill’. This actually happens in quite a few countries here in Europe and it doesn’t work out. Like the time in London I got a 10% ‘service charge’ to my bill for tips. The service was in fact lousy and the food only so-so. Or the time in Prague, when I also received a ‘service charge’ to my bill (hand-written on a printed bill, like they were afraid I wasn’t going to give anything). It was a 10% charge when the food and service was SO good… Read more »

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago

I don’t disagree with you that tipping doesn’t make a lot of sense. It seems like restaurants should pay their employees to me….but I remember when I was a waitress at one time. I think I made something like $2.15 per hour and my whole income was made up of tips that people gave me. If someone didn’t tip me, I didn’t get paid off of that table- period. I think that if you don’t have money to tip a waitress, then you shouldn’t go out to eat.

But, I totally understand what you mean about tip jars!

DanM53
DanM53
7 years ago

Funny story about tipping…I go to a weekly contest at a local restaurant, but never order dinner, just drinks. I got into a stupid argument with another group, who then decided to boycott the weekly contest. This was a group of 8 and they ordered dinner each week.

The following week, I apologized to the manager for causing him to lose dinner customers. He said, “(Screw) them. You did me a favor. They were awful tippers and were picky. You freed up the table for me.” I drank for free that night.

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago
Reply to  DanM53

Geez. Ha,ha.

I used to be a server at Outback Steakhouse 12 years or so ago. We had regulars that would come in and sit in the same section for hours on Sunday and never tip anything. They were very nice, but it didn’t make up for the fact that whoever got stuck with their section made very little that day. It sucked.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  DanM53

Well if it was a group of 8, wouldn’t there be an automatic 20% gratuity added to the bill anyway?

This happened a lot when I worked at a crappy chain restaurant back in the ’90s. They didn’t have the automatic 20% gratuity policy on large parties. It was not uncommon for a party of 10 to leave two quarters on the table after spending 2.5 hours at the restaurant. Thankfully things have changed a lot over the years…

Holly@ClubThrifty
7 years ago
Reply to  DanM53

Unfortunately they didn’t add 20% or anything to the bill at that time. It was a long time ago though, so I’m sure things have changed! I am very glad that my income is no longer dependant on other people’s generosity!

Sara
Sara
7 years ago

Restaurants actually do ensure that their waitstaff is paid at least minimum wage — if at the end of the pay period, the server did not earn enough in tips to get there, then the employer pays the minimum wage differential to the server to get it up there.

Rosa
Rosa
7 years ago
Reply to  Sara

that’s only true in a few states. In most states there is a separate minimum wage for servers and it’s just assumed they make it up in tips.

Sara
Sara
7 years ago
Reply to  Sara

Rosa, it’s true in every state and applies for every employer who is covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. You are correct that many states have their own laws, too, but the employee is entitled to the better of the protections as between the federal and state law. http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/q-a.htm

jim
jim
7 years ago

I always tip high too – just to make up for the people you know didn’t tip the waitress appropriately. I’ve never been a waitress, but most of them work their tails off and I just cringe at the thought of them not being properly tipped

Jen
Jen
7 years ago

Very interesting article. Especially this part resonates with me: You probably know this situation. You’re unhappy with your restaurant meal or service, the waiter comes by and asks, “How was everything?” And even though everything was subpar, you respond: “It was great.” I was talking about this with a friend just a few days ago. I have never dared to say anything bad, I just don’t go there again if I have a bad experience. However, that doesn’t help anybody. The restaurant / store doesn’t know there was a problem and thus can’t fix it to avoid losing clients. I’m… Read more »

Cortney
Cortney
7 years ago
Reply to  Jen

I think Jen hit a key point about going to restaurants. If something is bad and you say something, the restaurant can fix the problem and avoid the situation with future customers. If something is bad and you don’t say anything, the restaurant won’t know and will continue to do the same thing. In a way, by not saying something, you’re costing the restaurant money – unhappy customers are less likely to come back. There’s a way to comment on poor service/food at a restaurant and do it politely. I’ve done this multiple times, and frequently a manager comes out… Read more »

Michelle
Michelle
7 years ago
Reply to  Cortney

The only time I’ve held bad service against a food venue was the one time that I got really bad service and then the manager got mad at me when I tried to politely tell him about it.

A poorly trained employee a can live with. A belligerent manager is something else entirely.

Sandy
Sandy
7 years ago

Try always checking your bill. For reason of being ‘polite’ my husband used to never check a bill or receipt. But I do it all the time. And I find that just as often the bill is wrong because the waiter DIDN’T ring up a round of drinks (or once, an entire meal, good for nearly half of the bill!). If you make it your policy to correct somebody when they make a mistake that is actually in your favor, I’m thinking you might feel less bad about yourself when you correct them on a mistake that is to your… Read more »

B
B
7 years ago
Reply to  Sandy

I agree. I especially want to speak up if an item is marked one price, but it “scans” as another. That way, I’m not just speaking up for myself, but for every customer purchasing that item.

Lee
Lee
7 years ago
Reply to  Sandy

:::Claps::: Yay for being honest!!! Most people seem to only want to correct the mistake when it’s not in their favor. Extra karma points to you!

Jason @ WSL
Jason @ WSL
7 years ago

I have this problem at moments but most of the time I think I do a pretty good job with being honest with people. I am not afraid to ask for change…heck, my hair cut costs $14 and I pay with a $20. I’m always sure to ask for my $2 back. 🙂

Beth
Beth
7 years ago

I used to be very quiet when it came to things like this, but I have since changed. For example, recently, I shopped at a new chain grocery that opened in my shopping area. I purchased 3 loaves of bread with my order, and although the date was fresh and the bread appeared fresh, it fell apart when I tried to make a sandwich with it. Also, I felt that shopping the store was confusing as far as product placement, with even the employee’s not knowing where some items were. I sent a polite email describing my issue. To my… Read more »

Mrs PoP
Mrs PoP
7 years ago

While I agree with the sentiment here, what about all the times you are the beneficiary of someone else’s politeness tax. Has your friend ever bought you drinks after a tough day? Has a clerk ever accidentally scanned a coupon or given you a greater discount than the one you were really entitled to? If you think you are far more polite than the rest of the world, then yes, track this. But I think you’re severely overestimating the costs and not counting any of the benefit you get from others’ politeness. There’s a difference between being polite and being… Read more »

RobBakker
RobBakker
7 years ago

Regarding “paying for a friend’s troubles”, there’s a point to all of this, but don’t lose sight of the fact that relationships are investments over a long-term. Start neglecting them because they seem “too expensive”and you will find one day the relationship has died of neglect.

If spending ten bucks treating a friend in a tough spot is burdensome, I’d question how committed to this friend you are yourself.

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

I have a tendency to pick up the bill or check when we are with friends, or to contribute more than our share to a group bill. Why, because I hate being out with people who don’t put enough in, so I always put a little more. And, I like to treat people to drinks now and again, it just makes their day. I don’t do it often but once in a while is great. But, when it comes to errors on a bill or tipping appropriately for sub-par service, I have no problem doing so. I always point out… Read more »

Megan
Megan
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

“Why, because I hate being out with people who don’t put enough in, so I always put a little more. ”

I think this is kind of you, but do you think you might be feeding into their mentality? They might think “I won’t put in as much because Sam will cover my share.”

Sara
Sara
7 years ago
Reply to  Megan

Maybe, Megan, but I think we’ve all been out with people at one time or another who look at the bill and think, “Hm, my entree was $19.99,” forget the soda/tax/tip, and throw in a $20, or some similar variation. I’ve had one friend literally say, “Mine is only x,” and so I owe “x + y,” where they ignore tax/tip intentionally. And then like Kristin, rather than point out, “I think you may have forgetten tax and tip,” out of my self-imposed restraint, I just made up the difference 🙁

imelda
imelda
7 years ago
Reply to  Sara

Funny – when out with my friends, we *always* have too much once we’ve pooled what we owe. Often, far too much!

Then, even when I know I’ve put too much in, I resist saying anything because I don’t want to look pushy or cheap/greedy. Usually the more assertive gals walk away with the less assertive gals’ change.

Jane
Jane
7 years ago
Reply to  Sara

I actually stopped going out with a certain group of friends, because one in particular always skipped out early and never left enough to cover her share. It was very frustrating and not worth it. We are actually not friends anymore, mainly because she did lots of things like this. She was the worst kind of cheapskate – very cheap with others but generous with herself. I hate that. One time she had a “packing party” to help her move. It was terrible. Not only did she have us all come over and pack her house for her, she also… Read more »

Bethany
Bethany
7 years ago

Wonderful article! I have a lot of trouble with this fear-based spending as well! Fixing the problem requires us to come out of our comfort zone and act in new uncomfortable ways. In time our comfort zone will expand to include speaking up or saying no when we are in those situations where it is easier to pay the money or keep our mouths shut. I am looking forward to this. Thank you!

Sara
Sara
7 years ago

This politeness tax (love the moniker) can be used against you quite consciously. I used to use a local gas station regularly. The attendant (here in NJ we can’t pump our own!) pumped to an amount such as 9.75. Naturally I handed him a $10. He rummaged around in his pockets but said he would need to go back in to get the .25. Of course I said forget it (what’s one quarter?). But then it happened the next time and I realized it was a conscious deception. I looked him straight in the eye and said, well you better… Read more »

Eileen
Eileen
7 years ago
Reply to  Sara

I have no idea what gas station attendants make, but I have a college kid that briefly delivered pizzas. That has to be one of the worst jobs imaginable. They don’t make min wage, they don’t have any adjustments for gas price fluctuations, and they barely make enough in tips to cover gas. I agree that trying to dupe your customers by not having change is a bad idea, but I also realized how little these people make and have adjusted our tips up (even though our kid no longer works as a delivery driver).

Sam
Sam
7 years ago
Reply to  Eileen

A while ago the pizza guy didn’t have any change and I was not going to give him $20 tip. I promised him I would get him next time and I did. He was beyond thankful, but I told him he really should carry change.

Sara
Sara
7 years ago
Reply to  Eileen

Well, that was the crummiest part: I have always been a pretty decent tipper until I started feeling ripped off.

Eric
Eric
7 years ago

Perhaps it’s nitpicky of me, but spending out of an excess of politeness is a self-imposed penalty, not a tax. I’m not a fan of the English convention/secondary meaning of conflating taxes with penalties; they are not (necessarily) one and the same. Just as someone who spends beyond their means is not being taxed for it (in the governmental sense), not exercising sufficient control over your own spending habits is not a tax.

Lydia
Lydia
7 years ago

You just summed up my entire life in your post. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who has an issue with confrontation.

I love the Cosby quote – words to live by.

Debt Free Teen
Debt Free Teen
7 years ago

Love this article! Its all happened to us more than we would like to admit and often times its because we want to avoid an awkward situation. This article is a great reminder!

Laura
Laura
7 years ago

Kristin, this is a great article. I think you hit the nail on the head when you identified the negative experience from childhood of your mom nitpicking over pennies, and that your desire to be polite to people you hardly know is fear-based. Personal finance is so much about mindset. I would have trouble speaking up if I were demanding about it, because then I know I’m the pain-in-the-butt customer these employees have to deal with for minimum wage. But I do my best to be polite: I always say something like, “Excuse me, but I may have misunderstood something… Read more »

Lee
Lee
7 years ago
Reply to  Laura

“The lesson I learned from my mom wasn’t to argue about prices. It was that she who gets embarrassed easily in public is at a great disadvantage when dealing with she who doesn’t. :)”

So so true.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Lee

Yes! Same goes for people who are afraid to ask for discounts, ask for price matching or negotiate a price.

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

It’s funny – while I have no problem asking for a double-check if I think I’m overcharged, I find it nearly impossible to ask for a discount or otherwise negotiate. I always feel like I’m doing something mean or wrong. I guess I feel like the stated price is the stated price, so that’s what I pay – even at a flea market or garage sale! This is where I pay the politeness tax.

CincyCat
CincyCat
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

I think the key to successfully learning to ask for discounts & to negotiate pricing is sheer practice & willpower. At first, it can be very nerve-wracking to go to a manager & ask if you can get a better deal, but what’s the worst that can happen? They say, “no” and then you’re no worse off than you were before! I once was at a major mid-scale department store buying shoes, and found a pair I fell in love with that fit perfectly. The only issue was that they were the “floor sample” model, and had a small nick… Read more »

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Ha! My mom would love this: “she who gets embarrassed easily in public is at a great disadvantage when dealing with she who doesn’t.”

Oddly enough, I actually don’t mind negotiating even though I find it a struggle to correct a sales clerk.

Lee
Lee
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

As Lee’s mama always says “you need to use some honey honey”. It’s all about the approach. Most store clerks don’t really mind you pointing out an error or asking for a discount… just please please please do it nicely.

When you use your honey honey you tend to save a little money 🙂

Money After Graduation
Money After Graduation
7 years ago

I definitely agree here. I recently faced my fear for the first time, and sent back food ! Although I think I wouldn’t have if it had just been not good, but it had a hair in it so I felt that I had to because I could not bring myself to eat any more of it after I saw the hair.

I am not afraid to ask at the store when I think a price is wrong, but it took me years to build up to doing that without getting awkward or embarassed.

Daniel
Daniel
7 years ago

Easily one of the best articles of late. Great post that describes me to a T.

Rich
Rich
7 years ago

Tipping has gone above and beyond in the US.I even find myself tipping in countries that don’t expect it out of force of habit. So I’ve slowly changed my mind about tipping money I don’t have. In the US I tend to stay away from sit down restaurants and just get take away to avoid the tipping. I have also backed away from friends who seem to expect me to pay if I suggest a restaurant or bar. They just belly up the the bar and expect I will pay. I point out to them that I don’t have much… Read more »

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

Kristin, my friends and I go with 15% as a base line, and up to 25%, but the 25% takes remarkable service.

Not that we define the norm, but there’s one datapoint for you… 🙂

Lee
Lee
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

In NYC they actually print the tip categories on the bottom of the bill, calculate out how much 15%, 20%, 25% is and list what qualifies for what tip. Perhaps this is because of the high volume of tourists? Or they are just assuming people are bad at math and laying it out is better than hoping for more than $2 on a $50 meal?? It’s helpful and kind of rude at the same time.

Megan E.
Megan E.
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

I still adhere to 15-20%…usually I start around 17 to 18% and if it wasn’t good service, I tip down to 15% and if it was great service, I tip up to 20%.

Maybe that’s “too low” today, but I think it’s appropriate still and many times, the service is the same when I come back, regardless of if I didn’t tip “25%” of the bill. Many servers recognize that it’s better to have a repeat customer rather than a higher tip once.

Rachael
Rachael
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

Coming from a server, the 15-20% rule is still the standard. Do some people tip more? Yes, and it is greatly appreciated. But even I only tip 15-20%.

Sam
Sam
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

My standard is now 18%, 15% is the service is not so great, 20% for great service. And all on pretax bill.

sjw
sjw
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

I do fine on tipping at restaurants. But taxis & hair dressers I have no idea. At least I don’t need to deal with valet service.

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

My baseline is 20% for standard good – great service, 18% for service that’s a little slower, 10-15% if I’m not happy or the customer service sucks.

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
7 years ago
Reply to  Carla

Same here, I think 20% is pretty standard for good service. I just don’t understand the idea of the percentage being raised over the years due to “inflation.” That seems silly to me. Unless restaurants are paying their servers even less nowadays?

E.R. Murphy
E.R. Murphy
7 years ago

I, too, have been overtipping for years. I realized I wanted a big smile and an appreciative thank you. I finally realized no one was even noticing.

I have now cut back to a more standard tip.

apm
apm
7 years ago

I wouldn’t feel bad about giving a good tip to a pizza delivery driver. It’s a terrible, thankless job that pays peanuts. The only bright spot in the day is when you receive a nice tip like that (I still remember my $20 tips years later).

Eileen
Eileen
7 years ago
Reply to  apm

I just posted something similar above. My kid did it and I thought it was the worst job you could have (and hated the thought of what kind of miles were being put on our cars as compared to how little he made). We tip a LOT more now if we order pizza.

Bella
Bella
7 years ago

I can’t resist… “I WANT my TWO DOLLARS!” I absolutely fall prey to this one – and have been much more vigilant about my bills, and about whether or not I got overcharged once I started getting my financial house in order. If the $2 matters enough to not buy my morning starbucks – then it really matters when I’m not getting anything in return! I remember having a moving team basically force me to give them a tip because they didn’t ‘make change’. Boy was I ticked. It was only $10 on $90, and they did a really good… Read more »

Sam
Sam
7 years ago
Reply to  Bella

That was a great movie. I’m the same way, for a while we had some debt from our investment property on my husband’s Home Depot credit card. The debt was on a 0% promotion, but for some reason they were charging us a $2 fee every month. I never did figure out why, but I would call every month and it was a hassle because it wasn’t in my name and they would have to get the okay from my husband before I could go into my speech about the fee. My husband wanted to give me the $2 to… Read more »

Jacob
Jacob
7 years ago

The problem is not the politeness it the situations you put your self in. If you are trying to save money why don’t you just pick up the pizza I never get dilivery because I hate tipping drivers. Bed bath and beyond is so over priced did you even get one of there 20% off coupons they allways have out? That’s because everything is marked up at least 20%. Taking your friend out has nothing to do with being non confrontational, and most of the time my friend pays for me next time. Im one of those people who is… Read more »

Kayla
Kayla
7 years ago

I DEFINITELY have this problem. I loan friends money but don’t pester them to pay me back. I usually don’t even mention it unless they bring it up. I like to think of myself as being “nice” or “a good friend”, but the truth is, I can’t afford to give out money like it’s candy. I don’t even pay attention when the sales clerk is ringing up my purchase so that I can get away without noticing faulty charges. I tip way more than I should, though that’s mainly because I’m too lazy to do the math. Thanks for this… Read more »

WWII Kid
WWII Kid
7 years ago

Kindness is never stupid. Being stingy is never nice.

If you were too busy or lazy to go get your own food, and if you profess to be a frugal person and you didn’t have anything smaller than a $20 on you, you were in the wrong, not your pizza guy.

I did not like this article, nor do I like your attitude.

Karma might agree with me.

Megan
Megan
7 years ago
Reply to  WWII Kid

“If you were too busy or lazy to go get your own food, and if you profess to be a frugal person and you didn’t have anything smaller than a $20 on you, you were in the wrong, not your pizza guy.” So…what? OK, maybe she should have planned a bit in advance before ordering, but it happens to the best of us when we place an order and THEN realize we only have $20. That’s life. And why can’t Kristin get the occasional pizza delivered? I work at home and get caught up in projects. For me, having the… Read more »

Edward
Edward
7 years ago

Wow! I really didn’t know I was “assertive” until now. If something rings up wrong, I always correct them. If a meal tastes bad, undercooked, oversalted, etc., I tell them flat out. Maybe I’m “super rude”? If I go into a restaurant, get seated, and don’t get served for 20 minutes, I just get up and walk out. If I’m in one of those supermarket checkout lines that’s taking forever through incompetence, I’ll just leave my cart where it is and walk out of the store. Life’s too short to simmer about things. I’ve found it’s just better for me… Read more »

Megan E.
Megan E.
7 years ago
Reply to  Edward

I agree with most of this. I figure that it’s my money and time and thus if I’m not enjoying how that is being spent, I have an obligation to myself to fix it. I love hearing that you have also walked out of a place, I used to feel that should never be done (especially once water was delivered) but recently we were in a hurry and sat down, and waited at least 15 minutes, could SEE the waitress chatting, and couldn’t get service. So we left. I felt bad for a minute, but really, it was their loss,… Read more »

minimalist
minimalist
7 years ago

It’s fair, not impolite, to ask for a price correction, give a 15-25% tip, and split dining bills.

Golfing Girl
Golfing Girl
7 years ago

Good article. My husband used to be embarrassed when I would call attention to those expensive mistakes or complain when something was wrong–until he started seeing that we would occasionally get a complimentary dessert or on one occasion a free hotel weekend. It sometimes pays to be the squeaky wheel and no one cares about your money as much as you do! Several times I’ve caught cashiers charging me for two of an item by simply double scanning it by mistake. It takes a little longer, but being observant and dilligent can save you money.

Joan
Joan
7 years ago

Boy, did this one ever hit home. Thanks, Kristin.

ALWC
ALWC
7 years ago

This describes me to a T. Reading this was therapy. I felt like I was reading my autobiography. You are so right. Politeness should be motivated by kindness not fear or guilt and people pleasing is not healthy.

Jen
Jen
7 years ago

I used to have a problem with this–mostly because I don’t like to rock the boat, or, I was in a hurry and figured the cost/benefit wasn’t worth it.

The one exception for me would be the tip. I am a heavy tipper anyway, and would probably have done the same thing for the pizza delivery guy. You most likely made his DAY with that tip. Look at it as paying it forward for someone who is probably earning very little.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago

Jake was really uncomfortable Friday because we left a 15% tip instead of 20%, but he agreed with me that it was ridiculous that I wanted FORTY MINUTES for a BOWL OF SOUP. We were at a table of 8 and EVERYONE got served before me, people who were getting burgers and things that actually needed to be cooked/assembled. I was a server for years and have never seen a place that cooked soup to order. I was actually surprised she charged us for it, especially since she admitted the first 20 minutes of the delay was that she forgot… Read more »

Springs1
Springs1
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

“Jake was really uncomfortable Friday because we left a 15% tip instead of 20%, but he agreed with me that it was ridiculous that I wanted FORTY MINUTES for a BOWL OF SOUP. We were at a table of 8 and EVERYONE got served before me, people who were getting burgers and things that actually needed to be cooked/assembled. I was a server for years and have never seen a place that cooked soup to order.” Why would you leave 15%? I would have left 10%-12% depending on if I got an apology or not. If I didn’t 10% at… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

She apologized profusely, she was VERY young, and this place just opened and got WAY more popular than expected very quickly. She probably had twice as many tables as she should have. One of the people at our table does promotions for this restaurant, and she acknowledged that the management is aware of the problems and working on them, so I’m confident our feedback will make its way up the chain.

Springs1
Springs1
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

One thing I didn’t ask, did she WRITE YOUR ORDERS DOWN? If not, that would be a really good reason why she forgot. If she did write it down, she may not have gone back to read her pad of paper or she may have just missed it/forgot.

Josetann
Josetann
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

I was about to agree with the first response, but now we have a bit more information…I’d probably agree with what you did (though I would have felt comfortable leaving a 10% tip). What I have a big issue with is when you are obviously being ignored. If the waitress was swamped, admitted her mistake, and was genuinely trying…I’d cut her SOME slack. But if she was chatting it up at other tables and giving them superb service while completely ignoring you…THAT’S what really gets me going.

Trina
Trina
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Why are you going out to eat??? You’re OVER $200,000 in debt!!

Eileen
Eileen
7 years ago

This is an excellent GRS entry. I love it! Thank you.

Kathleen @ Frugal Portland
Kathleen @ Frugal Portland
7 years ago

Be generous but only be generous to people who deserve it — that pizza guy didn’t, but don’t feel guilty paying for your friend’s drink. That action will come back to you.

Springs1
Springs1
7 years ago

“So the other day, when the sales associate at Bed, Bath & Beyond rang up my item for $2.00 more than it was marked, I didn’t say anything. There was no one behind me in line; he wasn’t terribly intimidating. I just didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it; I wanted to be polite. That cost me two dollars.” So you let the store RIP YOU OFF? ARE YOU CRAZY? YOU ARE A STUPID SHOPPER, STUPID! When you don’t have any money in the bank to pay your bills, you will think about… Read more »

Lyn
Lyn
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

Wow, what happend to the rude/unkind comments being removed? I didn’t think that this website tolerated these kind of comments.

I thought the article was terrific by the way!

Springs1
Springs1
7 years ago
Reply to  Lyn

“I thought the article was terrific by the way!”

HOW? To pay MORE than what you are supposed to? To give a 100% tip just to not make the person *EARN* it by getting change for the pizza? Are you SERIOUS? WHY create LAZY pizza delivery drivers? I mean if I am going to give 100% tip to a pizza delivery driver, they better **************EARN****************** that 100% tip, not do LESS WORK, seriously you are CRAZY if you think this article is smart.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago
Reply to  Lyn

Hey-lo THERE,

Just chiming in to say ABUSE OF CAPITALS is MAXIMUM HILARITY. Please DON’T CENSOR! LAUGHING is GOOD.

****CRAZY***** HUH!?

Also, READING COMPREHENSION PROBLEMS are FUNNY.

The article CONCLUDES that ***OVERPAYING IS WRONG****

It says STOP!

But the reader MISSES that. WHY?

Ask ELEMENTARY TEACHER for YOUR MONEY BACK!!!

OH! much BURN!!

FLAMES!!!

😛

Ely
Ely
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I love El Nerdo. 😀

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

Mom?

Springs1
Springs1
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

“Mom?” Yeah, YOU WROTE IT STUPID: “As a kid, the worst thing that could happen during a shopping trip with my mom was the sales clerk wrongly ringing up her item. Oh man, the memories still haunt me. We could be late for an appointment, holding up a line–she didn’t care. She was going to get her twenty cents off those grapes.” “MY MOM” you said. Your mom was a SMART SHOPPER and SMART with LIFE to get *HER* MONEY BACK as she should. As I said, you may need that $2 one day, you never know. Each time you… Read more »

Laura
Laura
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

Springs1, tell us how you REALLY feel.

Seriously, while we get your point, is it really necessary to use blaming/shaming language to get your point across? Why the harshness? How did Kristin overpaying $2 cause you so much harm?

And I agree, what happened to rude/flaming comments being removed? For all the changes that have happened to GRS, that is the only one I dislike. GRS used to be someplace you could post and while people disagreed with you, you weren’t treated like a pariah. Allowing flames makes GRS a less secure place to be and impacts this online community.

Jim
Jim
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

Wow?!?!?! Kristin was obviously joking with the “Mom?” comment, as if her MOM were the one writing the angry comments, which I personally chuckled at the fact you didn’t even snap to the humor yourself. Speaking of Mom’s….do you feel yours did not show you enough love and therefore must lash out at others around you? How “STUPID” is that? Blame and shame has no merit against this story if you read the whole article, Kristin actually speaks against the Polite Tax, may I suggest you re-read the story or completely read the article before commenting next time….or better yet….keep… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

Getting all worked up and having a conniption over $.01 is one thing, but the name-calling is completely uncalled for.

Chill out, relax, and show your fellow writers some respect.

Priswell
Priswell
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

OK, that’s a *little* over the top. We can read regular sized text, too.

Springs1
Springs1
7 years ago

As far as if there are people behind you when you have a pricing overcharge, TUFF SHIT! If they want to hurry, they should got to a convenience store or something like that. I had one time, some asshole behind someone that was behind me said he’d give me the penny, I was like “NO, they are going to correct the price in the computer as what they advertised so NO ONE ELSE gets overcharged like I did.” See I thought of others as well this and it was my turn. If they wanted to be before me, they should… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

Wow, you got heated up over this!

Lee
Lee
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

Springs1 – Do you hold up the line and speak out so… um… loudly when the store makes a mistake in your favor? That would be you stealing from them so I would think it would work that way as well.

Just asking.

Springs1
Springs1
7 years ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee “Springs1 – Do you hold up the line and speak out so… um… loudly when the store makes a mistake in your favor? That would be you stealing from them so I would think it would work that way as well.” NO I don’t and NO it’s not stealing. Nobody has to say anything EITHER WAY, understand? It’s not my job to correct them considering I am not getting paid. The clerk and managers are getting paid so it’s *THEIR* job to get things correct, not ME. I feel it comes and it goes. Sometimes we overlook things, give… Read more »

Lee
Lee
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

You say “WHY should I just GIVE it to the company that is STEALING from me by *FALSELY ADVERTISING” Then you say “NO I don’t and NO it’s not stealing. Nobody has to say anything EITHER WAY, understand?” So which is it? You are saying the company is stealing from you when something rings up wrong but if they make a mistake in your favor its ok to keep the overage and go about your day. Seems a bit hypocritical for someone who is so vocal on the issue of not getting cheated. You, by not handing back the extra… Read more »

Springs1
Springs1
7 years ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee “Seems a bit hypocritical for someone who is so vocal on the issue of not getting cheated.” HOW, when I am not getting *******PAID******** TO LIFT A FINGER TO HELP THEM OUT, BUT, ****THEY*** ARE GETTING PAID TO HELP ME OUT, UNDERSTAND? “You, by not handing back the extra quarter or 2 you got in change by accident are in essence stealing from the store owner. Who do you think ends up paying for those mistakes?” Actually, you are 100% WRONG if it’s short, the owner takes it out of your paycheck. That has happened to me at a… Read more »

Barb
Barb
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

Wow…take a chill pill Spring before you stroke out. It is not worth getting worked up over.

Sara
Sara
7 years ago
Reply to  Springs1

Just for flabbergasting entertainment, you all should click on “Springs1” name for the link to her rant about “How to Be a GOOD Server in a Restaurant.” This lady is off her rocker!

Courtney
Courtney
7 years ago
Reply to  Sara

OMG, that is indeed a hysterical blog post. I have never in my life witnessed someone so obsessed with condiments!!

There are over 1000 comments on that post that appear to contain more bat-shit crazy rantings, not to mention the other “blogs” this person has written… More proof that the internet is an infinite source of entertainment.

http://www.blogger.com/profile/16330862403978274454

jim
jim
7 years ago

Interesting article. I might tip well on occasion mostly out of politeness and not wanting to ‘be mean’ (i.e. wanting people to like me). I can’t recall the last time I tipped a server under 15% no matter the service. Thats kinda silly really. Sometimes though I might be financially nice due to laziness. I won’t argue over a minor error at the grocery check out cause I simply don’t want to bother. I’m not worried about upsetting the teller or anyone behind me really. But if its under $1 I might not bother. Paying for a friends lunch or… Read more »

cajh
cajh
7 years ago

I’m so over paying for bad service. I too used to feel guilty over giving someone a “bad” (10%-ish) tip, but I have slowly realized that people have to earn the 20% tip. I know everyone can have an off day, but I cannot justify rewarding someone for doing a poor job.

Also, as someone who has worked in retail, *I* was the one apologizing when I accidentally charged someone extra or made the wrong change. I think it would be incredibly rude of me to be “annoyed” with a customer when it was my mistake!

Ceridwen
Ceridwen
7 years ago

I’m fortunate enough to have a wonderful job that has remained viable in our current economy. I’m blessed with a generous wage and terrific benefits. My personal “guilt factor” problem is: the majority of my female friends make very low wages due to divorce, poor personal choices, lack of education, helping adult children, etc. So, whenever we do go out, I tend to always be the one who grabs the check. I know it’s out of some kind of misplaced guilt for making a lot more than they do. Does anyone else relate?

Dan
Dan
7 years ago

Timely comment. My wife and I were out at a restaurant that we liked (we had been there before) using a Groupon. The sucky thing is that Groupon was a special set menu, so the server knows you’re on a discount up front. (Which is fine; if you want to give me crappy service, I’ll happily tip you less.) The waitress messed up my wife’s appetizer order, but corrected it in a timely manner. That sin was forgivable. However, before we ordered the appetizer, my wife ordered a glass of wine. The wine wasn’t on the table before the appetizer… Read more »

krantcents
krantcents
7 years ago

I have a different philosophy to live by. I try to do what is right which may mean I disappoint someone. I may tip a little extra for the extra effort, but not as a standard. I do not overpay for things ever.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago

Briefly: you can be super-polite while you demand your 20 cents or 2 dollars or whatever. Nothing wrong with that. The other day I stood in line at Wal-Rats to return a defective pill box that was just $1. There was a line at the returns counter but I had nothing better to so I waited and collected my buck. As I was talking to the returns clerk I said had doubts about returning the thing because it was just a dollar and she said “right…” But then I said it bothered me more to feel like a sucker paying… Read more »

cathleen
cathleen
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

As a fine dining restaurant owner I can tell you one thing.

If any server even _joked_ about touching or contaminating a customer’s food s/he would be fired on the spot by my husband the Chef. 🙂

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  cathleen

Thank you, Cathleen! Its a shame that we have to walk on eggshells for fear that someone may try to infect us with a virus.

CincyCat
CincyCat
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

El Nerdo, All joking aside, if a server deliberately contaminated someone’s food, he or she can be arrested for assault, and the restaurant shut down while health officials investigate (depending on the severity of the incident). I think sit-coms have done a lot to fill the public’s head with the “don’t get mad, get even” server image. I was a server (fast food & sit-down restaurant) for years as a teenager, and was never, ever tempted to tamper with anyone’s food – even with the world’s worst, most abusive customers. The thought never crossed my mind, and I believe that… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

Its been done in the real world unfortunately, CincyCat. I have known both victims and perpetrators. Saliva, phlegm, urine – you name it. Thankfully many years have past since I heard of this happening.

Andy
Andy
7 years ago

Researchers have done studies proving that giving money whether it be tipping the pizza guy 100% or buying a friend a drink (not the bed bath and beyond thing) actually makes you happier. I do believe in saving money and being well off financially but really, what is money when you’re happy?

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