Tipping During a Recession Debate Continues

Why you should still go out to eat, even if you don't tip generously.

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I've received several angry emails over the last few days from readers who say my tipping logic is flawed. Before turning the floor over to one of them, I want to clarify something.

I did not mean to imply that anyone who can't afford a 20 percent tip should stay home. While 20 percent tip on the pre-tax amount of a restaurant meal has become standard, it is also generous, and not in any way obligatory. Tipping 15 percent is still acceptable. While I believe consumers should consider tips part of the cost of going out -- after all, those waiters and bussers are working hard -- I don't think you need to stay home if you can only swing a 15 percent tip. I'm sure the restaurant owners will still appreciate your business.

And now, here is the message from Nick:

I really like your articles but the NPR piece on tipping on Dec. 16 really agitated me!

I can't believe you'd condone people not patronizing their favorite restaurants and bars because they can't afford a 20 percent tip to the bar tender and/or wait staff.

And...let's be frank, 20 percent is ridiculously high. That is the tip for excellent service, not standard service.

I have my favorite watering holes and restaurants here in Seattle and while the wait staff and bar tenders are RARELY the same month-to-month, my local faves remain.

Oh, I bet they always report those tips on their taxes too and pay the over 30 percent tax rate that I do on my salary. HAHA! Get real!

I always tip and will continue to but I really think your piece sent the wrong message that we as non-alpha consumers are obligated to tip.

Before you go feeling too sorry for me, I'll let you know that my wife was one of the 533,000 folks who lost their job in November and the last thing anyone should be doing is making people feel guilty about going out to have a drink or a meal beacuse they can't pay an exorbinant tip.

Long story short : It's OK for folks in the service industry to work harder for tips because we out in the working world are also working harder to keep our salaries and jobs.

Now it's your turn to chime in -- do you agree with Nick?