Who are the worst tippers?

December 8, 2009Jon Brooks 4 Comments »

waitressThe recession has fewer people eating out, which means less in tips for waiters and waitresses. This can only accentuate the hard feeling felt by restaurant staff at poor tippers.

A recent posting on the blog Waiter Rant asked waiters and waitresses which people they considered to be the worst at doling out an adequate gratuity. The post has thus far elicited 260 responses and the answers are bound to offend anyone and everyone. Except for maybe gay men, whom multiple people designated as the best tippers.

Some random answers to “Who are the worst tippers?”


Canadians! In New Orleans, many restaurants add gratuity to foreigners. Usually, this is only to foreigners that don’t speak English well. We can’t grat Brits, Aussies, Kiwis or Canadians. Western European countries have come a long way in the past 20 years, but not the Canadians. Occasionally, I’ll get a good tip, but usually it’s 10%.

Middle-aged blue-collar guys

Well I’d have to say the worst tippers on the whole in my experience were middle aged guys who looked like they were in their 40s or 50s and probably blue collar workers. For whatever reason I always seemed to be lucky to get 15% from them, while ladies around the same age tended to leave me 18%-20% on average.


Scandinavians. Used to wait on a group of SAS pilots every Sunday in Minneapolis, and I think they gave me 5% or so on average. Maybe three out of my five best tips have come from black people, and I’ve had ladies who lunch leave me 100% before. But the Scandinavians have always screwed me.


In my experience working right off of Disney property (Orlando) the last three years the worst by far are the Brazilians.

Women in groups

I used to work as a glorified busboy in a buffet-style restaurant, where you paid up front, so I only got tips in cash, usually a buck a table. In my several years of experience working this job I found that groups of three or more women almost never left a tip of any kind. Either they didn’t carry cash (a possibility), or perhaps felt awkward pulling out their wallets in front of the other women. Maybe it would have embarrassed those who didn’t tip or some other silly notion of social propriety. Groups of men (a much rarer breed in a buffet restaurant) averaged two to three bucks, suggesting that the social pressure for men is to follow suit and drop cash (and I have a hunch that men are more likely to carry loose cash instead of just plastic).


Man, the church crowd. We would practically kill to not work Sunday mornings/Wednesday nights after the baptists got out of church.

The uneducated working-class

Black, white, whatever, the worst tippers were always working-class people who didn’t seem to have a lot of education. Older people and Jewish people of a certain age were high-maintenance, but not necessarily sucky tippers. Foreigners visiting this country sucked, but it’s sort of not their fault and the British were always so nice that I couldn’t get too angry.

Senior citizens

Old people. My Mom was a waitress in a sushi bar in a tourist town here in California and she’d bitch about the old people who gave crap tips. Then insult to injury, she’d deal with a family of old people who left a dollar or two on a $40+ bill. She’d slip a decent amount to the wait staff before she left the establishment. And Koreans from Korea. They don’t get the tip thing either.

African Americans

The consistenly worst tippers I had were black people. Granted, I live in Atlanta where the majority of the population is black. Maybe it’s just a numbers game.

Elderly country club women

I waited tables in college at a country club in a small town, and the older ladies who lunched were the worst tippers of that crowd ($1 tip no matter what they ordered). The older men were definitely better — probably because they wanted to show off in a crowd. My husband waited tables for several years in Chicago and Joliet and he reiterated the point about church goers and black men generally being bad tippers. He did say that gay men tended to be really good tippers…

Recovering cocaine addicts

COCAINE ANONYMOUS! Used to come into a glorfied coffee shop where I worked in my much younger days, friggin’ squat forEVER, MOVE TABLES AROUND to better suit their needs, act like they’re better than you because you’re a server and they’re — what? Clean today? Snap your fingers at me again, you won’t have a working nose to snort up ANYTHING…problem friggin’ solved. You’re welcome.

I got out of the business when I was to the point where I was accidentally saying that kind of stuff out loud. Like, “WHERE’S MY BREAD?” was met with a dead stare and “Your bread is in the oven. Cooking. You want me to go get it? I’ll be happy to bring it out to you in the shape it’s in now. No problem.” So yeah…it was time to get out.


The ones who totally stiffed me or left 5% – were the ones who gushed about what great service I provided and what a wonderful waitress I was, sometimes interspersed with a comment or two about how broke they were.

The good tippers let their cash do the talking and didn’t feel compelled to waste my time telling me I was the best waitress they’d ever had.


I have to agree on Indians as the worst tippers in the world. At one point of my 8-year-career as a waiter I have worked in upscale French-Indian restaurant. We had a lot of Indian patrons, a lot of them from Silicon Valley, and I can tell you that the best you can hope for is 15%. I’m not talking about Indian tourists, for whom is very common to round up a bill from $97.56 to a hundred.


This is very old as I’ve been working in places other than restaurants since early 1992, but when I was there, the ardent non-smokers – those who complained if they could so much as see the smoking section – were the worst. In the normal sections, it was easy to average over 15% after tipouts to bar, busser, etc.; but in non-smoking maybe 12% at the most.


At my resturant we have a $5 lunch specials. ANYONE that comes for that is a terrible tipper. Also getting $12 off your birthday meal does not mean that you don’t have to include that into your tip. I dont f****** care if it’s your goddamn birthday


The “Early Birds” hands down. They come in for cheap food & cheap entertainment because they are cheap! Unfortunately there is no categorizing them because they have infiltrated all social, ethnic and religious groups. It’s like they’re undercover or something.

Adults with teenagers

My first waitress job was in the teeny-tiny town I grew up in, and while we got some tourist trade, most of the customers were people I’d known my whole life. Most were decent tippers but the worst were the ones with kids my age. it was like I was stealing the money directly from their teenager’s social life by working my butt off on weekends.


The worst by far? Teachers. A lot of them seem to hate their lives, so they go out of their way to be demanding, high maintenance and then don’t tip. That or young couples who are still paying off student loans…

Upper middle-class baby boomers

In my experience it is the upper middle class 40 & 50 somethings that don’t tip well. They leave the lowest amount possible while not being outright rude, no matter how good the service is.

True, some other groups (poor & elderly) often don’t leave generous tips. But they leave what they can and make up for their lack of funds with kindness. The above mentioned have no excuse.

NBA players

NBA players. I worked as a valet in college, and was stiffed by both Kevin Johnson (now our mayor) and Bill Cartwright.


I work in an authentic Japanese place, and the worst tippers are, by far, the Japanese. We get a mix of about 50/50 Japanese/not. I suppose it’s normal to stiff in Japan, and some people just haven’t bothered to learn societal norms. I usually don’t hold it against them if they appear very new – when you’re new to a country, you have better things to figure out first. I get it. But when someone seems like they’ve been in the country awhile and have a good grip on the culture and they still stiff, I get cranky.


The French, in my experience, are the worst tippers!

Europeans especially the French

Europeans, I hate you, especially the French. Don’t get me wrong! I love and appreciate the culture, the philosophy, the food and the fashion. But you can’t claim to be sophisticated and continue to plead ignorance of tipping customs. The Irish were the exception, as I always found them to be fun and friendly.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

I’ve been a waitress for over ten years in a small town in Indiana, and by far the worst tippers are Jehovah’s Witnesses. They leave no tip at all, no matter how high the bill. My fiance is a former Witness, and he noticed it every time he went to dinner with his family. I even knew some of them by name and would have friendly conversations with them, and they would still stiff me.

Old white people

The worst tips came from old white people. I saw a 60-70 year old guy drop a quarter on the table for a tip once. Both my husband’s and my grandparents think that a 10% tip is standard and that you don’t have to tip at a buffet-style restaurant.

Elected officials

I, too, am a recovering waiter. my consistently worst tippers were municipal elected officials: judges, councilmen, supervisors and mayors. This held true in four cities over a ten year period.


I worked in a Chinese restaurant- the worst tippers by far were kids. Most of them were friends with each other and none of them tipped. Maybe occasionally there’d be a few cents left over in change that they wouldn’t bother taking, but we’d just shove those right back in the cash drawer; no one likes change.

Public media supporters

NPR/PBS member card carriers are the worst tippers of all. The worst.

Best answer

My in-laws.

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