It's a question you've probably heard before: How much should I leave for a tip?
It's a trickier subject than most people think probably because no one wants to be accused of being cheap!
It doesn’t hurt to be educated on the topic because very few of us want to under tip and most of our bank accounts can't handle over tipping.
So how much is the right amount?
NewsCenter16 headed to some local bars and restaurants for a lesson.
At Rum Runners in South Bend it's packed on Wednesday nights when the drinks only cost seventy-five cents. Tipping is generally very simple. At the dueling piano bar the piano man will play your song if you tip him well. But what do you tip on a 75 cent drink night? Technically 20 percent is only 16 cents. Experts say a buck a drink at the bar.
“Sometimes we don't even get a quarter.. they take the quarter back!” says server Emily Kelleher-Kimble. A lack of tips can be frustrating for those in the service industry depending on the income.
“I'm here trying to make a living,” says Kelleher-Kimble.
Tipping is part of the job no matter what type of restaurant or bar. In fact it doesn’t matter what the size of the bill! Just ask Tricia Maggs from LaSalle Grill.
“Other people will be like oh you did such a great job and those are the tables that you will be a little leery of sometimes you get a verbal tip instead of monetary tip.. how do you feel about that? its great but sometimes it doesn't pay the bills,” says Maggs.
Many restaurants rely on their regulars for steady business. Managers at Allie’s in South Bend say they know many of their customers by name.
“People love it when you call them by their first name and ask them how they are doing,” says server Wanda Davis.
Davis believes this closeness brings in better tips.
“You give them good service you get tipped very well.”
But how much you leave on the table can be tricky.
The standard 15 to 20 percent rule isn't always followed.
“It's so personal everybody has a different mind and standard of what they perceive service is… good service is.. and what is excellent service,” explains LaSalle Grill owner Mark McDonnell.
McDonnell says tipping has become so commonplace everybody seems to have their hand out.
“In the last 10 or 15 years when you went to the counter at a coffee shop you never expected to see a tip jar now there is the ubiquitous tip jar at almost any place you go to,” says McDonnell.
In America tipping is not legally required and the amount is at the discretion of the customer. So if tipping is not required then why do we do it?
“It has just become part of our culture,” says McDonnell.
“You're working for them. You are giving them drinks. You are giving them food, giving them drinks, they should pay you! I'm not working for free,” explains Kelleher-Kimble.
Keep in mind the proper etiquette at a bar is to tip a dollar a drink and at restaurants, add 15 to 20 percent on your tab for your waitress.
If you're headed on a trip soon go with some ones and fives in your pocket.
Anyone who carries your bags gets a tip. The rule of thumb is a dollar a bag.