Financial Feud

Financial Feud: Tipping vs. Stiffing for bad service

Diane Lim - Economist Mom Jun 27, 2013

I agree that you and your husband should not leave a tip that’s greater than the value of service provided by the waiter. 

If people didn’t signal quality with the relative sizes of their tips, wait staffs would have no incentive to do a good job.  I think it’s probably less common to not tip with bad service than to tip generously with especially good service, even though the signal is probably more important at the low end. 

It’s hard to imagine that “bad” (sub-optimal) wait service literally means no service of value to the customer (you didn’t have to go back to the kitchen to fetch your own order, did you?), so I would have found a compromise position and left a low, but not no, tip.

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