Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tipping for a Comped Meal

I will soon have the rare and wonderful opportunity to try a new restaurant on the house, courtesy of a local PR firm. However, I will be responsible for the tip.

My question for all of you is, do I still tip based on the total cost of all the food and drink I order (and, possibly, food given to me in addition to what I order)? And, if so, how do I know how much to tip when I will never see a bill? I guess I could try to discreetly jot down a running total over the course of the evening?

The last time I tried to tip for a comped meal I left waaay too much, so some guidance would be appreciated!


This post was written by Foodie Universe

15 comments:

Amy Sherman said...

I tip around 25% for a comp'd meal. No reason the staff should suffer because management is comping me!

The few times I've been comp'd I always ask to see the bill. I do it for two reasons--first off, I do want to tip generously AND I want to get a sense of the value of the meal.

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

The average tip is still 10%, and this is a perfectly acceptable rule of thumb. It's very normal for someone who tips over this amount to be treated with "better then average" respect in a restaurant, and is therefore good if you have the money.

The fact you are being comp'd is of course a good excuse to tip over average, the amount being up to your own budget.

As for working it out - well, simply go by the average cost for that type of meal - if a 3 course meal for 2 averages at £70, just tip at your chosen percentage of that bill, if there are 2 of you.

Hope this helps a little.

Kalyn said...

I worked as a waitress at a fancy French restaurant in Salt Lake all through college. (I waited on Robert Redford, Billy Joel and Vincent Price if anyone's interested. If you don't know who any of those people are, then you're just too damn young.)

Anyway, back to tipping. If you're getting a good meal for free, what's wrong with overtipping a bit. I'm with Amy on this. I used to do a fair amount of expense account eating and I always tipped generously, figuring if I was home I would have had to pay for my own food. Same principle.

Amy Sherman said...

10%? No way! Not in the US anyway, where service is not included in our bills. The average in America, according to the Zagat 2006 survey is 18.7%. Anything under 15% is usually considered insulting.

nika said...

I agree with Amy.

While I have never had a comped meal (cant speak too what to do in that instance) I usually tip 20% just about anywhere (mind you, I dont eat at really expensive places like Masa or Alinea where the bill can exceed $500 per person). If I loathe the service I have gotten I tip 10%.. I never NOT tip because I know from personal experience how poorly servers are paid and how hard it is to do the job (The really hard part is dealing with people).

paul said...

The little pound sign in Scott's post stopped me from jumping up and down about the 10%.

I'd ask and tip at least 20 percent, sometimes asking what the tax is, can be the polite way around this issue.

I'm usually generous, since I can't do the math on anything less than 20%. Some may say the real issue is whether to tip on the total bill, tax included, or not.

I'm not sure about Alinea, but Masa, Per Se and many other uber-restaurants now have a built in service charge. Of course the question then is - does that include the tip for my somellier too?

Jeanne said...

Whenever I've been comped a meal, I have asked to see the bill and tipped about 15% (this is in the UK where 12.5% is accepted as the going rate for a tip, before anyone has me drawn and quartered!). The fact that the meal was comped has nothing to do with the servers and it's only right to tip them properly, unless there was something seriously wrong with the service.

On a related topic, the service charge is almost always included in the bill here in the UK - but what irks me is that if you pay by credit card, they give you a slip to sign with the total (inclusive of the 12.5% service charge) PLUS there is a space for you to add on a tip! It just feels as if they are taking the pi... erm, mickey. ;-)

I appreciate the fact that servers are poorly paid and gladly pay for good service, but I don't like the feeling that I'm being fleeced!

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Seems most people think I'm wrong with the 10% - but please remember that bills in the UK already include tax, so you're tipping on the full amount.

I generally tip 15%, higher for good (i.e. personal) service, but equally I'm not adverse to skipping the tip altogether for poor service.

nika said...

I do look at the pre-tax amount and punch that into my tip calculator in my phone (or do it by brain.. if I am with the kids, math doesnt compute). Sometimes I forget and do it on the post tax amount.. I try not to obsess on it tho.

Gotta say tho, I do not go out to eat much these days so I may be antiquated in my ways :-)

Rachael said...

I estimate how much the meal cost (including bevs) and tip about 50%. It's the polite thing to do, and it shows that had the meal not been free, you still would have come into the place.

In LA it is not okay to ask to see the bill. That's akin to asking how much a gift cost...

Colleen Cuisine said...

Never leave less than 30% or $20 per person (whichever is greater) on a comped meal. Go higher if the service is good.

I'm with Rachael on not asking to see the bill... seems kinda tacky. You can probably estimate a ballpark in your head and round up.

Sean said...

Count me in the heavy tipper camp. While I don't see anything wrong with asking to see the bill, I just mentally tally up the meal (roughly -- my math skills ain't what they used to be) and tip generously from there. I aim for 20-30% in round numbers.

Anonymous said...

How much should you tip the chef?

osushi japanes restaurant said...

Every culture is having its own great cuisine so a foody like me if wants to explore then definitely i will be looking for a fusion that can rock. Yes this is all about food so i am very much particular.thank you for a satisfactory exploration.Restaurant Coolangatta

Anonymous said...


Medisoft for all your medical billing needs