Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lousy Tippers Club

Between all the dinners I never feel like cooking and weekly lunch dates with friends and business acquaintances, I eat out a lot. I always tip well, because to tell you the truth, I’m self-conscious about the stereotype that black folks are bad tippers. In fact, because of this stereotype I feel compelled to tip well even when the service is not that great, and considering how often I eat out, I definitely know the difference between good and not-so-good service.

But today I learned that all my over-tipping may be in vain, because according to a study by Michael Lynn of Cornell University and Benjamin Katz of HCD Research, it is commonly perceived by food service workers that Christians and other religious people are stingy tippers. Not that this is all about me, but dang! A sister just can’t get a break!

The study found that thirteen percent of religious people leave less than a fifteen percent tip for good service, and while that means eighty-seven percent of religious people tip at or above the normative level that reality has little effect on the perceptions of food server workers. And these perceptions are not helped by stories such as the one about the waitress fired after posting on the internet a receipt left by a customer/pastor. The pastor had crossed out the automatic eighteen percent gratuity on the bill and written, “I Give God 10%. Why do you get 18?" Hmmm…

After the receipt went viral, the pastor reportedly called the restaurant, demanding the firing of the waitress who posted the receipt, who was a coworker of the pastor’s server, as well as all others involved. No one other than the server who posted the receipt was let go.

The pastor was later quoted as saying that her note was a “lapse in … character and judgment.”

Until reading the study, I had no idea servers had so many stories about being stiffed by Christians, including some who reportedly leave tracts and notes about salvation instead of cash. Give me a break y’all! Spreading the gospel is good, but that’s no excuse for being a tightwad.

As a result of the study, I now know to avoid going to restaurants immediately after church, because servers claim to get the absolute worst tips from religious people at this time, and the study also shows that a server’s quality of service is influenced by his or her perception of the tip he or she expects to receive. (I always wondered about that.)

I find the pastor’s note and her behavior afterward so outrageous I almost feel sorry for the server who posted the receipt to the internet, although she probably should have known better. But, no doubt her sacrifice positively affected the future tips of all those servers who’ll ever have the pleasure to wait on that grumpy pastor.


  1. Embarrassing at best. I've got my own Christian tipper or better yet, non-tipper stories. Lovin' the blog Crystal...