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Millennials Are Terrible at Tipping, Study Says

It’s 20 percent, people.
Ian Burke
Brooklyn, US
Photo via Flickr user larryleenyc

In the sage words of the late Anthony Bourdain, “If you’re a cheap tipper or rude to your server, you are dead to me. You are lower than whale feces.” Well, Chef, on behalf of the roughly two-thirds of Millennials who tip less than than the standard 20 percent, I apologize.

According to a recent study of 1,000 people over the age of 18, a majority of Millennials are poor tippers, and one in ten choose not to tip at all when they go out to eat. (Which is a horrible thing to do, considering most servers make most of their money from tips and the federal minimum wage for tipped employees is a measly $2.13.)


“The truth is that many workers rely on tips to generate a large portion of their income,” senior industry analyst Matt Schulz explains. “To them, it’s not just about etiquette. It’s about being able to provide for their families and put food on their own tables.” In fact, many Millennials say they would rather get rid of tipping entirely and would gladly pay more for the meal itself instead, Schulz says. also found that on average, people with higher incomes and college degrees tip more than those with lower levels of income and education, older people tend to tip more than younger people, and women tip around 4 percent higher than men.

The study attributes this ghastly phenomenon to, among other things, the changes in restaurant payment methods over the last several years. With more restaurants switching to digital modes of payment, such as tablets, diners no longer have to look their server in the eye when dishing out a terrible tip. In other words, Millennials are no longer feeling ashamed if they leave less than the standard 20 percent—and less and less human interaction is a major facto.

This whole no-tipping thing gives me waves of the same secondhand embarrassment that I feel whenever I watch the opening scene from Reservoir Dogs. You’re not just tipping because it’s the right thing to— you’re tipping for the service and the experience, at least in principle. Just because you might think taking people’s orders and bringing their plates from the kitchen to their table is easy (which, by the way, it’s not) doesn’t mean you only have to tip your urologist, à la Dwight Schrute.

And if you don’t subscribe to this school of thought, just get the food delivered. Oh, but make sure to tip your delivery person 20 percent, too. Not tipping isn’t illegal, but it does make you an asshole.