Tipping full price during happy hour?
June 13, 2014 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Am I supposed to tip on the full, normal cost of meals and drinks during happy hour?

Recently went on a pub crawl during happy hour with a friend. She's a former server. When the bill came at a couple places, she told me that she always tips on what would've been the full cost of the food or drinks during non-happy hour times. I'd never heard of this before.

(For example, we went to a restaurant and ordered an appetizer that was normally $9 but was reduced to $5. She tipped on the $9.)

When I use coupons I'll base the tip on the full, non-coupon cost, but I've never done the same during happy hour. Am I supposed to? Do servers expect this?
posted by girlmightlive to Society & Culture (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Tip on the basis of what the final bill is.

Presumably servers have more customers during happy hour to make up whatever shortfall occurs from happy hour discounting.
posted by dfriedman at 10:49 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

It seems to me like the work is the same for the waiter either way. Personally I'd tip on the full price.
posted by bondcliff at 10:49 AM on June 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

If you use a coupon, I'd tip on the full price. If the restaurant has reduced the price across the board, however, temporarily or permanently, that's the price. After all, you don't tip less if you conclude the restaurant is charging too much. They're setting prices at other times higher to make up for the lower prices during happy hour; it comes out even. I don't think you're obligated to undo reduced prices that are structural.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:52 AM on June 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

You ALWAYS tip on the full price. Doesn't matter whether it's happy hour, you got a coupon, or you got a free drink.

You already got your discount. Don't be cheap.
posted by monospace at 10:54 AM on June 13, 2014 [23 favorites]

My SO, a former server and a tipping purist, insists we tip on the full price during Happy Hour. It gives us a chance to move some of that money that would be going into the bosses' pockets into the workers' pockets.
posted by Floydd at 10:54 AM on June 13, 2014 [7 favorites]

I always tip on full price, as well. NYC metro area.
posted by kellyblah at 10:55 AM on June 13, 2014

I think it's fair to tip based on the highest price presented to you on the bill. So if the happy hour prices are indicated as a discount (like $6 Beer (-$3 H/H Discount)), tip on the $6.

But if the only price you see on the bill is $3, no one should expect you to do the math to gross it up.

Remember that servers (and former servers) have vested interests in keeping tips up across the board, so I'd take advice from those people with a grain of salt.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:58 AM on June 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

I try to tip on something resembling the full price. However, if the full price isn't on the check, and I don't know what it is (both of which seem to be the case most places I go to happy hour at), I'm not going to do a lot of sleuthing to figure out what it should be. I just bump up the percentage a bit and don't worry about it.
posted by primethyme at 11:01 AM on June 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Remember that servers (and former servers) have vested interests in keeping tips up across the board, so I'd take advice from those people with a grain of salt.

They're a bit cultish if you engage them in conversation. Regardless, tip what you think is appropriate but hit the minimum threshold of at least 15-20% of the bill you are presented with.

Here's a great article on tipping from waitbutwhy.com that includes low/medium/high ranges after a lot of investigation.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:02 AM on June 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

In concept, I always tip on the full price, whatever the discount is (coupon, happy hour, whatever.) But I am not going to commit to memory the full price of each thing I ordered, and then hang on to that for the length of my meal to calculate the tip at the end, so in reality if the receipt doesn't show the full price, then I just do my best vague approximation of what the full bill would have been, and tip based on that.
posted by Stacey at 11:02 AM on June 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

It's not cheap to tip on the price that you're charged rather than the price that would be charged if you'd come in at a different time of day. As I said, you can guarantee that the price you're being charged at happy hour is being balanced by a higher price than they'd otherwise have to charge when you come in at other times, if happy hour didn't exist.

Ideally, I supposed we'd tip on a fictional price that somehow represented what they'd charge as a flat price if there were no happy hour (which is somewhere between the happy hour price and the non-happy hour price), but as a compromise, I'm perfectly happy to tip on the 6:00 price when that's what they charge me and the 9:00 price if that's what they charge me. I tip generously across the board -- in fact, I rarely remember to follow the rule that you don't tip on the tax -- but I don't feel any need to tip on alternate prices that aren't in effect when I'm there, whether I'm paying a premium price or a reduced price.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:26 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would tip on the full price, especially if sitting down to eat and drink. As for ordering at the bar and paying by cash, honestly I usually just tip $1 or $2 per drink (regardless of price) because it's easiest.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 11:30 AM on June 13, 2014

It never, ever hurts to err on the side of tipping more. Tipping based on full price is a good move, and I could easily see an argument in favor of tipping even more than that, considering that many parties will be tipping on the discounted price and your server is probably extra-slammed and working extra-hard during happy hour.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:31 AM on June 13, 2014

I know it's PC these days to always recommend leaving large tips no matter what -- but the reality is that the happy hour price IS the price. Most other people leave tips based on that, and you are not required by any rule of politeness or etiquette to tip on anything but what you are charged.

As others have pointed out, you don't tip less if you think the restaurant charges too much.

If you want to be generous, go right ahead, of course. But it's not required.

And "former servers" btw are notoriously EXTREMELY high tippers, just out of a sense of solidarity.
posted by shivohum at 11:38 AM on June 13, 2014 [8 favorites]

Tip full price.

Do you expect cashiers to get paid less when the store they're working for has a sale? Because that's what you're doing to the server by tipping the sale price.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:54 AM on June 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Tip based upon full price.

Tipping someone less because they have more customers does not make sense, sorry. Also, don't tip less because you think the restaurant charges prices that are too high.

Or, I mean, go ahead, but ask yourself if the server is actually somehow doing less work in the former case, or is getting a bigger paycheck in the latter, before you proceed.
posted by destructive cactus at 11:55 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I try to tip full price in principle, BUT I'm not going to knock myself out sleuthing or doing extra math. If I don't know the full price or am feeling too lazy to figure it out, I will either guess, or just tip based on the bill. It's good karma to tip generously, but there's no need to go an extra mile.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:24 PM on June 13, 2014

Happy Hour price is full price at that time. So tip on that. If you were doing something to cause it to be lower (coupon or some kind of buy one get one free deal with food), then tip as if you were being charged in full.

If you want to be generous, be generous, but you're not required to be on the normal prices of things. And Happy Hour and Early Bird Specials are regular prices.
posted by inturnaround at 12:32 PM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seriously?? This is a thing people do? Sometimes I think the Tipping Lobby is leading us into Crazytown. Do you guys also tip on the dinner price when you buy a cheaper lunchtime meal? It's the same food! To answer your question, OP: no, this is not a thing I have ever seen people do. Feel free to tip the same percentage you normally do on whatever your bill comes out to be.
posted by Jemstar at 12:43 PM on June 13, 2014 [12 favorites]

In a bar setting, tip based on service. A dollar or two a drink, including water*. For food, 20% rounded to the next dollar.

I like to pay on each round. That way the first round establishes a relationship with the server/bartender you're not going to order the pain in the ass cocktail and leave a terrible tip.

*In a bar setting, water is the most precious thing in the world. It slows down idiots who are drinking too fast, it starts the healing process if you've hit your limit, it wards off our hangovers, it is magic. And because it's free and people rarely tip on water, your request will end up at the bottom of the pile. Tipping on water is good karma towards warding off embarrassing drunks, of which many of us have been ourselves.
posted by politikitty at 12:46 PM on June 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm not chiming in on food deals, because I don't know the answer, but I am under the impression that in general, tipping a dollar a drink is the way to go when you're sitting at the bar? And, I've been told many times that in general, you don't tip on a food bill for the drinks (e.g., you have a $200.00 total bill for a sit down meal, but $50.00 is a bottle of wine, you don't tip for 200.00, you'd subtract the wine and tip on $150.00). I don't know if people follow that or not, but I've heard it a number of times.
posted by PinkPoodle at 12:51 PM on June 13, 2014

upon preview, what politikitty said
posted by PinkPoodle at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2014

In NYC it's about a dollar tip per beer. I leave the same whether it's happy hour or not. If I can afford to buy alcohol...in a bar...or even snacks at 6x what they cost at home...then I can afford the difference between 15% of happy hour and 15% of regular. Restaurants and bars are a luxury, not a public utility.
posted by 8603 at 1:46 PM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I tip on full price, though often full price is obscured.

Happy Hour is a race to the bottom. I know restaurants generally hate it, and I don't see why it would be any better for waitstaff.
posted by Good Brain at 1:55 PM on June 13, 2014

I agree- I tip a dollar a beer whether the beer is $3 or $6. I tip food on the full price, and I have found the full price is usually shown on the bill.
posted by the twistinside at 2:09 PM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I tip based on final price, but if I'm comped something I'll add the tip percentage of what it would have cost into the full tip.

For drinks I tip $1 for every $10.
posted by brujita at 3:57 PM on June 13, 2014

I used to bartend. I know a ton of people who still work service industry. Servers don't expect you to tip on the full price, and will totally be fine with tipping on the reduced price (most people do this), but if you do tip on the full price, they will think you're cool (more specifically, they will think you are or were once a server). That's basically it -- if you don't, it's fine, but if you do, you'll immediately be considered a good tipper and they're more likely to remember you as such. That can have fringe benefits (e.g., if I go to the pay-by-the-hour pool hall I like, and I get a server that knows me, I can 'jump' up the queue for a table because they know I'll tip well), but mostly it just feels good to be nice to people.
posted by axiom at 8:57 PM on June 13, 2014

Around here a lot of places do 2-for-1 drinks at happy hour. I always tip as if I had been charged for 2 drinks rather than 1, because the bartender had to serve both drinks. Usually around $2 per drink, which works out to about 30-50 percent tip depending on the place, but I'm not going to begrudge the bartender an extra buck just because I happened to stop in at 5:00.
posted by Daily Alice at 10:13 PM on June 13, 2014

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