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On a couple of occasions during a recent trip to the US, I paid in a restaurant when I ordered (at a walk-up counter), and was invited to add a tip to the CC slip. The food and drink is then brought to my table (waiter service).

What is the protocol for tipping in this situation? – I'm being asked for a gratuity before the service that I am to receive.

I accept the tipping culture in the US, but how do I gauge what percentage to give? Just the usual 15-20%? A bit less because they don't have to bring me the check? Or should I tip in cash at the end? Will I cause offence if I don't add a tip when I pay?

  • The person at the counter taking your order also offers service, so you have received some of the service, they want to get paid for. I would be tempted to add 5-7% (about a third of the 15-20%) as I can only determine the quality of parts of the service - but I generally dislike the concept of tipping. – Henrik Sep 8 '17 at 17:16
  • I would not usually tip for merely tapping an order into the computer. I might if he/she was exceptionally friendly. If service afterward merited a tip, I would leave it on the table (for another customer to steal?) – WGroleau Sep 8 '17 at 21:11
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In almost all of these situations that tip added to the CC slip is later split among employees involved in the service chain, so there is no need to tip the waiter/waitress that brings that food to the table.

I would say the only factor that could sway this is the type of establishment and type of service received by the second staff member. If the only service performed is the bringing of the food and drink, that would not warrant additional tipping, however, if they continually fill your drinks and check on you, then it may. I think with these in mind, and the fact that it could vary depending on the location and restaurant type, intuition would be your best bet in determining the proper procedure.

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