My 16 Truths: Expanded – No. 7

7. Coupons, rewards, gift certificates, sales, and other discounts, do not impact my service.

This one is a big one. People really seem to have a hard time with this. So let me clarify.

Gratuity is based on the pre-tax, pre-discount bill.

These days, it seems everyone is looking to save big. They’re looking high and low for a deal, a bargain, a great buy, etcetera. In today’s economy, we all want to save money. Thanks to places like Groupon,, and the myriad of reward programs out there trying to clutter our wallets and purses with reward cards, it’s easy to find ways to lower your bill every time you dine out.

This is a good thing. Because it means an increase in people trying new places, and often that leads to, as I heard it at work once, “butts in seats on a Monday night.” I’m all for getting a good value, and I encourage people to look for ways to save money. For the establishments that offer such incentives, the short term revenue loss is far more than offset by the long term revenue gain.

However, people seem clueless to the fact that all these savings come from the business, not the server. The discounts are on the goods, not the services. When you bring in a 25% off coupon, you’ll pay for 75% of everything that is included in the price of the food. However, your server will still provide 100% of the service of a normal meal. So your tip should reflect that.

Sometimes, this will even include special promotions or club perks that may not be reflected on the bill. For example, if the server brought you the free birthday dessert, you won’t see that on the bill. However, the server still gave 100% of the effort to bring you that free sundae for your special day. So take that into account when you’re calculating your gratitude.

In the end, it’s really simple. If the restaurant charged you only $50 for a $100 meal, your server still gave you $100 worth of service. Give them $100 worth of your thanks and you’ll be sure to experience that same level of service again and again. Enjoy!

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