Some San Francisco restaurant workers believe there should be a 25 percent tipping standard.
Tipping, however, has always has been a personal matter. The restaurant norm now is about 15 percent or 20 percent. The IRS says 15 percent is about right for workers' tax purposes.
East County locals, who sometimes dine in San Francisco, are frankly dubious.
Mike Alexander of Antioch said, "They have to be kidding. The whole purpose of a tip is to reward service. If the price is dictated it's not a tip. If they're serious they'll meet a lot of resistance. It seems like everyone is trying to squeeze another buck out of us."
"If they try it, people will vote with their feet," said Candel Garcia. "Tips should be earned, not expected. I usually tip 10 percent or 15 percent, which I think is fair. If they really want a bigger tip they might try to increase their service to justify it."
Martha Haider of Brentwood is another dissenter. "I don't mind tipping for good service, but 25 percent is going too far," she said. "There might be some well-heeled people who will do it, but not me."
Tom Grey of Antioch wants to know how they came up with the 25 percent tip idea. "The government puts 15 percent as the tax tab for individuals getting tips. Does anyone really think restaurant workers will admit to the additional income and report it to the IRS? I'm sticking with 15 percent as my restaurant tip."
Brentwood's Myra Sanchez
Andi Rodgers of Antioch has her own simple formula for tipping. "I just double the tax figure and give that amount. That's about 18 percent and I'm staying with it," she said. "The whole tipping system is bad. People ought to be paid for doing a job. Any attempt to impose a percentage won't work. People won't listen."
Farrah Harper of Brentwood thinks of a negative effect. "If servers think they automatically will get a 25 percent tip, they could very easily slack off and relax on the service they provide," she said. "I'm sticking with my 20 percent tips. If the service is really great, I can up that amount, but that doesn't happen very often."
"They're being greedy. How can anyone make a tip percentage standard?" asked Charles Piggett of Antioch. "There is one thing that does affect size of the tip, guilt feelings. Some people are ashamed to appear as a cheapskate so they over-tip. That doesn't work for me. I don't need anyone else telling me how to spend my money."
Valerie Green of Oakley disagrees. "Given the terrible state of our economy, I think 25 percent is not unreasonable," she said. "I usually do 20 percent, but everyone needs some extra money now and I'm all for it. I'm going to go with 25 percent starting with my next meal out."
Antioch's Cliff Lane is thinking out of the box. "If you want to reward service, start tipping the help in fast food places. These people work for minimum wage and get no tips," he said. "Tips are for quality service. If you get it, give a tip. In restaurants I usually leave 20 percent. Given the rising prices for meals now, a 20 percent tip does include a raise."
Ed Arnow writes a weekly man-on-the-street column. He can be reached at BrentwoodBuzz@aol.com.
This column orginally incorrectly reported that there was a move toward a 25 percent tipping standard at San Francisco restaurants and that some "high-class restaurants" were behind it. Some restaurant workers told freelance columnist Ed Arnow they were in support of raising the tipping standard, but there is no organized effort involving local restaurants.