Fiscal Stiff: New Data On Good, Bad Tippers

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — There’s no doubt the U.S. service economy – especially bartenders, waiters and waitresses, hairstylists and other “hands-on” service professionals – can be sensitive, and even hostile, toward bad tippers.

Otherwise, websites such as wouldn’t exist.

The website takes no prisoners in outing consumers who throw nickels around like manhole covers. If you undertip or, worse, don’t tip at all, there’s a decent chance your name will wind up on it.

As the website says to its audience of service professionals who rely on gratuities for a living, “If you provide this service and get nothing in return, usually all you can do is complain to your co-workers. Now you can complain to the world and expose those who take advantage of your hard work.”

Fair enough, but fresh data out on who tips well and why suggests alcohol is a prime motivator for a more generous gratuity. That isn’t to suggest non-restaurant service professionals such as hairstylists and massage therapists should begin plying their clients with wine, beer and spirits (although nobody is saying it isn’t worth a try).

But if you really want that big tip, priming the gratuity pump with alcoholic beverages is the way to go.

At least, that’s the sentiment from Restaurant Sciences, a Newton, Mass.-based restaurant industry analysis firm.

The firm studied 4 million guest checks at dining establishments across the U.S. from February to November and ranked generous tippers in its Hey Big Spender survey.

In it, Restaurant Services analysts conclude that, on average, beer, wine and spirits imbibers tipped just over 20%.

Digging deeper, waiters, waitresses and bartenders may want to really start making sure the wine list is the first thing customers see after settling into their seats. The survey says the average check for wine tipplers was $69.05, well beyond the $38.74 for beer drinkers and still well ahead of the $55.19 accumulated by spirits drinkers.