Fake $10 tips

Unless you are eating at a really expensive place, the 20% tip you leave will be less than $10. So a wait staffer who gets a $10 tip is likely to be very pleased. But they should not rejoice too soon. Apparently some people leave what looks like a $10 bill but is in reality a fake with some kind of religious message on the back. (You can see a clear image of the bill and message here, posted by a wait staffer who got one of them.)

Apparently Christians have a reputation as bad tippers. (See the earlier widely reported story of a pastor.)

The idea that Christians are poor tippers apparently has been whispered in service circles for a long time. Many waiters try not work Sunday brunch, so as to avoid notoriously stingy churchgoers, claims Justin Wise, the director of a Lutheran ministry in Des Moines, Iowa.

“Christians don’t tip very well,” he wrote for The Lutheran magazine in January 2009. “As a matter of fact, we’re pretty cheap. What makes this worse is that we paint ‘cheap’ with a religious-sounding veneer and call it ‘being a good steward.’ Nothing like hiding behind the Bible to camouflage your stinginess.”

One woman wrote back: “It was almost 100 percent true that the worst tips were on a check with a Bible verse or fish symbol.”

But studies suggest that the average tips left by Christians is about the standard. What seems to be true is that those who are poor tippers or tend to stiff the wait staff entirely tend to be disproportionately Christian, skewing the perception of them.

It is curious the justifications people give for tipping poorly, such as this person who says that she and her boyfriend eat out 3 to 4 times a week. She says they don’t have much money which is why they don’t even order sodas and yet the bill for each meal comes to $25. As a result, she says that she can only afford to tip $2 or 8%. She seems totally oblivious to the hypocrisy of claiming poverty while spending $100 just on eating out four times per week.


  1. says

    Seriously. I go out once a month, and get to choose between a six-inch sub at Subway, or a street-meat-on-a-bun, or whatever else I can find to feed myself for $5. That’s my “treat money”, once a month, I keep $5 so I can have a teeny amount of food outside my home.

    And yeah, I tip. My $4 Oktoberfest-sausage-on-a-bun comes with a $1 tip for the wagon-person cooking it.

    I read a really interesting magazine story recently about a several-year experiment (with a sort of control!) in “what happens when restaurants don’t allow tipping”. They also had a policy of automatically taking things off the bill if there was any complaint about them, no argument. They found that some people were really angry about not being allowed to tip, despite multiple studies showing that servers don’t take the tip as a comment on their service. I can look for the link, if you can’t find it, but it was a very cool piece.

  2. coragyps says

    My daughter worked as a waitress many years back in Small-Town America and dreaded Wednesday night above all other horrors. A group of twenty or more would come in after services at the Assembly of God, let their kids run wild, ask for dozens of substitutions on menu items, and leave the table and surroundings a wreck. Then get several separate checks, and leave a $2 tip for the whole table.

  3. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    I’m in a similar position to Caitie: my disability check lets me afford about one $8 burrito a month, at what is basically a fast food restaurant (no table service), and I still tip. I even live in one of the few (only?) states that doesn’t allow employers to take a tip credit against the minimum wage, but I can’t justify going out to eat if I can’t afford at least an extra buck for the person who makes my food.

    One thing I’ve noticed again and again, is that it’s never those of us who are legitimately skint who act like cheap bastards. I can only assume it’s because we know how much it sucks when someone stiffs you on a few bucks that you were counting on to make rent/keep the lights on/feed your kids.

  4. says

    One thing I’ve noticed again and again, is that it’s never those of us who are legitimately skint who act like cheap bastards. I can only assume it’s because we know how much it sucks when someone stiffs you on a few bucks that you were counting on to make rent/keep the lights on/feed your kids.

    Egg-fucking-zackly. *fistbump of solidarity*

  5. Pteryxx says

    Here’s the tipless restaurant experiment –

    Summary article: link

    First in a long detailed blog series: link

    Creating a non-tipping culture in restaurants is possible. We made our non-tipping restaurant work in the U.S. for more than six years, and from what I saw, eliminating tipping is a superior model. And, as Slate’s Brian Palmer has shown, there’s plenty of research to back up my observations. Studies have shown that tipping is not an effective incentive for performance in servers. It also creates an environment in which people of color, young people, old people, women, and foreigners tend to get worse service than white males. In a tip-based system, nonwhite servers make less than their white peers for equal work. Consider also the power imbalance between tippers, who are typically male, and servers, 70 percent of whom are female, and consider that the restaurant industry generates five times the average number of sexual harassment claims per worker. And that in many instances employers have allegedly misused tip credits, which let owners pay servers less than minimum wage if tipping makes up the difference.

    Despite—or maybe because of—all the documented damage caused by tip culture, plenty of people are deeply, emotionally invested in keeping tipping propped up. When we abolished tipping at the Linkery, we met a few of these people. We would periodically hear guests express anger about not being able to choose the amount of their tip. Their refrain was, It’s not about money … I always tip more than 20 percent. These people were angry even though they had spent less than they otherwise would have, because they had been robbed of their perceived power over their server.

  6. Chiroptera says

    Apparently some people leave what looks like a $10 bill but is in reality a fake with some kind of religious message on the back.

    Holy crap! That’s worse than leaving no tip at all — it’s basically leaving no tip at all and then rubbing their face in it!

  7. jws1 says

    Then your daughter worked for an incompetent restaurant owner – it is standard practice, across the entire industry from Denny’s to the Capital Grille, to automatically add an 18%, sometimes 20%, tip on the pre-tax subtotal for any group of 8 or more (some places it’s 6 or more). It is irrelevant if the checks are split; the auto-grat is added.

    About the Christians-being-cheap thing, I think that this is probably the fundamental, rabidly fanatical wing of their religion. You know, the ones who claim the loudest to value their fellow humanity when it comes to abortion, but simultaneously cheer for every single war for which their dear leaders demand support.

  8. says

    LOL, after I left the comment, I had this vague thought that it might even have been you who’d posted it, but no editing means I get to leave my skirt tucked into my nylons for eternity. 😀

  9. Aaroninmelbourne says

    It’s leaving nothing of value, while creating an expectation with your unsuspecting wait staff that you’re generous until you’re out the door, so you can be rewarded for your pseudo-generosity with the smile and ‘Thank you’ like a real tipper, delude yourself into thinking you’ve provided something valuable and imagine you’re a good person when in fact all you’ve done is substituted someone’s income for the religious equivalent of a junk-mail advertising leaflet like a seriously miserly Scrooge.

  10. smrnda says

    $10 dollars? I’ve seen these bullshit tracts that look like FIFTIES. A fifty dollar bill could be a lifesaving event for a server, and to piss and shit on someone to tell them ‘you horrible sinner u need jesus’ (like anyone hasn’t heard) is just sadistic.

  11. hyphenman says

    Good morning Smrnda,

    In the minds of the people who leave tracts, they are creating a life-saving event.

    Where I grew up in Southeastern Ohio, the practice of leaving tracts was widespread, but servers quickly communicated who the cheapskates were and shared the information with fellow servers and the tract-leavers had to keep changing restaurants to keep from being ignored.

    Do all you can to make today a good day,

    Jeff Hess

  12. jon says

    time and time again I’m amazed by the tipping customs in the USA.
    Are restaurant owners really too cheap to pay their employees in full, so that waiters have to scrape by on the tips customers leave behind?

    (2.63 an hour, and calling that a wage….)

    Do americans also tip other people? Like the mailman, or a busdriver?

  13. Compuholic says

    But studies suggest that the average tips left by Christians is about the standard. What seems to be true is that those who are poor tippers or tend to stiff the wait staff entirely tend to be disproportionately Christian, skewing the perception of them.

    I haven’t read any studies in this regard so I’m not familiar with the evaluation methology but how on earth does that work? If those who are poor tippers tend to be disproportionately Christian how can the average tip left by Christian be standard? Isn’t a poor tip defined to be as below average?

  14. Jockaira says

    I’m sure the rationale of those Christians who stiff and low-tip servicepeople is that they are not “one of us” so they don’t deserve a tip or any other consideration as a human being, besides leaving a genuine “message from God” that the server has never heard before will certainly be worth more than a paltry handful of change.

    A chiseler is still a chiseler.

    Once I hired a Christian husband and wife to do yard work on a regular basis at my home. In discussions with them I discovered that they considered me and my ilk to be agents of the devil because I had more money than them. They only worked for me about two weeks before I discovered they were stealing tools and implements I let them use and anything else on which they could lay their anointed hands. I fired them. Weeks later I heard from others that their 15-year-old son had turned himself into the police requesting that he be jailed in order to get away from his parents.

  15. Wylann says

    You’ll also find that just about anyone who has ever waited tables in the past is a better than average tipper. I know I tip 20%, then round up to the nearest dollar, and never tip less than $5 for a sit down meal. The places I go frequently tend to notice, and while that’s not the point, it is nice.

  16. daved says

    Bill Maher mentioned these fake $10 bills in his “New Rules” last Friday. His suggestion for servers who get one of them as a tip is to take it to church and drop it in the collection plate.

  17. Mano Singham says

    That is a good idea except that one has to go to church and then sit through a dreary service until they pass the plate. Also, how do you know which church the offending person goes to? Problems, problems, …

  18. Paul Jarc says

    If the poor tippers are disproportionately Christian, but Christians overall are average tippers, then the above-average tippers must also be disproportionately Christian. IOW, Christians would have more variance in their tipping, while non-Christians stick closer to the mean.

  19. Mano Singham says

    It takes only a very few people to do this kind of thing to give a bad impression without skewing the statistics that much. My guess is that people who tip normally don’t make a big show of their religiosity so the brunt of the negative perception is created by these religious non-tippers.

  20. smrnda says

    I understand they think Jesus can save you, but suggesting that someone in the US has somehow never heard of this Jesus and needs to be told strikes me as patronizing. Glad to know there’s a means of fighting back.

    The fake $50 I saw looked pretty convincing, and I’m hoping that somehow, the makers of these tracts can get busted for counterfeiting.

  21. smrnda says

    There’s a weird thing about when to tip and when not to tip. Aside from servers, people will (sometimes) tip cab drivers. I hear you are supposed to tip a tow truck operator. People tip people working in coffee shops – they do get paid (at least as well as I know) the normal minimum wage and the tips are usually small change divided up between workers at the end of the shift.

    Bus drivers are usually city employees who are often in a union and make a living wage, along with letter carriers. I think it is expected to tip for newspaper delivery if you get a newspaper delivered to your home, but I’m not sure.

    Restaurants are pretty cheap, and in the US, employers tend to be cheap as all get out in any case. They screw workers out of full time status by putting them at 30 minutes under 35 hours and such.

    I’d like the whole business to end with living wages for all.

  22. smrnda says

    I’m sure if things were reversed, if they had more money than you it was because they deserved it, and if you worked your ass off they’d see you as nothing but a lazy sod.

  23. Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy says

    Also, if someone just leaves a tiny tip without saying anything, they might be of any religion or none at all; ditto if they leave a notably generous one.

    You’d think it would have occurred to one of those tract-distributors, by now, that “they want me to be able to pay my rent and be saved” is likely to be better received than “they don’t care if I’m evicted because I can’t afford the rent, as long as I come to their church.”

  24. Jockaira says

    A better less-expensive and less time-consuming solution is to fold the ersatz bill into a sheet of cheap note-paper, insert that into an envelope, and mail it to the church you like least.

    If you don’t have a least-favorite then the yellow pages under “Religious Organisations” or the Religion Section of your local tree-news is a good source.

    I certainly would not go to the trouble of attending any church simply to take a cheap shot.

    Alternatively, if the bill is a really good copy, you might mail it to the Secret Service as possible counterfeit. Be sure to include the particulars about the origin of the bill, especially the identity of the passer.

  25. smrnda says

    I keep getting junk mail from religious organizations where I send something in and they’ll send me a Bible or cross. The envelope is postage paid by them. I sometimes fill the envelopes with all the coupons and ads I won’t use, or sometimes, small sheets of metal just to force them to pay for junk sent back to them.

  26. Numenaster says

    “it’s never those of us who are legitimately skint who act like cheap bastards.”

    So true. When I was working the coffee booth at the weekend craft market, my more experienced coworker explained to me how it worked. He said that poor people who come to the market know how much they have to spend and don’t make a fuss about spending it, and the rich people we saw there didn’t worry about their spending in general. But the people in the upper-middle were mortgaged and otherwise leveraged to the hilt, and consequently agonized between wanting to spend like they were rich and knowing they couldn’t really afford to.

    I suspect most of the cheap bastards are also in that middle category (although you can find cheapskates in any income group). Me, I’m just pleased that The Boyfriend’s habit of being careful with his cash doesn’t extend to tipping. We joke amongst ourselves that when we leave a mere 20% tip, it’s because we want the staff to know how pissed off we were 🙂 Otherwise 25-30% is our standard. He’s never worked restaurants either (although I have).

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