Nearly One-Third of U.S. Adults Have Not Left a Tip After Receiving Below Average Service, Finds New Survey

More Than One-in-Five Tippers Report They Tip Less When the Economy is Down

Nearly Half of Tippers Said They Have Felt Pressure to Tip Even When They Couldn't Afford it

Apr 11, 2012, 07:00 ET from

WHITING, Ind., April 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Tipping: social custom or arbitrary decision? Tipping is a widely accepted part of our culture, but a new survey from reveals that the motivations behind gratuity are based on service quality and economic conditions. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of U.S. adults said they haven't left a tip after receiving less than average service. In addition, more than one-in-five (21 percent) tippers report they tip less when the economy is down. This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin from March 29thApril 2nd, 2012, among 2,222 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Regardless of economic conditions, restaurant staff members are the most likely to receive tips. When asked which types of the following people or services they typically feel obligated to leave a tip, U.S. adults said the following:

  • Restaurant staff (including wait staff, take out coordinator, maitre d') – 87 percent
  • Hairstylist – 68 percent
  • Bartender – 59 percent
  • Taxi, car or limo driver – 55 percent
  • Valet – 51 percent
  • Bellhop – 50 percent
  • Beauty treatment provider (manicures, pedicures, waxing, etc…) – 40 percent
  • Spa treatment provider (massages, facials, skin treatments, etc…) – 33 percent
  • Restroom attendant – 21 percent
  • Home delivery (new furniture, appliances, etc…) – 19 percent

When it comes to how much people tip in restaurants, many report leaving gratuity above the old standby of 15 percent. More than half (51 percent) said they typically tip 16 percent or higher for average service in a restaurant. Seven percent said they tip 21 percent or higher. On the flip side, nearly one-third (32 percent) said they tip between 11 percent and 15 percent for average service. Thirteen percent said they tip 10 percent or less for average service.

"Whether you're at a restaurant or receiving services from other professionals, factor the tip into the overall cost," said Jackie Warrick, President and Chief Savings Officer at "It's easy to forget that the tip could push you over your budget, so plan accordingly. Take the time to add in the tip ahead of time and if it exceeds your budget, seek out less expensive services or make alternative plans."

Many U.S. adults who tip admitted that tipping has been a burden to their finances. In fact, 46 percent report that they have tipped, even when they couldn't afford it, because they felt pressure to do so.

While tipping is often expected for services rendered, U.S. adults shared reasons why they tip, including:

  • Want to give a reward for good work – 62 percent
  • Because I feel I have to – 20 percent
  • Want to receive good service in the future – 7 percent
  • Other – 9 percent

Survey Methodology:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin from March 29thApril 2nd, 2012, among 2,222 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact: Allison Nawoj,   

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