June 24, 2024

50% Tip? Tipping Etiquette Leaving Many Frustrated and Confused

2.7 min read| Published On: June 24th, 2024|

By Gina Horan

50% Tip? Tipping Etiquette Leaving Many Frustrated and Confused

2.7 min read| Published On: June 24th, 2024|

TO TIP, OR NOT TO TIP? That may be the question, but the answer has become a bit complicated.

I recently saw an ad where a guy gets a hand-held kiosk shoved in his face and is asked to push a tip button for every random task performed for him throughout the day. As a person who lives on tips and has done so since I was a teenager, even I wonder when is enough, enough?

For some insight, I contacted Geoff Luebkemann, Senior VP with the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. 

“Tip fatigue is a real thing,” Geoff says. “The proliferation of generosity started during Covid because the people who were out the world delivering food and supplies to us were at a potential or perceived health risk so we tipped more than usual.”

Things may be back to normal, but “tip creep” has been a hot topic lately, as consumers face the decision of how and when to tip throughout the day, especially when we’re busy or in a hurry. 

Susie Bannon of Mount Dora has noticed that when she goes to get her hair done, she is handed a digital kiosk that asks her to choose how much to add as a gratuity.

“I never know what to do,” she says. “It starts at 18% and goes to 25% and even up to 50% and I can never figure it out so I usually just tip in cash.”

Hey, if you want to tip anyone 50%, that’s great and many of us love when that happens. But when the prompt options start at 25% and goes up, it’s a lot of pressure to find the “custom” button while you’re trying to get out the door.

I talked to several people about this subject and most everyone agrees that the frustration level gets higher as the “added fees” creep in. 

Nicole, our Akers Media photographer, mentioned that just by ordering a pizza, she paid for the pizza, a fee, the delivery fee, the service fee and the tip. 

“I’m always happy to tip of course,” she says, “but I just want to know where it’s all going.” 

Conversely, our graphic designer Shawnee and writers Kyle and Cindy used to drive for delivery companies and they say that they noticed service charges have changed so customers get confused on when or how to tip and the driver usually suffers.

At the end of the day, what you tip is up to you, but being in the know can help. 


  • Servers, bartenders, porters, housekeeping, cab drivers, concierges and beauty/massage technicians and those considered “legacy” service workers have always been tipped and 15-20% is still the norm. Many also make less than minimum wage and servers are taxed on their TOTAL sales, so if you don’t tip, they have to make up for it by paying into the aggregate taxes the restaurant compiles through total sales and payroll.
  • When you buy at the counter, workers are making at least minimum wage ($12 in Florida) but also many rely on the tips as well and they are usually split between employees. 
  • At open-bar events, the staff is usually paid out of the service charge, although sometimes the caterer will keep that money. If the host allows a jar, then by all means tip.
  • If service fees are perceived as “double tipping” and are built-in, it’s ok to ask where it all goes. Best to not punish the middle-man. This is particularly important with food delivery services and room-service, so don’t be shy to ask.
  • When the service is poor, it’s a judgment call. But remember, if the server is running around like a headless chicken…it’s just busy.  If they are checking out the latest Tik Tok video and ignoring you…it’s poor service. 
  • In all cases, once a tip is given that becomes the legal property of the recipient and cannot be given to management or ownership. The latter can keep gratuities if it was given to them specifically, like in the case of a food truck.

What are your thoughts on tipping? Let us know!

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About the Author: Gina Horan

Gina moved to central Florida in August of 2021 from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and spent 10 years as a fashion editor, columnist and food writer for The Knight Ridder Newspaper group. She was also a photo stylist and covered concerts, fashion shows and festivals all over Northern California. In 2000, she joined KSAN radio as a morning show co-host and produced the news and sports content there for 4 years. She also covered travel, events and the restaurant scene for KRON-Bay TV. She is a veteran bartender and has worked in hospitality on and off since high school. Her passions include travel, road trips, history books, baseball, tasting menus and most of all, landing in a new city with no map or guidebook. Gina lives in Oxford with her mom, cats and baby hamster.

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