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Reader Question: Employees Who Work on Commission

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Reader, Liz, emailed in with the following question regarding employees who work on commission. Please share your thoughts in the comments…

Hi Collin!

I have a question for your readers about courtesy to store employees who work on commission or sales points. I received a coupon for $20 off of a $20 purchase that I used today. I could tell the employees must work on commission and I tried to be polite but make it clear that I wasn’t planning on doing much spending today. I hated to waste the employee’s time. I found some socks for $24 and paid, but I felt bad. I probably brought down her UPT for today and probably hurt her sales percentage for the day. How do you balance taking advantage of a great deal while respecting that some people’s jobs depend on bigger purchases (that I am not prepared to make).

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Comments 128

  1. Alison

    Was there a line of customers behind you? If not, wouldn’t any sale be better than nothing? Or is there something I’m missing?

  2. Suellen

    Curious what store?

  3. Ginny

    Not sure it would be a problem. The store does put out these coupons, they know it was a $20 off $20. It got you in the store and you might be inclined to return some day if you received good service….exactly what their intention was. Would you have gone in had you not received the coupon?

  4. Josh

    I would go to the help desk to pay or the return department. They don’t work on commission and will check you out.

  5. Tarin

    My boyfriend works for commission and loves it when a customer is upfront with him. He knows not to go thru all the sales pitches and gets them in and out with what they came in for. Everyone is happy.

  6. Ketsy

    You are checking the store out. Their ad gets you there just for that. There’s no commitment. I’ve gone to dinner and left a tip based on the total after coupon or perks rather than full amount.

    • Jac

      I find that a bit disheartening. The server is providing the same service for u if u use a coupon or not and should be tipped on the actual bill, based on great service. People need to be a bit more respectful to people in service industry. Yea they picked that job but it’s obviously a job people work who need every penny.

    • Michelle

      The only problem with that is that the Waite staff didnt give you “discount” service… My sister is waitress and cant understand when people do that coupons or giftcards.

      • Cassandra

        Agreed! I was a waitress for 2 years. It’s almost like they should provide “discounted service” since you’re not going to leave a quality tip. So bummed to see Ketsy’s comment about not tipping on the full amount.

        • Natalie

          I agree; this is very classless. The servers still have to tip out based on the original amount…and they can’t pay “discounted bills” because people decided to give them “discounted tips.” See the coupon as a way to be able to afford that generous tip. If you cannot, there are places that will serve you that do not require tipping.

    • deanna

      When you are using a coupon, voucher or discount service, you should be tipping based on what the service would have cost before any discounts/gift cards. Waitresses/waiters/hair dressers etc. Do not give out the coupons, the company does. It is not fair to tip based on the lower amount when they are still providing you with the same service they would to anyone who pays full price.

    • Swirlypop

      You should leave tip based on total of your check before the coupon. I waited tables in college and my kids wait tables now. Keep in mind they do not make minimum wage. The tips are their salary not extra money.

    • marcellacharlotte

      A tip should be left for a server based on the total before any discounts… It’s completely rude to order an expensive meal and leave a small tip based on what you paid, after a discount… Servers really make very, very little without tips…

    • KellyG


      You’re using a coupon to pay for part of a meal at your favorite restaurant. Since you’re getting a discount, what amount should your tip be based on?
      1) Your tip should be based on the total after the discount.
      2) Your tip should be based on the total before the discount.
      3) Your tip should be equal to the amount of money you saved with your coupon.

      The correct answer: (2) A tip for restaurant service should be 15 to 20 percent of the total bill (based on the quality of the service you received) minus tax. So, don’t base your tip on the discounted bill; you’ll be punishing the waiter for the restaurant’s efforts to get you in the door.

      • Lisa

        What about using a coupon to pay for a more expensive meal say a steak vs. a less expensive meal that I would of normally got? That $5 off my meal coupon allows me to treat myself to a pricey dish normally out of my budget. Or maybe without that $5 off meal coupon going to that restaurant is out of my budget and I would’ve never even given it a try.

        • thecents2save

          Obviously people will tip however they deem appropriate, but there are plenty of “tipping etiquette” references out there that always tell us that regardless of discount or coupon, a meal (when service is provided) should be tipped based on the total bill amount (before coupon), less tax. So if you ordered $40 worth of food and beverage and you have a $10 off coupon making your bill $30, you would tip 15-20% off of the original $40 amount and NOT the discounted $30 amount. You are receiving your food for a discounted price and by the coupon, however, the *service* you receive from the waitstaff is not on sale and should not be discounted in any way.

        • Swirlypop

          Lisa, the same would apply. Tip should be based on total of check before any coupons.

        • Jessie

          You should still tip on the total bill before any discount. If you can’t afford to give a proper tip, then you can’t afford to go out. Servers live off of tips and they aren’t the ones providing the coupon.

        • ToriSC

          The 15% tip on that $5 coupon you saved is 75 cents. If you can’t afford that 75 cent for the server who gave you full service then don’t go out to eat.

          • Penuchka

            Agree with ToriSC

          • Leila

            I tip whenever I feel like it . It’s their job do bring my food out and serve it !

            • Tiffany H

              Thats ignorant. Eating out is a luxury. If you cant afford it, go to a buffet. The servers job is taking care of you so you can relax. They also often help with food prep, cleaning, and presentation. All so u can enjoy yourself.

            • Heather C.

              It’s actually not ignorant at all. If someone doesn’t do a great job making sure a patron is taken care of while dining at an establishment, why in the world would they deserve a tip???? It’s the employer’s, NOT the customer’s, job to ensure the waitstaff has a paycheck… Right or wrong?

              And for those that say, “Oh, but waitstaff is only paid 2.50 an hour!!” THAT’S ignorant… Because ya gotta remember, federal law requires that everyone be paid minimum wage. So if a waitress is only paid 2.50 an hour, and doesn’t make the rest in tips that takes her up to the current minimum wage amount that day, her EMPLOYER is required, by law, to pay her the difference. So IMO if someone doesnt do an exemplary job serving you, don’t feel obligated to tip them very much, or at all!! They’ll still get paid people!

              And so everyone knows- yes I do tip, 98% of the time. It may not always be 20% of my bill, but it’s what I feel they’ve earned.

              This post was supposed to be about people working for commission, And somehow it’s been taken over by this heated debate about tipping. Geez

      • fairtucky

        Heather C – as someone who put herself through college waiting tables and moonlighted to buy a new car doing the same – please don’t sit at my tables with that attitude. I am an amazing server and always take top notch care of even the pickiest, most obnoxious guests so I’m sure I could “please you” with my service in order to “deserve” your tip, but frankly you obviously have no idea how the tipped positions really work and your attitude on here is clearly the type that servers hate to wait on because of your unrealistic expectations. I’d venture to guess when you get crappy service it’s because servers can tell you’re not worth going the extra mile for because no matter what you’re not going to be happy.

        Oh – and by choosing to patronize a restaurant knowing the servers work for tips, it IS the customer’s job to pay the server, not the employers – think of it as the employer providing the environment for the server to provide their service as an independent contractor, because that’s essentially what it is; the ~$2/hour the employer pays can be considered for the cleaning/sidework the server does.

        • Heather C.

          Fairytucky- I HAVE worked in food service before. So I do know “how the tipped positions really do work”… And before you go throwing accusations of what type of patron I am, know this- I clean up after my children of they make a mess, never EVER complain about the food I’m given to my servers, and tip my servers BASED ON THE SERVICE THEY PROVIDE ME. I’m one of the nicest patrons anyone could ask for! When I get crappy service, which is rare, it’s usually by someone (who you can tell) could give a sh** less about their job.

          Kudos to you for providing great service to the people you serve. Glad to know some people take pride in their job and do what they’re supposed to be doing.

          • momKnowsBest

            I’ve never worked in the food industry before, but I’m more or less with you on this one. I tip at 99% of the places I go to, and I’ll usually give 15% for standard service and up to 40% if the service is great and wait staff is amazing. That being said, to me, a tip is supposed to be a reward for doing a good job – and it is not to be taken for granted. I recall one time where I went to a Cheesecake Factory and the server was simply terrible – she sat us down, and then disappeared for 45 minutes. I’m not exaggerating. She only came back because I went up and told the hostess that we had been ready to order for over 40 minutes. Afterwards, it took another HOUR for her to come back with our food (2 sandwiches, 2 sides of fries). Oh, not to mention that we asked for ketchup for our fries, and it never came. The next time we saw her it was just with the check for our order. Needless to say, I left no tip. I did not feel she deserved it. Yeah, she might have been having a bad day, but consider that I paid to enjoy a night out, and I wasn’t asking for a luxury spa experience. I just wanted to enjoy my food. I understand that perhaps she needed the money, and that she was stressed out, but a job is a job, and you should get paid based on how well you do that job.

    • Delaina

      You should always tip based on what the bill would have been. That is good etiquette.

    • jen

      That is horrible. People that have that mindset have never worked In a food industry before. You know in illinois waitresses get $4.25 an hour and guess what when its slow you have to have at least one table tip you $5 to make even $9.25 an hour but then you get taxes on your pay AND tips so it’s horrible. Especially when your a single mom trying to get by….ive lived it!

    • nbrynne

      Yes I used to be a server and you literally get ~$2 an hour and the rest is supposed to be made up in tips; plus you have to tip out the hostess bartender and bus boy. We relied on tips to make our wage and people are supposed to tip on total BEFORE discounts. One night a server actually OWED money after tipping the busser bartender and hostess because someone left no tip. How discouraging. Plus servers get no Health benefits etc. at many establishments. ANother good etiquette is don’t “camp” at the tables especially on a bust weekend night. Severs only get a few tables to rotate people through all night. If I eat with friends, we eat then we go visit someonwhere else or outsode so they can get others seated while it is the busy hours. Some servers are single moms etc. That’s my 2 cents. Cheers!

    • Ketsy

      Wow. Catty. I still don’t agree. I have punch cards in which the tenth is free per say. I went ate and tipped appropriately so I can cash in on my “free” visit. Other places like Red Robin text or email you a free entree when you buy an entree and a drink. I normally carry one out for my husband. I shouldn’t have to pay for service on the advertised promo nor service he didn’t receive at that restaurant. Ask any manager and they prefer your visits with any tip than you not showing up at all. Of course this is also the industry where many feel you should also tip bad service. Another note, the machines that serve us now at places such as Uno’s give you a little arrow to drag and guess what… the percent tip is based on total after perks as well. I’m usually a great tipper. I consider service, percentage and my kids. Yikes! But give me a break. Free birthday coffee at Starbucks and I have to tip my $1. No, it’s my birthday. It should not be missed. If I wanted to be catty as well then I could say: If I order drinks, apps and dessert on there then who do I tip the percent that belongs to the machine?

      Back to the subject, reader Liz, do what’s best for you and your family. People know the pros and cons in their jobs when they agree to employment. Also, we are consumers and we have the right to choose were to shop as well.

      • KellyG

        When ordering a freebie takeout to-go meal for someone (in addition to your own in house dining) it is my experience that *someone* still places the free order for you, *someone* receives the order from the kitchen and boxes it up, *someone* puts utensils in the to-go bag to facilitate your meal and *someone* then delivers the freebie meal right to your table. You wouldn’t want to tip that *someone* for the “services” provided? An average burger at Red Robin is around $10, even a minimal 15% tip for just this freebie would only be $1.50 on top of your normal bill. I guess it seems odd to me that someone would sit at a table, use waitstaff services for a freebie meal and then not compensate them for it, even just to say “hey thanks for your forced service on this free item, here’s $1.50”.

      • Cassandra

        You’re totally going off topic with machines and carry-out meals…the majority of people are just saying, if you’re eating inside of a restaurant, regardless of what coupons you’re using, you should still tip according to your final total. If your entire meal was free, you’re saying you wouldn’t tip your waiter/waitress anything?

        • meg

          people …give her a break, let her tip how much she wants to. people are expecting a tip for everything no matter what it is, food, hair, deliveries, etc etc servers should be greatfull no matter how much they receive from a person, so what she tiped after the discounts atleast she tiped some people dont even leave a penny…god forbid its less than 20% tip so what suck it up and move on!! waitresses these days …

          • Leighann

            Yeah, waitresses, expecting to be able to make enough money to pay their rent and power and buy groceries. Who do they think they are?!

            • meg

              leighann let me ask u something do u tip fast food restaurants? if not why not they have to still do their job and get ur food ready they also get minumun wage which is 7.75 .. i bet ur waitresses get more money then someone that works in fast food places

            • Diana

              Because waitresses in fast food restaurant get paid hourly 7.75 and they get paid that amount whether they give you great services or not. Whereas, waitresses in other restaurants get paid average 2.65+ per hour (different states get different rates) and all they depend on are tips. Plus, they have to tip out others who helped providing you your dinning experience (such as bus boys, bartenders, etc)

          • Diana

            Meg, I don’t think anyone say you HAVE TO TIP 20% on everything. But it would just be fair to tip on the full amount of the bill BEFORE discounts less tax. You get a discount on your meal, but the waitstaff give you full service, so you tip according to the full amount (Whatever percentage you think is fair depending on how good the service you received). Simple as that.

            And I find it really rude for people to think servers ‘should be grateful to even get a tip’… What?! They worked for it and DESERVES every bit of it! Last I check, servers depends on their tip to make a living. Lots of them have to tip out their hostess, bartenders, bus person, and sometimes even the chef (such as hibachi chef) according to their TOTAL sale/tip, whichever one that’s higher. So if a server had a table that spent $100 on their bill but only leave a few dollars, the server will have to pay out of his/her own pocket to tip out the others… In another words, not only do they have to pay for gas and spend time to go to work to serve you, but after giving you full service on all your food and drinks, he/she have to pay out of pocket to tip out the others who cleans/cook for you. But they should suck it up and should be grateful that you leave him/her a few dollars?????

      • CW

        If you can’t tip on the ful value of the services given to you before the coupon, then I agree, eat something else. They still took your ordered, delivered the food, refilled drinks, boxed it up, sometimes have to pay part of the hostess or bus persons’ salary (they often must share that tip!) If you still don’t understand how hard it is to live on $2/hr plus tips, try taking their job for a week. I’ve never been a server but I have the common sense and humanity to recognize this is someone else trying to survive. If you can’t afford it, don’t go. And always tip your breakfast servers a little more because often the cost of food at breakfast is cheaper than the dinner shift and those servers who get stuck on breakfast shift make less. I’m so glad to see how many people treat servers respectfully and I’m stunned at the ignorance of others! As for the coupon at a store, I would let the person know upfront and if in doubt about the commission issue, just ask them. Then they can spend time helping others and/or they know upfront. I would imagine it depends on the store/company.

    • Olga

      Definitely tip the full amount. Our mindset requires some tweaking after all this hunting for savings, so it’s only natural to want to save at restaurants as well, but we need to remind ourselves that service is not up for discount. So, if I feel the meal would be too much for me after the tip, I skip a week and go when I can afford that tip. I usually tip 20%; (sometimes before taxes and sometimes after (was never too sure about taxes). Also, don’t forget 10% for take-outs.

      I have seen notices on Groupon vouchers as well that say to tip on the amount before the coupon. I avoided some hair salon groupons because a tip on a $300 hair special would be too much for me, even if the voucher only costs $60, because that’s another $60 in tips! (Not $12).


    • Leighann

      Meanwhile, your server was being paid less than $3 per hour to serve you. With the tip you left, it’s quite possible that they wound up paying enough in taxes that *they* were paying for you to eat. smh ๐Ÿ™

      • meg

        yea im sure they did

      • Me

        How are they paying for my meal exactly? Silly.

    • JODI

      Please tip on the full value of your dinner, before the coupon. Servers have to claim a percentage of their sales to the IRS, and that is sales BEFORE coupons are used. They also have to share tips with the bar and buss boy. If you under-tip the server can end up PAYING for having served you.

      • Jenna

        Obviously national chains would be more compliant, but I’d be curious to see a real percentage of waitress tips that are actually reported as income. I’d guess it’s not very high.

        • fairtucky

          Jenna – I’ve worked both a national chain and a non-chain. At the national chain I could screw myself over claiming as much or as little as I wanted and was given zero guidance so the company had zero liability for my tip claiming. The non-chain I was told that claiming less than 8% of my SALES (before any discounts, including liquor, including the price of your free birthday dessert…) could trigger an (internal, not IRS) audit and that the sweet spot was claiming 10-14%…I typically claimed the lesser of 11% or my actual tips for the night…but a lot of waiters aren’t financial geeks like I am…

    • Candace

      You should really re-think this one. Servers don’t work any less just because your entree was free. You could go use all your coupons at whataburger if you can’t afford to tip for what you ordered at a real restaurant.

    • cheeze

      That is horrible. Why would you tip based on the amount after coupons. Most servers get paid below minimum wage and they make their money based on their tips. Not to mentioned if the have a buser, food runner, and bartender needs to be tip out from the server. You might as well stay home and eat if your going to do that. Either way the server is giving you the same amount of service with or without a coupon.

  7. serg

    Ultimately it’s your money and you need to spend it accordingly. As a person that used to work on commission, I welcomed any sale. I used to work in the service dept at a Toyota dealer and the majority of my salary was commission based. Though there were huge sales here and there, I found that the smaller sales which were larger in quantity added up pretty quickly. So I wouldn’t worry too much about the salesman instead worry about finding the best deal for yourself. After all isn’t that what makes us so HIP

  8. JA

    If they are giving out coupons for $20/20, they have to know that some people are going to spend the least out of pocket as possible. And there is nothing wrong with that, you are adhering to their terms. Also, when I worked retail a million years ago, they focused more on how many items you sold, not so much the dollar amount. We were supposed to sell three items per transaction, suggesting accessories, shoes or promo items. Something else to think about.

  9. Erin

    I used to work on commission a long time ago ( jc Penney) and would happily give customers the latest coupon even if they didn’t have it. A sale is a sale. The thing that is annoying when you work on commission is when someone brings a pile of something from another department which you don’t earn commission on to check out. In doing so you miss out on sales. On the other hand it was irritating when someone took something u could earn commission on out of the department when you spent time helping them.

    • kay

      WOW!!… Learned something new … Didnt know it hurt ur numbers esp when u shop in one area n then there is no one to check u out … Quess i know now for next time im in the store of where to check out

      • Erin

        When I said “miss out on sales”, I meant that it takes time away from helping someone that is buying something you could be earning commission on. In my old job, selling a non commission item didn’t hurt your sales numbers like you were penalized or anything. I don’t think any of jc penney works on commission anymore. People would literally bring over piles of clothes, all on hangers with ink tags etc and I worked in shoes. There would be lines of people waiting to get help getting a shoe and I found it irritating because I would need to spend 20 min ringing up clothes while everyone else got to earn money ringing up shoes.

        • Lana

          Are you saying that if i am shopping in a department store and buy shoes and clothes i have to do 2 transactions, one in clothes and 1 in shoes department and stay in 2 lines? I am sorry, but i do not think i will ever do that.

    • Olga

      Didn’t know that either! Thanks for sharing.

    • Sam

      Wow. Had absolutely NO IDEA that you only earn sales based on items from your department. Will certainly keep that in mind. (And will hope that JCP changes that policy too!)

  10. Melissa

    I work on bonuses and I do work all the time that never pays off. It’s part of the job and I accept that. Maybe you will go back and purchase something again.

  11. Michelle

    I shopped at a store that does sales commission and they were more than willing to “watch” items for me and let me know when they were at there lowest selling price and if they could get it from another store. I think that any sale is better than none… I think being honest about how much you are willing to spend definitely helps… I let all the department girls know I had Champagne taste on a beer budget!

  12. Mara

    I worked on commission and didn’t care if people used coupons. Im not sure what UPT stands for. If a coupon was out there, trust me, hundreds of people are showing up with it, not just you.

    • Kat

      UPT= Units per transaction

  13. Liz

    This is tough because different companies do different things. When I worked at a car wash before, we could have awesome sales of upgraded washes, details, and air fresheners all shift, then 1 car would come buy a basic wash and your day was ruined. At another job managing a shoe store, every sale mattered, but if we could sell the extras like socks, cleaner, and insoles that’s where the best commission came from.

  14. Jaclyn H

    I worked on commission for 12 years and I always asked up front what they were looking for and if they had a budget in mind. I think being honest as to what you are looking for is important. Yes it might bring down their upt but it is still their job to give you the best service possible so next time you will want their help and you never know when there will be a bigger purchase that you are going to make if they listen to you they more than likely will help find that bigger purchase in your price range and it will be a bigger commission for them. Or you might recommend there service to someone else and all those extras add up. First and foremost it should be about customer service no matter how big or small the transaction. If they gave you excellent service you could always fill out a comment card or survey about their service because those count too. Most companies reward their employees for getting good scores in surveys.

  15. A

    Yesterday I was at Jcpenny and used 2 coupons that were $10 off my $10 purchase. I ended up getting 6 separates in the children’s dept. to make 3 outfits. I split it into 2 transactions, so I could use both coupons and ended up only paying $3.80 total. The associate was extremely nice and I ended up getting a survey on my receipt. I didn’t spend much, but she got an awesome survey from me.

  16. Cristie

    Since many people brought up waiting tables, maybe someone could be so nice to explain me why you are expected to tip in America. In most countries you only tip if you really enjoyed the service. In France only really rich people tip (I was told). In most countries I have visited, you tip only if you want to and as much as you chose to. There is no suggestion on the receipt (I find that incredibly rude). I was recently at Ryan’s (never again) and the cashier asked if I wanted to put the tip on the card at the beginning of the meal and she wanted to know the amount too. That is just insane! A lot of people say waiters don’t make much. How is that my fault?? Teachers don’t make much. Mailmen don’t make much. Firemen surely don’t make much. Should we tip each profession that doesn’t make much after every service we receive?? There are people that might make more than minimum wage, but can only get a part time job so they don’t end up with much money either. I don’t understand why nobody sees the real issue here. The employers are the ones to be blamed. Servers work for them. They are the ones who should be paying them decent wages. This is a civilized country after all. Why is everyone getting angry at the common man who maybe can’t even afford to go out but once a week, has to use a coupon (obviously because he is trying to save a few $$), instead of being outraged at restaurant owners who get rich by exploiting their employees???? Just my two cents…

    • Stephanie

      Holy rant. Countries are run differently. Servers here make a little over $2 per hour. Servers in other countries make an actual salary, like teachers do here. Servers here need tips to make a decent wage, as the $2+ per hour is eaten up in taxes so their only “take home” money is the tips they make. It’s respectful to understand that not all countries are run the same way. I wouldn’t visit another country and expect them to be run like the United States.

      • LL

        I’m always thrown when these debates come up because in WA state where I live, servers make $9.47-$15 an hour. That’s our minimum wage range here. They make the same that thousands and thousands of other minimum wagers earn, except WAY more because tips. Here, you’re pretty well off if you land a server job! They are coveted positions.
        Where does that leave places like my state? Because I hate to tip, but do so anyways because these traditions/social norms and don’t want to be judged or treated badly the next time I come in.

    • Krystal

      Agreed – as someone who grew up here it just seemed like a “normal” practice, but after traveling the world I feel like it’s so absurd. In the US, the person serving your food is not making minimum wage – they are making maybe half that (like $3-4 per hour). The customer is expected to bolster their pay by tipping (I believe if they don’t make the minimum wage for the hour, the employer covers the rest). If the price of service was included in the total price (e.g. paying $10/meal instead of $8), our servers wouldn’t feel so strained and our diners wouldn’t feel so entitled. I would rather pay a couple more bucks on my overall order than stress about calculating the bill after a dinner or a few drinks, and know that my server is making a living wage.

      • Heather C.

        You’re wrong, it’s federal law that everyone be paid minimum wage. If they don’t make it in tips, the employee has to pay them the difference.

        • fairtucky

          Just because it’s law doesn’t mean it happens. Go ahead – enforce it…please explain how that could be done?

          • Heather C.

            If there’s a noncompliance with the wages and fair labor standards act (which ensures everyone gets paid minimum wage, and enforced other labor laws) then contact the U.S. department of labor, wage and hour division. Enough people complain I’m sure something would be done by them to rectify the problem.

        • Swirlypop

          It’s a gray area as you are assumed to make a certain amount per table and pay taxes on that amount. The employer does not make up the difference when a wait person has a bad night. My son just switched jobs because he was barely making minimum wage at the restaurant due to the clientele that frequented. Some nights he was in the hole, others just over. He is doing great now at the new restaurant.

    • Amani

      You bring up some interesting points. I waitressed a few years ago during college. As a waitress I made about $3/hour. Tips were my income. I believe it is still that way. Waitresses rely on their tips and not their pay check.

    • Sophie

      In most of Europe, waiters make much more an hour than in the US. Their “tip” is reflected in the price of the food, hence the reason it’s usually more expensive to eat out over there (compared to menu prices here, not including the tip). You will always see at the bottom of the receipt or on the menu “service included”, so no need to tip. But people do tip over there (not just rich people) but it’s not “expected” and most don’t do it.

    • beth

      Ever hear the expression “When in Rome”? I think this applies here. It may seem odd to you that waitresses work for tips considering they don’t tip in other countries but if that how it works, I don’t see the big deal. No, it’s certainly “not your fault” if they’re working for minimum wage but the fact of the matter is that they do and knowing this, I think it’s only fair to tip them on the amount before the coupon/discount comes off. EXAMPLE: my daughter had a table the other night, their bill was a few hundred $$$ but because they were from another country (who do not believe in tipping), she got no tip which so ever. That was after giving them attentive service for over 2 hours. I think it really just comes down to what kind of character a person has when they choose to do something like this.

      • Tracey

        Hmm…if your daughter had known at the beginning of that 2-hour service that she would not be given any tips, would that knowledge change her “service level”? In other words, would she end up spending zero time servicing that table or spending minimum level of time/effort to serve that table or giving them crapping service and rather spent her 2-hour time on another table with which she knew she would be receiving tip from? If that was indeed the case, my question is how would that be ethical of her to act that way know that she is in a service industry where providing the best level of customer service is a minimum requirement of her job (or the requirement of her being hired for the job)?

        • JODI

          “my question is how would that be ethical of her to act that way know that she is in a service industry where providing the best level of customer service is a minimum requirement of her job (or the requirement of her being hired for the job)?”

          How is it ethical for the 2-hour table to not tip?? I was a waitress for 15 years and I promise if you stiff a waitress or severely under-tip, don’t expect stellar service if you’re going to frequent that restaurant and continue to stiff. Servers take note of who does and does not tip, and they let the other severs know when you walk in the door. They’ll try to get you to tip on your first few visits, to make sure you didn’t just forget to tip those first couple of times.

          You will get the bare minimum of service. And if you are also rude and sloppy, they won’t want to wait on you at all. Many times the other servers and I would pay a non-server to wait on tables that were jerks. We’d help the buss boy, dishwasher, cook, or whoever. So you’d still get your food in a timely manner. But we were not going to waste time on you because you take away from our other tables. If we were going to lose money on you, then we’d rather give money to someone else so we could earn money on other tables.

          I’ve seen servers break down and cry after a huge table that sat there for 1.5 hours, were very demanding slobs, and then left nothing or just a few dollars. I’ve done that, myself.

          Don’t be a jerk because you disagree with the way servers are paid in this country. That will change some day, but you also won’t be getting any discount coupons then, either.

      • mrsgarfield

        As a European myself I should tell you that these guys were not rude. They simply didn’t know that they MUST tip. As previous posters mentioned it is a lot different in Europe. I am pretty sure that if someone had explained that to them they would have tipped. You are talking about different cultures and you cannot expect people to automatically know what is expected from them when in another country. There are way too many nuances to be learned over night. I have been in the US for over 10 years and believe me I am still learning “new” things. And not to mention, the idea of tipping was novelty for me as well.

        But to come back to Cristie, all she said was that she doesn’t understand why employers are not paying decent wages to their employees instead of expecting customers to take care of that. All I can tell you that this practice is capitalism at its worst.

    • Erin

      Others see the issue, too. Some new restaurants are now charging more for the food in order to pay their employees a living wage and are upfront about it, indicating that tips are not accepted in their establishments. I think, slowly but surely, this may become a trend, at least for non-chain restaurants. What I find more irritating are the ubiquitous tip jars EVERYWHERE: coffee shops, ice cream shops, fast food restaurants. Next thing you know, Target cashiers will have tip jars.

      • Mayra

        Thank you! I knew I wasn’t the only one who thought that way.. My husband has worked as a waiter in the past so everywhere we go he tips at least 15% before coupon,groupon deal etc. but nowadays like you said there’s tip jars everywhere even where people already make minimum wage! What’s up with that? Anyways the other day we went to Sonic for their half price shakes and he paid with a $50 bill so when the girl gave him the change he tipped her a couple of dollars, and then he counted the money and noticed she had pocketed $10!! He told the manager and the girl at first denied doing that but at the end she returned the money…

    • Michelle Widdows

      Restaurants in America do not include the tip in the food price. (Some restaurants add 18% for large parties of 6 or more and it says so usually on the menu) servers in America only get paid $2.13 an hr and the national minimum wage does not apply to them. They make their money in tips which generally should be 15-20% (10% if they are REALLY bad and 25 % of they were really good). The tip should be based on the total sales amount before coupons/discounts and before sales tax (tax in America is also added after). Contrary to some people’s beliefs, this is not “extra” money. Restaurants are allowed by the government to pay them so little based on the expectation that they will be gettin tips that will make their total hourly average surpass minimum wage. Keep in mind that the income tax on their tips and any work benefits (insurance) are taken out of the $2.13 an hr their employer pays which generally means that their employer based pay is nearly non existent. Another incorrect thing that some old school diners do is to pay a flat tip per person, usually around $1. Unless your food is less than $5 per person, this is rude. Also account for what you’ve ordered. If you are only ordering water to drink and are needing the server to make lots of trips back and forth for refills, and items not billable, tip toward the higher end. The server had to do just as much work to refill your 3 free waters as someone who ordered 3 billable beverages. Also note that depending on the type of restaurant, if there is a bartender and/or table buser, the server has to “tip them out” meaning give them a portion of the tip you tipped the server. For the record, I wish they would just increase the food prices slightly to include tip so it wouldn’t be so confusing!

    • Ketsy

      It’s a gimmick that many are led to believe and preach specially the employees. Most Waiters/waitresses here make minimum wage or $3-4 an hour plus tip… Whichever is greater. Some people are rude, some are cheap, some are great but in the end the industry makes their money and a great employee makes great wages. I know friends and people that make more waitressing or bartending than if they had a career plus no degree/student loans required. Do not let anyone tell you they don’t get paid. What occurs is employers get mad because they prefer you make your tips rather than them forking it out and then they can count that against you when your job is on the line. Again, if you are a great worker you should haveo issue. If you have a bad attittude and not care for hose you are serving then the tips will speak for your work.

    • Penny

      Finally, someone out there who sees exactly what I see: that as part of restaurant overhead, you must pay your employees, not the customers that comes through your door!
      Why are Americans not complaining that the government allows restaurants to exploit their employees and thus making everyone else pay servers? If we are paying the servers, would that not make us ’employers’ then, and thus allow the advantage to have tax write-offs as well? We complain about other countries exploiting workers, well it is happening right in our home land!
      Also, 15-20%tip can become outrageous. A family of 4 can very easily total $50 at even a not-very-high-end restaurant, and that’s budgeting and not getting any appetizer/dessert/drinks. 20% of $50 = $10. If the waiter/waitress even has 2 tables/hour , that’s $20/hour…not such a minimum wage anymore, is it now? At lower ends, it’s understandable to require 15-20%, but at the upper end, is 15-20% still necessary? (just something I’ve always wondered)

    • Ashley

      I totally get what you’re saying: Restaurants SHOULD pay waitresses a decent wage, but that is not the way it works. I used to waitress and get paid $2.25 an hour at a super slooooow restaurant. I’d make out at $4 and hour each night. I was always polite and helpful, we were just so slow and full of older people who thought giving a quarter was acceptable (‘she was so sweet, lets leave her our change’).
      Please don’t lump waitresses with mailpeople. My mom works for the post office and makes more than a waitress in my area would ever dream (not that mail people don’t deserve a Christmas gift or a smile from you!).

    • Leighann

      The reason tipping is encouraged in most full-service restaurants is because *most* restaurants only pay their servers $4 or less. That’s not minimum wage, which they are legally required to pay, but they get around that by making the claim that their servers make up the difference in tips.

      In a lot of restaurants, servers can certainly make some bank on good nights. Some can make the equivalent of $50/hr, which is great for them. But that’s not all restaurants, and that’s not every single shift. Ever wondered why most servers have to live with roommates, work multiple jobs, and are generally the ones using this site to find the deals? They don’t actually make all that much money, because of getting stiffed on tips, getting taxed based on *estimated* income, etc.

      Now, this is technically legal, but I’m sure you’ve heard about the protests asking for $15/hr minimum wage. It’s not just fast food workers in on that, it’s workers who work for less than minimum wage and are expected to make that up in tips, too.

      There are a lot of people (you won’t find many conservatives/Republicans with this attitude, I’ve run across it mainly from liberals and people who have actually had to work for those wages) who aren’t happy with servers being paid so little. There are a lot of people who support restaurants and food service paying an actual living wage, or at least the legal minimum wages, and getting rid of the idea of tipping. HOWEVER, the fact is, that’s not happened yet, so until it does, if you go to a restaurant and you do not tip, you are not being a good customer (assuming that you get good service, of course). A lot of times you read complaints about customer service reps who are rude and don’t do a good job, etc…..well, as customers, we *also* have a responsibility to be good customers, and that includes acknowledging how our server gets paid and being aware of our surroundings.

    • Diana

      We’re expected to tip our servers in America because their income depends on how much tips they make, so they will try their best to give you best service possible to ensure that you’re having an awesome experience and they’re getting paid for their awesome service they provide.
      In other countries, I’m not sure about France; but I know for a fact that most Asian places like Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, etc… Servers get paid a monthly salary, so a tip is not expected, and people do leave a little tip for them for extra if they wanted to. Most nicer restaurants charge you a 10% to 15% service charge already added on your total bill, it is the ‘norm’ there and it’s written on the establishment or menus. I’ve been to some places that even charge you your water, tea, condiments, and such per person!

    • JODI

      “the cashier asked if I wanted to put the tip on the card at the beginning of the meal and she wanted to know the amount too”
      You should speak to the manager and let them know what happened. The cashier was wayyyyy out of line in doing that. Tips are not “discussed” with the customers at all.

    • Heather C.

      AMEN, Christie! You hit the nail on the head!

  17. Kat

    Ages ago I used to work retail sales and management. I worked at Nordstrom as a sales person and Children’s place and NY&Co. as a manager. First of all it’s possible they don’t work on commission or at least not straight commission. At Nordstrom we got a base pay (draw) + commission. We could cross sale in any department and earn our commission rate for those sales. At the other stores management would get quarterly bonuses based on the whole store making plan. We did track UPT, ADS, credit cards, etc. for everyone, but it was just for performance tracking. I welcomed coupons and would just give above and beyond customer service to anyone because you never know who you’re helping, what they’ll buy today, and what they will come back to buy from you in the future if you build a relationship with them. If you’re unsure or feel guilty just tell them up front. At Children’s Place we tracked conversion, so we would welcome ANY sale. Our district manager would push us to just sell a pair of socks if we had to.

    I have also worked in the restaurant industry and made a whopping 2.13/hr. for waiting tables. To the prior poster; the golden rule is always tip what your before coupon/discount total was. The server has a pay a percentage of the total check out to the bussers, bartenders, and hostesses for tip share. It varies by restaurant but can be anywhere from 1-5%. Their tips are already chipped away from taxes and tip share, so I always tip at least 20% and if my service was really poor 15%.

  18. Daniela

    That coupon got (number) of customers through the door. A good % paid more and that offsets the ones who don’t. I work in pharma sales and we do 15% off orders and free cases of vials or pill counters. We take a hit on a few of orders that equal profit on those vials. Either way, the store gets business and buzz!

  19. debbielynne

    Just curious, in what stores do people work on commission?

    • jen

      Macys in the shoe department

    • Angie

      I was wondering that, too.

    • Krystal

      I think Dillards does – the employees follow you around the store begging you to check out at their register (not their fault, I get that the store’s structure forces them to do this) but it makes the shopping experience unbearable. For me, Dillards is the shortcut between the parking lot and the rest of the mall!

      • Erin


      • Jen M

        Yes! It worse than panhandlers in there! I feel like I’m being stalked.

      • Ketsy

        lol. I thought they were trying to accuse me of shoplifting. Now I know.

  20. Mark

    The real question here is, How do you feel about possibly taking food out of a persons mouth, How do you feel about possibly causing a person to loose their job, Then again, how important is saving some money for you, How would you feel if the situation was reversed, How much guilt can you take feeling. The question of the sales person’s commission isn’t the real question here. As a senior, I say, deal with the real issue here.

    I hope my answer has helped you to see the real question you’re asking. Rather than asking for advice hoping, that by asking others to possibly relief the guilt you may feel, you should ask yourself. You have to live with yourself, not the strangers you’re asking.

    • Ketsy

      This is a very unfair statement. People know what job they are signing up for and the requirements. I could say: how do you feel about selling me stuff that cost the company a couple of bucks for many times the mark up? How can you sleep at night knowing that your job requires you to sell items that you don’t buy yourself? That can be recalled? That really don’t provide that weight loss? I guess it depends on the guilt you may feel. smh.

      • Kat

        You are absolutely correct. It costs them quarters, not even dollars!! When I was at NY&Co. 7 years ago pants cost the company .45ยข to make and they charged anywhere from $40-50. They are all manufactured by the same company that does Limited and Victoria’s Secret and you see how much they charge for their clothes. They all also get the clothes made in 3rd world countries. It kind of broke my heart knowing someone probably got paid $1 a day to make the stuff. I agree, don’t feel bad for the retailers. I got paid well for being in my early 20’s with no degree. I was making more than some of my degreed friends. I just couldn’t stand the nights, weekends, and holidays, so I went back and finished my degree. Oh, and we took coupons galore there. That company thrived on coupons because there was such a huge markup on the clothes.

    • meg

      Seriously???? Wow. They took the job that pays them commission. The store put the coupons out to use. Period. Why is this such a big deal?

      • Mark

        Not everyone has the luxury of going to college, and getting a diploma for a “good Paying Job”, some people have families to raise and take what ever job they are lucky to get even if it’s commission only. The people in the store, that make up the coupons and decide what to put coupons out there for, I doubt if these people live paycheck to paycheck, I also doubt if their salary depends on sales for a day they make.

        • Leighann

          Thank you!

          A lot of people seem to assume that all you have to do in order to make a good wage is go to college and then get a “good” job when you get out of college. My chosen career requires a master’s degree that I have to pay for out of pocket, and starts out at $35,000/year, if I’m lucky. But what would the world be without librarians who are willing to get that degree and take that low wage? Where would you get your free books and movies and internet access? ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Jean

            The library is not actually “free.” We pay taxes ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • meg

          mark please everyone can get loans…people do go to college and come out of it full of debt and cant find a job or they require experience … and also why be on this site if ur againsr coupons… this site is all about coupns saving money

    • Erin

      What it boils down to is that if those $4 socks bother you enough to even pose this question, then perhaps you shouldn’t use the coupon. No value judgment here. You have to live with yourself. Others may feel differently and that’s OK, too. But why ignore your natural impulses and look to the advice of strangers–which is likely to be more sympathetic to your actions than to your ethics–unless you are seeking justification or support for your actions?

  21. Jenni

    I’m a dog trainer at pet-smart. I work off of commission. However I give people coupons all the time! Because I made it Very clear to my boss “just because pet-smart is holding a sale on training, does not mean that I agreed to train the class at a lower commission rate and I never signed anything saying I would agree to that when I started. So regardless of if they use a coupon or not I still get full price commission. ๐Ÿ˜€

  22. Callie

    I work retail now. Coupons don’t decrease my commission, so I’m glad to help you.

    Things are different in the bar/restaurant business. Yes, use your coupon, but tip on the original bill total.

  23. Jackie

    Tips are supposedly being given on your “free will”. If you are to force people to give a “minimum” tip of 15-20% of the “original” price before coupons/discounts/sales, then restaurants should actually build in that “required/mandatory” tips in the food prices. I am tired of hearing from people complaining about how people should be respectful of the waitresses/wait staff who are earning low $/hour and to at least pay them a minimum required amount/% of tips. They are all people who are either wait staff themselves/were wait staff in their past or know and have friends and families who are wait staff. People should not feel “required” to pay a tip and wait staff should not feel “entitled” to receive a certain amount of tip. They choose to wait for that restaurants or organizations. These companies are the ones who are paying a lower $/hr wage. The wait staff should go to them to ask for higher wage or simply look for another job that will fit their “entitlement” of earning a certain amount of money. I have been to places there I was confronted by wait staff about paying a “low” tip. I would never go there again. I have been to places where I paid more than 20% of tips but did I get a thank you from the wait staff? People should stop demanding for tips.

    • Ketsy

      Thank you. I left a 50% tip on Mother’s Day with a note… Visit mom or send her a gift ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have also left $0 to absolutely frantic crazy disrespectful staff that leave me waiting 20 minutes for a drink, go on their cels and talk smack in a corner. The idea that you have to tip is not the worse but the one that you have to tip all the time even with poor service is beyond me.

      • Ashley

        I don’t think you should have to tip for bad service, not tipping sends a note that they are doing a bad job. I used to waitress and even I have skipped a tip because I had a terrible (as in waiting 45 minutes for a menu, not getting our water that we ordered, etc) service. I don’t think anyone is saying that tips are 100% required, I think everyone is trying to say that it’s typically part of the bill of dining out, take it or leave it.

    • Ashley

      Remember that next time you go to your favorite restaurant and the prices have doubled. ‘Congrats, you don’t need to tip your waitress, but we now pay them minimum wage.’.

      • Andrea Mangiapane

        Exactly! I don’t think anyone is taking into account how much the cost of menu items would go up if servers were paid a more “acceptable wage.” In fact, restaurants wouldn’t be able to seat as many people if servers were paid more, they just simply wouldn’t be able to afford to have 10-20 servers on staff each night without huge mark ups on the menu. I doubt the price increase would only be 15-20%. Tipping appropriately is a win-win for all involved.

        • LL

          Servers in WA state make minimum wage, and the prices at restaurants are not crazy high at all. So…the argument that food prices will go up does not seem to be supported…

        • caran

          I enjoy eating out in Europe so much more than in the States! Employees are paid a livable wage and any tip is usually just a round up on the bill to make it even. Meals are a little bit more expensive, but I think it’s mostly because the dollar is weaker than the euro or pound. The complete dining out experience is only fractionally more expensive because of the wage the staff is paid. Another nice thing is that when you’re out to dinner, the table is yours for the night because the waitstaff isn’t trying to rush you out the door because they not only need your tip, but the tips of the 4 other groups of diners they will serve at your table once you leave.

    • Leighann

      Um, they’re asking for higher wages right now, and a lot of conservatives and right-wingers are laughing them down, because they’re just waiters and waitresses and food service workers.

    • molly

      Well said, Jackie!

  24. Jenn

    Tipping is not some crazy “idea” made up by “entitled” people. It’s the system in place for payment of waitstaff in this country. It definitely seems like a better solution is possible. But the reality of the situation is that servers rely on tips for income. It’s a fact. The only entitled opinion that I see is the opinion that someone doesn’t have to tip, or doesn’t have to tip an amount that fully considers the goods and service provided to them, just because they don’t agree with that system.

  25. Jennifer

    Do sales people get paid on the total sale OR the sale AFTER coupons/discounts deducted? I’m not familiar with their pay structure. Any enlightenment would be appreciated. Thanks!

  26. Leah

    Most coupons for restaurants remind us to tip on the full amount, before deductions are made. After all, that extra few $’s probably won’t hurt you, however it will make a difference to your server.

  27. caran

    Having worked in the retail industry for almost 15 years, I have some strong feelings about this. I was always trained to help every customer and this training was stepped up a notch or 2 when I worked for a luxury goods retailer. There, I was trained to always exceed customer expectations-always (realistically). This wasn’t based on the customer’s spending history or spending likelihood. I was there for 9 hours to work with clients, no matter the prospective $$ sign(s) assigned to them. To me, this was a matter of personal integrity and seeing the inherent worth in every person. Did I want to earn the monthly team share bonus? Yes! Did I want to earn personal selling bonuses? Yes! Did I want to increase my UPT (units per transaction) and DPT (dollars per transaction)? Yes! Did I want to be in the top 30 sellers in the nation for C Volume store? Yes (top 10, actually)! Having said that, I also believe in treating customers the way I would want to be treated as a customer. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to give exceptional customer service at work and then receive very little, if any, service at times, when I was shopping. The way I treated customers’ was a reflection on me-not them or their profitability. I realize this is a bit esoteric for the retail/service industry, but I tend to live very deliberately. In short, there is dignity in a day’s work for employees and for customers-don’t over function. We are not simply agents of spending and consumption and handing out service based on spending is a very slippery slope toward . . . well, where we find ourselves right now, as a country.

    • molly

      Caran, love what you stand for! Thanks for sharing!
      This whole ” entitlement ” mentality in our country is so disappointing. Show up, work harder and live within your means….
      As for using a coupon and getting a free item…why not? If it is used correctly then take advantage of it. The original poster did the right thing, she did not misrepresent her intentions and she should not be forced to feel bad because she got a heck of a deal!!

  28. tisha

    I’ve worked commission retail like that before and I think it’s nice that you let them know upfront what you were there for, and that doesn’t get their expectations up. I don’t want to read too much into your question, but it sounds like they were helpful even after you explained to them why you there? if so, that would definitely influence my decision to go back later, or to send in a note or short letter to the company commending the employee that helped you – those things really do go a long way for that person, even if you didn’t have much to spend this time to help their commission ๐Ÿ™‚
    And since the topic of conversation has drifted into wait staff – I’ve also been a waitress before – in my opinion, it’s not really fair to the waitress to reduce the amount of their tip because of the coupon, and I personally don’t do that, I tip based on the price of the meal before the discount is applied. However, I think that it’s up to each person to decide what is right for them to do. Sometimes the service may not warrant the suggested minimum tip? there’s several different scenarios to consider there.

  29. Nel

    Wow! Way out of order!

  30. Tracey

    It comes down to this – if you cannot afford the tip, you cannot afford the meal – discount or no discount!

    • meg

      Well then by all means we shall all listen to you! Lol

    • WillNeverTipAgain

      Actually, it comes down to this: I’ll pay for my meal, and that’s all I’m obligated to pay for! So there.

  31. Free123

    Do employees make commission at shoe stores like Finish Line? I purchased a pair of expensive shoes that I kinda don’t like. I try return them yesterday but the assistant manager is trying to make me keep them. I feel like it was very intimidating to try to force customers to keep something they don’t won’t.The same shoes are alot cheaper online like $129 in store they are $189.I probably will get someone else to return them for me so I don’t feel so awkward or uncomfortable about how they acting.I will probably will never go back to purchase a shoe there again.

  32. meg

    This post was not about tipping! For petes sake! Like a bunch of children on here. I hope that there are no more posts about tipping! Tip if you want or don’t. Geeze.

  33. Cheryl S

    I managed many retail stores over the years, and more likely the associate was not earning commission but it was the UPT goal or dollar value per sale that the associate was concerned with. This is not your problem as a consumer as UPT goals and dollar value goals are averaged for each associate over the day, week, month and year for each employee and based on trying to reach a certain revenue goal for the entire company. Companies take into account the customers who don’t spend a lot or just buy one item into their goals for associates, otherwise the goals would be much higher. Associates will have many other opportunities to try to reach their goals with consumers who are planning or can afford to buy more and spend higher amounts, as well as many consumers walk in and buy a lot more than the UPT goal without the associate even doing anything to try to make the sale.

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