Emma, who goes by @iheartveggiecorndogs on TikTok, often posts videos talking about her experience in the food service industry. One TikTok, in particular, received a lot of attention, although not entirely for the right reasons. In it, she fumed about a customer praising her service and then only tipping 10% instead of the standard 20% for sit-down restaurants. Although many people sympathized with her and mocked the “verbal tip,” many insulted Emma and her attitude, saying she should be more grateful. But in a follow-up video, Emma explains the state of the service industry today — and under tipping is not the worst part of it.
Server Rants About Customer Under Tipping
In the now-deleted video, Emma said, “I just want everyone to know that if you tip 10 percent, but before you tip 10 percent, you say, ‘oh my god, thank you so much, everything was great and we had such a great time, you were so great,’ and you suck my t*****s with praises, and then you tip me 10%? That’s so rude.”
She added she would rather the customers would stand up and “smack me around the mouth” and insult her before under tipping, because at least “you stood up to me and looked me in the eyes like a person… But no, if you actively tell me, ‘you did a great job”, and then you tip me 10 percent I want to fight you out back.” 
In the U.S., employers of tipped employees can pay only $2.13 an hour if the employee receives enough tips to equal the main federal minimum wage (which is $7.25). If they don’t earn enough tips, the employer has to pay the difference. Employers can also enforce a tip pool, which means that waiters and the like have to share tips with the “back of the house” staff. Overall, tips subsidize servers’ salaries in most restaurants in the U.S. as employers place the responsibility of paying their staff onto customers. 
Read: Large Group Of Teens Tips Waiter Only $3.28. A Few Days Later This Note Is Handed To Him
“You don’t know how horrible the service industry is post-pandemic”
Although many people sympathized with Emma’s experience, others criticized her, which led to her taking down the video. In a new TikTok, she responds to these comments and explains what led up to her initial reaction. “I had a lot of people call me an ungrateful b**** and tell me I need to get a second job…” She adds that she is “actively trying to leave the service industry” after graduating in May. She continues saying she knows she could get another job, and that she could “walk into work and make five dollars off of six tables or I can leave with 300 on a Monday lunch. It is the industry. I know that.
“But what I wanted to point out to people is that you don’t know how horrible the service industry is post-pandemic.” Before the pandemic, she explained, “85-90% of the tables” she served left a 20% tip. She’s been in this industry for five years and says she “wasn’t great at her job” back then, as opposed to now. For a while after the pandemic, people were “sympathy-tipping” and leaving very generous tips, “but not at all needed… I know I don’t deserve $50 for serving people burgers and beer for an hour.”
Despite the current under tipping, that’s not the worst part of her job. “It’s a 50-50 chance I’ll get 20% — maybe. And there’s an 85% the person I’m serving is going to be insufferable… I truly don’t know what’s changed. But it’s the customers that are making people leave the industry… People are so rude and lack so much empathy, people don’t want to work in this industry anymore. So yeah I should be grateful for whatever tip I get but also when people are treating you like trash, you deserve to rant on TikTok every now and then.”
Read: Viral Video Shows Workers Not Taking Deliveries Without Tips: ‘We Can Pick and Choose’
Americans Are Worse Tippers Now
Under tipping post-pandemic is not just an anecdotal observation. Data shows that Americans are worse tippers now than before COVID-19. A new survey from CreditCards.com found that 73% of Americans report that they always tip at a sit-down restaurant, as opposed to 77% in 2019. Similarly, 57% always tip food delivery people, compared to 63% in 2019. And only 43% always tip a taxi or rideshare driver, down from 49%. 
“While more than a third of Americans pledged to become better tippers in 2020 and 2021, it seems that sentiment has worn off,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com. “Inflation is cutting into consumers’ purchasing power and a tight labor market has left many service industry businesses understaffed and struggling to provide top-notch customer experiences.”
A survey from the nonprofit One Fair Wage included 3,000 restaurant workers who quit during the Great Resignation, and 54% said they were leaving the service industry entirely. The pandemic has worsened working conditions and many of them decided that the subminimum wage isn’t worth it anymore. 
Keep Reading: Woman claims they were denied service at restaurant having not tipped the time before
- “Server lashes out at customer who gave 10% tip after complimenting her performance.” UNILAD. Gabriella Ferlita. September 24, 2022.
- “Tips.” US Department of Labor.
- “Americans are worse tippers now than before COVID-19 hit.” CreditCards.com. Aja McClanahan June 5, 2022
- “With tips, restaurants can pay workers as little as $2 an hour. It’s why no one’s coming back to work.” Insider. Paul Constant. January 22, 2022