The tipping culture in the United States is unique. When eating at a restaurant, it is standard to tip at least 15%, but especially for excellent service or a large party, it’s best to leave 20-25%. Technically, there are no requirements to tip, but it is understood that servers are working for tips, as the federal minimum wage for tipped employees is only $2.13 an hour. While servers can make excellent money when customers are generous, there are always some who try to abuse the system and pay for nothing more than their meals.

After becoming fed-up with repeatedly receiving small tips, one server, Ben Raanan, recently posted a rant on TikTok calling out customers for not knowing how to tip. Below, you will find Ben’s original video as well as a follow-up, some of the comments viewers left, and an interview between Ben and Bored Panda. Let us know what you think about this situation, whether you have ever been a server or not, and then if you’re looking for another piece bringing bad tippers to light, check out this story next.

One server, Ben Raanan, recently called out customers on TikTok for leaving small tips

Image credits: blazikenben

Image credits: Iain Farrell (not the actual photo)


You can hear Ben’s full rant right here

@blazikenben Tip ur fucking servers #server #serverlife #serverproblems #restaurant #restaurantlife #serviceindustry #tips #tipyourserver #fyp #foryou #foryoupage ♬ original sound – Ben Raanan

We reached out to Ben on Instagram to find out if he has noticed an increase in small tips recently, with inflation being so high. He told us that it’s not necessarily a trend of intentionally bad tippers, but that a lot of customers will hand him small tips acting like they are being very generous because they don’t understand inflation. “Like a lady handed me $10 for a $200 tab and was like ‘There you go honey’ with a smile on her face, and I genuinely don’t think she meant it in a bad way, I really think she thought it was a good tip,” Ben explained. “That’s why I made the video I wanted to raise awareness for people who don’t understand why tip is a percentage.”

We also asked Ben if he could explain why earning tips is so necessary for servers. “Tips are our pay for our service. The bill is what you pay for the food, and the tip is what you pay for the service,” he said. “The capitalist institution/the restaurant industry has convinced people that tips are optional for some reason, and I believe that reason is that people are happier paying for something when they feel like they’re doing it out of the kindness of their own heart, rather than being forced to.”


Opinions of viewers were split, some who had worked in the service industry before agreed with the importance of tipping well


“And this is a nice thought, and I love that there are people that tip well and feel good about it,” Ben explained. “But in reality, it should not be optional, because just like with anything else, you have to pay people when they do work for you. Yes I get paid for my job by the restaurant, but I make minimum wage and several other states pay their servers far below minimum wage (like I’m talking $2) because they assume tips will make up the rest. We’re told to report at least 10% of our sales, because otherwise the IRS will audit us because they expect us to get tips as well. At the end of every shift we have to do a tipout, which means we give a percentage of our SALES (not our tips), which is the amount of money people spent with us, to the bussers, bar, and other people who work in the restaurant. So whether or not I’m getting at least 10% tips, I’m giving 10% of my tips away every day. This is why it’s so important to 20% of your bill. Because we are paid and treated by the government like tips are a given.”


Lastly, we asked Ben what he would change about the way servers are paid in the US. “Something a lot of people were commenting was that restaurants should just pay servers more, that it shouldn’t be up to the customer to pay our wage, all of which I agree with,” Ben said. “But what people don’t wanna hear is that that would still make you have to pay more. Which you should, because again you’re getting a service, you have to pay for that. But I think people take for granted that the service they get in restaurants is worth money, which is sad that the system has made it seem like it has optional worth. And technically it’s optional for me to try hard, but I don’t want to give bad service. I enjoy working service, which a lot of people seemed to not understand because I was upset. I was not upset because I work in the service industry. I was upset because I know what my work is worth, and I’m getting short-changed. You would be too. So what I think is that there should be an automatic 20% gratuity on every bill, a service fee, that we keep just like tips.”

Ben went on to explain that he knows not all service is good, so sometimes it is fair to leave a smaller tip. “But what makes me angry is when I know a table received excellent service, especially when they tell me so, and then they leave a bad tip. That’s what sparked the original video. So I think there should be an automatic 20% gratuity, and if there was really a problem with your service, you should have to ask for the manager to take it off and explain why. Put your mouth where your money is! I think most people hide behind the assumption that people can tip low if the service was bad when their service wasn’t bad, and if they were asked to back it up they couldn’t. That’s how I would change the system. No one’s work should have an optional worth.”


While others thought Ben was directing his anger towards the wrong people


In theory, the tipping culture in the US provides servers with the opportunity to earn endless income. If they provide excellent service, maybe crack a few jokes and learn the names of their customers, they might receive tips higher than 25%. But the reality is that the average customer will not go above and beyond when tipping. And if they find anything wrong with their experience, like waiting 30 minutes for a table or the kitchen messing up someone’s order, a customer’s dissatisfaction tends to be reflected in how much they tip. Relying on the custom of tipping can make a server’s job extremely stressful, as there is no guarantee of how much money they’ll see on their paycheck. This uncertainty can lead to a toxic, competitive environment, and it can lead servers to resent customers who tip poorly, rather than the system in place that allows servers to earn such small wages.

Even more sinister than fostering an uncomfortable environment, tipping culture can even allow for racial inequality to run rampant in restaurants. According to data from the US Census Bureau of Labor Statistics of servers’ median hourly tips from 2010-2016, white servers earned significantly more tips than their Latinx, Black and Asian peers. Racial prejudices go both ways in restaurants though, as 66% of servers say they have witnessed co-workers show a bias against patrons of color. When it is assumed that white customers tip more, servers go out of their way to accommodate those eaters and minorities are left receiving less than ideal service.

So he made a follow-up video defending his stance

Tipping culture is an outdated norm that does not seem to be benefiting customers or servers. The experience of eating out would be much simpler if customers could pay for their meals and decide to leave a small tip if they felt so inclined, rather than knowing that their server is expecting a large tip to be able to pay their bills this month. Plenty of other countries pay servers living wages, so the United States could certainly revamp their system to do the same. How do you feel about the tipping culture in the US? Have you benefited from it as a server, or do you think it’s time for the minimum wage for tipped employees to be raised? We’d love to hear your thoughts below. And if you’d like to keep up with Ben on Instagram, you can follow him right here.

You can hear Ben’s response to the negative comments right here

@blazikenben Reply to @c_johnson55 Workers of the world unite #server #serverlife #restaurant #serviceindustry #servertok #entitled #tips #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #geteducated ♬ original sound – Ben Raanan