17 Times When It’s OK To Skip Tipping

Navigating the nuances of tipping etiquette can be tricky at times—especially for those on a budget or without much experience. From fast food restaurants to automated services, here are 17 scenarios in which you do not have to tip and why.

Self-Service Establishments

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When you’re dining at a self-serve restaurant, such as a buffet, there’s generally no need to leave a tip for service as you’re technically serving yourself. In this type of establishment, you have little to no interaction with personnel and perform the primary tasks on your own.

Professional Services

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Tipping is not standard practice when you’re paying for professional services such as those provided by doctors, dentists, and lawyers. According to etiquette expert Thomas Farley, tipping for professional services can be seen as unorthodox, awkward, and in some situations, an attempt to curry favor or carry out a bribe. The payment you’re charged covers the total cost of the service.

Retail Environments

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Tipping is not typically a part of the retail model. So, when you go shopping in establishments such as clothing stores, grocery stores, and hardware stores, you’re not expected to add a tip to your total. Retail employees receive regular wages and do not depend on tips to live.

Takeout Orders

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When you’re getting takeout, you’re generally not expected to pay for more than the cost of your food. The reason for this is that there’s no table service provided, no clean-up necessary, and your interaction with restaurant staff is limited to just your order pickup. A study by Forbes showed that just 31% of people tip when picking up takeout.

Fast-Food Restaurants

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Though you may be prompted at the point of payment to add a tip to your total, tipping is not expected or required at fast-food establishments—particularly those such as McDonald’s, KFC, and Taco Bell, wherein you’re only getting counter service. As stated by CNBC, “Tipping people who work behind a counter is not a requirement.”

Delivery Apps (When Tip Is Included)

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In general, when you order delivery, you’re expected to tip the driver. However, some apps automatically include a tip in the total, meaning there’s no need for you to hand over any additional cash. Be sure to check the billing details for pre-included tips!

Simple Drink Orders at Bars

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If you’re going to a bar and ordering the most complicated cocktail on the menu, the bartender will be grabbing bottles, measuring liquids, mixing the drink, and maybe even slicing up garnishes—this deserves a tip. However, if you’re ordering a simple bottled drink or a beer that takes seconds to pour, then no tip or a one-dollar tip per drink is deemed acceptable, according to FoodRepublic.

Bad Service Experiences

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You’re expected to tip in most sit-down dining spots or establishments like hairdressers and nail salons. If the service is noticeably poor or negligent, however, then tipping can be minimal or completely withheld. Tipping should reflect the quality of service that is received.

When a Service Charge Is Added

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If you see that a service charge has been added to your bill’s total, known as automatic gratuity, then additional tipping is not mandatory—unless the service was exceptional and you’re feeling generous. Service charge is typically added to the bill when dining out in groups or large parties.

Coffee Shops (For Basic Orders)

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If you’re popping into Starbucks to order a simple coffee, then a tip is not expected. In most coffee shops, tipping is seen as a gesture, not a requirement. In the words of a Starbucks worker speaking to Business Insider, “I’m sorry you feel pressured to tip, and I won’t hate you if you don’t.”

Automated Services

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This might go without saying, but there’s absolutely no need to tip when you’re paying for services that involve zero human interaction. This includes vending machines and self-service kiosks. You can simply pay the set total and be on your way!

Tip Jar at Counter Services

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Tip jars are often present in cafes and other small service establishments. While it’s a nice gesture to add some cash to the jar, tipping is voluntary and dependent on the customer’s discretion. If you feel you’ve received great service and would like to leave a tip—go for it! If not, don’t feel any pressure.

When Traveling Abroad (Depending on the Country)

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Tipping norms vary by country. While the United States is incredibly tip-heavy, the same pressure is not there in some other countries. Throughout most of Europe, for example, a small service charge will be automatically included in your bill in place of tipping. Be sure to research local customs in advance to avoid any awkwardness!

Quick Grab-and-Go Eateries

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When it comes to establishments with minimal interaction, like bakeries or small kiosks, service is typically limited to the cashier handing over pre-made items like packaged sandwiches or bottled drinks. There’s no table service or significant interaction involved, so you’re not generally expected to tip.

Pre-Paid Online Services

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If you’ve paid for a service online in advance, such as an online educational course or a subscription service, tipping is not expected and, in most cases, not even an option. Be sure to check the service terms for tipping policies if you’re unsure!

Transparent No-Tipping Policy

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If an establishment has a no-tipping policy in place, then it goes without saying that you don’t need to and should not tip. A no-tipping policy typically indicates that a service charge is included in the price or salaries, ensuring fair compensation without the need for additional gratuities.

Excessive Wait Times

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If you’ve experienced significantly delayed service, have been left for long periods of time waiting to be served, have had to repeatedly ask for a request to be fulfilled, or have otherwise had an overall negative service experience, a lower amount or no tip is acceptable. As stated by F&W, “Glaring repeated apathy by a server is grounds for a lesser tip.”

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