I’m back in the US for Christmas vacation. I have to admit that I’m getting used to not having to tip in restaurants or guess what the tax on something I want to buy will be. It sort of baffles me that we can’t just put the price with tax on menus and price tags in the US — we do have the technology. Even worse, I sometimes forget to tip when I’m over here (in France, if you pay with a card, there isn’t even a line to put a tip!).

IMG_20151229_210348And it’s not just me — a couple of days ago I went to dinner with a couple of friends. The picture shows a copy of the receipt. Take a look at the suggested tip at the bottom of the receipt. For 15%, 18%, 20% and 22%, they suggest $11.14, $13.10, $14.41 and $15.72.

As far as I can tell, this is just wrong. The price of the meal was $65.50. With tax it was $71.31. I was always told you should tip on the price of the meal, without tax. If this is the case, the tips should be $9.83, $11.79, $13.10 and $14.41 for 15%, 18%, 20% and 22%. Hmmm…

Maybe they calculated the tip based on the total with tax? If this were the case, the tips should be $10.70, $12.84, $14.26 or $15.69 for 15%, 18%, 20% and 22%. Still wrong. And always high.

IMG_20151229_194847As it happens, we had to wait for our table, so we had ordered beers while we were waiting, and had a receipt for those as well. Here the suggested tips for $18 (before tax, or $19.60 after) was $3.06, $3.60, $3.98 and $4.32 for 15%, 18%, 20% and 22%.

Wrong again.

I calculate that it should be $2.70, $3.24, $3.60 and $3.96 if you use the before-tax total, or $2.94, $3.53, $3.92 and $4.31 if you use the after-tax total. They’re high again! In fact, while wrong, the percentages they suggest seem to be about the same in the two checks.

We (the three of us at the restaurant) are pretty good at math. How are non-geeks supposed to navigate this mess?

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