Four places it’s 100% okay to tip $0 in Wisconsin

By Christina Lorey

April 29, 2024

Most people plan to tip at the usual suspects – restaurants, salons, ride-shares – but nowadays, it feels like customers are being prompted to tip just about everywhere – from convenience store counters to checkout kiosks at airports.

Here’s the deal: You don’t have to tip everywhere. There are still a few scenarios where etiquette experts say it’s OK to leave nothing. Here are four:

Counter Service: As a blanket rule, anyone working at a counter is earning a liveable, hourly wage (while those delivering food, either to your table or your home, rely on tips as a major part of their income.) For that reason, tipping people who work behind a counter–like a barista or cashier–is nice, but not necessary.

Double-Tipping: If you already tipped your hair stylist at their station, there’s no need to tip again when paying at the counter. That really is a ploy to get more money out of you. Tip: Make sure you review your restaurant bills closely, too, as some restaurants tack on a 20% service charge before presenting you with the option to add a tip.

Open-bar Events: If you go to a wedding or other event with an open bar, the staff may or may not put out a tip jar. As a rule of thumb: The host usually has taken care of the tip when paying for the venue and overall service, which means you’re not obligated to tip. However, it’s still nice, and may get you better service throughout the night!

Professionals: You also don’t need to tip anyone who earns a salary or performs a trade, like doctors, lawyers, teachers, and plumbers. Not only can tipping these professions be awkward–you could be seen as trying to curry a favor from them.

MORE: How Much Should You Actually Be Tipping? The Answers May Surprise You…

However there are many places, you should still tip. In Wisconsin, many of these workers are only making the “tipped employee” minimum wage of $2.33/hour. That means they rely on the average of $95/day they’re making in tips to pay their bills.

Here’s how much service industry experts suggest you tip in different circumstances:

When the food is bad, but the service is good… At least 20%.
Tips are based on service, not taste.

When the service is bad, but the food is good… At least 20%.
We all have bad days. Plus, many restaurants are still short-staffed.

If the restaurant says gratuity is included… No need.
It actually may be against restaurant policy for servers to accept an additional tip.

When ordering takeout… At least 10%.
Workers still have to make and package your order.

When ordering delivery… No less than $5.
15% is a good rule of thumb on larger orders.

If it’s snowing or raining… At least 20%.
The delivery person is saving you from going out into bad weather.

When there’s a digital tip jar… At least $1.
If there’s an option to tip, give a dollar, or more if the workers are extra busy or friendly.

When buying a drink at the bar… At least 20%.
It’s also a good way to get quicker service (and sometimes a stronger drink, too!)

RELATED: 8 Wisconsin Restaurants Top Chef Judges Are Raving About

We’ll say it again: Many people who work for tips rely on that money to earn a livable wage. Regardless of how much you tip, the important thing to take away is that tipping isn’t optional. Even if your service is subpar, try to have some empathy for the individual and remember that not leaving gratuity may make them receive fewer hours at work at a minimum, and at a maximum, it might make them late on personal payments.


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.



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