Example: [Collected via e-mail, November 2009]
Origins: Leaving a relatively substantial monetary tip for the waitstaff at the conclusion of a restaurant meal is the custom in some countries, including the U.S. and Canada. A gratuity amounting to 15% to 20% of the bill is now considered the standard or minimum tip, with even more left in recognition of superlative service. It is therefore little cause for surprise that any cultural icon's public voicing of an opinion that folks should leave no more than a 10% tip would raise the hackles of many in the service industry.
And so it was with the belief that Oprah Winfrey, beloved television talk show host, had instructed members of her audience to not leave more than a 10% tip when dining in restaurants, with such rumor often coupled with a further assertion that this advice was offered in recognition of the recession's having hit everyone hard. Such belief that Oprah had said it fit well with a widely-held stereotype that African American customers tip less than do other restaurant patrons.
In September 2009 a page on the social networking site Facebook raised the false "Oprah said not to tip more than 10%" claim. Titled
Yet the claim that has inflamed so many is false. There is no evidence in support of the assertion that Oprah Winfrey recommended her audience tip waitstaff 10%, in response to economic recession or otherwise, on her television show or in her magazine. No one has yet to turn up a video clip from her show of her supposed
Instead, material from both those venues state that restaurant goers should tip at least 15%. While we've yet to locate a video clip or news report of Oprah herself instructing the audience to pony up with 15% or better, there are examples of invited guests on her show or columnists in her magazine saying exactly that.
In the "Ending Rudeness" segment of The Oprah Winfrey Show (which aired on
Waiters are paid wages well below the minimum wage — as little as $2.15 an hour in some states — with the expectation that they will earn the majority of their income through tips. In addition, some restaurants require waiters to pay around 20 to
"If you don't tip, then that person doesn't get paid," Steven says. "Literally."
Likewise, the "Guide to Tipping" published in the December 2002 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine says:
The rumor comes in two forms: that Oprah herself directed her audience never to tip more than 10% or (far less frequently) that one of her guests did. One name that has been mentioned as the identity of the guest who gave such advice is financial guru Suze Orman, as in this
Last updated: 11 November 2009
Day Owen, Sarah. "Servers at Restaurants See Dropoff in Gratuities." Augusta Chronicle. 19 December 2008. Ellen, Daryn. "Guide to Tipping." O, The Oprah Magazine. December 2002.