Looks like the economy is costing restaurant waiters in the tips they get.  A new poll shows only 51 percent give a tip of 16 percent or more when they eat out.  14 percent say they don't leave anything more than a ten-percent tip for the wait staff.

How about at fancy restaurants?  I've never understood why waiters at fancy restaurants deserve such a big tip simply because they have a higher priced menu.  Are they working harder than workers at diners?  16 percent say they usually leave a bigger tip at fancy restaurants, but 25 percent say when the menu price increases they tend not to leave any tip at all.

Most people just keep it simple - they say they base their tip solely on the quality of the service they get.  If they're not happy with the service, nearly a third say they'll walk out of a restaurant without leaving any tip.  But then there are those who say they don't want to make it look like they simply forgot, so they'll intentionally leave a tiny tip just to make a point that they didn't like the service.

I think a fair tip is somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.  The lesser amount if it wasn't anything special....more if the service was exceptional.  A rule of thumb I use is to double the sales tax.  The Erie County sales tax is 8.75 percent.  If you double the tax on your bill you'll get a figure that's 17 1/2 percent and I base my tip on that.  I give more if it's deserved, a little less if they served me ice in my Pepsi.