UPDATE: Scroll to the bottom for LeSean McCoy's statement to the press.
American tipping etiquette is a strange thing. On the one hand, we realize that most servers in our country are woefully underpaid and traditionally leave a minimum of 15%, and upwards of 20% if the service was good. On the other hand, we demand a high standard of service, especially when paying outrageous prices for food. Do servers always deserve 15% or more, even if the service is crap?
Eagles running back and 2013 NFL rushing leader LeSean McCoy finds himself in the middle of the latest dust-up on this issue. McCoy and a few friends were at PYT Burger in downtown Philadelphia on Monday, September 8, just a day after the Eagles' thrilling 34-17 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. According to the restaurant's owner, McCoy and his party were "verbally abusive to our staff in the most insulting ways," including being derogatory toward women. Despite being given what the PYT owner described as "impeccable service," the server received only a $0.20 tip on a $62 tab.
McCoy hasn't tweeted or given an official statement on the incident, though when asked by reporters, he said "It's bullshit, man" and gave the following explanation to Philadelphia Daily News reporter Les Bowen:
On McCoy receipt thing: my understanding is, he was really ticked about service. But org wishes he’d handled it differently. He understands— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) September 8, 2014
We'll never know for sure exactly how good or bad McCoy's service was. Is it believable that he and his friends were being jackasses at the restaurant? Sure. Is it also possible that the service at PYT was not as "impeccable" as the owner claims? Of course.
The larger question, in a cultural sense, is: Is it ever acceptable to leave only 0.3% as a tip, even if the service is terrible? This very issue was addressed on a recent episode of Freakonomics radio, detailing why the practice of tipping itself may be racist, and looking at the countries around the world where there is very little tipping in general. (Yet another reason why Norway is amazing and we should all move there.)
Will the NFL make an official statement on the McCoy kerfuffle? Something tells me they have quite a bit more to worry about right now. Charlie Sheen, for his part, has weighed in, and is giving a $1,000 tip of his own to the server who was snubbed by McCoy.
UPDATE: McCoy told reporters at an Eagles press conference that he didn't do anything wrong, and would leave the same tip again, if presented with the same situation.
The 20 cent tip was kind of a statement. I didn't do anything wrong and if I had to do it again, I'd do it the same way.
Just to be honest, like I'm always, I tip on my service. I think there's a difference between good service and bad service or just having a bad day. There's a big difference with just being rude and disrespectful. That's how that went.
In any restaurant I go around in Philadelphia, I tip very well. I'm very respectful. You can't be disrespectful and just expect somebody to tip you. I don't care who the person is. That's why I left my card, so they could see my name. Simple as that.