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Blacklisting Cultural Bad Tippers


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#61 JohnT

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 04:29 AM

gfron1, I do not own or work in a restaurant, but have owned two in the past and working in the food service industry is hard work for all. Let me start off by saying that I do not think this saga you are going through is about the tip - it is being used as a bit of an excuse.

A lot of the time it includes dealing with customers that are seeking attention for some reason or other, that nobody can actually fathom - not even the customer. Often, there are three sides to the story - the customers, the waiters and the actual. Firstly, you mentioned that the customer is of a specific cultural background and some cultures have a male dominance over women. Could this be the problem? The client looks at the situation that he is being served by a female and culturally tries to be dominant, whilst your waiter thinks he is a pig and does not tip in the amount he or she expects. But meanwhile, the guy was brought up to be dominant and subconsciously is doing just that, in a way he most likely does not understand or comprehend.

The way to help determine what is going on - and I do not know the size of your restaurant or staff complement - is to get a male waiter to serve the patron for a few meals and see what happens. Is he as rude and trying to be dominant or does he settle down. If he settles down, you have a clue to what is going on. If he does not . . . . Well, if I was in your shoes, I would serve the guy a good meal and when it came to presenting the bill I, as the owner, would go up to him and politely ask him if I could sit at his table and have a chat, telling him that you have noticed the staff appear not to have met his expectations and ask him if all has been in order. If he answers that all has been excellent or fine, tell him that the staff are not there to be abused, that his meal is on the house but you would prefer he seek another restaurant in town for his future meals.

Culturally, some males have a strange way in dealing with people of the opposite sex. I live on the bottom tip of Africa and we really have a diverse population regarding the different cultures within the different population groups and male dominance is a massive problem here. I equate it in a similar manner to an abusive husband beating up his wife in front of the kids. Often you find, when the kids grow up the male kids are often abusive to their spouse - that is, unfortunately, a sad part of life and to break the chain is extremely difficult.

I honestly, reading through your posts above, do not think this is about a 9% tip - it could be more about culture, as noted above, or even sexual harassment and your waiter has just not been direct with you and is using the tip as an excuse. I ain't there, so the above is purely speculation on what you have written and experiences learnt in my previous establishments.

And just as an aside, we at the bottom tip of Africa have a "norm", if I can use that word, of tipping 10% of the total bill. I have had friends from other parts of the world, where tipping does not take place, who have taken my wife and myself out for dinner and paid the bill. I have then had to quietly ask the waiter if the person paying had included a tip and often found that they had not as it is just not done in certain countries. I have then slipped the waiter his or her tip. There are also restaurants here that have a sign at the entrance or printed on their menu that all staff are salaried and no tips are required or expected. It is also illegal here to include a "gratuity" on a bill.
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#62 gfron1

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 06:27 AM

Why are cash tips considered "non-reportable?" 

I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong but our accountant said that as a business we only report tips made by credit card; and the common understanding is that cash tips just disappear.  That's why probably a quarter of all tips are made with cash even on bills paid by credit card - probably by former restaurant workers.


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#63 Shel_B

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 07:21 AM

I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong but our accountant said that as a business we only report tips made by credit card; and the common understanding is that cash tips just disappear.  That's why probably a quarter of all tips are made with cash even on bills paid by credit card - probably by former restaurant workers.

 

I'll send you a PM later today.  However, cash tips are reportable, though they're often "overlooked."


Edited by Shel_B, 07 June 2014 - 07:24 AM.

.... Shel


#64 Arey

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 07:38 AM

Cash tips are taxable and the employees should be reporting them to you so you can include them.  Back in 1978 when the first casino opened in Atlantic City. The IRS decided to start vigoursly enforcing the law about cash tip reporting for the brand new casino's employees.  If the employee or employer couldn't come up with a figure for the cash tips, the IRS is allowed to estimate the tips and base the taxes due on their estimate. You'd be amazed at the figures the IRS came up with.  Even back in '78 the IRS seems to have assumed everybody tipped at least 20%.    I know this because I worked for an agency that was closely related to the IRS and had frequent occasions to swap information regarding earnings back  and forth with them.  You might want to go to the IRS website and get copies of their publications regarding tips, and employer/employee reporting responsibilities.  I know I haven't provided you with a solution for your obnoxious customer/unhappy server problem, but I have at least  provided a distraction for you.   Actually if you were in NJ rather than NM I'd suspect we had the same Accountant. :sad: 


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#65 gfron1

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 08:24 AM

in an attempt to not go OT on the taxes thing, Shel_B gave me the direct text from the IRS website.   Thanks.


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#66 MelissaH

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 11:03 AM

Is there any reason you couldn't just do what most industries do: pay your employees a higher rate, raise your prices to cover the higher rate, and eliminate tipping?


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#67 gfron1

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 01:46 PM

This was eluded to before, and one key factor that someone state keeps ringing in my ears - now that we're a destination restaurant we can have a bit more wiggle room with the rules.  So here are the real numbers.  

 

My pricing is crazy but appropriate for remote small town rural New Mexico.  I do a 5-7 course modernist foraged tasting dinner with  significantly sized entree and dessert included for either $39 or 44 depending on which entree you select.  I already pay my server double tipped minimum.  As I previously said my server averages over 20%, but let's just say we bump 20% - that puts the meal at $47 or 53.  39 bumps to 47 and 44 bumps to 53.  That's a hefty jump but also still low.  Nightly I hear, "If you were open in (insert any big city here) you could charge $75-125 for the same meal."  But when I opened I was very clear that I wanted to be accessible to my local clientele. 

 

In reality we haven't raised the prices, we've just been more clear in pricing to include what historically has proven to be the full amount after tip.  As others have noted, the downside is if you don't think the server warranted a tip you can't do anything about it.


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#68 Jaymes

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 02:21 PM

This was eluded to before, and one key factor that someone state keeps ringing in my ears - now that we're a destination restaurant we can have a bit more wiggle room with the rules.  So here are the real numbers.  

 

 

 

It was I that said that, and I believe it.  If you look at a list of restaurants that are currently using the prepriced, "no tipping" policy, they're all pretty big boys in the culinary world, and it sure hasn't hurt their business.  I honestly think that, from everything I've read about your restaurant, here and on other websites, you could definitely get away with it.

 

And look at it this way, if not, you can always revert to the previous policy.

 

Nobody's gonna fuss about your prices going back down.


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#69 Meanderer

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 02:30 PM

I wonder what your server's response would be if you had a regular customer who ordered a dinner at $44 each visit but drank nothing but water.  A second regular came in on the same evenings and ordered a dinner at $44 and a $50 dollar bottle of wine.  At 20%, the first customer would be tipping $8.80 and the second customer would leave $18.80.  Would your server suggest banning the first regular because the tips from him or her were less than half than those from the second diner?

 

I would suggest that you, as the owner, make a point of getting to know the person with the 9% tipping habit and express your gratitude for his custom.  You could do this by personally stopping by his table before he leaves on several occasions and chat with him for a while (unless, of course, he is an early diner and you are still busy with other meals).  Once he feels privileged because he has a one on one relationship with one of the proprietors, you could more easily broach the subject of tipping with him and at least learn whether his practice is a matter of ignorance or whether he is a cheapskate.  It would be nice to know.


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#70 pastrygirl

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 07:09 AM

 
When the customer came in last week this is what happened - just to give you an idea.  The kitchen (aka me) screwed up the duck confit.  I did.  First time in 6 years, but I did and it was dry.  Midway through eating his entree he told the server.  She told me.  I asked if he wanted a re-fire (10-15 minutes) or did he want to finish it.  The answer would determine how we proceeded.  He finished it and so we comped the meal (not the drinks or dessert).  But from the moment that she told him the meal was comped he three separate times from across the room (its a fairly small dining room) said loudly to her that it was the driest duck he had ever had "it shouldn't' have been that way."  She works hard at creating a positive vibe in the dining room including often engaging tables among each other.  He was killing the vibe, bitching unnecessarily and doing potential harm to reputation and her revenue.  When he left he made one more jab.  All we could assume is that he was pushing for the whole bill to be comped.  He was an ass.  Rarely, and by rarely I mean, I can't think of a single instance - a kitchen mistake is punished in the tip.  
 


I think it would be totally appropriate in that scenario to go out to the table and have a little chat, informing him that you cooked the duck and any issues with it should be addressed to you, and to please be respectful of your staff and other diners. I would be really uncomfortable if I was trying to enjoy a nice meal and some loudmouth kept complaining like that.

I agree with the others, you can't ban a general group or even a habitual lousy tipper, but you can ban individual assholes if they are harassing your staff or interfering with your business.
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#71 annabelle

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 09:00 AM

The duck confit issue could have been curtailed if the chef had gone out and apologized to the customer personally.  Stuff happens in the best of kitchens and this seems to be a one off.  My managerial spidey-sense is still telling me that there is more to this than meets the eye ---  especially since the owner/chef's eyes are in the kitchen and not on the floor. 

 

Just from rereading this thread, the server sounds a bit entitled herself:  she is paid double the tipped wage already (!), she is grousing about a "lousy" tipper when he is still tipping nearly 10% and, she is literally crying on the boss's shoulder about what a meany-head the customer is and wants him banned.  If she hasn't outright suggested a ban, then she certainly seems to have planted the seed. 

 

Make some calls to your fellow restaurateurs and ask some general questions about how they have handled a similar situation.  That's what I would do since you know your city better than we do here.


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#72 Droo

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 06:04 AM

Coming from a country where tipping is optional, and at most 10% is given if the service is great, I must admit I nearly fainted when i read that server's ytd was 26%.

 

I found the conversation about the customer's behaviour quite interesting as it is something, thanks to the number of foodie / restaurant review blogs popping up, our restaurant industry has been asking as well. How to restaurants deal with the objectionable diner - whether in the restaurant or via a review? This article, about an online booking system, Dimmi, potentially turns the table on customers. The question still remains - what does the restauranteur do?

 

http://www.goodfood....d=1402790019582

 

http://www.smh.com.a...0613-zs713.html


Edited by Droo, 16 June 2014 - 06:05 AM.

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#73 MisterKrazee

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Posted 17 June 2014 - 07:10 PM

I work in the IT industry and service people on pretty much the same level as the food industry, most of the time more urgent. They want something and they want it now. I happen to be providing services for a university with a $40k semester tuition. I don't get tips and don't make more than a decent server. I provide the same service to clients no matter what.

 

If someone on your team is not happy about the amount they're getting for serving one person, then they're not getting paid enough or they are ungrateful and selfish.  

 

Even thinking about turning someone away because they don't provide a tip, which isn't mandatory, is unethical. 


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#74 Tri2Cook

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Posted 18 June 2014 - 03:42 AM

Even thinking about turning someone away because they don't provide a tip, which isn't mandatory, is unethical. 

I agree and basically said as much in my initial response. But did you reply to the original post only or follow the conversation all the way through? Because more information of a different nature was supplied as the discussion went on. It evolved past the tipping issue, which Rob already said he's dealt with, to the customer also being rude and disruptive. It is well within any business's rights to continue to provide service under those circumstances but, like tipping, it isn't mandatory. I personally will not tolerate abuse to servers or the disrupting of other customers in the interest of not losing a customer.


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#75 sculptor

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 12:44 AM

Maybe you need to just start a no tipping above %2 policy and just pay the servers fairly. After all, someboy that serves the most expensive thing on the menu doesn't really deserve more than someone that servers the cheapest thing if they take the same amount of effort on his/her part...



#76 lindag

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 12:02 PM

After following this topic for some time it is my opinion that you and your server really need to stop and take a wider view of this situation, i.e., this is just one customer, one tiny portion of your whole, large clientele.  Do both of yourselves a big favor and just suck it up.  Forget that he's a lousy tipper and concentrate on the big picture.  And make sure this server adjusts her attitude.

If he is, however, harassing people, that needs to be dealt with.


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#77 dcarch

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 02:52 PM

Have you been in the first class section on a plane?

 

You are being served by the attendants/stewardesses better than you are served in a restaurant

 

"Can I get you some wine? Here is the wine list", "Would you you like to have a blanket?",  "Can I warn up your coffee?", "What have you selected for dinner on the menu?", "Here are your slippers" --------------------------------------.

 

Do you tip them?

 

dcarch


Edited by dcarch, 20 July 2014 - 02:54 PM.

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#78 gfron1

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 09:03 AM

After following this topic for some time it is my opinion that you and your server really need to stop and take a wider view of this situation, i.e., this is just one customer, one tiny portion of your whole, large clientele.  Do both of yourselves a big favor and just suck it up.  Forget that he's a lousy tipper and concentrate on the big picture.  And make sure this server adjusts her attitude.

If he is, however, harassing people, that needs to be dealt with.

That's essentially what we've done.  Anyone who's worked on the floor knows that you can't stay Susy Sunshine all the time, but the best ones are able to more than the others.  "Suck it up," and "Deal with it," and other harsh responses certainly aren't motivating, so we've had conversations over the past month or two that get her to the same place of understanding.  We're both getting a much needed vacation next week which will undoubtedly help.  And as other have suggested I've continued to reinforce the big picture of one bad tipper v. 100 great tippers, and when we've had a poor tip from other customers she's been repeating that line back to me so I think she's getting it.   As for the airline comparison - different system so its not really relevant to this discussion IMO.  

 

We haven't seen that specific guy for a while - I think he's a contractor who comes in and out for the mines - so all of the ideas about addressing his poor behavior haven't been addressed yet.


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#79 lindag

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 01:19 PM

That's essentially what we've done.  Anyone who's worked on the floor knows that you can't stay Susy Sunshine all the time, but the best ones are able to more than the others.  "Suck it up," and "Deal with it," and other harsh responses certainly aren't motivating, so we've had conversations over the past month or two that get her to the same place of understanding.  

I apologize. Reading my post back to myself I do sound harsh and unsympathetic, which I am not at all; I wish I had not used the pharase 'suck it up'.   I  do get that you've really tried to work through this problem and the customer hasn't made it easy.

I really hope you all of you will be able to work this out.  It may be that there's a good life-lesson to be learned here.



#80 annabelle

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 01:26 PM

I must just be heartless since I don't find the phrase "suck it up" harsh at all.  

 

The server is there to wait on people not turn the dining room into a fiefdom.  



#81 gfron1

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 03:11 PM

I didn't take it as a personal attack, its a matter of how to motivate employees.  "Suck it up" is not IMO the most useful way of discussing the situation when it comes to long-lasting positive change.  So absolutely no need to apologize. 


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#82 Pedroinspain

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:32 AM

Would the problem be reduced if the US abolished the "tipped wage" concept, if employers were required to pay a competitive salary, and if the public were allowed to go back to the more logical system of tipping up to 10% for really good service, 5% for above average, and otherwise nothing? How did this prickly tension-producing custom become so ingrained, leading to ever-increasing tip %s? Bizarre.

 

As other posters have commented, I don't tip my car mechanic for keeping me alive, or my cardiologist, and I owe them both much more than the server at the local pizzeria. Ah, but they don't depend on tips for a decent quality of life, I hear.

 

Exactly.


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#83 Edward J

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:21 PM

Would the problem be reduced if the US abolished the "tipped wage" concept,

 

 

It's a bit more complicated than that, Pedro.  Not all States in the US have a "tipping wage", but the ones that do have it set waaay below minimum wage, and in some States is it well below $3.00/hr.  But think about it for a minute.  In order to get a tipping wage you have to acknowledge that a minimum wage exists before you can go below it, and then you have to lobby to get it made into law.  

 

Who holds such clout?

 

Secondly, you have to realize that serving is not a "real" job in N. America, it's just something to pay the bills until something better comes along.  Because of this attitude, there is no standard/benchmark for servers--unlike most parts in Europe where a server completes a (usually) 2 year apprenticeship.  No standards/benchmarks for the profession, no salary scale.  Hence the (successful) lobby effort  to get a tipping wage.   

 

Things are different in Europe.....


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