Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Mandatory Gratuities?


MSRadell
 Share

Recommended Posts

Gratuity - something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service.

The moment you have a specific amount added to a bill it is no longer a gratuity. It is a restaurant-imposed server service fee.

In the UK many restaurants add what you would call a service charge to the bill however under law it is discretionary and if the service is bad you do not have to pay it or if it's good you can pay more. (Only twice have I ever reduced or refused to pay this amount - and service was shockingly bad)

Can't a restaurant state on the menu AND clearly on the check when it arrives that an optional 18% service charge has been added to the bill. Human nature being what it is most people will pay it and if they have excellent service leave a bit more. Only when service is bad would anyone have a reason to reduce or not pay this amount. And as such be a gratuity that would be distributed to staff.

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Having worked at Disney World, elsewhere in the US, Canada, and now Singapore where every restaurant has a 10% service charge, I disagree with the auto-grat. Servers at WDW make plenty of tips (or did) even accounting for europeans and south americans who aren't familiar with the tipping system. In fact they would get upset when they "only" got 15%.

Everywhere else I worked in the US I found the servers to be quite well paid, and in high end restaurants often more than even management....the kitchen staff always got the least.

In Canada...while tipping runs 10-15% instead of 15-20%, they get paid minimum wage as well, and do very well overall. Yes, sometimes even $70 per hour, but they might only work a 4 hour shift, they might get sent home early, they might only get 4 shifts that week, so don't calculate a 40 hour week and $100,000+ a year.

Singapore used to be a "tipping optional" city, but they discovered that caucasian tourists would get great service and the locals would get bad service....because one tipped and the other didn't. So a 10% service charge was levied country wide and now service sucks. If you know what the tip will be, there is no need To Insure Proper Service (TIPS). And then when the company keeps the 10% anyway, which is standard here, there is even less incentive (aside from pride in your work and keeping your job) to provide great service.

I'm curious to know how the service is in Europe and Australia where there is no tipping (I believe).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From personal experience my opinion is that in general service in Western Europe is not as good overall as it is in the United States. That being said, service at high end restaurants is on par with (or even better than) what we see in the states. The difference becomes very evident at mid and lower level restaurants where the service in Europe is very lacking in most cases. Of course small family owned restaurants have great service there too but there are very few of that type of restaurant in the United States to compare them with.

As for Eastern Europe I've found that the level of service is normally quite good across the board. This could be due to the high unemployment levels and the desire of employees to keep their jobs.

I didn't have any experience as far as Australia is concerned.

PS: Actually tipping for exceptional service is becoming a little more normal in Western Europe than it used to be, again normally just in high end restaurants.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Speaking as one who's served for ten years, I think that people need to re-address the system before they complain too heavily. *forenote: I'm speaking in terms of the upper-fifty percent of dining...grabbing a milkshake at a truckstop is not the same as dropping 300 bucks at a fancy wine bar

First of all, with as many people aware of the service industry, and as transient as servers tend to be, there are MILLIONS of servers waiting to take the job of a bad one. Therefore, one of us 'just in for the money,' who consistently gives bad service tends to get the boot post haste.

Restaurants are becoming much more capitalist as well; servers next-to-never have the ability to get any sort of benefits, and yet the more and more venues that open, the more expertise the average server is expected to have, especially at larger, higher-end, or more well-known places. DON'T see this as a "blowing my own horn," but being a good server at a busy place is a very difficult job which requires a decent level of skill.

That being said, to say "servers make X dollars on average, which should be enough" is not an argument. We can use this same case to say lawyers, doctors, janitors, and teachers all make X dollars and "that should be enough," and yet a) we don't *choose not to pay them*, nor do we b) see many people from WITHIN those professions agreeing that they make far too much money.

Most importantly, MOST of you DO know how to tip, and do it properly and regularly, which is fine. Automatic gratuities are for the 40% of you who have no idea. I can't tell you how often I get

-the group of loud drunk 20somethings who run me through dozens of rounds of drinks and then leave me the change on their cash

-the party of ten who order four courses each, with a bill of 1100, who leave me 50 bucks because "hey...50 bucks is a lot of money. That should be enough"

....and so on.

Again, this is NOT an argument of pity, simply an explanation that an automatic gratuity ensures that I will be paid for my work. Would I love to switch over to a 45,000/year salary with benefits and scrap the entire IDEA of tipping? Heck yes! BUT...until we do, we have to work within the system we have...guaranteeing me, instead of full dental, at least your 20%.

Torren O'Haire - Private Chef, FMSC Tablemaster, Culinary Scholar

"life is a combination of magic and pasta"

-F. Fellini

"We should never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

-J. Child

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't "at least" 20% quite a bit?

I think most europeans will tip much less than people from the US simply because we are used to waiters being paid a regular wage and tips are extra.

To some extent I also think the view of good service varies at least between Sweden and the US. I think that many Swedes consider the service from both waiters and salesclerks in the US and Canada to be a bit too friendly and "pushy". When I lived in Canada I got used to it. Most good wait service seem to be able to balance the need for service, recommendations etc with privacy of course both here and in america but I think in america it is better to be a bit too helpful than to respect the need for privacy.

Something I wonder is how important is the actual percentage?

Say 2 people order the cheaper items from the menu, the drink softdrinks or beer ( glass of water on the side ) or some other cheap drink and have an espresso for dessert. They spend say $80 and leave a $20 tip which is 25% and I suppose a very good tip.

Another party of 2 order the most expensive items from the menu, drink a bottle of good wine and have a nice dessert.

They spend $300 and leave a $45 tip which is a 15% tip.

Now lets say the waiter had to spend 30% more time on party number 2, can it really be that bad to recieve to recieve more than 100% extra money for 30% extra work?

As I said me being european I am not completely familiar with tipping customs perhaps you just tip according to food and not wine costs.

If I was a waiter I personally would care more about money/unit of time than percentages as I can't pay for anything with percentages.

Do waiters feel stiffed even if a party paid them better for their time compared to other parties but the percentage of the bill was low compared to other parties?

( I do understand the frustration at small tips per person from huge parties )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do waiters feel stiffed even if a party paid them better for their time compared to other parties but the percentage of the bill was low compared to other parties?

In my experience, yes.

If someone who is accustomed to selling a $300 dinner for two receives a 15% tip (assuming there weren't any problems with the food/service) , my guess is that they'll be disappointed. In the states (in my experience) the more upscale the restaurant, the less chance you have of getting a lower percentage tip. At a casual restaurant where a dinner for two costs $30-40, I presume a 15% tip is less of a disappointment. When the bill isn't that much, the percentage becomes more a matter of principle than one of gained or lost money. I think perhaps often servers see large bill tip percentages in terms of lost money (in terms of percentage) rather than gained (in terms of dollar amount vs. a less expensive dinner). 25% on $80 = $4 over the standard 20% tip, but 15% on $300 = $15 under the standard 20% tip. I think barring issues with the service and/or food, standards in the US (a 2.50$ per hour wage for servers in many cases) create an expectation that they should receive 20%, or 18%, or whatever, and anything less is simply the diner choosing not to pay with no justification other than that they are cheap. I think it gets a little trickier when you get to San Francisco (as you can see in this thread) where servers still expect 18-20%, plus the new 5% insurance charge, and get paid close to $8/hour.

Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

Link to comment
Share on other sites

25% on $80 = $4 over the standard 20% tip, but 15% on $300 = $15 under the standard 20% tip.  I think barring issues with the service and/or food, standards in the US (a 2.50$ per hour wage for servers in many cases) create an expectation that they should receive 20%, or 18%, or whatever, and anything less is simply the diner choosing not to pay with no justification other than that they are cheap. 

Since when has the "Standard" tip risen to 20%? It used to be 15% and now I see people like you saying it is 18% to 20%, why has the base point shifted? Don't give me the argument that it had rise to keep up with inflation, the cost of food and meals has risen faster than inflation still a 15% tip today is worth more than a 15% tip was in 1970 (date used as an example) when inflation is figured in.

In my book the tip for good service is 15% and to give anything above that service should be exceptional! I realize that wait staff deserves to receive a good wage for their work but they need to realize that customers also have budgets to live within.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do waiters feel stiffed even if a party paid them better for their time compared to other parties but the percentage of the bill was low compared to other parties?

Not that I speak on behalf of all servers or anything, but I can easily recognize quantity of work in my own job-- if I have a single guy come in, order a single drink (though maybe its expensive) and order a single course (though maybe its an expensive one) but he's in-and-out, and I have to do little more than punch his stuff into the computer and bring it out, even if his bill is 50 bucks i certainly don't expect 10 bucks simply because I was there to bring him his food. Similarly, if I bust my butt all night for a table of six who run me ragged ordering and re-ordering cheap stuff, and their bill hits a hundred bucks, i CERTAINLY expect that they notice how much i went out of my way for them and not leave me only a twenty.

In my book the tip for good service is 15% and to give anything above that service should be exceptional! I realize that wait staff deserves to receive a good wage for their work but they need to realize that customers also have budgets to live within.

That's fine that we all have budgets to live in, but people need to factor the service in with their meal. When you have fifty dollars to spend, you don't spend 45 and think "eh, i'll just tip less to keep it in budget." You spend 40, and fulfill your responsibility as a proper diner. Customers may have budgets for dining out, but servers have budgets for their rent and groceries. If you can't spend it, don't go out.

Torren O'Haire - Private Chef, FMSC Tablemaster, Culinary Scholar

"life is a combination of magic and pasta"

-F. Fellini

"We should never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

-J. Child

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do waiters feel stiffed even if a party paid them better for their time compared to other parties but the percentage of the bill was low compared to other parties?

In my experience, yes.

If someone who is accustomed to selling a $300 dinner for two receives a 15% tip (assuming there weren't any problems with the food/service) , my guess is that they'll be disappointed. In the states (in my experience) the more upscale the restaurant, the less chance you have of getting a lower percentage tip. At a casual restaurant where a dinner for two costs $30-40, I presume a 15% tip is less of a disappointment. When the bill isn't that much, the percentage becomes more a matter of principle than one of gained or lost money. I think perhaps often servers see large bill tip percentages in terms of lost money (in terms of percentage) rather than gained (in terms of dollar amount vs. a less expensive dinner). 25% on $80 = $4 over the standard 20% tip, but 15% on $300 = $15 under the standard 20% tip. I think barring issues with the service and/or food, standards in the US (a 2.50$ per hour wage for servers in many cases) create an expectation that they should receive 20%, or 18%, or whatever, and anything less is simply the diner choosing not to pay with no justification other than that they are cheap. I think it gets a little trickier when you get to San Francisco (as you can see in this thread) where servers still expect 18-20%, plus the new 5% insurance charge, and get paid close to $8/hour.

Not that I speak on behalf of all servers or anything, but I can easily recognize quantity of work in my own job-- if I have a single guy come in, order a single drink (though maybe its expensive) and order a single course (though maybe its an expensive one) but he's in-and-out, and I have to do little more than punch his stuff into the computer and bring it out, even if his bill is 50 bucks i certainly don't expect 10 bucks simply because I was there to bring him his food. Similarly, if I bust my butt all night for a table of six who run me ragged ordering and re-ordering cheap stuff, and their bill hits a hundred bucks, i CERTAINLY expect that they notice how much i went out of my way for them and not leave me only a twenty.

25% on $80 = $4 over the standard 20% tip, but 15% on $300 = $15 under the standard 20% tip.  I think barring issues with the service and/or food, standards in the US (a 2.50$ per hour wage for servers in many cases) create an expectation that they should receive 20%, or 18%, or whatever, and anything less is simply the diner choosing not to pay with no justification other than that they are cheap. 

Since when has the "Standard" tip risen to 20%? It used to be 15% and now I see people like you saying it is 18% to 20%, why has the base point shifted? Don't give me the argument that it had rise to keep up with inflation, the cost of food and meals has risen faster than inflation still a 15% tip today is worth more than a 15% tip was in 1970 (date used as an example) when inflation is figured in.

In my book the tip for good service is 15% and to give anything above that service should be exceptional! I realize that wait staff deserves to receive a good wage for their work but they need to realize that customers also have budgets to live within.

That's fine that we all have budgets to live in, but people need to factor the service in with their meal. When you have fifty dollars to spend, you don't spend 45 and think "eh, i'll just tip less to keep it in budget." You spend 40, and fulfill your responsibility as a proper diner. Customers may have budgets for dining out, but servers have budgets for their rent and groceries. If you can't spend it, don't go out.

Torren O'Haire - Private Chef, FMSC Tablemaster, Culinary Scholar

"life is a combination of magic and pasta"

-F. Fellini

"We should never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

-J. Child

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do waiters feel stiffed even if a party paid them better for their time compared to other parties but the percentage of the bill was low compared to other parties?

Not that I speak on behalf of all servers or anything, but I can easily recognize quantity of work in my own job-- if I have a single guy come in, order a single drink (though maybe its expensive) and order a single course (though maybe its an expensive one) but he's in-and-out, and I have to do little more than punch his stuff into the computer and bring it out, even if his bill is 50 bucks i certainly don't expect 10 bucks simply because I was there to bring him his food. Similarly, if I bust my butt all night for a table of six who run me ragged ordering and re-ordering cheap stuff, and their bill hits a hundred bucks, i CERTAINLY expect that they notice how much i went out of my way for them and not leave me only a twenty.

In my book the tip for good service is 15% and to give anything above that service should be exceptional! I realize that wait staff deserves to receive a good wage for their work but they need to realize that customers also have budgets to live within.

That's fine that we all have budgets to live in, but people need to factor the service in with their meal. When you have fifty dollars to spend, you don't spend 45 and think "eh, i'll just tip less to keep it in budget." You spend 40, and fulfill your responsibility as a proper diner. Customers may have budgets for dining out, but servers have budgets for their rent and groceries. If you can't spend it, don't go out.

You mixed up two quotes in your post and completely overlooked the first part of my thread which in my opinion is the most important, would you care to respond to that?

In response to your post, If I spend $45.00 for dinner my tip would be at least $7.00 if the level of service was as expected possibly more if the service was better than expected. Very seldom if ever though would I tip $10.00 on a $40.00 bill as you suggest unless the waiter (waitress) went out of their way to make my dining experience memorable.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh man who cares?

It's not going to result in a declination of service....if anything, the level of service will go up because it will attract a higher caliber server.

To all you people crying that it will make the service go down I mean, really, how much worse can it get? It may even begin to professionalize the industry to a point where waiting tables can be seen as more than just a job you do in college.

Being a server is not really hard work. The job is easy and relatively low stress (at least, I never took it home with me, which is worth a lot). The hard part comes in from having to suck shit and smile at loathsome people. You have to swallow a lot of pride because, quite frankly, a lot of customers are complete dicks and/or for whatever reason feel it is OK to take it out their bad days on their servers.

If you can afford/don't want to pay a mandatory service charge, then don't patronize the restaurant. Plain and simple. It will either work itself out and the place will close because no one ate there or you will have saved like 5 dollars on your meal.

And about raising prices...it would be hard to pull off. Most people don't take into account the service charges (tip, mandatory, whatever) when they look at prices of restaurants--they just don't. A place that charges, say, 10-15 dollars more a plate than the competition (even if tipping is included in the entree price) will most likely be seen as being a lot more expensive, even though in reality it is the same or cheaper.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Three things I don't understand that I see reoccuring in the multiple tipping threads:

1) As MSRadell pointed out, what's up with the inflation of tipping percentages? I don't have an issue with it being 20% or whatever, I just don't understand the logic of it changing as tips rise with the cost of food/living.

2) I see it frequently implied that one should tip a higher percentage at a more expensive restaurant. as with (1) the tip rises with the cost of food. I tend to do the opposite. 15-20% at a nice place, but if I spend $4 at a diner I will often leave $5-$6. That's a 25-50% tip, but it's only a buck or two out of my pocket.

3) If one tips 20% in New York, why is it suddenly acceptable to tip 10-15% in Idaho? Things cost more in New York than they do in a small town so the tip will already be bigger.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think tipping a higher percentage in more expensive places necessarily has anything to do with the servers not being able to make a living otherwise.

I think it is more along the lines that lots of well off people and people eating at the company expense etc fo to fancy place. My guess is lots of these people tip well so if you want to give a tip that is along the lines of what these people tip go higher than in a normal place, cheaper places don't have as many of these people so waiters are used to getting paid alot less for their work. At least I think that is the logic behind it.

The second factor is proabably how much attention you get, in a really fancy place where the waiter is constantly getting you new small dishes, another guy is constantly making sure a few tables have their glasses filled etc, they might put in quite a bit of work divided on very few tables and they might have to share the tip with more people.

If the restaurant is just expensive and the second factor don't come into play I see no reason to give a higher percentage tip.

Most of the time I probably tip more in cheap places since the waitstaff there would get paid very badly otherwise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...