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jrshaul

When is it permissible to not tip?

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Under the North American system, shouldn't the tip should reflect the service?

Yes, but only to the extent that it's greater than the minimum for exceptional service, and less than the minimum for truly awful service.

95% of the time you will be leaving 20% (arguably 15% away from the coasts and Chicago), because the employers and the state assume that that amount is part of the waiter's living wage.

From reading the responses to the OP, can I conclude that in the US tipping is a form of salary supplement for the waiter who is serving you?

I am not used to that approach. In Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia, tipping is an extra gratuity for above-average service, yes, mainly by the waiter, but quite definitely also reflects the overall performance of the restaurant. If I were served the wrong food on the Costa Brava and then got any form of lip from the waiter, the tip would be 0%.

So which part of the tip does the waiter know to be his salary supplement, and which bit is his/her superior service?

May I also observe that, rarely on the forums that I frequent, have I seen so many rude responses to a perfectly valid question as was posed in the OP. I am astounded that a topic such as tipping practice justifies such naked aggression and pseudo-psychological analyses of the motives of the poster.

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Hola, Pedroinspain. Nice first post.

Me, Im astounded how the tip crept up as a % of total. As prices increased, so did the value of tips, while remaining at 15% of the check. But now, "20% is the new 15%", plus the meal is 15% more expensive, so waitstaff wages effectively went up >30% over the past few years. Be interesting to know how many people order less or more cheaply, in order to keep the tab at or below about where it was, so they can afford the increased tip, thus netting the waitperson no increase.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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It used to be said that in some high-end New York restaurants where the tips were reliably quite substantial, that the city's best waiters would actually pay for their stations and received no salary at all from the restaurant. Is that an urban legend, or is it true, and if so, is it still true today?

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In respect to Fuzzy's Tacos:

The food was terrible. The service was terrible. The prices sucked. The name is funny. Why would I write any differently of them three years from now?

I am not used to that approach. In Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia, tipping is an extra gratuity for above-average service, yes, mainly by the waiter, but quite definitely also reflects the overall performance of the restaurant. If I were served the wrong food on the Costa Brava and then got any form of lip from the waiter, the tip would be 0%.

So which part of the tip does the waiter know to be his salary supplement, and which bit is his/her superior service?

May I also observe that, rarely on the forums that I frequent, have I seen so many rude responses to a perfectly valid question as was posed in the OP. I am astounded that a topic such as tipping practice justifies such naked aggression and pseudo-psychological analyses of the motives of the poster.

Welcome to eGullet! This sort of animosity is the exception and not the rule.

From the secondhand descriptions of my Spanish professor, European waiters - especially in Spain - take their job quite seriously. Service is reputedly on par if not better than ours despite the absence of gratuity, presumably due to increased competition.

I'm going to take a stab at the current problem as we have it today:

1. Cheap people don't tip well.

2. Skilled waiters, responding to poor compensation, compete for top restaurants. Those that cannot find such employment rapidly become apathetic.

3. Apathetic waiters stop working as hard. Reduced salary also results in less competition for waitstaff positions, reducing quality of new hires.

4. Irregular service further depresses gratuities, leaving us back at step 1.

I might be making a bit of a stretch here, but working as waitstaff in the top 10% of restaurants by price should be equivalent to at minimum forty hours anywhere else. Even if you're effectively only waiting tables between the hours of five and eleven for a total of thirty hours a week, the compensation - assuming consistent 15% tips at an average of $50 per diner at an average of five diners per hour - is better than that of some entry-level software programming jobs. I'm quite obviously fudging the numbers here a great deal and the absence of health insurance is a killer if you're over the age of twenty-five, but this is not the sort of part-time job that should be done in the manner of reshelving books at Borders.

In so many words: If you're getting paid as much as a software programmer, you should do the work of a software programmer. As wages dip to Wal-Mart greeter levels, things may not be so rosy.


Edited by jrshaul (log)

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Saludos, Pedroinspain.

This sort of animosity is the exception and not the rule.

I think it's a seasonal thing. Lately you can't suggest washing your hands before handling food is a good idea without someone jumping down your throat.

I think the differences of opinion so vigorously expressed in this thread come down to a fundamental difference in how people perceive tipping. Some people see tipping as a voluntary gift from the patron to the waiter rewarding good service, while others see it as a tacked-on, implicit fee (like the sales tax in most of the US) that the patron is obliged to pay regardless of the quality of service.

I was taught 15% was the expected for adequate service in a restaurant, which could then be adjusted up or down depending on how satisfactory the service was. I can see other people (for example bad waiters :laugh: ) might think this is unfair but so far nobody has even tried to explain why it's wrong.

As an aside, when did the baseline go to 20% and who decided that?


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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The baseline's been 20% in NYC for as long as I can remember... at least since the early '80s. When I journeyed down here from Boston back then, friends warned me to be aware that the 15% I was used to was insufficient in the Big Apple. Since then it's spread to most big metropolises - at least the ones with higher costs of living.

To Pedroinspain: Yes, you are correct, "tipping" in the United States is a way for waiters and waitresses and others who can legally be paid less than the minimum wage to make up a normal salary (or at least a salary equivalent to the minimum wage). It is not the same as tipping in other countries.

Whether it's a smart or fair system, it's the one that's in effect, and it seems unlikely to change anytime soon.

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I think the reason that tipping and restaurant reviews is such a delicate subject on eGullet is because many people here have worked or do work in the restaurant business. It's sort of understandable - people here know the effect that a bad review can have on a restaurant, and they know how measely serving staff wages can be in some countries!

However, I do feel that at times (such as on this thread) the response becomes knee-jerk and unreasonable. There is no reason that we can't have an appreciation for the way the restaurant business works and still be able to dislike a restaurant's food or service. I'm inclined to give a restaurant the benefit of the doubt and give them a second chance (unless the food is really bad, as I probably wouldn't inflict that upon myself more than once) but I'm entitled to not like a place and talk about it's negative aspects if I want to. And I will. I will tell my friends not to go somewhere if it is repeatedly poor or if it's extremely awful the first time and with no apology or explanation from the staff. I will withold a tip for awful service or reduce for so-so service.

I think one difficulty is that serving staff in America clearly have a special dependence on tips as part of their wages. To me, this seems like a stupid system, but of course my opinion on this will not change anything! So all I can add to this particular issue is that if a waiter expects to substantially supplement their income with tips, then they should really learn to serve in a professional manner. That doesn't mean that they can't make mistakes. But they should be polite to customers in such an incident and they should apologise and maybe even make it up in some small way if it is a large error. If a waiter is rude to my face and blatantly does not care if they ruin my meal, why should I tip them? This will only encourage them to be just as careless in the future.

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I don't always tip. If the service is really really rubbish and staff just don't seem to care even when I politely draw their attention to the problem, I will tell the waiter at the end that I am disappointed with the service and then I don't tip.

And btw there are no set rules about buddhism and vegetarianism. The majority of buddhists actually operate on the principle that it's ok to eat meat if an animal wasn't killed specifically for you. And of in many countries were buddhist monks still live in the traditional way, monks accept whatever they are offered to eat when they do their alms round. On the other hand, I know many "western" buddhists who are vegan. So there you go, don't assume anything!

Over the years, I've eaten many meals with Buddhist priests, which included meat. My great-grandfather and great-uncle were/are Buddhist priests in Japan, and they both consume(d) meat.

Most of the very devout Japanese Buddhists I know are not vegetarian or vegan.


Cheryl

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Granted I tend to stick to family style restaurants and ethnic eateries lately, but if the service is really wretched I reserve the right not to leave a tip. For average service I tip 20%.


Cheryl

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4. Unwillingness to move my table due to inclement conditions. This has yet to actually happen, though I suspect it will soon enough.

This suggests to me that you walk in anticipating problems. You may be ascribing these anticipated problems to your youth or clothes. Certainly, biases in that direction exist. But also, people in the service industry have a pretty good sense of who is coming in expecting their own negative biases to be confirmed. Some respond by trying to confound your expectations; others will be only too happy to fulfill them.

I would suggest that if you really take yourself seriously as a journalist, you check this baggage at the door and try to have an experience that's not tainted by your own attitude. As a bonus, you'll have a better time when you dine out.


Edited by Tess (log)

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Thanks for the welcomes :)

One last question from across the pond.

Waiters get paid a sub-minimum wage; fine, OK, understood, but it still merges the supplementary salary and the good service element into a single non-transparent whole. I don't favour the obscureness.

So what about José Gonzales who does the dish washing out in the back? Is he also paid a 'sub' salary like the waiter? If so, he gets no tip. So the waiter scores big time and the potato peeler sucks the hind one. Something not level about this playing field, methinks.

I prefer the other system. Pay everyone a legal salary, and then tip at the desk, so Jose´also gets his share due to the sparkling clean plates.

I did a birding trip to Costa Rica last year. 14 out of the 17 were Americans. At the end there was a discussion as to what to tip the tour leader. "10% of the tour price" was the consensus. What!!?? He gets 10% of the fuel costs; 10% of the accommodation costs; 10% of the internal flight costs; 10% of the tour operator's profit element; 10% of the airport taxes; etc etc?? Somehow the logic of all of this totally escaped me. I gave him $75 and the driver $25 and called it a day.

My advice to anyone visiting Spain (and I have read what the guide books say, and they are just plain WRONG)is tip 5% whatever. If its a smart place, I mean really top-line, tip 10%. Then add 5% for service if it made you sit up and stare. In fact that would be pretty acceptable in most of Europe outside London and Paris. I wonder why those 2 exceptions?

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Many moons ago when I worked as a waitress, I refused to work at places that pooled tips. I was a fantastic waitress. Attentive, not intrusive, had a great memory for special requests and frequent customers, in short, the customer was my guest and I treated him like a guest. I made a fortune. Pooling tips encourages slackers to do the bare minimum since they'll end up making the same money as everyone else while handicapping those who end up resenting the snot out of them for stealing a portion of their wages.

Of course, I love jobs that work on commission. I put myself through college selling cars and the customer service that I learned as a waitress/bartender transferred to big ticket sales like a charm. Just as there are many terrible sales people out there, there are many terrible waitstaff. It's my opinion that training is everything, but it is also true that some people won't learn and are better off with jobs where they interact as little as possible with the customer.

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May I also observe that, rarely on the forums that I frequent, have I seen so many rude responses to a perfectly valid question as was posed in the OP. I am astounded that a topic such as tipping practice justifies such naked aggression and pseudo-psychological analyses of the motives of the poster.

I'd just like to point out that we've had a great many discussions on eG that were perfectly pleasant regarding tipping in restaurants. Of course, they were in response to questions that seemed to be sincere inquiries regarding tipping practices.

I'm sorry, but I simply don't think that's the case here. Even the title: "Is everyone incompetent?" suggests pretty strongly to me that the OP isn't interested in fairness. What do you think, Pedro? Is "everyone" incompetent?

In fact, a close reading of all of the OP's posts leads me to believe he's here for exactly the opposite reason. He doesn't care what others think or do. His real purpose is to justify the maligning in his newspaper of restaurants that he believes haven't treated him in the proper and respectful manner he deserves. He takes pleasure in the possibility that he's hurt them in some way, even taking off-topic pot-shots at the name "Fuzzy Taco." Maybe the owner's nickname is Fuzzy. Who knows? But it sounds to me more like retribution and revenge than any kind of serious impartial review.

In my opinion, anyway, what you refer to as "naked aggression and pseudo-psychological analyses" and "rude responses" are not responses to a "perfectly valid question."

They are instead responses to a kid with a "take that, you didn't know who you were dealing with, and I'll make you sorry you dissed me" attitude, and a public means - the student newspaper - to express it.

A far cry from an honest discussion about tipping practices. Something we've actually done quite well on eG in the past.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Posted by Pedroinspain “ ------ I did a birding trip to Costa Rica last year. 14 out of the 17 were Americans. At the end there was a discussion as to what to tip the tour leader. "10% of the tour price" was the consensus. What!!?? --------------“

I was travelling to Costa Rica sometime ago, at the end of staying in a hotel, I was going to tip the fellow big-time, who served me so well and took care many things for me. He refused to accept the tip. As it turned out, he happened to be the former President of Costa Rica, Mr. Rodrigo Carazo Odio. Mr. Rodrigo owned the hotel, he came in to help out because a few staff got sick.

Anyway, I feel the tipping system is morally questionable. I do tip, but I am not comfortable tipping. The financial relationship between the tipper and tippee is the same as prostitution. Using money to buy smiles.

A good waiter brings more business to the restaurant, and the reward to the waiter should be given by the owner of the restaurant.

A waiter is forced to be very pleasant to a nasty customer because he is a very good tipper. That is so wrong!

dcarch

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Over the years, I've eaten many meals with Buddhist priests, which included meat. My great-grandfather and great-uncle were/are Buddhist priests in Japan, and they both consume(d) meat.

Most of the very devout Japanese Buddhists I know are not vegetarian or vegan.

This depends on both the branch of Buddhism and the country. Chinese Buddhist monastics have been vegetarian for a long time, I believe dating back to an imperial edict (maybe 500 AD), though some were vegetarian before this. They also generally follow a "complete" vegetarian diet, eschewing eggs and the "5 pungent" spices (garlic, jiu cai (garlic chive), shallot, onion, green onion, etc.) Ethnic Chinese monasteries in Vietnam, Thailand, etc. also follow this tradition. I believe some Indian Buddhist traditions also practice vegetarianism, for monastics at least. Japanese Buddhism has a historical tradition of monastic vegetarian cuisine (shojin ryori, for example), but I don't think most Japanese monastic traditions follow a vegetarian diet these days. Some Tibetan Buddhists have advocated a vegetarian diet, but I think the climate and geography make it difficult.

Lay Buddhists eat a vegetarian diet full-time less often, though some certainly do, especially in sects headquartered in Taiwan. But in some traditions, non-vegetarian lay Buddhists still eat vegetarian on certain days.

http://www.icundv.com/vesak2011/panel3/05ShengKaiFINAL.pdf

http://www.photodharma.net/Blog/images/Miscellany/To-Eat-Or-Not-To-Eat-Meat.pdf

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Who knows? But it sounds to me more like retribution and revenge than any kind of serious impartial review.

They are instead responses to a kid with a "take that, you didn't know who you were dealing with, and I'll make you sorry you dissed me" attitude, and a public means - the student newspaper - to express it.

You'd be correct that I made some snarky comments in respect to Fuzzy's Tacos; with a name like that, they'd quite clearly earned it. I made similar if not greater digs on most of the restaurants I reviewed, usually followed with a glowing paragraph on the excellent food and service and an exhortation to go there as soon as humanly possible. I've yet to hear a complaint.

My comment on "Is everyone incompetent?" may have been inflamatory, but consider that the events listed were in respect to two restaurants with the same owner. I'd been to both of them in the span of a few weeks, and both were rather unpleasant. It's a bit infuriating when the tastefully dressed forty-somethings next to you receive their requests without hiccup while some students with funny accents receive nothing.

While one can take the position that visiting the restaurant once is statistically insignificant, such is the nature of editorial critique. Automotive journalists do not drive three thousand Hyundai Sonatas for several months in order to create a realistic and meaningful picture of ownership; they drive one, for about forty minutes, and write down that the seats were nice but steering pulled to the left under acceleration. If a restaurant provides poor service during one instance it is a strong indicator that others could well expect to receive the same, especially if the staff was noticeably friendlier to customers above the age of 40. If you're a student, it's of particular value.

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Many moons ago when I worked as a waitress, I refused to work at places that pooled tips. I was a fantastic waitress. Attentive, not intrusive, had a great memory for special requests and frequent customers, in short, the customer was my guest and I treated him like a guest. I made a fortune. Pooling tips encourages slackers to do the bare minimum since they'll end up making the same money as everyone else while handicapping those who end up resenting the snot out of them for stealing a portion of their wages.

ohh-oh, I know that attitude. In many of the places I've worked in, if that attitude was given to the bartenderd, the server would be cooly told all they would be serving was icewater. If that attitude was given to the bus-boys, the busboys would either request from the owner not to work that server's station, or draw lots to see who would "loose", and work work that server's station. And if the host/ess knew of the server's attitude...

Every coach knows that it is the whole team that wins the game, not just one or two star players.

But the poster made a good point about special requests. Here's a scenerio that was quite common in almost every place I worked at:

Mr. Smith makes a reservation, big night, a b'day or anniversary. But, could he have the lamb dish like last time? And be sure to have a bottle of his favorite Bordeaux? Now while the lamb dish was great, it was not a good seller, hence it being off the menu. So the chef has to go out of his way to get lamb racks, make a dedicated sauce and garniture, and the owner has only one bottle left of that particular wine, so he goes out of his way to get a case or partial case.

But Smith is a good customer, and he and his wife have an excellent time. Smith knows that the entire place went out of their way to make that dining experience memorable, and he tips well.

Like I said, this happened quite frequently, and when I knew the server made good tips from special requests and refused to even get a pitcher of coke for the kitchen crew, I asked him/her one simple question: Do you really think you were responsible for the entire dining experience?

Many would argue that a server is a sales person, and tips are a commission. For me this is not quite true. The server upsells. That is to say, when the guest walks in the door, 99% of the time the guest will order food and beverage. However, an incredible amount of effort was made to get the guest through the door--the biggest obstacle. This can be done in many ways, websites, brochures, advertising, networking, skillfull management of good food and service, etc. etc. etc., but this responsibility falls mainly on the owner, not the server.

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You misunderstand me, EdwardJ. I refused to work places where the servers pooled tips. I had no problem tipping out to the bartender and busboys.

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Anyway, I feel the tipping system is morally questionable. I do tip, but I am not comfortable tipping. The financial relationship between the tipper and tippee is the same as prostitution. Using money to buy smiles.

A good waiter brings more business to the restaurant, and the reward to the waiter should be given by the owner of the restaurant.

A waiter is forced to be very pleasant to a nasty customer because he is a very good tipper. That is so wrong!

dcarch

"Forced"? I don't get your reasoning. Surely nobody is "forced" to wait on table unless perhaps they're working at the prison cafeteria.

As for being pleasant to nasty customers, there is a line of "nastiness" to be sure, and when a consumer, in this case a restaurant customer, crosses it, a good boss is going to back up the employee. But if the customer is merely run-of-the-mill, everyday unpleasant and difficult, the owner of the restaurant, just like the owner of any retail outlet, is absolutely going to expect the employee to put up with it. Tipping system or no tipping system. That wouldn't change one iota. If you don't think so, you don't understand how the world works. At least this way, the "very big tip" goes to the waiter that actually put up with it. Justly, in my view.

As for this relationship being akin to prostitution, of course it is. All sales are basically the same principle. I'm going to be nice to you in the hopes that you purchase a product or service from me. It's all a matter of degree. How much will I put up with from you? How much will I want from you? What's it worth to me? How much product or service will I provide you? In the case of prostitution, it's a pretty intimate service. In the case of a used car, or insurance, or the fellow that wants to come cut your lawn, not so intimate, but it all starts the same way. Form a relationship. Trust me. Like me. I might not really like you because I think you're unpleasant, or too old, or too young, or too fat, or too conservative, or too liberal, or too light, or too dark, or too poor, or too "merry" but I'm going to pretend to like you because I want something from you and I've got rent to pay and children to clothe and educate, and food to put on the table.

I can tell you that I owned a small business for about eight years. A travel agency. And I had overhead to pay and a payroll to meet. We certainly put up with a lot of jerks, and I damn well did expect my agents to deal with clients that they didn't particularly like. Of course, as I said above, there's a line, and if a client crossed over from being a jerk to being abusive, I told them to leave. But that only happened about three times or so over the eight years. An overbearing, demanding, know-it-all, "I've-traveled-all-over-the-world-and-I-never..." arrogant jerk, on the other hand, came in at least once a week. If my agents wanted to keep their jobs, the first thing we all needed to do was to keep our doors open in an increasingly difficult economy.

I remember once attending a sales/motivational seminar being held for employees of a local bank. The bank's business had been falling off, primarily because that bank had gained a reputation in our town for grumpy service, for employees that waited on you begrudgingly, behaving as though they were doing you a favor to interrupt their very important and busy schedule to bother to wait on you, even going so far as to snap at you if you did or said something they didn't like -- as opposed to giving you that big, fake, phony "prostitute" smile and friendly insincere "personal" greeting. I had told the manager of that bank branch that I was going to move my agency account elsewhere, because I was tired of putting up with his tellers and that attitude, so he invited me to the seminar to demonstrate that things were going to change. I remember one comment in particular that the motivational speaker made: "When customers walk in, you should treat them as though they were bringing you a gift. Because they are. Your job."

The tipping custom may bring that seller/buyer prostitute/john relationship into much sharper and less-subtle focus, but it's all sales. Anybody that isn't willing to gut up and shut up and put up with a difficult customer has no business dealing with the public. And it's contagious. Get one surly employee with an entitled, "I don't have to put up with you, asshole" attitude, and your entire staff is at risk of adopting it.

They'll kill your business. You'll have to close your doors and then nobody will have a job. Put them back in accounting, or in the kitchen working the line.

Put the politicians and prostitutes and salespeople and phony insincere glad-handers and servers willing to bust their asses no matter what for a big tip out front.

They'll keep your bottom line in the black.

Which is better for everybody.

Don't you think?


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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. . . .

"Forced"? I don't get your reasoning. Surely nobody is "forced" to wait on table unless perhaps they're working at the prison cafeteria.

As for being pleasant to nasty customers, there is a line of "nastiness" to be sure, and when a consumer, in this case a restaurant customer, crosses it, a good boss is going to back up the employee. But if the customer is merely run-of-the-mill, everyday unpleasant and difficult, the owner of the restaurant, just like the owner of any retail outlet, is absolutely going to expect the employee to put up with it. Tipping system or no tipping system. That wouldn't change one iota. If you don't think so, you don't understand how the world works. At least this way, the "very big tip" goes to the waiter that actually put up with it. Justly, in my view.

As for this relationship being akin to prostitution, of course it is. All sales are basically the same principle. I'm going to be nice to you in the hopes that you purchase a product or service from me. It's all a matter of degree. How much will I put up with from you? How much will I want from you? What's it worth to me? How much product or service will I provide you? In the case of prostitution, it's a pretty intimate service. In the case of a used car, or insurance, or the fellow that wants to come cut your lawn, not so intimate, but it all starts the same way. Form a relationship. Trust me. Like me. I might not really like you because I think you're unpleasant, or too old, or too young, or too fat, or too conservative, or too liberal, or too light, or too dark, or too poor, or too "merry" but I'm going to pretend to like you because I want something from you and I've got rent to pay and children to clothe and educate, and food to put on the table.

I can tell you that I owned a small business for about eight years. A travel agency. And I had overhead to pay and a payroll to meet. We certainly put up with a lot of jerks, and I damn well did expect my agents to deal with clients that they didn't particularly like. Of course, as I said above, there's a line, and if a client crossed over from being a jerk to being abusive, I told them to leave. But that only happened about three times or so over the eight years. An overbearing, demanding, know-it-all, "I've-traveled-all-over-the-world-and-I-never..." arrogant jerk, on the other hand, came in at least once a week. If my agents wanted to keep their jobs, the first thing we all needed to do was to keep our doors open in an increasingly difficult economy.

I remember once attending a sales/motivational seminar being held for employees of a local bank. The bank's business had been falling off, primarily because that bank had gained a reputation in our town for grumpy service, for employees that waited on you begrudgingly, behaving as though they were doing you a favor to interrupt their very important and busy schedule to bother to wait on you, even going so far as to snap at you if you did or said something they didn't like -- as opposed to giving you that big, fake, phony "prostitute" smile and friendly insincere "personal" greeting. I had told the manager of that bank branch that I was going to move my agency account elsewhere, because I was tired of putting up with his tellers and that attitude, so he invited me to the seminar to demonstrate that things were going to change. I remember one comment in particular that the motivational speaker made: "When customers walk in, you should treat them as though they were bringing you a gift. Because they are. Your job."

The tipping custom may bring that seller/buyer prostitute/john relationship into much sharper and less-subtle focus, but it's all sales. Anybody that isn't willing to gut up and shut up and put up with a difficult customer has no business dealing with the public. And it's contagious. Get one surly employee with an entitled, "I don't have to put up with you, asshole" attitude, and your entire staff is at risk of adopting it.

They'll kill your business. You'll have to close your doors and then nobody will have a job. Put them back in accounting, or in the kitchen working the line.

Put the politicians and prostitutes and salespeople and phony insincere glad-handers and servers willing to bust their asses no matter what for a big tip out front.

They'll keep your bottom line in the black.

Which is better for everybody.

Don't you think?

With all due respect, I have to say I don't think so. The tipping system is problematic, unless you have a boss who cares at least a little bit (don't hold your breath), and you actually get decent tips. In smaller towns, at least, this is not a given.

When I first went off to university, I waited tables, really briefly. I did 'gut up and shut up and put up with a difficult customer' (several, in fact). I put up with a bum-grabber (charming, he tried for my crotch next time I passed, after which I made annoyingly time-consuming detours), a family who'd apparently had their children raised by wolves, and left a lot of praise and a religious tract as a tip, and a drunk or two. I smiled, and I smiled, and I smiled. I was accommodating and efficient, and by the end of one morning, I begged to be the bus/dish'boy', a job that paid the minimum wage.

The boss kept his bottom line black by paying waitresses as little as he could legally get away with, and telling them that being groped and poorly tipped was 'part of the job if you're cute'.

I don't think I'm particularly soft (I've been self employed most of my life, and spent several years doing heavily physical work for 89 hours a week), but I don't think anyone should have to put with that sort of thing, especially for sub-minimum wage and the possibility of a tip.

The tipping system is just no good, apart, perhaps, from at places where a 20% tip for good service is considered 'standard' by at least half the clientele. I've spoken with plenty of people who have waited tables, and my experience is far from unique. It would make more sense for restaurants to charge a bit more up front, and pay waitstaff a living wage. They do this in plenty of countries, and it doesn't seem to be hurting business, nor have I noticed poorer service.

If the only way an establishment can stay in the black is by underpaying staff and relying on the kindness of strangers to make up the difference, I don't think they really belong in business.

I'm not sorry I had the experience; it makes me pay much more attention to what is going on when I dine out, and it is at least partly the reason that I'll tip 20% (or at least a dollar, if the cheque comes to under $5) if the waiter seemed to be giving the job his or her best shot.

I agree with you that it would be better if restaurant workers (and in fact, everyone) made a liveable wage, and tips would be on top of that.

It so happens that I raised three kids and every one of them, and I myself in my younger years, waited tables. I get that not every boss or situation is ideal. And that it can be exploitative. And demeaning.

My main issue with dcarch is the notion that a waiter is FORCED to wait on a "nasty" customer. And the idea that the server/customer/tip relationship is the only other sales relationship that smacks of "prostitution." And that waitstaff are the only ones that have to put up with unpleasant, disagreeable, demanding customers.

And that if it were not for the current tipping policy, they wouldn't "be forced" to.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Pooling tips works well in smaller establishments. It promotes a team effort and does not short anyone taking care of the smaller jobs. One of my favorite spots has a server running food once a week and one serving as host/hostess. They all, incl the bartender, share equally nightly and rotate busy/slow positions.

As far as slackers, they don't last very long anywhere. Not places I dine and not places I've worked. Especially back when I bartended. FOH justice is swift :)

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"------My main issue with dcarch is the notion that a waiter is FORCED to wait on a "nasty" customer. And the idea that the server/customer/tip relationship is the only other sales relationship that smacks of "prostitution." And that waitstaff are the only ones that have to put up with unpleasant, disagreeable, demanding customers. And that if it were not for the current tipping policy, they wouldn't have to. -----"

I am not advising not to tip in today's reality. I am just finding the fundamental concept of the tipping practice very troubling.

A waiter has a professional job to do just like a doctor. He should not be bribed to do a better job. Do you tip a surgeon after a surgery? Most corporations have very strict policies of no gift accepting and there are no examples of gift/money accepting permitted in all political systems.

I am a good tipper, the waitstaff in my usual restaurants always give me bigger servings of desserts, free drinks (without the management’s knowledge). They wait on me before they wait on other customers who were there before me. Don’t tell me that is not bad.

dcarch


Edited by dcarch (log)

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I can tell you that I owned a small business for about eight years. A travel agency. And I had overhead to pay and a payroll to meet. We certainly put up with a lot of jerks, and I damn well did expect my agents to deal with clients that they didn't particularly like. Of course, as I said above, there's a line, and if a client crossed over from being a jerk to being abusive, I told them to leave. But that only happened about three times or so over the eight years. An overbearing, demanding, know-it-all, "I've-traveled-all-over-the-world-and-I-never..." arrogant jerk, on the other hand, came in at least once a week. If my agents wanted to keep their jobs, the first thing we all needed to do was to keep our doors open in an increasingly difficult economy.

This anecdote brings forward once again the issue of payment. Bank tellers are paid by the hour: when times are good, they see no benefit, but when income slips, they do not directly face the consequences. Their business relationship is with their employer, not the customer, which can potentially allow for the situation outlined above. If the employer does not penalize indifferent service, no one else will.

The alternative, however, is much worse. In a restaurant, the employees are dependent on the customers directly; as a result, it is profitable to snub less wealthy tables in favor of lavishing attention on the moguls ordering magnums of champagne. While encouraging the occasional whale is good business, snubbing the rank and file is catastrophic in the long term.

During economic growth, income is steady and tips, even from less affluent patrons, are more than worth the effort required to obtain them. During recessions, it ceases to be a worthwhile pursuit.

I am a good tipper, the waitstaff in my usual restaurants always give me a bigger serving of desserts, free drinks (without the management’s knowledge). They wait on me before they wait on other customers who were there before me. Don’t tell me that is not bad.

This, in turn, leads to the poorly dressed schmuck at the next table recommending to all he knows to stay away unless wearing Armani.

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The poorly dressed schmuck could instead thank profusely, and tip ridiculously high, and that will be remembered, thus improving service next time.

Not saying the pds should do such a thing, but it is an option.

And it does work (been there, done that, when not-returning was not an option).


Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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This, in turn, leads to the poorly dressed schmuck at the next table recommending to all he knows to stay away unless wearing Armani.

"Sizing up" a customer by the way that they are dressed is a practice known as "cherry picking" and is to be discouraged by managment. That said, most experienced waitstaff do not like to wait on youngsters in an upscale place if they are not regular customers or known to staff because they have been coming there with their families since they were tots. Kids, and I mean high school and college kids, are demanding, messy, complaining, like to pull pranks on staff, and are generally a PITA. Add to it, as you yourself have stated previously, the fact that they don't tip well while running you ragged on top of it, most waiters won't knock themselves out for you.

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