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When is it permissible to not tip?


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The first is to "know the enemy". Please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top, get a a job in a restaurant. Just for a month. Walk the mile in the man's shoes before you judge him, O.K.? Everything you do in life is experience, and you can really use this experience, especially if you want to continue writing about the hospitality industry.

I spent six weeks working at a Subway. I couldn't keep up with the lunch rush. My solution was to quit, not to omit the tomatoes for people who looked like they wouldn't complain. This is a somewhat extreme example at a franchise known for a constant line physically out the door from ten to two, but I feel it's pertinent regardless.

In my former self-employment as tech support monkey, I regularly had off days. A slip of the screwdriver could nullify $75 worth of paycheck, leaving me to replace a $100 motherboard out of pocket. When this happened, I ate the loss and did my best to make it up later.

If my server is not performing to the best of his or her abilities, I'm not tipping to the best of mine. If they're overloaded, then he or she will generally have no difficulty compensating for my 15% tip by way of volume; if the staff are simply useless, I fail to see why they should be rewarded for it, especially when the restaurant across the street has no such deficiencies.

I actually tip far better than 90% of my acquaintances of similar age, and the remaining 10% are significantly wealthier than I. However, now eating out more frequently on my own, I'm starting to empathize with their point of view. If the quality of service when ordering a $25 tab is actually inferior to that for a $6.25 enchilada, expecting quadruple the reward seems somewhat unreasonable.

Fair enough.

As a business owner, I get e-mail requests at least once a month from bloggers, asking if they can visit my place and blog about it. I respond with of course, and I get return e-mails with "but-tummm, uh, well, ah, you don't think I'm actually going to pay the full price, do you?". (You insignificant litte piece of snot, don't you realize I can make or break you?)

I paid full price or made use of coupons made available to the public at large. The only time I spoke to the owner was when I made a mistake about ownership.

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Thanks for responding. FWIW I o/o a chocolate bonbon shop not a true blue restaurant, although I have worked constantly in the hospitality--in three continents and gawd knows how many hotels and restaurants since I was 16.

O.K., so Subway. It's a fastfood take-way franchise, not a sit down restaurant, and I doubt if customers tip. It is customer service however, and if you quit after 6 weeks because you couldn't keep up, then you must acknowledge that servers can get bogged down with tables as well. I'm hazarding a guess that pay was minimum wages and training--if any--was little more than a 15 minute DVD. But it is experience.

O.K. so if a sever is not performing to the best of their abilities, you're not tipping to the best of yours, fair enough. You didn't mention what State you reside in, or if in that State there is a "server's minimum wage". Many people on this site acknowledge that servers get paid crap and do need the tips to pay rent.

Thing is, how do you determine that a server is performing to the best of their abilities? And just what should a server be capable of knowing and doing? Like I pointed out in many of my posts in this thread, there are no qualifications for servers, no benchmarks, no standards. A server in an Enchilada place does not need extensive wine/cocktail knowledge, does not need to know how food from the menu is prepared does not need knowledge of proper silverware and gflassware palcement, or how to change a tablecloth or clear off a table without drawing attention.

O.K. so you compare yourself to others in your group. I don't know if that group is age/gender/race/financial based, and frankly it doesn't matter one iota. Why compare yourself to others?

I described my experiences with bloggers and event planners because I highlighted a quote from one of your posts, something about "increasing patronage at a few places and probably maligning a few others" (not a direct quote). And frankly, it infuriates the crap out of me. Do you honestly take sole responsibility for incrased patronage? Manage a restauarant, put out consistantly good food and service? Because that's what customers pay for, not for reviews.

In any case, you have acknowledged my first request, but not my second, and that one won't cost you more than a few sheets of paper, an envelope, and smidge of ink.

Please consider it.

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One thing recently brought to light by my father (who worked as a waiter for roughly a decade) is that several of the issues I've run into may not be the fault of the waiter at all. Being sat under leaky plumbing sucks, but it's likely the fault of the maitre'd. And, as angry as I might be if I'm repeatedly served raw hamburger when I order medium well, I probably shouldn't take it out on the server. (The health department, on the other hand....)

I described my experiences with bloggers and event planners because I highlighted a quote from one of your posts, something about "increasing patronage at a few places and probably maligning a few others" (not a direct quote). And frankly, it infuriates the crap out of me. Do you honestly take sole responsibility for incrased patronage? Manage a restauarant, put out consistantly good food and service? Because that's what customers pay for, not for reviews.

I will in fact do so, yes.

The restaurant in question - Los Gemelos, at 244 West Gilman street in Madison, Wisconsin - is another nondescript budget taqueria in a district of largely rubbish student food. It's in an undesirable location - were fail, it would be the third in that venue to collapse since I moved back to the area - and, to be honest, is about as visually appealing as a bowl of lukewarm oatmeal. The food, however, is very good.

I won't pretend that I'm a magical savior solely responsible for the restaurant's success, but I genuinely do feel I've helped. The student paper isn't very popular, but it doesn't need to be; with a student body in the thousands and a campus two blocks from the restaurant in question, it's an easy sell. Enough have been persuaded that they've framed the review and put it on the wall, which is always slightly embarrassing for me as the writing is not particularly good.

Los Gemelos is still running strong despite economic conditions that crushed many of the restaurants around it. However, many venues fail despite their relative merits, and a really solid review can do wonders to get those customers through the door that all-important first time.

On the subject of useless schmucks trying to cadge some free confectionery, I can understand your anger. Objectivity is a joke if you're dependent on the service reviewed; while receiving the odd freebie is fair enough, there's a very good reason Consumer Reports insists on buying all items reviewed at retail. I'm a mediocre journalist at best, but at least I'm honest.

And can you really fault me for burning a place called Fuzzy's Tacos?

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Let me give you the punchline to my story first - I always tip, but sometimes the "tip" isn't monetary.

To give the shortest example first, some time ago we ate in a restaurant and had a waiter who simply didn't care a single bit about the job he was doing - he was either a teen or in his early 20's, and everything about him and his service indicated that he just didn't care. We had a very few special requests (eg "sauce on the side please" for one of the items - nothing major) - and asked him please to make note of these - and then everything a server could do wrong, he did. And they weren't kitchen mistakes. It's too long ago to remember the exact details of his screw-ups, but I remember the incident well. After a most frustrating meal, in which it was impossible to get what we wanted because of the waiter's incompetence, the check came - and of course he had made mistakes on that too.

So when I filled out the credit card slip, in the space marked "tip", I drew an arrow to a blank area on the slip, and wrote "next time, pay attention to what you're doing".

I consider that I gave him a very valuable tip.

I should also say here that I am very understanding of the difficulties of restaurant work, and as an overwhelming rule, I/we are very (very) generous tippers - to the point that more than once a server has chased after us as we were leaving to say a special thanks for the tip he or she found on the charge slip.

Another time I was traveling with a friend who is an opera singer, and was performing in a few days, and absolutely had to avoid smoke at all costs - this was before the days of "no smoking" laws. So as the 'advance man', I checked out a few restaurants in the town we were in to see if any of them had a genuine, truly separate "no smoking" area, and I found one that did - it was a small dining room completely and totally separate from the smoking area. So this meant that we could actually eat a meal out - as opposed to living on room service, which is what my friend normally does to avoid smoky restaurants. So I reserved a table there in the no smoking room.

When we arrived and were seated, I double checked with the waiter - again a young fellow - that the entire room we were in was non-smoking, and he said that indeed it was. So we sat down and ordered. As we were ordering, a group of about ten people arrived and were seated in an enormous curved booth behind us.

As our main courses arrived and we started to dig in, the room suddenly filled with a choking amount of smoke. Everybody at the table of ten had lit up cigarettes. My friend the opera singer ran outside, and I called the waiter over to ask what happened, and he said, "They didn't have a table big enough for them in the smoking room, and they asked me if it was okay if they smoked here, and I said it was." (I guess that makes him a moron.)

So I asked for our meal to go, and when the check came, on the charge slip, instead of a monetary amount, I drew an arrow to a blank spot on the slip, and wrote "You shouldn't allow people to smoke in the no-smoking dining room!"

Again, I think I gave him a great tip.

And there's one more time I didn't tip at all. I met up with a friend in London, a fellow wine-lover and collector, and we decided to treat ourselves to a nice wine-laden dinner. I did some research and found many recommendations for a very upscale restaurant that was said to have an extremely, extremely extensive wine list. So I made our reservation, and we went there. Dressed totally appropriately I might add, and looking extremely respectful - and I say this because from the start, the service was simply "hateful". After our first clash with the waiter (which came almost immediately after we were seated), my friend asked me, "did we do something to offend him?". Well, of course we hadn't.

We asked please to see the wine list, because we wanted to plan a meal around many courses and many wines. The list was simply enormous - almost too heavy to lift. And because we were seated across from each other at a table where it was not possible to sit side-by-side, and because handing the list back and forth across the table was a physical impossibility, we asked (please) for a second copy of the list and were told by the waiter that no, he didn't like to give more than one wine list to a table.

So.

The list was not done in the traditional way - rather, the categories were things like "young, robust reds", "older, paler reds", "medium bodied reds" and so on - so that if you were looking for a particular Bordeaux chateau, it could be in any of those categories, depending on the vintage. (I'm sure this is a help to many people, but we found it frustrating.)

Eventually we needed help, and I asked our waiter if there was someone who could help us, and he informed us that he was also the wine steward. So I asked him what older Bordeaux he had in half bottles (we were doing as many half-bottles as we could to sample as much wine as we could), and his reply was, "You're holding the wine list in your hands - what are you asking me for?"

I swear to God, that was his reply.

Well, it wasn't a very pleasant meal, and there was a kitchen screw-up as well - the slabs of foie-gras terrine came out pretty much frozen - we couldn't even get a fork through them to take a piece. We did call the waiter over and mention this, and he informed us that that was the proper temperature for a foie-gras terrine. (I don't think so.) Eventually we pleaded with him to ask the kitchen if there wasn't any that wasn't that cold, and he came back and nastily told us again that that was the proper serving temperature. And the meal continued in this hostile fashion.

When the check came, my friend asked if we should leave just a bare minimum tip so that the waiter got the message that we were not satisfied with the service - a bare minimum tip would have been about $35-45 dollars, and I asked my friend, "Do you really want to give that guy forty bucks for the way he treated us?" and my friend said that no, of course when he looked at it that way, he didn't want to reward the guy in any way, and he asked what we should do. And I said that we should draw a line through the "tip" area on the charge slip, and leave him nothing. To which my friend replied that of course, at that point the waiter couldn't possibly be any more hostile than he'd been all evening.

And that's what we did - I just could not bring myself to reward that kind of service. Yes, I understand fully that tips are shared, and as I said earlier, I'm a very generous tipper. But there was just no way.

So I'd say that those are circumstances when it's permissible not to tip.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

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And can you really fault me for burning a place called Fuzzy's Tacos?

Thank you for your response.

I will now make my third and final request of considering my suggestion of printing out this thread and stashing it, to be reviewed a few years later.

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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?

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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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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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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.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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