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

jrshaul

When is it permissible to not tip?

Recommended Posts

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.

I really hate this sort of behavior. I don't care if I'm statistically undesirable; if I pay the same money, I should in turn receive the same product. While my tab is generally not large, the percentage is equal if not greater than that of the people around me.

Another factor to consider: I've noticed that many of the more offensive eateries were those issuing the most coupons and discounts. I'm not nor have ever been a restauranteur, but this smacks of either poor business sense or desperation.

Two days ago, I visited a gastro-pub and enjoyed a soda and some snacks. The total tab for two was roughly $11, and I left a $3.50 tip. I was a bit underdressed and a traffic incident meant I waited some time before my friend arrived, but received nothing but smiles despite two free refills. Honestly, I'm surprised I received the service I did - and I'm definitely going back!

As far as I'm concerned, this is how things should be done. I get nice service despite a small order, and I leave a 27% gratuity. Fail to complete this arrangement, and I'll never return; do it consistently, and I'll come back again and again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This just happened to me a few days ago.

Four of us went to an up-scale midtown restaurant in NYC. After we were ushered to our table, the waiter gave us the menus.

The reason we went to that restaurant was because they were a participant of the NYC Restaurant Week. But the waiter did not give us the discounted Restaurant Week menu.

I asked for that menu, and got a little subtle dirty look from the waiter. We didn’t get much service through the whole meal.

Yes, I still tipped at the end.

dcarch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another factor to consider: I've noticed that many of the more offensive eateries were those issuing the most coupons and discounts. I'm not nor have ever been a restauranteur, but this smacks of either poor business sense or desperation.

A lot of ink has been spilled on coupons, group coupons, etc, and my hands are as inkstained as much as anyone else. From my observations, you WILL get "surly" service if such a coupon is produced, since a large portion of the coupon holders don't tip, and many are reluctant to pay applicable taxes as well.

It is poor business sense, and it is desaration, but also it is very aggresive sales promoters. I should know, I've flaty told two of them "No" and asked them to leave my premises, and I am still plagued by e-mails.

My secret conspiracy theory on why a lot of places use the group coupons? I think that the business is for sale, and it looks good to prospective buyers when the place is full.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

I really hate this sort of behavior. I don't care if I'm statistically undesirable; if I pay the same money, I should in turn receive the same product. While my tab is generally not large, the percentage is equal if not greater than that of the people around me.

Another factor to consider: I've noticed that many of the more offensive eateries were those issuing the most coupons and discounts. I'm not nor have ever been a restauranteur, but this smacks of either poor business sense or desperation.

Two days ago, I visited a gastro-pub and enjoyed a soda and some snacks. The total tab for two was roughly $11, and I left a $3.50 tip. I was a bit underdressed and a traffic incident meant I waited some time before my friend arrived, but received nothing but smiles despite two free refills. Honestly, I'm surprised I received the service I did - and I'm definitely going back!

As far as I'm concerned, this is how things should be done. I get nice service despite a small order, and I leave a 27% gratuity. Fail to complete this arrangement, and I'll never return; do it consistently, and I'll come back again and again.

The behavior of your peers or the waitstaff? As far as being statistically undesirable, get over it. Life isn't fair. I was in the least desirable demographic for ages when I was traveling a lot for work. Single white female dining alone. My advice? Eat at the bar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Great, ME ME ME. Lets assume they change the system from pooled so you get all the tips.

So either those people will now be on a lower wage so they will leave for a better paid place (as they must have been good enough to earn that or management should be on there case) so all the good dishwashers, preps, sous chefs and even the chef may leave and on the same base salary will probably not be as good, so standards will drop, less customers, tips will go down etc. The alternative is they raise the salaries of the back office staff and you can keep the tips, this works great but the prices on the menus will go up, also when times are lean management still need to pay back office full wages so more risk of lay-offs.

While a pooled system can "encourage slackers" there are things that can be done to sort this out. E.g. If one server consistently gets 10% tips and another 30% tips then that's a server problem to be investigated, addressed and penalised or rewarded. If tips drop/rise when a certain manager or chef etc are the same goes.

I strongly prefer the pooled "Optional Service Charge" + "Living wage" . I.e all staff get a basic living wage (This may be higher than minimum e.g. London, NYC etc) to this a service charge is added automatically as a percentage to your final bill. (In the UK this is 10 to 15%) this service charge (And we're on the case in the UK of some reassuringly who take this and do not pass the full amount on to staff - ask if so pay the bill by card and the rest by cash) is then pooled and split % wise depending on your role.

The key things are "Optional Service Charge" which means as a customer I do not have to pay this IF I did not receive the reasonable service. They can also choose to pay bill and service charge separately.

For establishments that include service, while under UK law service charge can be withheld I've only ever done it a few times, however if service is above average most people will leave a little more. So in the UK you can walk out of a restaurant and have paid your bill no problein NYC due to perhaps customer ignorance you have a server screaming where's my tip. In addition in the UK you get customers adding 20% to a bill that includes service (My restaurant is ..... please visit)

And the French Laundry was the first restaurant I found in the USA that included the service charge (Ok for all food, can you match the wines to food up to equivalent food value and add 20% on for yourself) - bill arrived, wine matching was 50% of food cost, zero service as it was factored in (left a few notes) but as it should be


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, settle down. I waited tables more than 25 years ago in Southern California. I was giving an example, not making it all about me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

I really hate this sort of behavior. I don't care if I'm statistically undesirable; if I pay the same money, I should in turn receive the same product. While my tab is generally not large, the percentage is equal if not greater than that of the people around me.

I agree that it is inappropriate to give poor service to someone based on generalities and stereotypes. College kids, women, race, it doesn't matter. It also becomes a self-fullfilling prophecy (see the OP's question). You give lousy service to someone because of their age, they don't tip well, then you think the poor tip is because of their age. This is one place the whole system breaks down - the payment for value is so vague that you can't tell if the poor tip is due to a cheap customer or to poor service. And a lot of people would rather blame someone else than look at their behavior.

I am eternally greatful to a waiter in a nice restaurant in Toronto when I just out of Uni, working temporarily in the company's head office and living on a per diem. He was helpful and treated me with kindess in a relaxed fashion in spite of (or because of) my cluelessness. I knew enough to tip resonably (probably not to the level deserved) but he gave me a good nudge along my life journey.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know broke people who tip generously, and wealthy people who tip stingily (the latter always infuriate me).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know broke people who tip generously, and wealthy people who tip stingily (the latter always infuriate me).

Those cheap tippers are the ones who say things like "They don't understand money."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to say I don't find any of these complaints unreasonable. Several people focused on the dripping water but it was stated the the true objection would have been not being moved. Yes, mistakes happen but waiting 40 minutes and then not getting served at all? This means not only botching the order but not properly checking on the table and so realizing your mistake. Yes, the wrong food does go out at times, this is entirely the responsibility of the person taking the food out or the expeditor. every restuarant I've ever worked in puts a copy of the check up with the finished order, including special requests and allergies. I have spent most of my adult life in one part of a restaurant or another and these are ALL legitimate complaints and occur far more often than necessary. I have always tipped generously and been understanding of issues. I am also inclined to take any issues to Management first. That being said I am tipping for service, I expect it and don't particularly care why you can't provide it. If it is the fault of the establishment than I am sorry for you, but I am still paying for a certain experience. If you are not able to provide it then people should not be expected to pay for it.


Edited by gadfly (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Two weeks ago, I went to a restaurant where service was slow, but acceptable. Well, acceptable until we waited 30 minutes past getting all but one dish, only to find out they forgot to punch in the order for that one dish. Took another 20 minutes or so to finally get it. They did not comp anything, but I still tipped, though I only tipped 15% of the pre-tax bill (my standard is 15-20% post-tax).

Today I visited the same restaurant. And we waited and waited for our food, watching other tables that arrived well after our table get served. All this time, waitstaff passed our table, not acknowledging us (aside for when they first took our order and again when they brought our beverages). 40 minutes later, we asked what time it was (neither in my party had a watch) and pointed out that we had ordered 40 minutes earlier and still hadn't received anything. The server said she would check on our order, and we saw her look at the computer terminal, then rush to the owner, then together they rushed back to the terminal and started punching in our order. That's right, they hadn't even bothered to punch in our order. We stood up and left, not paying for our beverages (a pot of Chinese tea which we suspected contained re-used leaves), and certainly not leaving a tip.

I have never ever left a restaurant without at least one person in my party leaving a tip (I once, in a large group, had my order alone forgotten by the server. Everyone else tipped on their orders, but I did not). Or without paying. But in this case, I felt it was justified.

That being said, I live in Canada and in my area, there is no tipping wage so servers get $10/hour. Were my server getting $3/hour, I would probably have paid for the beverages, and maybe left a bit of change.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rona, I am curious that you didn't pay for your drinks. You had consumed though, so isn't that kind of stealing? Technically couldn't the restaurant have chased after you and made you pay? I am assuming that in this case they realised your extreme displeasure and made a decision to let it go.

I have on two occasions left a restaurant before my food arrived due to severe rudeness from staff and a wait of over 40 minutes. I did however leave money for the drinks that had been consumed by the group.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had we just left without them knowing, I would say it were stealing. I left in a huff, but my dining companion did stop to speak briefly to the owner, and after questioning the owner about what happened (no answer was given, by the way, the only words that came out of the owners mouth were "I'm sorry"), told them we were leaving. At no time did the owner present a bill for the pot of tea (which probably cost them no more than 10cents, possibly much less if the tea leaves were, in fact, used, plus maybe 50 cents for the overhead involved in a pot of tea). That being said, at no time did my companion offer to pay and were we completely correct, we should have offered to do so at that time. After my companion followed me out of the restaurant, they did not rush out to ask us to pay for the tea. I'm guessing they were so embarrassed/caught off-guard at their complete incompetence, that they decided it was not appropriate it ask us to pay.

The odd thing about the lost order is that a computerized ticket with our order had been taped to our table (which is how we knew the time of the order), yet when they checked their computer, there was no evidence of that order. It must have been punched in, but it was likely deleted or not "entered", so they had to do it again. What was very stupid on their part was not to speak to us once they realized the error. Had they apologized and explained the situation rather than try to cover up their mistake (in a very public way since the order station is in clear view of the dining area), we probably wouldn't have been so pissed off. And we may just have left a (small) tip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well if I'm in that situation, I might do the same. I can't wait more than 30 minutes for the food that I ordered. I might lose my appetite there as well if that is the case. Well in some restaurants, they really serve complimentary tea while waiting for orders.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the restaurant is busy, I can tolerate 30 minute waits, particularly on straight up orders, or where I can see 20 people sat down at once, so long as the service is good and the waiters explain the situation.


James.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the restaurant is busy, I can tolerate 30 minute waits, particularly on straight up orders, or where I can see 20 people sat down at once, so long as the service is good and the waiters explain the situation.

Me too. I can tolerate that. But forgetting to punch your orders is definitely a different situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Similarly, last week I dined at a restaurant on a Tuesday evening. Tuesday evenings are not, afaik, normally busy for restaurants, but this place was packed. I overheard a server tell another table that she had never seen the restaurant so busy on a Tuesday. They were very understaffed, and we suffered waits for everything--from being seated (5-10 minutes just to have someone acknowledge our presence even though there were tables available) to paying our bill (20 minutes just to pay once we actually got the bill). I think we were there for more than two hours, but we only spent about 20 minutes of that time eating (we just had appetizers). And the food sucked--45 minute wait for overcooked, underseasoned food.

But I still tipped. 15% post tax. There were some things our server could have done better, but when she did have contact with us, she was friendly and helpful. I knew the place was far too busy for the number of staff on the floor, and I felt she was trying as best she could.

The place this weekend, on the other hand, had two other tables finishing up when we arrived, and maybe a total of three other parties entered the restaurant after us. It was around 3:20pm when we arrived, and our order was taken at 3:30, so it shouldn't have been (and it didn't appear to be) a busy time for the restaurant. Staff (both servers and the owner) passed our table many many times (probably a couple of dozen times or more), and never once thought to check on us or our order. No one seemed to care about us at any point during our time there.

We have been to this restaurant many times, and often get sub-par service there (that's just the way this restaurant is), but we still always tip. In this case, what happened was not acceptable, and so we didn't tip (or pay, but if they had asked us to pay for the tea, we would have. But we still wouldn't have tipped).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only been tempted to walk out once, and I would have paid for the beverages if we had. The 4 glasses of iced water wouldnt have set me back much.

Our party of 4 was seated, and placed a substantial order, including sashimi and sushi. We noticed parties of two being seated, and served, while we'd gotten nothing.

After about 25 min, we flagged our waitress, who asked the kitchen, and we were told it was their policy to assign a table (order) to a chef. So, small parties got fed fast, and big parties waited til the chef had something for everybody.

We suggested they consider re-working that policy. The nice lady lawyer aka pitbull in our group also suggested they have something on our table within 5 min or we would in fact walk. They managed. The food was good. I would not go back with a party larger than 2.


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rona thanks for clarifying your story about not paying for drinks. I hope you don't mind that I asked. Actually I was curious as to how a restaurant responds to this sort of thing. In many ways it would probably be best for a restaurant to comp the upset patrons' drinks and let them leave, which seems to be what happened in your case. But I expect some places would definitely not allow that, and of course it would depend on how much "blame" could be placed on the customer for the service issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So why is the whole tipping issue so contentious?

I am going to suggest that it is because, firstly the entire process depends on cultural norms which are not standard across the globe, and secondly that in some countries the tipping practises have led to a lack of transparency. This in turn leads to us-and-them positions and finger poking. Allow me to explain.

1) When I first went to the US, a 5 to 10% tip was the order of the day, depending on quality. Then 10% became entrenched. Then "we have added 12.5% to your bill for your convenience". Then it became 15%. I am now informed that in places in Miami, the major Californian cities and NYC, less than 20% can lead to a lightly chilly response. Why the changes? Which measures have altered given that we are dealing with %s which cater for inflation, etc.

2) These are NOT universal norms, but seemingly reflect US trends. Where I live 5% is perfectly acceptable at this very moment, even though popular guidebooks suggest that 10 to 15% is current in Spain. Absolute rubbish!! For hard data see http://gospain.about.com/od/spanishlife/qt/tippinginspain.htm I concur fully with the results from the survey. In the south of France, excluding the Riviera, the same. In 'non-touristy' parts of Britain, the same. Outside of Amsterdam, the same. In London and Paris much higher levels are the norm. So what unifies these place where higher tipping levels are practised. And I am not even talking about those places in Europe that have "A 10 percent service charge is included in these prices" on the menu.

3) What does any tip mean? I see in this thread that it is for good service. I also see that it is a type of salary supplement, sometimes only for the waiter. So if Mrs X tips 17%, which part represents a salary supplement for an industry that pays sub-par wages, which part is for the overall pleasure of the dining experience, and which part is because of the very pleasant attention from the server? Or, and here comes my discomfort, doesn't it matter?

I can only agree with the Australian who objected to Celebrity Cruise Lines CEO's bombastic promise to "educate Australians into a proper tipping system". The Australian poster's response was ... "Be a responsible company. Pay your staff the wage that they merit, and leave me to demonstrate my thanks for an evening that was especially pleasant and enjoyable."

Culture counts and needs to be respected. If you don't believe that, ask the Disney Corporation management about their US36 million dollar loss in the first years of Euro-Disney when they insisted in sticking to the culturally unacceptable (to Europeans) practices of not providing alcohol with meals and insisting that staff be devoid of facial hair and make-up. They become culturally aware, turned around, and so did their profits.

So, when I go to the US or on a Caribbean cruise, I will respect the culture, fit in, and pay 15% plus a bit more on occasion for exemplary quality and service. I don't like the lack of transparency, but I will respect it. When in Europe I will NOT conform to US practices. I object to a globalisation of culture and habits.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When in Europe I will NOT conform to US practices. I object to a globalisation of culture and habits.

Me too. Who wants to see McD's in Malmo or baseball in Bucharest? I even object to the homogenization of cultures across the US.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prdroinspain,

Nice post, some good cooments and insights

This is what I see:

In N.America there is no support for hospitality workers. We might have Unions, but the lack of anything done for the hospitality industry is pretty much clear for the hosptitality workers.

Basically, we have no standards for waiters, cooks, bakers or butchers.

No standards or benchmarks, no payscale.

No support, and the owners can pay what ever they want.

IMHO, the tipping issue won't go away until ther is a clear standard for a waiter/ess.

The ball is in the Hospitality Union's court to develop and impliment such standards

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Be a responsible company. Pay your staff the wage that they merit, and leave me to demonstrate my thanks for an evening that was especially pleasant and enjoyable."

This a million times. I like to tip service that is good or excellent. It makes me feel happy, it makes my server happy and I feel that it contributes to better service for future customers.

I hate to tip because I feel like I have to. And in fact I don't. I've never been to America so I cannot comment on what I would do there but I think that I would find it very difficult to tip if I received poor service. I feel very unhappy about an industry that deliberately underpays its staff so when people bring that issue up I really cannot say anything more than "Well clearly that needs to change".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) When I first went to the US, a 5 to 10% tip was the order of the day, depending on quality. Then 10% became entrenched. Then "we have added 12.5% to your bill for your convenience". Then it became 15%. I am now informed that in places in Miami, the major Californian cities and NYC, less than 20% can lead to a lightly chilly response. Why the changes? Which measures have altered given that we are dealing with %s which cater for inflation, etc.

I live in California, where waitstaff get paid the same minimum wage as the teenager bagging groceries gets ($8/hr), unless you're in San Francisco, where minimum wage is $9.92/hr. The "I don't make minimum wage before tips, take pity on me" card isn't really an issue here. Hubby and I tend to tip around 20%, never less than 17% unless the service is wretched. That said, we're not talking about fine dining establishments. LOL

From the California Department of Industrial Relations website FAQ on minimum wage

"Q. I work in a restaurant as a waitperson. Can my employer use my tips as a credit toward its obligation to pay me the minimum wage?

A. No. An employer may not use an employee's tips as a credit toward its obligation to pay the minimum wage."


Cheryl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...