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gfron1

Blacklisting Culturally Bad Tippers

91 posts in this topic

You can't ban someone for their place of origin. You can't ban someone for low tipping. You can't ban someone for irritating a waitress.

 

You could ban someone for abusing a waitress, and serving him yourself next time might give you an indication of whether he is just annoying or is really vindictive; the change might also communicate the message that his behaviour is disturbing or provide you with the chance to discuss his concerns and explain what you can provide.

 

Certainly banning someone without trying to work through the problem first would lose you business and attract bad reputation.


Edited by Plantes Vertes (log)
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I would never start a speech like that referring to their country of origin - it appears to be a cultural commonality, but more specific to this one guy.  And yes, tears.  Anyone who has put in time as a server can appreciate her frustration.  That said, we are beyond that conversation in my books.  I often forget how our cache has changed in the past 18 months.  I hear every night that we're nuts to have prices as low as we do, so upping our prices 20% and turning that money directly to the server would make a lot of sense.  The downside for the server is that she would lose most of her non-reportable cash tips as folks who now separate bill from tips would see it as one payment.  Minor thing but something to consider.


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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That's a rather large jump in pricing at one go.  Also, I'd sleep on turning that money over to the server.  You're setting a precedent when you do that and it could come back to bite you in hind quarters. 

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 The downside for the server is that she would lose most of her non-reportable cash tips as folks who now separate bill from tips would see it as one payment.  Minor thing but something to consider.

 

Why are cash tips considered "non-reportable?" 


 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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That said, we are beyond that conversation in my books.

That's what I thought, that we'd already got past the issue of the tipping. I thought we'd moved on to discussing that the customer is definitely being disruptive and possibly being abusive.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I would never start a speech like that referring to their country of origin - it appears to be a cultural commonality, but more specific to this one guy.

 

Well, that was sorta my point.  If you can't come up with what should be a reasonable, rational, fair explanation... 

 

That might be a pretty solid indicator that banning him is not a good idea.

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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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You could ban someone for abusing a waitress, and serving him yourself next time might give you an indication of whether he is just annoying or is really vindictive; the change might also communicate the message that his behaviour is disturbing or provide you with the chance to discuss his concerns and explain what you can provide.

 

You cannot ban him due to his nationality or tipping practices but you can absolutely ban him for being disruptive.  If he's constantly badgering the waitress and then criticizing her when she doesn't fall over backwards for him, his behaviour is possibly preventing her from giving your other customers excellent service.

 

I am a consumer, not a restaurant owner, and people like this guy really do ruin the experience for the other diners.

 

Serving him yourself would give you an opportunity to explain how his behaviour is impacting your servers and your other customers but it might also give him the 'recognition' he craves (he's the only one being served by the chef) and it might make the problem worse: when you don't serve him, he'll be even more obnoxious so that next time you will.

 

The problem with people like this is that you cannot change their behavour - they think it's justified. 

 

I've had friends who were both thrown out and banned and, knowing them, I understood exactly why it happened and would never hold it against the restaurant.  If you do ban him, and he trashes you to his friends, they would probably take his words with a grain of salt. 

 

I say ban him.  Or, have the bus boy serve him.  If he complains, tell him he can have the waitress if he promises not to abuse her.  If he stiffs her, next time he gets the bus boy.  Eventually, he'll stop coming on his own.

 

If I had been sitting next to him the night he complained so loudly about the duck, I would have given him a piece of my mind....

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I have dined at a couple restaurants lately that compute tips for the bill at different ranges (e.g., 15, 18, 20 percent) and print the amts at the bottom of the check. Hint, hint, hint. I'm OK with this practice, BTW.

 

It may be convenient, but beware of restaurants that abuse this. I've seen receipts where the tip amount listed is actually higher than the percentage stated.

 

Frankly, tipping is a choice. There should be no expectation of how much a server should get. If you want your servers to have a guarantee minimum amount of tips, add a mandatory service charge. If you do not work in a place with a mandatory service charge, then deal with the fluctuations. In the US, tipping has gotten way out of hand. You don't tip in many countries. In others, 10% is standard. As others have said, 9% is better than nothing, as your customers do have the right to not tip.

 

If the customer is being abusive, refuse service. That is your right. The question is, is he really being abusive or is your server just upset at the amount of work she has to do for someone who she doesn't think give her enough tips. Would she be crying about it if he's been tipping her 25% regularly? If yes, then stop serving him. If no, it's your server that's the problem. Think about it this way, should customers who require "less" service tip her less? Should there be a scale of how much you should tip based on how many trips your server have to make to your table?

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It may be convenient, but beware of restaurants that abuse this. I've seen receipts where the tip amount listed is actually higher than the percentage stated.

 

Did this occur in the U.S.? If so, your next step (or anyone else's) is to contact the State Attorney General and report possible consumer fraud. In California it is possible to fill out a complaint form online, and I'm sure other states have a similar process.

 

I hear every night that we're nuts to have prices as low as we do, so upping our prices 20% and turning that money directly to the server would make a lot of sense. ..

 

I strongly suggest that you put a 20% "service charge" on the bill, so customers realize that you haven't raised your food prices 20%. People also need to know--clearly--that a tip has been included in the total bill. (Another subject that has drawn the attention of state consumer protection agencies.)

 

I also suggest that you think more of what a basic tipping/service charge shd be. 20% seems a little high from the get-go, though that's how much I'll pay if I'm pleased with the service. Perhaps a basic charge at a lower rate like 18%, with a note that customers can add more gratuity if they are very pleased with the service. As a customer, I would like some wiggle room in the amt of tip.

 

Whenever I've encountered a service charge on a restaurant bill, I've liked the system, because (1) I don't have to think about tipping, and (2) IMO, it's more fair for the servers. I believe the restaurants that use this system usually turn the service charges over to their staff, and I haven't heard any bad things about that practice. Nevertheless, it wouldn't hurt to ask around before you make any changes. The IRS issued a Revenue Ruling (Rev. Rul. 2012-18) that now classifies automatic tips as wages, so get some legal advice first.

 

My last suggestion is to think about all this after your vacation. :wink:

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I strongly suggest that you put a 20% "service charge" on the bill, so customers realize that you haven't raised your food prices 20%. People also need to know--clearly--that a tip has been included in the total bill. (Another subject that has drawn the attention of state consumer protection agencies.)

 

 

I will not be forced by an included service charge to tip a predetermined amount.  I have gotten up from the table and left a restaurant when I have encountered the practice after telling the server/manager/owner why I was leaving.

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 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

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Why are cash tips considered "non-reportable?" 

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


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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

 

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


Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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

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"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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

 

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

 

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


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

http://www.goodfood.com.au/good-food/food-news/when-restaurants-google-customers-20140601-zruc0.html?rand=1402790019582

 

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/restaurateurs-take-revenge-on-diners--finally-20140613-zs713.html


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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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

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