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 an account.

Alex

Is mandatory tipping the new normal in the US?

Recommended Posts

Article in the Washington Post

 

Quote

A few short years ago, automatic tipping was limited to restaurants with large parties, experts say. Even then, a guest would be notified of the gratuity and could adjust the tip based on the level of service. Lately, these automatic tips have made appearances in places people don’t expect them, particularly on room service bills. Removing them is often difficult, embarrassing or both.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think tipping in general should just be removed. Just look at countries like the UK or Asian countries, nobody tips there. To me, a tip should be given if the service is good. It's something that shouldn't be expected. The problem is, almost all service in America expects you to tip them. Even if it's just a few percent, it really adds up over the years and the food gets too expensive for what its worth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Barbara Tarbuck said:

I think tipping in general should just be removed. Just look at countries like the UK or Asian countries, nobody tips there. To me, a tip should be given if the service is good. It's something that shouldn't be expected. The problem is, almost all service in America expects you to tip them. Even if it's just a few percent, it really adds up over the years and the food gets too expensive for what its worth.

FIRST you should convince the restaurants, hotels, resorts, bars and etc., TO PAY REGULAR WAGES TO SERVERS. 

 

What??  Don't you know that servers are PAID BY THE RESTAURANTS A FRACTION OF THE MINIMUM WAGE in most states?

California mandates that servers are paid minimum wage $9.00 per hour  (would you do that kind of work for that amount???)

Other states use the absurdly low federal minimum of $2.13 for tipped employees.   

If you don't want to tip - DON'T GO TO A RESTAURANT because if you refuse to tip, that employee will suffer.  He or she has to pay rent and you try paying rent or buying food or PAYING FOR CHILD CARE at $2.13  AN HOUR!  

BABY SITTERS GET MORE THAN THAT!

 

In OTHER COUNTRIES  restaurants, hotels, etc., PAY A REGULAR WAGE TO SERVERS!  Servers in the EU can depend on earning respectable wages.  I've talked to foreign visitors who are "professional" servers and THEY CAN AFFORD TO TAKE VACATIONS HERE IN THE U.S.  There is no way a server earning minimum wage in California could EVER take a vacation in Europe.  They are lucky to get a couple of days off because many have to work two or three jobs BECAUSE EMPLOYERS DON'T LIKE TO HIRE FULL TIME BECAUSE THEN THEY HAVE TO PROVIDE "BENEFITS" and the cheap assholes won't do that.  

 

Here, servers have to depend on HONORABLE PEOPLE who understand they are DEPENDENT ON TIPS FOR A LIVING WAGE.  

 

I don't go out much now, because of illness but when I did, I always tipped at least 15% and often 20% because I was dining alone but the server had to visit my table just as often if I had been a larger party.

 

  • Like 14

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Obviously I'm not the first to attempt to deal with this matter, but at my current and soon-to-open restaurant we are going to be tip-included. So here is some of my thought process, much of which has come from previous threads here at EG.

 

First, the wage disparity between front and back of house is unacceptable to me. Kitchen staff work much longer hours than FOH and traditionally are at a set wage with no tips. Maybe you're thrown a case of beer at the end of the shift, but unless you're at a more prosperous, professional restaurant, you're not getting a cut of the tips or annual bonuses. I know there are plenty of exceptions to this but I'm speaking in general.

 

Second, BOH turnover and fatigue is high, and finding replacements is getting even more difficult, and factor in challenges to immigration law that are stifling flow of workers, so strategies to reward and maintain BOH is crucial. My approach is to cut them into the sales...not necessarily a profit sharing, but through the tip-included.

 

Third, any restaurant that is considering such things should be at a level that there can be the professionalism to ensure that the service warrants the tips. No one should ever walk away feeling like they didn't get 20% worth of service. (I've never understood tips at carryout counters.)

 

Lastly, If a restaurant simply raised its prices and said that they don't accept tips, that would be too confusing or contradictory to many guests who would leave a tip anyway. I prefer to say "tip already included" and make the tip and service match.

 

With that thought process, the way we're operating is:

 

Base pay of $15 for all BOH (Dish/Kitchen Manager, Chef, Sous, Bev Mngr, Bar Asst). Each gets a percentage of the tips. We're able to project sales including our break even figure. So for the sake of example let's assume tip included totaling $100K for the year. Chef (me) who is the sole staff investor gets 30% ($30k), Sous and Bvg Mngr get 25% ($25k each) and the remaining positions get 10% ($10k). That would put the dish/kitchen mngr at a base pay of $25k plus tips of $10k for $35k which is $17.50 an hour for a 50-week schedule. Sous chef has a base of $30k, adding the tips and they're at $65k. For a midwest city that's fair. And a reminder that this is a conservative sales estimate. As sales increase, tips increase...and yes, staffing could increase which would result in a re-distribution of percentages. [don't put a calculator to these figures because there are additional factors that I left out for brevity such as hours/days in a work week, alternative compensation, etc.]

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW, I just found this MIT calculator that shows what a living wage is in each municipality. In St Louis its $11.06 for a single adult.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DId I miss it....what are you paying FOH?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, gulfporter said:

DId I miss it....what are you paying FOH?

Ha! Ooops...yes, in my world that detail was assumed and I forgot to mention. I've designed a service flow that requires no FOH (I put my bar in the BOH category).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to see it only took abusive goverment regulations and 20 yrs for the industry to use my financial model developed in 1997,....... but never accepted

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know I'm dredging this up. I feel strongly about the issue. I'm a reasonably generous tipper. I review checks carefully. If there is an automatic tip I object and always have it taken off. Period. Dot. Then I explain to the server that their employer has cost them a tip. Mean? Maybe. Principal? Definitely. Just not okay.

 

I've been told "this is our policy." My response is two-fold. 1. then get the policy-maker here and we'll talk. 2. You advertised one price and charged another. See you in court. Usually those two do it.

 

The entire concept of adding 18% or any number, usually on top of the advertised price PLUS tax, is offensive.

 

Now if you want to establish a no-tipping policy, advertise it, charge higher prices accordingly, and pay your staff accordingly then I'll be first in line. My club works that way - no tips to staff ever. There are bonuses - stopping to see the restaurant manager or house manager about special service will be noted. I'm good with that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 8/4/2018 at 5:05 PM, Auspicious said:

I know I'm dredging this up. I feel strongly about the issue. I'm a reasonably generous tipper. I review checks carefully. If there is an automatic tip I object and always have it taken off. Period. Dot. Then I explain to the server that their employer has cost them a tip. Mean? Maybe. Principal? Definitely. Just not okay.

 

I've been told "this is our policy." My response is two-fold. 1. then get the policy-maker here and we'll talk. 2. You advertised one price and charged another. See you in court. Usually those two do it.

 

The entire concept of adding 18% or any number, usually on top of the advertised price PLUS tax, is offensive.

 

Now if you want to establish a no-tipping policy, advertise it, charge higher prices accordingly, and pay your staff accordingly then I'll be first in line. My club works that way - no tips to staff ever. There are bonuses - stopping to see the restaurant manager or house manager about special service will be noted. I'm good with that.

 

 

  Are you serious?! I sincerely doubt you are a “generous” tipper.  “See you in court”?! Over what— at most $100-200? Petty. 

 

  Any club I have gone to or been a member at automatically includes a gratuity charge. This has been the case at a slew of country clubs (including ones that host the PGA Championship), dining clubs and Yatch Clubs. I was at the Hamilton Princess Yacht Club this week and there was a mandatory 17% gratuity. 

 

  I never tip less than 20%. The server is not always the issue. People have bad days. If I can afford to dine out then I can afford to tip. 

 

  How does your refusal to accept an automatic gratuity on a check even make sense? 100% of the time I have encountered it, it was listed on the website and if not the menu of the establishment. If you didn’t read the fine print that’s your problem. Not the servers. 

 

How entitled you must be to think you can “speak to the owner” and have them adjust their business practices to suit your needs. I’m glad people like me can make up for people like you. I sincerely hope you do not fine out frequently. 


Edited by MetsFan5 (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, MetsFan5 said:

  Are you serious?! I sincerely doubt you are a “generous” tipper.  “See you in court”?! Over what— at most $100-200? Petty. 

 

  Any club I have gone to or been a member at automatically includes a gratuity charge. This has been the case at a slew of country clubs (including ones that host the PGA Championship), dining clubs and Yatch Clubs. I was at the Hamilton Princess Yacht Club this week and there was a mandatory 17% gratuity. 

 

  I never tip less than 20%. The server is not always the issue. People have bad days. If I can afford to dine out then I can afford to tip. 

 

  How does your refusal to accept an automatic gratuity on a check even make sense? 100% of the time I have encountered it, it was listed on the website and if not the menu of the establishment. If you didn’t read the fine print that’s your problem. Not the servers. 

 

How entitled you must be to think you can “speak to the owner” and have them adjust their business practices to suit your needs. I’m glad people like me can make up for people like you. I sincerely hope you do not fine out frequently. 

 

 

I'm quite serious. Advertising one price and charging another is illegal. Yep. Court. Take a stand for what you believe in.

 

My club, the Cosmos Club of Washington DC has a very strict no-tipping policy. The clubs in our circle that I have visited on reciprocity, including the East India Club in London, have similar policies. At the Cosmos Club we have health care for our staff and a generous retirement plan. Annual bonuses are in the budget and distribution is based on feedback from the members and from senior staff. That means back of house staff have their efforts directly recognized just as front of house staff do.

 

Different yacht clubs operate differently. Eastport Yacht Club in Annapolis, Capital Yacht Club in DC, and New York Yacht Club in NY are all different. Reciprocal visitors may have different procedures than members. I can't speak to the Hamilton Princess. I use the St Georges Dinghy Club (America's Cup, Newport to Bermuda Race, and Annapolis to Bermuda Race) and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton (reciprocity).

 

I avoid places with automatic gratuity. Sometimes I get surprised and object. Perhaps I travel in places you don't and see things you don't. I've had restaurants in the BVI list gratuity as tax (no tax on food there) and others in Martinique just charge different amounts than on the menu. I have seen gratuities added in the US without a disclaimer on the menu.

 

Principle is not entitlement. Personally I prefer no tipping pricing models as in most of Europe. In the absence of that I will tip as earned as in the US. Mandatory gratuity simply is bait and switch by the owners.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I agree with "Auspicious" only so far as believing that adding a tip to the bill without advance notification on the menu is not acceptable (to me).  However, I would simply take it off the bill, pay the remaining balance & leave a cash tip for the waitstaff.  Let the management decide to come to me or not -- I don't need or want to talk to them about their business practices -- let them take me to court if they wish to defend their added tip.

 

In my opinion, an advertised "mandatory gratuity" in & of itself is not "bait and switch".  It is, to me, much the same as a no tipping policy or a "service included" statement on the menu -- it just changes how the math is done.  As long as I know in advance, I'm ok.  Either way, I'll have to assume that the business takes care of its operation (including its employees).   If anyone cares, I prefer to pay the bill & leave a tip of my choosing.  For me, its a more direct way of knowing that the front of house staff is making a living.   Of course, this is based on traditional practice in my home area and is full of holes if/when I think about it too much (i.e.; why don't I care that the back of house is being compensated fairly?  why do I want to intervene in the business model at all?).  At my age, I find it easier to just continue to do what I've always done, think about it as little as possible and take headache meds. when I don't follow my own advice and write posts about it.

 

By the way,  the "no tipping pricing models as in most of Europe" no longer exists as a general guideline for non-locals & barely for locals in most places that I've visited.  Although no one can agree on what's expected from American tourists anymore, I can say that I've watched lifelong residents of Florence, Rome, Paris, Lyon, & other places put down 5-10% (& even "round up" in places where "service included" was clearly written on the menu), while I've seen dirty looks given to other tourists who left under 10%.  Things change.


Edited by Steve R. (log)
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Steve R. said:

By the way,  the "no tipping pricing models as in most of Europe" no longer exists as a general guideline for non-locals & barely for locals in most places that I've visited.

 

This is worth noting. I've been places where the base price differs for locals and tourists. There are always exceptions but I don't go to those places either. Discounts to regular customers are one thing quite different from fleecing visitors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×