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Tipping Outside of Restaurants


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Wait staff aren't as badly paid as I thought. I know teachers, nurses and other vital professions that pay less.

Once everything is tallied and bussers, etc tipped out, my waiters make about $20-25/hr on a busy shift. On a slow night, $12-15.... Now, as a cook, I know I never came close to that. And now, as an owner.. I don't even calculate my hourly wage based on my salary.. too depressing!! Hahahaa :biggrin:

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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So, you would be comfortable, across the board if prices increased 20%.... at your fave restaurant, your hairstylist, car wash, anywhere you might consider dropping a tip? Keep in mind, I'm only using 20% as a figure b/c it is a norm in my restaurant.... 18% is low. So, a $7 sandwich all of a sudden becomes a $8.40 sandwich + tax-- bringing it over $9.. And then do we, as owners and chefs, put a disclaimer on the menu 1. saying that you are paying more because we are paying higher wages and you don't have to tip? 2. that we are taking away you ability to recognize the service you were given by another individual?

Do I get to put one of those on the menu when my gas bill goes up too? Or my mixer breaks and it costs a grand to fix it? Customers don't give a hoot about your overhead. I have a hard time believing that America, on a whole,would be cool with an overall increase in prices at restuarants, etc. Gas prices go up 1 cent/gallon and there's a national crisis...

overhead is a part of every manufacturer's, business owner's, etc. cost. when a clothing manufacterer has to pay more for labor or materials, enough so that it will cause a persistent enough gouge in the bottom line, that person has to decide whether to increase the price of goods.

i also think there are +so+ many practices and customs involved with tipping that a patron has room to feel he/she is tipping appropriately, and at the same time the server feels shortchanged.

for example, i know a lot of people who don't tip on the tax. i think it's a reasonable argument. but that server who is expecting 20% on the taxed bill and doesn't realize that the patron is calculating 15% (which is acceptable/practiced many places) on the pre-tax bill is not being stiffed, in the basic sense.

cheers :)

hc

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Marylisa: The true price doesn't increase. The true price is hidden, as the tip is expected.

Lets see: $50K/300 days (assuming our waiter works 6 days a week) is $166.66. Say an 8 hour day (many teachers and nurses work more) is just over $20/hour for a senior teacher and $12/hour for a junior teacher. These are figures before tax. Marylisa above says her waiters clear about that after tax. For a junior teacher waiting is better paid.

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Marylisa: The true price doesn't increase. The true price is hidden, as the tip is expected.

Lets see: $50K/300 days (assuming our waiter works 6 days a week) is $166.66. Say an 8 hour day (many teachers and nurses work more) is just over $20/hour for a senior teacher  and $12/hour for a junior teacher.  These are figures before tax. Marylisa  above says her waiters clear about that after tax. For a junior teacher waiting is better paid.

OK, if you want to get all mathematical about it. Most school systems run 180 days. Figure another 20 planning days. At 50K a year, teachers working 200 8-hour days make $31/hour and have paid sick leave, pension benefits, health coverage and a job security no waiter could dream of. At $30K a year, it's $18.75 an hour.

Maybe the key is to teach all winter at wait tables at a seasonal spot all summer... :laugh:

According to the BLS, 25% of all RNs earned at least $64K, 11% earned more than $75K. I doubt the figure are comperable for waiters.

As to my earlier point, that this discussion is warped by our experience with big-city upscale waiters, here's what the the BLS has to say about national averages:

In 2002, median hourly earnings (including tips) of waiters and waitresses were $6.80. The middle 50 percent earned between $6.13 and $8.00. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $5.70, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $11.00 an hour. For most waiters and waitresses, higher earnings are primarily the result of receiving more in tips rather than higher hourly wages. Tips usually average between 10 and 20 percent of guests’ checks; waiters and waitresses working in busy, expensive restaurants earn the most.

Bartenders had median hourly earnings (including tips) of $7.21 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $6.33 and $9.02. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $5.76, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $11.96 an hour. Like waiters and waitresses, bartenders employed in public bars may receive more than half of their earnings as tips. Service bartenders often are paid higher hourly wages to offset their lower tip earnings.

So remember, tip the guy in the tux well, but really take car of the gal behind the counter at the Waffle Shop -- she's the one who really needs the money.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Busboy -

I'm a 2nd year teacher, and after extra duty contracts (which I have much more of that your average teacher) I earn around 40K a year. I also work 10 hour days on average, and at 188 working days per year (full time working days, as any teacher will tell you the work doesn't stop over the summer) that comes to a little over $20 an hour. So, waiters are still making a little more.

You also have to look into the time spent preparing for the career. Teaching requires at minimum a bachelor's degree, many districts require a masters after a certain amount of time as well. Waiting tables requires at most a high school education, many places don't even care about that. Police officers, which were also mentioned earlier, also make hardly anything for what they do, yet many police departments also require a college degree. Any profession which requires a college education flat out deserves to be making more money than one that doesn't. For waiting tables, which is basically an unskilled profession that anyone can get into, making $25 an hour is more than fair.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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[Wow, everyone's so technical.. I got lost in the math.. heehee

About the price increase, overhead, etc.. That was based on someone saying that they would rather pay more for a meal and know that the servers were getting paid "regular" wages. My question was only in the change over to that system. I have people that come in everyday for our turkey sandwich.. it's $7. Now, one day, I change my system to the aformentioned... Tues, $7 sand. , Wed. $7 sand, Thurs $9 sand. and no explanation. I think that if everyone changed over.. fine. BUT, if there's one renegade out there changing over..I think there'd be some confusion. That's all.

And my average $/cover is not $100.. it's about $25.. we're volume, not fine dining... and we close pretty early.. so the shifts avg about 4-5 hours

The reality is..for all the math that was done.. you can't really compare salaried and hourly wages. How many people do you know who are salaried work only 40hr weeks?

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Busboy -

I'm a 2nd year teacher, and after extra duty contracts (which I have much more of that your average teacher) I earn around 40K a year.  I also work 10 hour days on average, and at 188 working days per year (full time working days, as any teacher will tell you the work doesn't stop over the summer) that comes to a little over $20 an hour.  So, waiters are still making a little more. 

You also have to look into the time spent preparing for the career.  Teaching requires at minimum a bachelor's degree, many districts require a masters after a certain amount of time as well.  Waiting tables requires at most a high school education, many places don't even care about that.  Police officers, which were also mentioned earlier, also make hardly anything for what they do, yet many police departments also require a college degree.  Any profession which requires a college education flat out deserves to be making more money than one that doesn't.  For waiting tables, which is basically an unskilled profession that anyone can get into, making $25 an hour is more than fair.

I agree with all your points. The only point I am trying to make is that this debate is being colored by an unrealistic picture of what most servers earn which , according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, (see above), is far less than $25/hr.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Any profession which requires a college education flat out deserves to be making more money than one that doesn't. 

I agree that teachers on the whole should be paid more. But I don't agree that the level of education you need to get into a field has a direct bearing on how much your work is worth on the market. You usually need a PhD to be a philosopher or an art historian, but in many cases people are not willing to pay much at all for your work. On the other hand, a plumber doesn't need an undergraduate degree but his or her work can be very valuable.

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Any profession which requires a college education flat out deserves to be making more money than one that doesn't. 

I agree that teachers on the whole should be paid more. But I don't agree that the level of education you need to get into a field has a direct bearing on how much your work is worth on the market. You usually need a PhD to be a philosopher or an art historian, but in many cases people are not willing to pay much at all for your work. On the other hand, a plumber doesn't need an undergraduate degree but his or her work can be very valuable.

One more post before I start putting my tipping theories into practice tonight (sadly, the only teacher in the bunch dropped out, I was hoping to get some solid field research done).

First, as I learned getting my college degree, the market determines salaries, not some abstract accreditation process. No one deserves to make more money because of their college degree, but they often make more money because their college degree puts them in greater demand.

Second, I did the math for Marylisa's waiters, assuming 3 slow days a week at $60/night (4 hrs at $15) and three good days at 100/night (5 hrs at $20) and came out at $24K/year. Just another number to throw into the pile, but one that feels realistic to me and imploes that, though hourly earnigs might be good, waiters aren't getting rich. That's for 300 days work, not 188.

And, finally where's your restaurant, Marylisa? If it's East of the park, we may get by...

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Second, I did the math for Marylisa's waiters, assuming 3 slow days a week at $60/night (4 hrs at $15) and three good days at 100/night (5 hrs at $20) and came out at  $24K/year.  Just another number to throw into the pile, but one that feels realistic to me and imploes that, though hourly earnigs might be good, waiters aren't getting rich.  That's for 300 days work, not 188. 

This is rather unscientific with figures that people pull out of their hats and of course, there are going to be as many computations as there are opinions. This can go on forever with numbers being tossed in from all directions.

As for the discussion involving the comparison of the pay scales of trained educators who are responsible for the intellectual and creative growth of the future generation(current state=kids who eat crayons while sticking chalk up their nostrils, obnoxious children, angsty pre teens and horny teenagers) and the wages of waiters who bring food from the pass to the table with varying degrees of dedication to their job, I am too surprised, disappointed and at an utter loss for words to pen an appropriately worded contribution.

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To quote Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford on Saturday Night Live: "It was my understanding that there would be no math."

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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Second, I did the math for Marylisa's waiters, assuming 3 slow days a week at $60/night (4 hrs at $15) and three good days at 100/night (5 hrs at $20) and came out at  $24K/year.  Just another number to throw into the pile, but one that feels realistic to me and imploes that, though hourly earnigs might be good, waiters aren't getting rich.  That's for 300 days work, not 188. 

This is rather unscientific with figures that people pull out of their hats and of course, there are going to be as many computations as there are opinions. This can go on forever with numbers being tossed in from all directions.

The scientific numbers are above. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10% of all waiters earn more than $11.00/hour. I have no doubt that teachers are underpaid. They are, on the whole, however, better paid than waiters.

The $24K figure, by the way, came from figures supplied by a restaurant owner based on her experience at the restaurant she currently runs. They came out of no one's hat.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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The scientific numbers are above.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10% of all waiters earn more than $11.00/hour.

The $24K figure, by the way, came from figures supplied by a restaurant owner based on her experience at the restaurant she currently runs.  They came out of no one's hat.

Right.

I have no doubt that teachers are underpaid.  They are, on the whole, however, better paid than waiters.

I am still left wondering why teachers' salaries and waiters' wages are being compared in the first place.

Do you think teachers should receive tips too?

Edited by FaustianBargain (log)
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So, you would be comfortable, across the board if prices increased 20%.... at your fave restaurant, your hairstylist, car wash, anywhere you might consider dropping a tip?

Uh, yeah. OTOH, I find it hard to believe that my hairdresser or massage therapist gets paid below minimum wage (thought I could be wrong). The reason we are guilted into tipping waiters a minimum amount no matter how well we are served is because in the U.S. (unlike in Canada) waiters are can be paid below minimum wage with the assumption that our tips make up for it.

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What gets me about tipping is that there seems to be a certain expectation around it. I've worked in the service industry before (many moons ago), and sure, tips were a good thing and all the service staff looked forward to calculating their totals at the end of the night.

On to my point.... if the service is just so-so, or mediocre, does it really deserve 20%, or even 15% for that matter? Seems that for some in the industry, they expect such things, regardless of the service provided. And isn't tipping supposed to be about the service?

If this has been covered already... just carry on by....... :smile:

sarah

Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was. --Unknown

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Uh, yeah. OTOH, I find it hard to believe that my hairdresser or massage therapist gets paid below minimum wage (thought I could be wrong). The reason we are guilted into tipping waiters a minimum amount no matter how well we are served is because in the U.S. (unlike in Canada) waiters are can be paid below minimum wage with the assumption that our tips make up for it.

Hair dressers and massage therapists have different types of compensation, and in some cases, this involves renting a booth from the business owner, paying either for the time the booth is rented or paying per piece for the work done plus various deals for "commissions" based on selling services and goods. It actually seems a little complicated for me, especially at this hour of the day. At any rate, hair dressers and massage therapists have been, by my observation, part of the groups of people somewhat agressively wanting to "get in" on the "tip action" by helpfully suggesting amounts to tip them (furniture movers are notoriously amazing at bringing up the subject of tipping as well). And then that brings me to the need to research exactly what the protocol is for tipping people in these professions, since there aren't many handy guides for doing so. And that's when the whole subject really starts to bug me.

As a consumer, I really just want to buy services and be told what I need to pay for them, without having to remember if it's 10, 15 or 20% for servers, hair stylists, massage therapists and movers, or if I'm just supposed to give a buck to the shampoo girl, and a dollar per suitcase for the porter, a couple bucks to the guys at the car wash, a buck per coat for the coat-check, or how many dollars for the valet who parks my car?

I'm with Jackal for the most part on much of this discussion, because the more confusing it becomes, the more I just plain hate tipping. And the thought that my lack of knowledge could end up costing someone their livelihood makes it a really crappy deal all around.

I just don't like it, and it happens to be the way I make my living half of the time. And if it weren't for the fact that I work at 2 restaurants and run a business, I wouldn't make as much as NulloModo, if you're still wondering about the teacher vs. server question.

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The scientific numbers are above.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10% of all waiters earn more than $11.00/hour.

The $24K figure, by the way, came from figures supplied by a restaurant owner based on her experience at the restaurant she currently runs.  They came out of no one's hat.

Right.

I have no doubt that teachers are underpaid.  They are, on the whole, however, better paid than waiters.

I am still left wondering why teachers' salaries and waiters' wages are being compared in the first place.

Do you think teachers should receive tips too?

I just fell into this on a slippery slope -- curiosity. At some point there was a suggestion that a huge injustice was being done because waiters, due to the pernicious habit of tipping, were out-earning teachers. I was curious, because in comparisons of this type there is generally an agenda, and because there was a certain amount of teeth-gnashing, some of it -- eventually -- by yourself.

As for the discussion involving the comparison of the pay scales of trained educators who are responsible for the intellectual and creative growth of the future generation(current state=kids who eat crayons while sticking chalk up their nostrils, obnoxious children, angsty pre teens and horny teenagers) and the wages of waiters who bring food from the pass to the table with varying degrees of dedication to their job, I am too surprised, disappointed and at an utter loss for words to pen an appropriately worded contribution.
[Emphasis added.]

Having been a waiter and having developed some respect for the profession, I was eager to defend my erstwhile compatriots and to add a little factual background to the discussion. Whether or not one embraces the American tradition of tipping, denigrating it because allows proletariat waiters into the same economic class as college-educated professionals is to be factually incorrect.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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"Having been a waiter and having developed some respect for the profession, I was eager to defend my erstwhile compatriots and to add a little factual background to the discussion. Whether or not one embraces the American tradition of tipping, denigrating it because allows proletariat waiters into the same economic class as college-educated professionals is to be factually incorrect."

I also have respect for the profession, and know many 'professional' waitresses. Interestingly, many of them have advanced degrees, several were even teachers at one point. Waitressing attracts many people, because of the flexible hours, and the main reason,

the money.

Most people I know, and even myself years ago when I was waiting tables, have a love/hate affair with the job. There are great nights when regulars come in, and things go smoothly and the tips are great. But there are many nights also when customers behave appallingly, things don't go well for whatever reason, timing just is off, which affects service, which affects tips. On those nights, the best part of the night is the end of the shift, when you count your money and remember why you putting up with it.

See, in my opinion, if tipping were abolished and a more 'reasonable' hourly wage imposed, you'd lose all the best waitstaff, the truly professional servers. Service standards would go down across the board, because the majority of people doing it, are in it for the money. If that disappears, why on earth would they stick around?

Just my two cents.

:) Pam

Edited by pam claughton (log)
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The scientific numbers are above.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10% of all waiters earn more than $11.00/hour.

Given my experience with waiting tables, I think it would be far more accurate to say that only 10% of all waiters report earning more than $11.00/hour.

In 9 years of front-of-the-house work, I only ever met two people who accurately and faithfully reported ALL of their tips -- one had been audited by the IRS in the past, and the other was an ex-con who didn't want to give the Feds any reason to look askance at him.

Everybody else reported only the 8% minimum that's required by law.

* AB drinks one of those "Guiness Pub Draught" beers, with the nitrogen cannister in the bottom of the can.

* AB wonders what Budweiser would taste like with one of those...

<AB> . o O (Like shit, still, I should think.)

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Given my experience with waiting tables, I think it would be far more accurate to say that only 10% of all waiters report earning more than $11.00/hour.

In 9 years of front-of-the-house work, I only ever met two people who accurately and faithfully reported ALL of their tips -- one had been audited by the IRS in the past, and the other was an ex-con who didn't want to give the Feds any reason to look askance at him.

Everybody else reported only the 8% minimum that's required by law.

There is one inaccuracy running through this thread on the part of people who are overguesstimating the tips that servers earn, and that is where many people are assuming tips at the level of fine dining (where servers aren't necessarily getting rich, but they are much more likely to receive 20% consistently) while at the same time suggesting that servers have the ability to report their tips at their own discretion. In my experience, it's more often an either/or situation, rather than having the advantage of both.

At fine dining levels, the higher the check average becomes, the more likely it is that the guest will pay by credit card, relieving the server of making a decision as to whether to declare a tip or not. Any time your average check approaches $100 for two people or more, you start to see very, very little cash. In the higher end restaurants where I've worked, it's common to go months without seeing a single cash tip, which brings us to another point:

On those nights, the best part of the night is the end of the shift, when you count your money and remember why you putting up with it.

In many fine dining places, it's common not to get those credit card tips until the end of the week or 2 week pay period, when you see them on your paycheck with tipshare and taxes already withheld, tipshares running around 25-30% of actual tips at that level.

At more casual places, the server has more discretion as to reporting tips, but those tips will undoubtedly be smaller as the check average is smaller and the tip percentage is smaller. While in fine dining, most patrons tip 20%, the more casual the restaurant is, the more likely you are to see people who think that 10% is a perfectly good tip for good service, and you'll even see a few who think that $2-3 is enough of a tip, regardless of the bill total. Tipshares are also lower at this level, but represent a percentage of total sales, meaning that if you get stiffed on a table, you have to reach into your own pocket to pay the tipshare.

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At fine dining levels, the higher the check average becomes, the more likely it is that the guest will pay by credit card, relieving the server of making a decision as to whether to declare a tip or not. Any time your average check approaches $100 for two people or more, you start to see very, very little cash.

But, on the gripping hand, there's probably 50 Bennigan's or Olive Garden-type restaurants in this country for every one French Laundry. So I think the original assertion -- that most waiters don't report all of their tips -- is valid.

* AB drinks one of those "Guiness Pub Draught" beers, with the nitrogen cannister in the bottom of the can.

* AB wonders what Budweiser would taste like with one of those...

<AB> . o O (Like shit, still, I should think.)

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I've never heard of a server having to reach into his/her pocket to pay the tipshare. I can't even imagine that it's legal to make a server do this.

Well, I think you might be taking it a little too literally. When I say "reach into my own pocket" what I really mean is something more like taking tips off of my other tables to pay the tipshare on the table that stiffed me, and that's not just possible, it happens all the time. If table A has a tab of $50, I have to pay $1 for having waited on that table, whether A tips me or not because we pay 2% tipshare at the restaurant where I work. If table B has another tab of $50, and that person tips me $7.50, I pay the house $1 and keep $6.50, and my net for the two tables will be $5.50 for $100 worth of sales.

If table A is my only table for the day, I leave $1 in the hole, plus my $2.13 per hour wage for the number of hours I worked. Hypothetically, if this keeps up all week long, my employer will have to pay me an amount that will bring my income up to the $5.35 minimum wage, but this rarely happens, and when it does happen, servers aren't likely to push the point with their employers because it's too much of a hassle.

My point was that, when I wait on a table and get stiffed, I pay for the privilege of having brought their food and drinks to them. Probably the one time this happened that irked me the most was when I waited on a couple one day, and it was my last table of the day, late enough that I was actually staying after my shift to wait on them. Normally, I would have transferred the table to the incoming server, but she called sick and wasn't able to come in and take over my station. So I kept refilling their drinks and bringing them extra sides of salad dressing until it was time for them to pay the bill. The man gave me a debit card to run, and the card was declined, so I asked him if he had another card. He didn't seem surprised at all that his card was bad, and Smoove B-style, he told his lady friend, "Baby, you're gonna have to pay this one." She gave him a big ole' "No You Di-n't!" look and angrily pulled 2 20s out of her purse, which I took and told her I'd bring change, at which point she turned to me and nodded emphatically.

Looking down at the check, I saw the total was $39.58, and since I didn't have exact change on me, I put 2 quarters on a plate with the bill, set the plate on the table and thanked her. And then she scooped the quarters into her purse and waddled out. So in that case, for the privilege of running to get their refills and sauces, I paid $.79 in tipshare, plus the additional 8 cents of her bill that I paid for her, and I stayed after my shift to do it, thereby reducing my take for the day.

Those are the tables that make me feel special. :hmmm:

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At fine dining levels, the higher the check average becomes, the more likely it is that the guest will pay by credit card, relieving the server of making a decision as to whether to declare a tip or not. Any time your average check approaches $100 for two people or more, you start to see very, very little cash.

But, on the gripping hand, there's probably 50 Bennigan's or Olive Garden-type restaurants in this country for every one French Laundry. So I think the original assertion -- that most waiters don't report all of their tips -- is valid.

Of course it is. And the average tips at Bennigan's and Olive Garden are a lot smaller than at a higher end place, which is the point I was trying to make.

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