The Insane Waiter

Running wild on customers, chefs, owners and managers since 1997. I bring to you, The Insane Waiter. What do bring to your table? A crisp bottle of San Pellegrino ? Perhaps a lovely seared Sashimi Tuna? Start off with a wonderful bottle from Tuscany perhaps? Why I'll be more than happy to bring you your White Zinfandel and Chicken Caesar. No you can't order the mac and cheese off the kids menu and sorry no, we don't serve cheese sticks....

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Poll Time!

Ok, due to recent comment posts about tips versus employers paying us more than $3.00/hour I decided to do this little poll

Take a minute and please respond if you have the time...

I will address my feelings in the next post on this issue.

If restaurants paid us a larger wage it would be passed on to the customer, some places already do this in the form of a service charge, usually 18-20% of the bill. Or they simply raise the price of your bill and pass on that increase for payroll expenses.

The question is this for both my fellow servers and for customers...

Would you rather keep the tipping system?

or

Would you rather go with raised prices or service charges?

I'd love to hear which you prefer and if possible why!

61 Comments:

At 3:42 PM , Anonymous Steve said...

I would prefer to keep tipping as a way to communicate my pleasure/displeasure with the quality of my experience. I can communicate nuances by mentioning a small problem but still leaving a full tip. "There was a problem, I'm sure it was unusual and/or unavoidable, I still like you/this place, but I did notice"

 
At 3:54 PM , Blogger Wraiths said...

Yeha, I agee with the tipping based on service. I also think if you get really good service, leave a big tip and let the manager know. Then go out and recommend the place.

My biggest worry about automatically adding it in is the comments from wiater rant, here and other sites about how the managers/owners probably would still skim a majority of the higher cost off for themselves and only pay minimum wage. Then again, I guess some do that now by pooling tips.

 
At 4:29 PM , Blogger Fly Girl said...

I'm all for staff being paid a living wage and not having to suck up for tips. If this means paying more (either in underlying prices or as a service charge), I'm okay with that.

What I'm not okay with is adding a service charge, and then expecting an additional tip on top of that.

 
At 4:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd much rather keep the current system in place. The 18%-20% service charge added to the bill only undermines the hard work of quality servers. It will also undermine the work ethic of the quality servers in that, they will no longer be willing to go the extra mile for the guest. If you are guaranteed that much on the bill you aren't going to work as hard as when you are just trying to make that 20%. I also think it will have a negative effect on the service industry as a whole, as the quality of service goes down, less people will go out to eat.

 
At 5:31 PM , Blogger Carl from L.A. said...

Having waited tables for a short time, I prefer the tipping system as an incentive to serve my customers better. Sure there are bad tippers, but the tipping system is working relatively well.

 
At 5:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a customer, I far prefer either raised prices or a service charge. There is no other business where I expect people to provide me a service without first agreeing a price.

The fact that service is included in the price of the meal does not prevent me from giving a tip to reward above average service. Although I live in the US now, I come from the UK, where restaurants often include service in the price of the meal. In restaurants run along those lines, it is common (at least amongst people that I know) to tip 10% ish if the service has been particularly good.
Rounding up to a convenient number is very common. You don't tip in pubs, although it is in order to buy the barman a pint.

You should note that the minimum wage in the UK (currently just over 5 pounds an hour for people aged over 22) applies to waiters in exactly the same way as it applies to anyone else. There is (was) a daft set of rules that meant that employers could count tips included on credit cards towards the minimum wage, and there were multiple tax regimes depending on exactly how the tips were paid and who managed any tip pool. There was a bill in parliament to fix that - I don't know what happened to it, though.

Returning from that little sidetrack, if you prefer to keep the existing system, it would be to your advantage, if you work in a tourist area, to print clearly on the menus a statement along the lines of "a tip of 18-20% is customary for normal service" so that us poor confused foreigners know what is expected. I've had waiter friends complain about the (lack of) tips from particular nationalities - in most cases, the foreigner isn't trying to stiff you, he just doesn't realise how things work in the US.

 
At 6:04 PM , Anonymous Bill said...

I like the tip system. It is a "pay for performance" system that works in the long run.

Regarding Wraiths comment: "My biggest worry about automatically adding it in is the comments from wiater rant, here and other sites about how the managers/owners probably would still skim a majority of the higher cost off for themselves and only pay minimum wage."

That wouldn't happen in a free market. Why would a server stay there instead of going to ANY other restaurant? Then, with the raised prices, customers would soon see the service stinks and stop patronizing.

The free market system is a wonderful way to week out scoundrels like you describe.

 
At 6:35 PM , Blogger Smitty said...

A free market would be a wonderful thought, but only semi-applicable. The free market assumes that all businesses are out for as much profit as they can get, whereas the market we see tends to collude so that this breakneck competition doesn't happen in reality. If all stores pay a bad amount, there's not really much anyone can do about it. That's why tipping is useful - at least the server gets something resembling an appropriate wage, even if it has to come from the public.

However, in a country where the government is willing to step in to business (ie minimum wage), I would not support tipping. Simple reason: being in Australia, I've seen it work. I still get good service, except now the service is motivated by other people wanting the job. Or desperately needing the job to get through tertiary studies.

And when I went overseas, I was told that 10% was standard (5% v.bad, 15% v.good). I can't convey the surprise I had on seeing 10% described as 'stiffing'. Very much agree with the anonymous commenter (comment 6) regarding appropriate tip amounts.

Smitty.

 
At 6:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nephew Dude:

Writing as a former waiter in my youth, I vote for keeping the tipping system. Good, dignified, efficient service can be provided without "sucking up." Tipping keeps servers motivated to do a good job.

I must be getting old fashioned in my middle age. When I go to retail stores where salepersons have no commission, I get crappy service. And, like most men, when I go shopping it's for a specific item. I like to get my business over with and get out of the store. Commission paid sales persons, like tipped waiters and waitresses, have more incentive to do a good job.

Love,

Your Uncle R.

 
At 7:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a customer, I prefer tipping. I'm a very generous tipper to servers that are polite and respectful and the opposite is true for ones that aren't. Unfortunately not all people treat servers that fairly.

 
At 7:17 PM , Anonymous Mike said...

As a customer, I would prefer to eliminate the tipping system, pay servers a fair wage, and bake the cost into the price of the food/drink. I don't tip my accountant, my dentist, or the guya at the Gap who rings up my purchases.

To people who say that service would decline, I disagree. I go to a restaurant because of the combination of food, service, and ambience. If one declines, I'll eat somewhere else. A good manager will ensure that service remains high.

As an example, I remember a retail job that I had in college. We were all paid fairly (not loads, but fairly), we were trained well, and we were all expected to provide excellent service to our customers. We did...and we had a loyal customer base.

Treat your customers well, and they'll always come back. Treat your employees well, and they'll be with you forever.

 
At 9:40 PM , Anonymous tamaran17 said...

I think you all should be paid better, living wage at least. Especially considering some of the crap you put up with (my uncle is a waiter also), but tipping should stay in place so that as a customer we can let you know how good of a job you are doing.

 
At 9:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work for joes crab shack and i think that id rather have the 20 percent put onto the bill with the option of adding mroe if the costomer decided to...

 
At 10:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone should be paid a fair wage, period. If the customer gets great service, you get a great tip.

Here is Canada people get paid a decent wage -- no slave labour like the $3/hr you talk about -- and everyone still tips.

The problem that is solved by including the cost of the service in the price of the food is the people who give you no or insignificant tips (since you get a better base pay). Unless a law is passed that says you can't tip, then there is no upper limit on the great tips.

 
At 10:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason I would prefer an automatic 18% to 20% added to each check is because my service is worthy of this, and though I end up with this percentage as an average I would prefer that everyone pay equally to be served. There are those who get off without paying a cent who receive the same service as those tipping 50%.....and either way you go, it makes me feel bad. No tip is a slap in the face, while an extreme tip would not be necessary if it wasn't for the ignorant and the tight-wads. Decent people should not have to make up for the rest of them.

 
At 11:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a cook (don't worry, I'll get back in the kitchen soon and stop scaring the customers)I naturally balk at the idea of tipping. However, my main problem with the system is how totally off-balance the percentage tipping system seems to be. I've worked at $18-25 entree places where the wait staff worked absolutely no harder than the $6-10 entree pizza joint I cook for now. Whether I order a four dollar salad or an over-priced plate of lobster ravioli, the waiter still just brought it to the table (and refilled my water a billion times, and got more bread, yes, I know you guys work hard). My point is, given the same quality of service, the tip at one place is double the tip at the other. I have a hard time seeing how this is fair.

 
At 3:30 AM , Anonymous AldoPlepi said...

I do not understand those that say that tipping should be done away with and a service charge be added to the bill or prices be increased. To the customers, this means paying the same amount of money they would under the tipping system, but with the added caveat that they would be REQUIRED to pay it. And when you add the fact that waiters also believe that tipping is better for them, I really do not see why we should talk about this.

Those that have opposed the tipping system in these comments so far have only done so because they do not tip any of the other professionals that offer them services. To me that is not a good reason to do away with tipping. Besides, we tip cabdrivers, shoeshiners, valets, bellhops, coatcheck girls, doormen, hairdressers, casino dealers, the pizza delivery guy and many more. Why this fascination with not tipping the servers is beyond me.

And... do not believe those that maintain that service in Europe is good. It is not! The servers there do enough to not get yelled at or fired. They almost never do a bit extra and are rarely kind and curteous. I know... I was one.

 
At 4:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I admit to speaking from a position of relative ignorance on this one being Australian. However, it is a topic I am interested in.
IMHO I have been surpised at the comments from other suggesting that tipping is the only thing that guarantees good service/allows the customer to comment on the quality of the experience.
I think this is flawed in at least three ways. Firstly it pre-supposes that waiters are motivated entirely by greed and self-respect/professionalism/common courtesy are all irrelevant. Secondly it is not unknown for customers to take out their displeasure at things the waiter is not responsible for on the tip (food not cooked correctly, music too loud etc etc etc).
Finally, has no-one ever complained directly to their server/manager/ in writing to corporate headquaters? Is this not an effective way of addressing a poor dining experience?
I think while tipping is a good way for restaurant owners to shift their costs onto their clients directly it has serious draw-backs for tax purposes and effectively conceals the true cost of the meal.
That said - nothing motivates so well as cash!

 
At 4:34 AM , Anonymous nate said...

Well here in the UK, the general system is to have raised menu prices. Most servers are earning slightly more than the minimum wage, but, tipping is still customary. (Minimum wage here is £5.60, or $10)

 
At 7:55 AM , Blogger akirakid said...

I have no problem with the system the way it is. What I would like to see is wait staff getting reviewed every so often and getting RAISES! I'll start at $3/hr but if I put in my time and provide good service then I should be rewarded by my employer for loyalty. Give me an extra .10/hr every year or so. How about a raise or including benefits? The extra stuff doesn't have to come from earning $13/hr. There are other ways to compensate your staff.

 
At 8:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in favor of servers being paid a fair wage, but am appalled by the attitude servers have. I waitressed during high school, and we had several regular customers. While we all knew some wouldn't tip well, if at all, they all got the same level of service.

Sure, if you know someone tips 50-100%, you'll go well beyond normal service, but besides that, everyone deserves the same high level of service.

I am disgusted that servers analyze my purchases and base the quality of service I receive on if I order expensive wine or just water. Personally, I drink lots of water. I don't care for wine, I don't drink soda, and I don't like iced tea. It's not that I'm trying to save on the cost of a drink, and therefore reduce your tip, that's just what I like.

I will tip a server based on the quality of my service. You start at 15%. If you are inattentive, you drop to 10%. If you consistently make mistakes or spill something on me, you go down to 5%. If you provide great service and make me feel like you value my business, you jump to 20% plus.

I don't understand the attitude that servers are entitled to good tips. They are to be given freely, without obligation, at the discretion of customer. All that's required to be paid is the price on the menu. If servers are so unhappy about it, they could choose to be employed somewhere that pays minimum wage.

Or, they could try hard for every customer. When you come in, you get 100% quality service. If you are rude to the server with no apparent cause, you get 75%. If you consistently complain, berate your server, or are just an asshole in general; maybe the waiter "forgets" to leave off the parsley you claim to be allergic to.

I know servers work hard, and customers deserve good service. Maybe everyone just needs to go in with a good attitude and give/expect 100%.

 
At 9:06 AM , Anonymous Brandy said...

I would rather keep the current tipping system. My wife and I went to a restaurant last night, and when the bill came, they added 15% and put it on the credit card receipt. Tip was 8.50, but I wanted to give her $10 cause she deserved it. But they decided for me and that pissed me off. I didn't change it, but we won't be going back. Leave things as they are...

 
At 9:33 AM , Anonymous Michael C. Baltimore said...

I would rather keep the tip system or else waiters have no reason to give me good service. I'm an excellent tipper when the service is good or excellent (20 to 25% usually). However, if the service is bad (and I don't care why it's bad) I want the option of tipping much, much less. The waiter/customer relationship is that of an unwritten contract. Basically you are working for me to serve me food, if you do your job, I pay you. If you don't do your job well, I don't pay you so well. That's the way it should be. In no other field of work does someone expect to get paid when they don't do their job (which in this case is to serve food in pleasant and timely manner). Sorry, but that's how it is. I generally won't eat at restaurants that add a service charge or a gratuity. If I have to, then there is no additonal monies on top of that automatic charge, the waiter gets exactly what I was forced to pay and no more.

 
At 10:12 AM , Blogger DrinkingTea said...

In a perfect world, the employees would be paid a living wage and one would express disatisfaction with the service by actually speaking to the employee or manager. Many customers are only willing to do that if it means a free meal and the complaints may or may not have a direct connection to the service. Other customers stiff the waiter but give no clue why. How does it improve service if the waiter has no idea if they were stiffed because the customers were cheap, they thought they heard 'apple pie' instead of 'black tie', or another table annoyed them?

As much as I hated the tipping system (where else can you get your pay docked because the person with the money is having a bad day?), I think doing away with it would be worse. Owners would skim the increase and pay the employees close to minimum wage (or the 10% service charge would turn into 2% on the way to the employee).

Free market economics only work if there is complete freedom to choose. I left my city of birth because there was no freedom to choose. I was lucky enough to have the ability to move a few thousand miles away to make a fresh start. If I would have stayed, my options were to either wait tables or wait for someone from the factory to die of old age so I could try to take their job. The vast majority of servers in that area were equally desperate, so there was no option if you were unable to leave the city/part of that state.

 
At 10:36 AM , Blogger Jia Li said...

I like the Tipping, but only three an hour? I used to get 6.50 plus tips...

 
At 10:41 AM , Blogger Jammerz said...

Hmm...tough call...I tip really well even for bad service simply because I feel really bad knowing this person only makes $3.00 an hour.

So I don't even tip based on service, more based on guilt. I think I would be happy with either situation even if it meant paying a higher price.

 
At 10:51 AM , Blogger JTN said...

Personally, I'd like to see waiters and waitresses paid standard minimum wage like everyone else. Sure, it's going to raise the price of a meal a bit, but likely less than people expect. At the same time, however, I'd also like to keep the tipping system in place. Minimum wage is not a living wage, and most people would still need tips to survive even at minimum. The median housing wage in the US is in the range of $15.75 an hour. That's how much a person has to earn an hour to afford a 2bdrm home with a modest rent. In 48 of our states, 2 full time minimum wage workers cannot earn this much to afford this level of housing in their area.
Granted, if we raise minimum to this level, meal prices would be outrageous, but I don't see the harm in raising all workers to at least federal minimum wage and for waiters/waitresses keeping the tipping system in place so they can at least afford to live.
I look at it this way... if I can afford to drop $2 on coffee since I'm too lazy to brew it in my office, I don't see why I can't spend an extra couple bucks at when I eat out.

 
At 12:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of people have said "I like tipping because it gives the waiter an incentive to give good service. I'm an excellent tipper..."

Unless you're a regular customer at a restaurant, the waiter doesn't know that you're an excellent tipper, though.

 
At 12:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

An anonymous waiter claims that his service is "worthy" of a 20% tip. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. From a customer's perspective, the problem is a lack of pricing clarity.

If I am looking for a place to get dinner, I can look at menus, compare prices, and decide which restaurant is going to give me the best deal [this is not the same as "which is the cheapest"]. I can do exactly the same thing when I buy, well, anything.

Except service in restaurants and the like. You don't tell me how much you're willing to accept in exchange for good service. I usually can't choose a server independantly of my restaurant choice, so I'm limited to making choices along the lines of "I won't go to restaurant X - I got bad service there last time". As a waiter, you don't know whether I gave you a "small" tip because I didn't like the service, or because I'm cheap, or because we have different ideas about what an "appropriate" tip is. If the food was good, I probably enjoyed my dinner, and so will tend to give a larger tip because I had a good time. If the food wasn't very special, I probably won't have such a good time, and so will end up, more or less unconciously, giving a smaller tip. So how much I pay the waiter for his service is being affected by how good the chef is.

I think my point is that it is really not easy to distinguish the general quality of service in a restaurant from the food, the ambience, and everything else that goes into a pleasant evening out, so it doesn't make much sense to price them seperately.

If a waiter goes out of his way to provide a special service, it distinguishes him, and that service can be rewarded seperately. If all you do is turn up promptly, take an order correctly and refrain from pouting iced water over the table, you tend to blend into the general ambience of the restaurant.

 
At 1:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been in the service industry in the past, so this may color my view a little. I think they should keep tipping the way it is. I think it is unlikely that restaurant owners on the whole will pass the money on to their staff. The staff will not got 18-20% of each bill, even if a service charge is added. I think that tipping should be kept the way it is. (Although, I tip 15% to awful servers and more to great ones )

 
At 1:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps I'm too much of an idealist, but I'd like to see something in between: a 10% service charge, perhaps? That would allow customers to reward or punish their server, but still ensure that the server receives enough to cover taxes, tipouts, etc.

 
At 2:01 PM , Blogger mabess said...

Tipping should stay the same. I think that is part of the attraction of being a server. I tip when the service is bad, but not when the service is RUDE. There is no excuse for that. And anybody can learn to fake nice manners.

 
At 3:10 PM , Blogger Nattie said...

Personally I feel tipping is good for me-I can give good servers that little bit extra that I know (or think I know ;)) they'll appreciate. However, I can't help but think for servers it's a little unfair, because not everyone tips the same way as me.

So, I really have no real decision xD

 
At 3:14 PM , Anonymous CurlySue said...

There is a fundamental difference of opinion about tipping: is it an optional reward for exceptional service or a customary unofficial payment? It's a thorny point of both etiquette and ethics, which can be seen as an indicator of character.

Service or shakedown?

Big tips can mark a person as nouveau riche or as the life of the party. In the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Pink's refusal to tip a waitress on general principle makes the other robbers turn on him, and marks him as the most likely to be the rat. On Seinfeld, George Costanza's five per cent tips (if that) indicated his general selfishness.

Many etiquette guides preface their sections on tipping by saying that the practice itself is disagreeable. Not only does it add an extra expense and element of complexity to dining out, it reminds people of a time when servants were dependent on the generosity of their social superiors. Others say that management has somehow shifted the responsibility for servers having living wages to the customers. Less charitable writers complain about tipping as a shakedown, separating travelers and diners from their money for no good reason.

Tipping can even have unsavory connotations. Detractors liken it to graft, bribery or other illicit transactions, and tips may go as unreported income.

Nonetheless, the consensus of etiquette says that tipping is a fact of life and, barring deliberately egregious service, mandatory. A social guide written by Lady Troubridge in 1926 stated: "The system of tipping is much to be deplored, but it exists in every country, and we are certainly more reasonable now than were our ancestors a hundred years ago, who tipped a whole row of waiting servants after a dinner-party." The same book pegged the standard tip for restaurant service at ten per cent.

Tipping did not come into common practice in the United States until the mid-nineteenth century, but it proved resilient. Every few years, someone gets the idea to found a chain of hotels or barber shops or some other service with a strict no tipping policy, only to go back to the old ways. Even in the Soviet Union, tipping was ubiquitous enough to prompt disdainful editorials, calling it a "survivor of capitalism" that "humiliates the honor of men."

Tipping is the front line in the class struggle, where pocket change for one side means a decent living for the other. The implied threat of sabotage by slighted tippees goes back to the days of vails. There are apocryphal tales of traveler's baggage being tagged with discreet chalk marks, indicating their tipping proclivities to initiated servants, or diners being pursued outside the establishment as a not-so-gentle reminder. More recently, one hears about various bodily fluids added to orders. Poor service was the more common retaliation.

Now, I admit I have never worked for gratuities. I did work as a server/line cook at a pasta restaurant, in which the customers ordered and paid at the counter and serving staff brought their orders to their tables. With a few exceptions, none of the customers tipped. (Why the kitchen and bussing staff, who work just as hard in both tipping and non-tipping establishments, should be denied that extra income is one of the many mysteries of tipping.)

I will also admit that I have stiffed a few tips on occasion, though I plead ignorance or financial necessity in those cases. When I have been forced to order only water, I still left a few quarters.

I have always accepted the practice of tipping, and I realize that by some economic quirk they are what many people need to make a living wage. I've generally followed the fifteen per cent standard. Yet, I reserve the right to reduce or withhold a tip. In my opinion, tipping is not a courtesy. It is a payment for service, and if that service is not satisfactory, the payment is withheld.

In a world full of blatant fraud like movie theatre popcorn, parking charges on concert ticket even if you don't take a car, and nightclub drinks that are ninety per cent ice, tipping is the one point in the consumer experience when you can pay what you think is fair.

 
At 4:01 PM , Blogger The Atavist said...

I hate tipping. I would rather pay more to the restaurant so they could pay a living wage to the servers. The seemingly reasonable 15% or more that is paid to the server is often, in reality, an outrageous amount when compared to the time/energy it takes to provide the service. I'm not talking here about $10 or $15 meals in a greasy spoon diner but rather the $50 or $100 meals in upscale joints. In these situations, the server gets a significant amount of money from each of the tables served during the same time period and the resultant hourly remuneration is much higher than the service is worth.

 
At 5:26 PM , Anonymous DC coffehouse slave said...

Woah! You get paid $3 per hour to wait tables? Cha-ching!! Here in DC we only get $2.75.

 
At 7:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only get 2.13 in Oklahoma

 
At 10:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the long run, is a server getting more by making $6.50 an hour and paying taxes for the whole thing...or by making $3.00 an hour and getting cash tips (come on, most don't keep exact numbers and don't claim most or all of their tips when they figure income taxes)

I tip well, so I really don't care either way. I'll pay the extra 15-20% or I'll leave a tip for a good server.

 
At 12:34 AM , Blogger Nick D said...

I was 17 when I went to Europe (seven years ago) and if I do remember correctly the tip was already added to the bill. I think it was 10-15%. I think this is what you mean by a service charge. It would be a good idea to automatically tag 15% on the bill, then if a person likes you and leaves money it’s a compliment. This way the waiter is also guaranteed a wage from a table they slaved over for the last hour.

 
At 2:10 AM , Blogger incognita said...

As much as it would be nice to have a guaranteed 18-20% on each table, extraordinary service would be unrewarded without the tipping in place. Most places I have worked for add a 15-20% for larger parties. Very rarely do tables tip over the added gratuity. I know it is not lack of fine service, but simply it easier to just pay the grat amount than it is to do any math after drinking, eating and socializing for a few hours.
Keep the tipping system and offer guidlines to customers such as the one mentioned above:
"a tip of 18-20% is customary for normal service"
And for the love of God I wish I could tell customers not to simply "double the tax" of their bill, as alcohol isn't included in the tax (at least here in TX.)

 
At 2:13 AM , Blogger incognita said...

oh, and speaking of the living wage issue, I would prefer health and dental benefits to what would be considered a "living wage."

 
At 9:12 AM , Blogger akirakid said...

I guess the big issue here is not whether or not the tipping charge should be left in place, but what constitutes "good service". I only take your order and maintain your table. Someone else cooks your food and someone else delivers it. I have no control over how fast it reaches your table. If the kitchen is overwhelmed, that is out of my control. If the kitchen screws up your meal, that is not my fault, so why should you leave me a crappy tip because of it. The fact that I am the spokesperson for your percieved anger over things I cannot control gives you the right to punish me. This is not fair. A mojority of the restaurant staff will make their hourly wage having never to see your face but if they make a mistake you take it out on me. How is this fair? What makes Good or Excellent service? Does it mean friendly and attentive? What makes good service and how does that merit a reward? This is the real question here.

 
At 1:35 PM , Blogger Boone-Tang said...

Although I work in the kitchen, not the dining room, I am all for keeping the tipping system. Even our lousy servers make upwords of $10 an hour before the $3.45 our restaurant pays them. That, plus when I go out, I generally tip upwords of 20% for all but the worst service, so adding it to the bill (especially if it's more than 15%) just looks greedy. (I know it's not greedy, it's your income, and everyone's worried about their income)

 
At 2:38 PM , Blogger Big Tasty said...

Tipping is a far better system. As a waiter/bartender I prefer the gamble. It's just a fun game to see what happens.

Plus, where I work some people leave some pretty big tips and I'd miss that.

I like to turn around and buy drinks for the guest with the tip they gave me.

 
At 8:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure - sometimes when the kitchen screws the pooch, or the music is playing too loud, or the ambience is all wrong, as the spokesperson for the restaurant, you as a waiter, receive the wrath of the customer through a bad tip. It wasn't you fault. You provided excellent service, fine.

But...

Second side of that coin - the kitchen provides fantastic tasting beautifully presented food in a timely manner, the music is good, and the ambience is perfect. You reap in a great tip.

It balances out. Now if a certain restaurant has a great kitchen, ambience and music etc, tips will be great there, and the competition to work there will ensure that the best servers get the jobs, the servers who deserve those good tips. A restaurant with a crap kitchen, bad ambience, music etc, and tips that are never high, will have less competition for employment.

Same again with the price of a meal. Being in New Zealand, I'm just going off monetary amounts already quoted. But, if you're paying $50 for a meal, you expect a fine dining experience. The waiter should be prompt, courteous, helpful, friendly and work his or her arse off for their tip. In a $6 pizza place, friendliness is generally good, but you don't exactly have to follow the table service manual to the dot, or put up with as many snobby customers in general. (not all, I know, just a higher percentage).

Then again, despite my big rant about karmic justice, I quite like the system in NZ. We get paid a living wage. Tipping does happen, but not often, and seldom from locals, mostly just tourists. Amounts vary greatly, and percentages are hardly ever worked out let alone thought of. I like this, because when I go out for a meal, I know my waiter isn't expecting a tip. That means that if they're friendly and provide service above and beyond the call of duty, I know that their personality and professionalism are genuine, stemmed from self-respect and congeniality over greed. And when I do tip them - I make their day.

 
At 12:10 AM , Blogger Micah said...

as some one who has worked for tips in the past, but currently does not, I think the current tipping stratagy should stay in place. On top of that, I'd like to add that it should be mandatory for everyone to work a job for tips at some point before they reach 22 (either high school or college). Many people don't think about the service when they tip, they just hand over the standard 15%. I'm not afraid to tip well (25%) for good service, hell, my standard is around 20%, but if I have a server who is not attentive and grumpy, you'd better believe that I'm not afraid to tip poorly also.
That doesn't mean that my server has to be 100% happy all the time, but be attentive, have a personality and be honest. If things are going shitty that day, then say so and take a minute to breathe. I'm not that high maintenance.

 
At 7:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey there - love the blog...

anyways - i live in Australia adn 'tipping' isnt so much a part of life here but i do believe in paying for the service you get - i am inclined to tip personally to my witer/waitress than the whole establishment because i believe the person on their break out the back really doesnt deserve the money i pay for someone to serve me my coffee

 
At 12:38 PM , Blogger Spicy Cracker said...

I think a large part of the problem is many people just don't know how to do math to figure what 15 to 20% is. The tax in my state is 7.7% so I double the tax then go from there. As long as my drink is full and my server is nice I give 20% or more even if my food is wrong ... The server doesn't cook but yet people forget that and take it out on the wait staff. I used to be a waitress and it's a thankless job some nights. I would say depends on the restaurant and if the management would truely pass on the 18 to 20%.

Think of baggers at a grocery store. Some grocery stores have a carry out service and state "Do not tip our baggers, we pay them an hourly wage." Where as on a military base they get a small base pay of like 3.00 an hour and work for tips. I have to wonder which way is better for the service industry.

 
At 3:35 PM , Blogger nobody said...

For myself, I'd rather pay extra for the meal, or have an explicit added service charge, and forget about tipping. It's a pain in the ass much of the time (digging up the right amount, fighting with the expense department over what a reasonable tip is, etc). If I feel the need to reward exception service I still can, and if some bozo server does a crappy job, an explicit complaint is going to work better than just leaving a crummy tip.

 
At 7:59 AM , Blogger Sylver said...

I'm of two minds about it. I like the ability to directly express how good or bad the waiter is, but overall, I would rather see an increase for the sake of the wait staff themselves. So I guess my opinion is I'd like to see the pay raised at least to regular minimum wage, and then still tip in relation to the service.

Love your blog btw!

 
At 8:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, real-life scenario. I went out for dinner Friday night to a mid-level restaurant. We both ordered higher-priced entrees, but no appetizers or dessert (who can eat that much???).

Our waitress's conversation consisted of no more than:
"What would you like to drink?"
"Here you go."
"Are you ready to order?"
"Here you go."
"Did you save room for dessert?"

She was not friendly, acted like we were taking up her time, and didn't even ask if our food was okay. We tipped her 10%. What did she deserve?

 
At 11:55 AM , Blogger jody said...

tips, tips, i like tips.
with tips you can easliy hurdle to "minimum wage" line.

some nights it's more than possible to surpass the wages of your non-service industry friends and foes.

 
At 1:29 PM , Blogger Sondra said...

I think we should keep the current tipping system in place. Although not everyone is a good tipper, not everyone is bad either. After my stint as a server a few years ago, I tip everybody well...hairdressers, servers, nail techs, etc. I think it's important to the customers as well as to the employees. I've had some servers that were not very personable but they got the job done, so I tipped them an even 20%. A server who goes above and beyond and on top of that is also personable gets double that, maybe more. A server who seems clueless and is unfriendly will STILL receive at least 10%. I don't believe in stiffing anyone. That's wrong. And like someone else on here said, I don't always base it on percentages, either. You can't put a dollar value on excellent/poor service or anything in between, but customers should TRY to remember that their server could be tired..maybe they're thinking about studying for a test they haven't had time to prepare for..maybe they're worried about paying their bills this month..maybe they have family issues. You never know! I had a server just recently who was very, very sweet and nice, she knew what she was doing, and she was very efficient. Then, suddenly, her section filled up so fast she didn't have time to take a breath. I sat there and watched table after table get sat, and as a consequence, she never had the time to ask us if we needed refills on our drinks, and even if she did get the chance to ask, she had no time to fill them. (I also noticed that no one else with slower sections offered to help her.) She dropped the bill off in a rush, and I still tipped her $10 on a $16 bill because she was working her ass off.

 
At 3:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

cope out for a post....

 
At 4:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how some people read the posts and then don't pay attention...

"I will address my feelings in the next post on this issue."

I was stirring the pot, cop out for a comment more like it

 
At 6:10 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to see restaurants paying a minimum wage that's enough to live on, and including the cost of that wage in the price of the food. Then tipping on top for very good service. After all, you don't tip the checkout staff in the supermarket, or the usher in the cinema, do you?

I'm really worried about the way things seem to be going here in the UK, where tips are increasingly used to push salaries up to minimum wage. A tip shouldn't be part of your salary. The basic salary should be enough to live on, and tips are a reward for good service.

 
At 5:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude,
enough already about the tipping. We get it, okay? You want a tip? Give good service. That's all the public asks.

 
At 7:54 PM , Blogger Brad said...

I'd rather keep the tipping system, but not for any reasons that I'm going to rant about. I wrote because the owners of the restaurant I work at want to start keeping track of the credit card tips that the servers make and give them one big check along with their pay check. I know for a fact that I would lose my whole staff the very minute that that idea gets put in place. And that's only 6 or 7 people(very small place and only open 5 days of the week). It's just the father of the owner, who's in charge of accounting, is tired of writing checks to reimburse our petty cash, which dwindles from time to time as servers get all credit cards and no cash sales. Not cool.

 
At 5:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at it this way, you go into a restaurant, sit down and look at the menu, order you food and it arrives, you eat it you go home.

The bill is $100 including tip

I don't care whether that tip was added by me or was included in the bill by increased prices however it'd be easier for me if it was included, because then I don't have to think I can just go out, drop $100 on a meal and go home.

 
At 8:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Unless you're a regular customer at a restaurant, the waiter doesn't know that you're an excellent tipper, though. "

As a server myself, I can tell you that isn't true at all.

I lke the tipping system - it has it's downfalls, but at the same time, it's refreshing to get a big tip, and when a bad one comes along, I'm usually motivated to make the tip better next time. :)

 
At 3:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get rid of the tipping system; not everyone's going to agree with how much I tip my waiter, let's just drop the hassle and enact a system that guarantees the workers their dues.

 

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