Well Allow Me To Retort!
Well hello friends...
As you can see I like to stir the pot, both here and on message boards I hear about tipping. I had a post on it a few months ago but decided to try to see other's perspectives from both a staff and customer point of view.
So no it's not a cop out post...
These are my thoughts on the state of service in relation to tipping. About 2/3rds of those that commented prefer the system as it is.
I prefer it as well, though it has its down falls and I think at times I deserve more than I get, tipping is subjective.
I think I may have stated before and I know many that commented with me agree that under a service charge or check increase the server actually makes less.
Several people made a case for servers getting paid a living wage and while that intention is noble, well we all know what the road to hell is paved with.
An example would be Per Se in NYC. I've read about their system on both Bitterwaitress and Waiter Rant (Check them out if you haven't on my links).
Several private clubs in my area use the same system as well.
That would be a solid 18-20% Service charge on the bill, no option to not tip, and not much of an encouragement to tip.
Per Se did it because the owner/operator, Thomas Keller was a Chef by trade and didn't like the disparity between back of the house and front of the house wages. He went to a straight fee to divide the tip between the front and back of the house.
Now I did a little research and the type of restaurant is heads and tails above what most of my readers work at. Each dinner costs $210 per person, that is a significant price, thus nearly a $45 tip per person.
If half of that goes to pay for other salaries that does leave the wait staff with with a hefty amount in there pocket, Thomas Keller says he is doing it for his staff and to change the view on tipping in this country.
It's bullshit I say. He just wants to pay his kitchen out of the server's pocket rather than his own. Hell, you wait on just 10 people a night 5 nights a week that is a bit of change you'll get, but remember that living in NYC isn't cheap either.
I have had several friends of mine work in private clubs with a similar system. Here's how it goes. They get paid 18%, but it all goes through payroll and that's where the server gets screwed. Very little stands in the way of an owner lining his pockets with that service charge. In all cases that I have heard of they do just that.
Since everything is on tab they are paid for with credit cards, the owner makes the staff pay the credit card service fee out of their own pocket, so you're down to 15% right off the bat.
Then they pay the support staff, bussers, hosts, food runners...
Out of your tips as well.
Then you're down to 10%.
Then you get your paycheck, maybe it's $10-12 an hour, and there's no accounting for what the owner keeps for profit on top of that. Since its a service charge collect by the owner technically he is only obligated to pay minimum wage, so it technically isn't stealing or bilking the staff due to technicalities.
That is the main reason I'm against a service charge, you pay the same amount with the staff receiving as little of it as possible, and it quickly would go that way in other restaurants.
What of the good owners and managers you say, surely a businessman wouldn't screw over his own employees would he?
Turn on your TV, it happens everyday with pensions, 401k's, stock options, hell how many of you have lost your job or know someone who has because it was outsourced overseas?
All for money, you really think taking a kid's tip is anywhere in the same league as the money that is gained by things like that? Well it adds up, and any CEO of a chain restaurant would take that $5 you left on the table from that college kid or single mom if it meant his stock would go up 1/8th of a point.
I'd rather get screwed by the occasional asshole customer that with every table that walks in the door by an asshole owner that wants to pay the staff out of my pockets, which by the way are considerable more shallow than his.
So that's my position on why I want to work under the tipping system. Many of you made interesting comments and on teh next post I'd like to respond to several of them, I'll have it up in the next day or so...
Plus this is a bonus, many comments were made on how much you should tip and on what kind of service, as a waiter I have my opinions as well an will relay those!