Author Topic: A better world through tipping?  (Read 803 times)

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Softly Spoken

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A better world through tipping?
« on: February 24, 2013, 04:32:08 PM »
I was going to put this in the Life folder, then I decided that it should go here because I don't have a specific etiquette question. I also notice that discussions here seem slightly more flexible and less apt to be locked (hopefully :P). This issue has been bouncing around my brain for a while and I decided to throw it out for my fellow ehellions to play with. ;)

I have read many threads about good/bad service and good/bad tipping. I have read the percentage debates about tipping, and read about who/when/how to tip. I have read the tip/no tip debate.

So what I am wondering is...besides giving us something to talk about, does it ever really make a difference?

I can understand how a customer may get some personal satisfaction for denying a server what they feel they have failed to earn. However beyond that, what does undertipping accomplish? Does a server know why they are getting less money? Do they care? Does it teach them a "lesson" or does it just make them angry? Did the customer tip low because they should have or were they just cheap? Withholding any or all of a tip as punishment doesn't seem like a useful tool to ensure better service. OTOH, generous tipping usually seems to encourage goodwill and good service - does that make it an example of "carrot over stick" encouragement or is it more like bribery?

If you are a customer: Do you tip as a reward? As punishment? Out of sympathy because you know how low their pay is? Just because you know you are "supposed" to? Do you expect better service if you are a good tipper? Do you feel justified tipping badly if service is poor? If so, are you doing it to send a message? As an appropriate consequence? Do you expect the server to improve their performance in the future? What's the best service you ever received?  :) The worst? >:(

If you are or have ever been a server or in any job that allowed tipping: Do you feel you are owed gratuity? In your experience do people tip over, under or just right? Do tips encourage you to improve your performance? Do low tips make you want to work harder, or just make you angry? Have bad tippers been justified or are they just cheap or impossible-to-please SS? What was the best tip you ever got, and what did you do to get it? 8) Have you ever done anything that even you had to admit probably negated the need for a tip? :-[

I know these are big questions and I'm not looking for The Answer, just answers. I sincerely hope I'm not putting sparks near a powder keg because I know people have strong feelings about this, especially those who have worked in the service industry. I guess you could call this a social-philosophical survey. I am really curious about people's feelings on this, and their experiences that helped shape those opinions. ;D
"... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
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"We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't."  ~Frank A. Clark

Amara

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2013, 04:54:37 PM »
A long, long time ago I worked for a couple of years as a cocktail waitress but never in food. I've been a restaurant customer over many years in places that range from very casual to extremely formal.

The truth is that I wish tipping anyone for anything was banned. Pay people what they are worth, and don't leave it up to individuals to decide that.

That said, my late father (and all of us children) tip well. Very well. Just yesterday we went out to lunch here at a fine Italian family-owned restaurant, and on a $155 bill (including tax) we tipped $40. It just feels right even if I disagree with the practice.

I remember one breakfast out with my fellow runners back in the 1990s when I lived in Hawaii. Every Sunday morning afterward a group would go to this one restaurant. One day the service was, unfortunately, bad.  The guy who often insisted on picking up the meal told me later that what he did whenever that happened was not to leave a quarter or nickel or nothing but instead call the waitress over, hand the regular tip to her in person, then explain that he felt the service was bad and why so she knew but didn't suffer for that day. It only happened once. And I thought it was gracious of him to handle it that way so I have decided that if I ever get bad service that is the way I will handle it. 

otterwoman

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2013, 04:57:43 PM »
Some times I've left no tip when no one ever served me, as in I was seated, but no one ever came to take an order. I would end up just leaving. There was one time where I ate, but still left no tip. My friend and I had gone to the buffet restaurant where he worked, for a meal. All I ordered was the buffet and a drink. All the waitress had to do was clear plates away and refill drinks. She did neither. My friend had to refill my drink for me, and the hostess came by, saw the plates and cleared them away. The waitress came by to chat with my friend, but not to do her job. I filled out a comment card saying why she was not getting a tip. My friend told me not to leave it on the table, the waitress would throw it away. Friend handed it to the manager himself. After we left, the waitress scurried over to the table to collect her tip, and seeing none, went to the manager and complained about my friend. The manager told her this is why you didn't get a tip and handed her the comment card.

She quit within a week or so after that.

On the great tip side; when I was managing a store I took my employees and their SO's out for Christmas dinner; drinks, appetizers, dinner and dessert. Some people got a bit tipsy, and perhaps a little loud. The waitress was great. The total bill was $200, I tipped $100. She hugged me! Full disclaimer: I, personally, had won a sales contest. The prize was $300 for a night out on the town. I used my prize to pay for the dinner.

Hmmmmm

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2013, 05:14:22 PM »
I tip based on what I believe they "earned". I am not of the opinion a tip is mandatory and is discretionary spending by the customer.  So if I get average service, I'll give an average tip of around 20%; exceptional service 25% or up; below expectations 15%; extremely poor service will be no tip and a discussion with management.

I don't tip to teach a lesson. 

Why do you feel a server should be tipped at the same level no matter what the quality of the service?

m2kbug

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2013, 05:22:35 PM »
I guess I see a tip in part as a "punishment/reward" type of situation.  If the service was horrendous, no tip and it would accompany a discussion with management.  If the service isn't all that great, I will tip 10%.  If the service is excellent, 20%.  Most of the time I stick with 15%.  I'm sure the server knows better service results in bigger tips, so it would make sense that a smaller tip means the service can be improved upon.  I don't think it's bribery.  Its' their job to provide good service and if they do, they will be rewarded accordingly, although I would much rather just eliminate tips all together.

katycoo

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2013, 05:33:18 PM »
I don't know what I'd do in the USA.  But if the service was truly appalling I'd probably skip a tip.  If the food was good but service bad, I might tip the manager and direct him to pay it to the kicthe  staff.  I see no reason why poor workmanship should be rewarded.

Of course, I also believe that the USA should just start paying their service staff a decent base wage so that tips can actually be a justifiable reward.

Softly Spoken

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2013, 05:34:30 PM »
I tip based on what I believe they "earned". I am not of the opinion a tip is mandatory and is discretionary spending by the customer.  So if I get average service, I'll give an average tip of around 20%; exceptional service 25% or up; below expectations 15%; extremely poor service will be no tip and a discussion with management.

I don't tip to teach a lesson. 

Why do you feel a server should be tipped at the same level no matter what the quality of the service?

If that last question was addressed to me, I actually don't. I just 1) have never received such bad service that I seriously considered a lesser tip, 2) can't usually be bothered to do the math if I'm only slightly put off by the service, and 3) I don't always know if my "below expectations" experience was the fault of the server or someone else. Was my food late because the kitchen was slow or because the server didn't pick it up? If they didn't pick it up, was it because they were lazy or because they were slammed? If you can be impartial enough to say "late and cold food is late and cold food," and dock the tip accordingly, then more power to you - I am not comfortable giving a server less then they deserve if my dissatisfaction was not their fault. I will admit to being a lazy tipper. Unless I was thoroughly disappointed and no effort was made to rectify my feelings, I am reasonably content with my dining experience and am happy to give servers their tip. I tip with gratitude and I tip with empathy,  because serving seems like an unenviable job.

I appreciate your system - it is very clear and concise. I think the only difficulty I would have is deciding what behavior on behalf of the server made the service "average," "exceptional," etc. Everyone has their own expectations, which may even vary from situation to situation.
"... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
-William Shakespeare

"We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't."  ~Frank A. Clark

kherbert05

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2013, 09:17:27 PM »
My persona belief is that when you go to a sit down restaurant in the US you are part of a social contract that says you pay 15% - 20% of your bill to the waitstaff. I would pay higher prices to not have to mess with tipping but that is not how our system and taxes are set up right now.


If service is so bad that the server doesn't deserve to be paid - I'm not going to be around for the end of the meal anyway. I'll pay for what I've consumed tell the manager why I'm cancelling my order and leave.


Off the top of my head I've done that about 5 times were I was lied to and going to the ER because I was having a reaction (I give them the choice I pay for the meal and they pay full freight on the ER visit or no one in my party pays for the meal. guess which they choose).


One time there was a family having a loud descriptive conversation about a child's visit to the bathroom across the restaurant. THey got kicked out. The restaurant gave everyone else a discount. (I tipped on the full amount because the servers had scrambled to get the management).


My grandmother once thanked a manager for a "comped" meal after trying to get their bill for over 30 minutes. Then she walked out while he picked his jaw up off the floor. They didn't send the cops after her, they knew our family by name, and we have been back since.


Once in University I got a group of 15 of us to leave after very shoddy treatment. IT was when the feds were raising the drinking age by threatening to cut off funds for Highways. I was legal 2 or 3 different times and never grandfathered during this time. So I admit it was confusing. We went into the restaurant and ordered. Some who were legal and not driving ordered beers and what have you. Those who were not legal ordered soft drinks.


They took the order. Then the manager came over and said he would not serve a mixed table. A couple of the guys started to get upset. I told them to cool their jets - that Dad had mentioned TABC was having a crack down around places near UH and we were near UT. Probably the same thing. Get a soft drink, let them know they were clear if TABC came in and we could get them some beer on the way back to campus. Everyone agreed.


One of the girls didn't like sodas or ice tea. I don't remember what she ordered but the manager thought it had alcholol in it. The manager flipped out grabbing the drink from the girl. We cancelled our orders and walked out.


I mentioned it as a "you won't believe what happened to us" a week or so later when I met my parents and cousins at a cousin's lake house. In one of those it is a small small world situations turned out that Dad and one of my cousins knew the owner. Cousin knew him better and let him know what had happened.



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Sharnita

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2013, 09:34:06 PM »
I believe that in many (most?) places waitstaff know who regularly gets the best tips.  They hopefully watch them to see what they do and  learn superior service from them.

Sophia

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2013, 11:27:11 PM »
When I was a waitress, I knew and noticed.  I tried very hard.  Sometimes I knew I'd messed something up.  You learned what annoyed people, and what people like, and you learned what particular people wanted.  I earned really good money that way.  You learned to really observe people. 

I object to tipping in what I call "accordion playing" situations.  I think I heard Johnny Carson say that you never hear anyone say "that person played the accordion really well."  It is either played, or played badly, it doesn't seem possible to do it well.  For example, I consider cleaning a hotel room to be a accordion situation, and I don't tip.   

I don't think tipping is to make up for lack of wages.  I think that reverses the cause and effect.  Restaurants can pay less than minimum wage and find happy staff because the tips can be good.

I have observed that the expectation of a good tip can give you superior service.  When I worked for the German company and spent several weeks there a year, I was disappointed in the mediocre service.  With my bosses approval, I started tipping 15% (and going to the same few places) and I got really excellent service. 

CakeEater

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2013, 03:49:24 AM »
I don't know what I'd do in the USA.  But if the service was truly appalling I'd probably skip a tip.  If the food was good but service bad, I might tip the manager and direct him to pay it to the kicthe  staff.  I see no reason why poor workmanship should be rewarded.

Of course, I also believe that the USA should just start paying their service staff a decent base wage so that tips can actually be a justifiable reward.

I never tip in Australia. Do you generally leave a tip here? I know that many restaurants leave a helpful suggestion to tip on the bill, but I don't think it's necessary here and I'd hate to see it catch on, so I don't.

petal

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2013, 05:26:26 AM »
Im so glad i live in Australia and we dont tip here  (except for fancy restaurants).   its too stressful.

I firmly believe that businesses  (sp?) should pay workers a proper living wage and not make them rely on people tipping to get them a decent pay packet

Margo

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2013, 05:55:32 AM »
I'm in the UK so tend to see tips as reward for good service, and when in the UK, I tip on that basis

(although when I'm in the US I follow the custom of the country and tip automatically unless the service is very bad, in which case I'll reduce the tip. In the US the only time I wouldn't tip at all would be if the service was really bad, and the server rude.

I do tip higher for good service - the waitress in the hotel restaurant who remembered my preferences after the first morning (despite the hotel being full) for instance, - she got a 30% tip.

When I've visited the US I have generally left tips for the chambermaid, partly on the basis that I'd rather err on the side of being generous than not, partly because I know they are very badly paid.

katycoo

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2013, 07:38:04 AM »
I don't know what I'd do in the USA.  But if the service was truly appalling I'd probably skip a tip.  If the food was good but service bad, I might tip the manager and direct him to pay it to the kicthe  staff.  I see no reason why poor workmanship should be rewarded.

Of course, I also believe that the USA should just start paying their service staff a decent base wage so that tips can actually be a justifiable reward.

I never tip in Australia. Do you generally leave a tip here? I know that many restaurants leave a helpful suggestion to tip on the bill, but I don't think it's necessary here and I'd hate to see it catch on, so I don't.

No, not generally.  I tip when I'm impressed with the service.  I expect good, timely, polite and helpful service, so you need to be a cut above the expectation, but I reward people when they are.

enjoIi

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Re: A better world through tipping?
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2013, 08:16:43 AM »
I don't know what I'd do in the USA.  But if the service was truly appalling I'd probably skip a tip.  If the food was good but service bad, I might tip the manager and direct him to pay it to the kicthe  staff.  I see no reason why poor workmanship should be rewarded.

Of course, I also believe that the USA should just start paying their service staff a decent base wage so that tips can actually be a justifiable reward.

I never tip in Australia. Do you generally leave a tip here? I know that many restaurants leave a helpful suggestion to tip on the bill, but I don't think it's necessary here and I'd hate to see it catch on, so I don't.

No, not generally.  I tip when I'm impressed with the service.  I expect good, timely, polite and helpful service, so you need to be a cut above the expectation, but I reward people when they are.

I've only tipped a couple of times here in Australia (and back home) and that was because the service was so outstanding that even just telling the manager wasn't really enough. 

But when I see the average server is being paid more than a lot of staff in pharmacies and other areas that require a great deal of knowledge, I get really annoyed.  Especially when here in Perth the service in not fantastic a great deal of the time.  And you get charged what seems like an astronomical amount for a cup of very crappy coffee.   (Muzz Buzz is the exception - I love their coffee, I love their service and I love my lime green straws with which to drink it!)