Should We Abandon Tipping Altogether? (Part Two)

Waiter Flickr.jpg
Back in January we asked in a blog post what would happen if we abandoned the tipping system that's become the mainstream method for providing front-end restaurant staff with compensation. The post was spurred by a TEDx talk given by Bruce McAdams, a Canadian restaurateur-turned-professor who advocates the end of the tipping system.

See also:
Maybe We Should Quit Tipping Our Front-End Staff Altogether

Comments came in from all sides of the argument, from business owners, waitstaff, bartenders and the customers that they served. Industry folks who felt like they were tipped well for their work wanted things to stay just the way they are. Others thought a fair living wage didn't sound like a bad idea. And to think: A waiter could never be stiffed on a table of 17 again.

Customers turned the conversation into a debate on how to calculate a tip, and whether or not to calculate a tip on tax and booze. The cheapos were shamed.

The New York Times recently published a story on another restaurant to ditch the tip system. Sushi Yasuda, an upscale Japanese restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, joined Per Se (also in New York), The French Laundry in California and others in removing tips from the equation.

The story quotes owner Scott Rosenberg, who said tips were not going to the workers, anyway, and that the staff received salaries and benefits and the restaurant took the tips. The practice reminds me a little of the Iron Cactus scandal that resulted in a sizable lawsuit last year.

While other restaurants that have tried alternatives usually opt for levying a service charge, Sushi Yasuda hides the cost of service in the price of the menu items. A picture of a receipt published on Gawker shows a $243 charge for sushi and a $9 bowl of edamame. After a line for sales tax (the entire amount is taxable including the embedded service charge), all that remains is the total and an explanation that tipping is not expected.

Following the custom in Japan, Sushi Yasuda's service staff are fully compensated by their salary. Therefore gratuities are not accepted. Thank you.

Back in the Times, another issue with the early adoption of new systems is pointed out. While the owner claims that cash left at tables is promptly refused, a number of customers reported leaving a sizable tip on their table, on top of the tip they'd already paid. New Yorkers are tipping on top of the tax they're paying on a tip-included $243 dollar sushi dinner. I think I'm in the wrong business.



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59 comments
govnor
govnor

When I waited tables I made $2.12 per hour plus tips.  The truth is though that you have to give that $2.12 back to the restaurant and then some in "tip out" to the bus boys and seaters.  So you're pretty much paying the restaurant for the privilege to work there and the ONLY compensation you actually receive is tips.  If you get stiffed you have to PAY for that stiff because you are charged tip out no matter how much you actually make.  Any server will tell you that on Sundays after church you're going to get a stiff or two and you just want to kill those assholes.  It's a terrible job and should be compensated by charging the customer the tip regardless as part of the meal like they do in Europe.  Yes, sometimes you get a good night with great tips, but other nights no matter how nice you are it doesn't matter.  You get a bunch of cheap assholes.  It's not reliable and you can't count on that money to make your bills, especially if you are working at a "family" type restaurant.  I'm sure fine dining or bartending is different, but try getting a job at one of the good places.

Maricela Ann
Maricela Ann

that's why I order takeout to avoid the tipping, even at buffets they waiters bring the bread and drinks and you feel obligated to tip, I hate that

Nathan Savage
Nathan Savage

No no I wound end up going postal probably. It wouldn't end up well.

Sean Sutherlin
Sean Sutherlin

No. Those people deserve a heck of a lot more than minimum wage.

Ihatetoast Katy
Ihatetoast Katy

Egads. I've lived for 10 years in a country that doesn't tip. Customer service was horrible. And I like over tipping when I can. It's such an easy way to make someone's day.

Angel Jones
Angel Jones

The sonic thing is not a myth, I worked there for 3 years. I quit when they decided to knock down the pay.

Jansen Newcum
Jansen Newcum

exactly that's why servers make $2.20/hr because these restaurants wouldn't stay in business if they had to pay their servers more than that and if they paid servers even $10/hr the price of the food would double

Glen Black
Glen Black

If you give the wait staff a living wage.

Michael TruckMonth Ricker
Michael TruckMonth Ricker

It helps to read the article. They're talking about abandoning tips in favor of giving them well above minimum wage. As an aside, I've heard the Sonic thing is a myth and that they make at least minimum wage. Furthermore there's basically no way to tip them at sonic unless you have cash on you.

Michael TruckMonth Ricker
Michael TruckMonth Ricker

Eh, people have their upper limits of what they are going to pay. No one is going to pay 20 bucks for a meal at Applebee's, for example. They'd have to stay competitive with other restaurants and somewhat compared to eating in. It's not to say the prices won't go up, but realistically they can't "double if not triple" if they want to stay in business.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

There are plenty of countries that don't have a tipping system and people do just fine

Lara Parker
Lara Parker

Bartenders get treated like personal slaves, which is a trade off because of the tips. We make drinks, babysit those who have been drinking, watch their personal items, listen to all their troubles, change the station for them, call them a cab, drive them home, listen to them complain because we served them a margarita in a margarita glass, yet we should have been psychic, and known they only drink Margaritas out of Hurricane glasses, deal with them being pissed that we cut them off. All while performing the same tasks for 50 or more people at the same time.... No one has to tip, but don't cry when you get an exact one ounce pour, we don't babysit your stuff, or listen to your crap. You get what you pay for.

Marc C. Socolov
Marc C. Socolov

In my experiences lately, I feel that servers "forget" what gets them their tip to begin with. It seems to be more of an expectation. I'll certainly go out of my way to tip generously when deserved. Most times than not, average service, I just double the tax though and that's that.

Jansen Newcum
Jansen Newcum

How would it cost you less? I really don't even understand what you're trying to say. The post is about paying servers more. Why would I ask for a pay cut?

Jody Roberts
Jody Roberts

You should be able to make a living doing a job. Are we seriously saying there should be a class of workers who should just live with their parents or homelessly or without being able go to to a doctor? If you can't make a living earning a minimum wage, then something is wrong with you or the minimum wage. I don't think burger flippers are categorically "wrong". Screw that, Esteban.

Esteban Butcho Diaz
Esteban Butcho Diaz

I just feel an awkward and unnecessary interaction is formed by both parties when a tip determines if the server gets to eat or eat well.

Russ Coffman
Russ Coffman

Let's cut all wages to $0 and we'll all be rich. Start with your own wage, then we'll talk.

Esteban Butcho Diaz
Esteban Butcho Diaz

Yes, it only makes sense to. Most people who I know tip on the basis of service. Although they do consider the fact that waiters/waitresses make under minimum wage, it's not the deciding factor for them. At the same time, I hate the feeling of being 'entertained' while I eat. Like the whole relationship that develops bothers me and I feel like an obligation is put on me to not be an 'asshole' and for the server to provide a good 'act'. Who the fuck cares if you talk to me about our common interests. Just give me my food and refill my drinks.

Russ Coffman
Russ Coffman

Jansen, then let's start with your salary. Ask for a pay cut today. That way, whatever your employer makes will cost me less. Are you in? Ha.

Misha Pope
Misha Pope

Most servers and bartenders get a pay check that is close to zero because taxes take up their whole $2.15 an hour wage. When you don't tip that server it s working for free. Fuck you if you expect them to do that. You wouldn't go to work for no pay. If you can't tip , stay the fuck home and if you don't tip , then you have ingested WAY more spit then you know. Don't fuck with people that are alone with your food.

Angie Thompson
Angie Thompson

And come in line with the true cost of what you purchase. Imagine that!

Nicolas Harris
Nicolas Harris

Good, then Americans wouldn't be so fucking fat and cook at home.

Jansen Newcum
Jansen Newcum

if restaurants paid their employees more the price of your food would double if not triple.

Angel Jones
Angel Jones

WT actual FUCK would you not tip your waiters. Too broke to tip stay the fuck home. Waiters make shit even the car hops at sonic make 2.20$. What kind of shit is that? I I have to listen to your bloated ass talking about how the pickle chips were too salty and then not get tipped.

Chris Altschuler
Chris Altschuler

Crazy that 20 years ago 2.15 was waiter minimum wage when I waited tables. It is still the same. That is rough. I went to work at country clubs, they pay 2.20, + tip+ club member gratuity, I was making $11-14 an hour + an occasional $20 from the patrons.

Charbel Constantine
Charbel Constantine

If all waiters stop working and demand higher wages rather than depend on tips things would be better. Tips are the most useless things

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

"The idea that the patrons not the business are responsible for paying the workers is total bullshit." ummm...where do you think business GET money to pay their employees? from a magic unicorn or from...wait for it...patrons?

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

how much should someone that makes hamburgers get paid?

EdD.
EdD.

It's disingenuous to say a restaurant"hides the cost of service in the price of the menu items" any more than they "hide" the cost of rent, utilities, or advertising. Why shouldn't a server be able to rely on a steady income instead of having to constantly worry they'll get stiffed by the cheap or those bad at math?

Melvin Willis
Melvin Willis

Only if food service workers are paid a living wage which is a heck of a lot more than minimum wage. Are we so greedy and cheap that we expect people who can't afford to live to server us?

Snow Foster Chelle
Snow Foster Chelle

I've been in the food & beverage industry for 25+ years. I could go off on a tangent here but, I am not going to. What I will say is until there is a complete overhaul of how we get paid, tips will have to continue. W out those tips, we couldn't afford to pay our bills. Making $2.13/hr DOES NOT pay said bills!

A Ft. Worth-O-Plex Music Page
A Ft. Worth-O-Plex Music Page

DUH! All workers should be paid a living wage by their EMPLOYERS. The idea that the patrons not the business are responsible for paying the workers is total bullshit. WAY past time this ridiculous practice ends.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

tipping again,  well let me quote a fb friend of mine that shows why it becomes a more love hate relationship with the service industry 

"Girls .... Second night in a row I've seen this .... When u go out (and ur cute) and u get drinks bought for u, tip accordingly, ur tab should be WAY more than $10.00 !!!!!!!!!"


So this person should not only get tipped on the drinks the guy bought the chick, but then should also get tipped on what the girl would have bought had they guy not paid for them?  Seriously?!?!?!?

AServer
AServer

@Greg820 @doofUSA 

I am a professional server, and to be a professional server there are things you have be study and be knowledgeable of of course you have to have food and wine knowledge but more and more there are new beers and liquors coming out all the time. Also being a really good server is a skill and to establish that it takes time so those of us that are that good are not just fly by nighters here today gone tomorrow. So being a profession server takes work and it is something we take seriously and are dedicated to doing right. I know quite a few professional servers. I don't live in my moms basement, my wife (also a professional server) and I own our home. So stop stereotyping all servers as that transition  college students drug addicts alcoholics. We are real people with real lives who take your pleasure and enjoyment of you dining very seriously

Greg820
Greg820

I am a regular fine-diner and I believe that waitstaff at that level are professionals and should be compensated accordingly.  Tipping is an antiquated practice and has no practical reason for existence other than tradition.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin 

I don't get it. Is this guy trying to say that the good looking girls need to pay some sort of "bar stool rent" in the form of a tip just because guys want to buy them drinks? Does he not understand that attractive females are the levers that bars use to pry open and empty men's wallets?

If this was my friend, I might try to clue him in on the whole "how the world works" thingy.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@AServer @Greg820 @doofUSA 


Where do I start!

-the professional server is the exception, not the rule......also, some chicks that work in titty bars DON'T do coke, and are ACTUALLY saving for college. 

-#2-oh forget it, you may want to have someone check over your handiwork next time you post-just saying.  You seem real, and I salute you good sir; have a great weekend. I do believe you are fighting the good fight. 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@DBX820 


"Professional waiter"?.........lives in mom's basement; the problem is that this job is transitional, perfect for students and seasonal workers.  The tip should be eliminated, and tacked on to the price of the product, especially in a fine dining establishment. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk The friend is a chick, so that explains part of it.  She used to wait tables at the bar I go to and one time she told me that she was pissed a 2 topper only gave her $10 on a $50 tab, I said why, she say, they sat there for 4 hrs, Im worth at least $5 an hr for the service I gave them. lol  she literally talks like a valley girl so it just grinds me even more.  I keep her on my FB feed just for humor purposes

doofUSA
doofUSA

Yes, professional waiter is a real thing.  There are plenty of professional waiters in Dallas that make 6 figures.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin @TheCredibleHulk 

That does help explain a bit. I suppose that I can see her point, to a point - I sometimes have a hard time being around my wife for 4 hours at a crack, and she never tips me.

OTOH, $10 on a $50 tab is still 20% and I'm going to guess that someone else in that bar, be it another server or the bartender probably (hopefully) got tipped on the rest of drinks that were purchased for those ladies, so nobody is really getting short-changed.

Hard to feel too sorry for her. There's always high-finance careers screwing over your neighbors available if you don't think you're pulling down enough scratch as a waitress.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@Greg820 @kergo1spaceship @doofUSA 

Well, actually (since you asked), I was in the restaurant industry for nearly 30 years; AND NO, I do not know any career waiters.  Honestly, I got to "I mean honestly"part of your comment, and just gave up ..........it was naive, petty, and void of any manner of deep and provoking thought. Salute'!?  No. 


ps-You have no points, have lost, and maybe you will find an abandoned puppy today...or a quarter? 

Greg820
Greg820

@kergo1spaceship @doofUSA Wow, that's a sad.  Please let me know what you do for a living so I can  psychoanalyze and generalize you. 

I mean, honestly, do you even know a career waiter?  While knowledge of a subject is certainly not required to post on the internet is does certainly help with the quality of the conversation.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@doofUSA 

Anybody that is THAT good on the feet as a waiter is usually offered a regular job by a patron-and they take it. The career waiter is usually a person not tremendously motivated, "stuck in a situation" or has the dreaded F+B disease known as alcoholism, or drug abuse.  But exception do exist. as in every rule, sir. 

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