Wow. Just… wow! No tongue-in-cheek tonight. I’m serious. A ‘Soap Box’ post. This is the second post in a row where we talk about tipping, and this one wasn’t planned, but I read something tonight that annoyed me so much I felt the need to comment on it immediately. Before we start I want to make sure a couple things are clear regarding my attitude about tipping. The Disclaimer, if you will…
- I tip. I tip well. Most often 20%+.
- I don’t begrudge paying a tip, per se, but I do get annoyed by the constantly moving target aspect.
- All but five states (I think) allow tipped employees to be paid less than minimum wage. I think that’s wrong. Minimum wage should be minimum wage. (I don’t think tips should be taxed as income, either.)
- The biggest annoyance regarding tipping in general is how it’s turned into an entitlement mentality. That’s what this post is about. I recently read on a forum where a server talked about how the tip was her money before the customer even gave it to her… but this is even worse than that.
I am going to do something that may or may not be kosher. I am going to post this person’s post from another forum in it’s entirety, as posted and unedited. I feel that to properly understand the depth of unethical behavior here it all needs to be said. (I’ll elaborate further down.) I am not including the name, though I suppose if you’re internet savvy enough you could probably find it on your own. So, without further ado, here we go…
The question was: How do waiters and waitresses handle “regulars” at restaurants who are terrible tippers?
The server’s answer was:
I handle them in a very simple way. I slip a service charge on their receipt. I always go under the “usual” good tip, I put 15% on. I get paid solely in tips. I don’t get tips, I basically don’t get paid. One bad tip isn’t going to ruin my day. But if I wait on you hand and foot to get $2 on an $85 bill and you do it every week, you bet I’m going to put a service charge on.
I had this couple that always came in. I was actually cashiering this night, another server got their table. We all know how horribly they tip, and dread getting them. They take up all of our time, asking for suggestions, pretending we forgot something when they never asked for it in the first place, multiple refills, etc. They tip $3 no matter what the bill is. I’ve seen their bill go up to $78, still a $3 tip. She put a service charge on them. Oooooh boy. They came up me at the front and demanded to know what this charge was. I told them “it’s an automatic service charge, it’s an automatically calculated tip to your server.” She was livid, “this is WAY higher than I would normally pay! Why is this on here?!” Uhhh m’am it’s because your bill was $45 and you still would have tipped her $3. I notice she went back and forth from the kitchen to your table at least 7 times with a smile. I think she deserves at least a 15% tip.
I don’t feel bad. We make $2 an hour. Until that changes and we get paid fairly, you can afford to leave a decent tip. If you can’t, don’t go out to eat. If your server sucks, by all means leave a small tip. If you leave $3 every time, I’m going to put a service charge on. And no, I won’t take it off and neither will my manager.
EDIT: I turned off comments because I’m not looking to argue. I wrote my answer, if you have a different opinion then write your own answer. No, automatic gratuity is not illegal. There is no legislation against using service charges. Usually they are only added to large tables, 6+ people at 18%. (hence, my adding 15% is a low amount) The IRS made a decision that starting in 2014 automatic gratuity would be a service charge, meaning it does not count as a separate income as a tip to the server, it goes to the restaurant and they have a choice in giving the money to the server as a tip or keeping it for themselves. This means the customer does not have a choice in paying this amount. Since posting this I’ve gotten multiple comments saying this must be illegal, I felt a need to clarify.
Again, just… wow!
I get there are bad tippers. There are also wonderful tippers. I’m not defending bad tippers, especially chronic bad tippers. If you’re a chronic bad tipper, screw you, you’re a cheapskate, but it’s still your money until you decide if/when you tip.
Think about the hypocrisy. If someone tips 35% does she chase them down and give back the excess? Ha! I bet not.
She talks about her actions being legal. I question that. Maybe. I know service charges are legal when stated up front, but afterward as a surprise, and at random based on her whims? (I would have spoken to her manager at another time, and if that didn’t get satisfaction I just might file a small claims suit against the restaurant solely to make my point. She’s an agent of her employer and it would get her employer’s attention, more so than if I sued her.)
Notice at one point she says, ” I notice she went back and forth from the kitchen to your table at least 7 times with a smile. I think she deserves at least a 15% tip.” You think? YOU think?!? Not only are you deciding if they tip, but you get to decide how much? Entitlement much?
She turned off comments to her post. Basically she knows her attitude is sketchy and she doesn’t want to have to defend it.
This, THIS, is exactly the type of entitlement mentality that our tipping culture has degenerated to, ‘If you don’t give it to me I’m going to take it.’