I had a table last night that I knew, from the start, wouldn't tip me. I've waited on them before, and they didn't tip me then. The waitress who was cut from the floor right as they sat down warned me.
But I thought, maybe they just thought they had bad service. I'll make an extra effort, and I'll make sure everything is perfect, and we'll see what happens. They were one of only two tables I had, and the other was sipping margaritas, so basically they had my undivided attention.
This table consists of a mom, her son, and her two daughters. One of the daughters is married, and they have a little teeny baby plus a two year old. Then there's a boy of about eleven, and I'm don't know how he's related--the rest of them are Hispanic, and he's blond and blue-eyed and bears no resemblance. Anyway, that's seven people who are eating plus a high chair taking up space.
They all had drinks; they all ordered meals, and two ordered well done steaks. I offered them a couple of little extras. I asked if they'd like me to bring out the toddler's food right away, so I brought out that and one girl's salad immediately. I kept their drinks full until dinner, nobody's ran dry. After that, I did forget one of their sodas for about five minutes while I was getting the sauteed mushrooms one of them said she ordered (didn't) and getting steak sauce, more ranch, etc. etc. The two younger kids had desserts, they said it was their birthday, but I think they said that last time too.
Their total ticket was $110. With the exception of the forgotten soda, and the mushrooms that weren't ordered, they had absolutely perfect service, with my undivided attention. Fifteen minutes after I left them the check, they asked me to split it. One person paid about $40 with a card, and the rest handed me a hundred dollar bill. I returned their card and their change within two minutes.
I suspected I'd get stiffed, so I wasn't upset when I found not a single penny left for me. I knew I didn't deserve it; I made a conscious effort to provide the best service possible I was irritated, but I didn't let it get to me. They do it to everybody. I don't know why, but I might ask them next time. What's the worst that can happen? They're already not tipping me. And maybe they think gratuity is added, or maybe the eleven year old who inexplicably handles the cash for them is pocketing the tip.
I wouldn't be rude about it, just sweetly mention that gratuity isn't included in the ticket. Or very politely ask them, "I remember the last time you were here, I didn't get a tip. Can you please tell what I did wrong so that I can improve my service to you?" Sure, maybe they'll call me rude and ask to speak to the manager, but if I handle it properly, the worst that will happen is a write-up, and like I care about that.
Or maybe they'll tell me they "don't believe" in tipping because the restaurant should pay my wage. I've been thinking about this, and here's what I've come up with:
The average restaurant only makes 15 cents on the dollar--the rest goes to food costs, labor, etc. It's a very slender profit margin.
On a weekday, my restaurant has two people do the opening sidework from 9-11 (4 labor hours). After open, we have eight people on the floor from 11 to roughly 1, but then there's finishing tables and sidework. So that's eight people from 11 to 3 (32 labor hours). Then maybe there's two from 3 to 4 (2 labor hours), 4 from 4 to 5 (4 labor hours), then another eight from 5 to 9 (32 labor hours), four from 8-10 (8 labor h ours), and two more until close at 11, leaving at roughly 11:30 (3 labor hours). Then there's the bartender, who also doesn't get minimum wage. If you assume one bartender with no overlap from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., that's 14 labor hours hours.
So, in an average day, we have among waitstaff 99 labor hours if everything goes smoothly and nobody is waiting on campers, takes extra time on their sidwork, etc. Let's round that to 100 labor hours per day just for the servers. Forget about the hostesses and kitchen staff. In my state, servers get $4 per hour (it used to be 2.13!). Let's say that restaurants were requires to pay standard minimum wage to all servers; we won't factor in to this the fact that nobody would do such a demanding, shitty job for $7 an hour.
That would take the daily labor wages for waitstaff from $400 a day to $700 a day. That's a 42% increase out of the restaurant's pocket on a daily basis. So now, instead of making 15 cents per dollar sold, they're losing money. So naturally, prices go up by that 42%.
Say you and one other person go out to eat at .... I don't know, lets say Chili's. We'll say you just go very basic and order two waters and two $6 soup/salad combinations. You have a $12 tab. If you tip strictly on percentage, and till 15%, your total tab for two people will be $13.80. Maybe you'll go big and do 20%, for a $14.20 tab.
Try it with eliminating tipping. Suddenly, prices increase by 42%. Your $12 tab is now $17. You're paying more. And when you think about the fact that wage would probably have to increase to at least $10 to keep people in the place, your $12 tab would become $19.
Let's try a bigger meal. Four people, four basic margaritas ($25), an appetizer ($7), four ten dollar meals ($40), and a dessert ($5). Basic tab, $77. With fifteen percent tip, $88.50.
But if you apply a 42% price increase, your dinner is suddenly costing you $109. $123 with the 60% increase.
(I admit my math is simplistic. Restaurants would probably find other ways to cut costs, like using smaller portion sizes. So then you're getting less for your money, so I'd say it all evens out.)
Still think tipping is a bad idea? Then you're not standing on any idealogical grounds. You're just a cheap-ass douchebag. Go to McDonald's.