Thursday, November 13, 2008

Maybe they "don't believe" in tipping

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.


Brian said...

I, for one, believe that any job that doesn't have a set pay standard high enough for you to live without having to put on a fake smile and kiss ass to get your income is not a job worth having. Ya know, if waitresses unionized and insisted... on fair wages like back of the house employees get then it might be alright for some people to not have to tip. I believe that the cost of the meal is what i should pay. I don't tip the dishwasher for doing his job. I don't tip the manager for doing his job. I don't tip the cook for doing his job. Why? Because they get paid to do their jobs. I don't get a tip for the work I do, I just get a pay check. So, fuck YOU waitresses of the world. Either stand up for yourselves and organize, or get different fucking jobs that don't make you rely on asskissing to pay your damn bills.

purplegirl said...

No, fuck YOU, Brian. You're an idiot.

Brian said...

Yeah, because all the words I typed are completely untrue. The truth sucks, doesn't it waitresses of the world. Get a job at a restaurant that pays a decent wage if you have to work a restaurant job. Or, maybe, go to college and get a degree, and stop being a dumb, whore waitress.

MeanPeopleSuck said...

Put away the trollerskates, Brian. Stop punishing all the waitresses of the world for the one you asked out in college that turned you down because of your halitosis.

purplegirl said...

Hahaha! At least he's providing us with entertainment. What a douche.

Jenny said...

Wow... I'm super late to this post, but I've recently discovered this blog and I really enjoying it. However I didn't enjoy reading this turd's comment. I hate tightwad jerk-offs who are opposed to tipping. Completely unethical and totally lacking any manners. Tipping use to happen BEFORE one received service to ensure it sure good. Hence, To Insure Proper/Prompt Service. If people weren't such scumbags (like Brian) servers could make a good earning off of their tips.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with Brian. I am not a tight wad. You have a job to do. Your job is to server the customers. You should do your job pleasantly and offer the best service you can. That is what you are there for. No tips should be ecpected. To say that you need bribery to offer better service is absurd! Do you bribe your doctor to get better service? Do you bribe your cashier to get better service? Do you bribe your mechanic to get better service? NO! If I performed poorly because I wasn't receiving tips at my job, I'd be fired immediately. And don't give me that crap about small wages. In the state that I live in (along with many others), waitresses start at minimum wage, the state does not recognize tips. And the only reason why dining out costs more and more each year is because waitresses DON'T CLAIM THEIR TIPS ON THEIR TAXES. I read an interesting article about that ON THE IRS WEBSITE. 40% of waitress income is not claimed. I pay my taxes, why should I pay yours? I went to college for 6 years on my dime to get my masters degree, my wife went for 8 years on her dime to get her PhD. Our "mommys and daddys" didn't help us (my parents are dead). Grow up, go to college, and get a better job. All your tip money is probably going to cigarettes anyways, not your kids.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous poster above me,
First off, you are no better than the redneck scum that comes through my restaurant and leave no tip for excellent service.
Second, most servers that I know (such as myself) are college students working to pay for tuition (or additional costs like rent for people like me who got their tuition covered through academic scholarships). Some are also college graduates passing time by working in this shitty industry until they can find a job in something that they went to school for.
Third, fuck you for assuming that all servers are uneducated assholes that deserve to be paid $2.13 an hour, which in my state is not a livable wage. Oh, and my tip money isn't going towards cigarettes nor my non existent children, but to help me save money so that I can go to graduate school relatively debt free. Again, go fuck yourself.
And fourth, I feel the need to correct an "educated" person such as yourself on your lack of knowledge of the English language.
*serve, not "server"
*expected, not "ecpected"
*Master's, not "masters"
*mommies, not "mommys"
*daddies, not "daddys"
Hopefully this cleared things up for you.

Anonymous said...

If you work for the hope that you'll get paid, as you currently do, then don't be surprised when some people don't tip you. The more I hear about you people complaining, the closer I get to refusing to tip. Some people don't believe that they should have to pay for a meal and then pay you on top of it, get over it or find a job with a stable wage. Restaurants should raise their prices in order to pay their employees and make it known that customers should not tip. Every other industry works this way, where in your diluted mind do you think people are being cheap?