Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Cheap Bastards

I was thinking about writing this long involved essay on tipping. I struggled with it for hours and then gave up. You know why? Because most of you are smart enough to know a waiter is supposed to get at least a 15% gratuity. Just let the following horror stories speak for themselves…………………

1. A table’s bill is $208.85. It’s a four top. They have a $100 gift certificate. They ask me to deduct the gift amount and split the remainder between two credit cards. I present the men with credit card slips for $54.42 and $54.43. The tips are $8.16 and $8.17 respectively. They screw me down to the penny.

2. An Italian national. His check is $55.00. His tip? A lousy $4. You’re in America now paisan.

3. Four Israelis. The check is $140. The tip’s a measly $14. Next time eat at the Tel Aviv McDonalds. Oy Vey!

4. A waitress has a table with a $44 dollar check. She gets $4 stuck inside a religious pamphlet telling her that Jesus loves her.

“Hey Eternal Salvation is a nice tip when you think about it,” I say

“Fuck that” the waitress replies, “I want the cash. Jesus doesn’t pay the rent”

Those customers are going straight to hell.

5. Two Sex in the City Wanabees. Their check is $108. They pay cash and race out the door leaving the poor waitress nothing. If you spend all your money on Jimmy Choos and designer handbags and can’t afford to leave a tip - you can’t afford to eat out. Sorry to mess up your Candace Bushnell fantasy. Might I suggest you dine at Château Blanc next time? Live within your means bitches.

6. A couple’s on a first date. The check is $150. The man leaves me $12. I’m pissed. His date passes me on the way to the ladies room.

“Just out of curiosity what did he leave you as a tip?” she asks.

I happily show her the credit card slip.

“What a cheap fuck,” she exclaims. She goes back to the table and angrily tells her date what a cheapskate he is. I guess he’s not getting lucky tonight. Come to think of it I saw her at the bar alone later…………..

7. A man leaves $5 on a $100 check. His wife yells at him telling him he’s being cheap. Smiling the man says, “I’m not giving them my money. Let them go out and get real jobs.”

Ok you Social Darwinist Ayn Rander puke………

A few weeks later he comes in again. I remember him. When he tries to pay the bill his credit card comes up declined.

“Trust me I have the money,” he says nervously.

“Don’t worry you can do a real job washing dishes in the back,” I deadpan.

8. My all time favorite. A Birkenstock shod hippie couple’s check is $55. I present them with the bill.

“Waiter we don’t tip because we believe that would force owners to pay you a living wage,” Deadhead proclaims proudly.

I stare at him silently. My look says, “And you should tip me if you want to keep on living.” He squirms uncomfortably.

“Well maybe just this once” he says counting out a few bills.

“Thank you sir.”


It’s not easy being a waiter. 3.8 million Americans work in restaurants. The vast majority of their income is from tips. Support the economy and tip heavy! At the very least take pity us.

Comments:
While I'd agree with you on the tipping issue - I'd just like to say that in some parts of the world, 10% is the normal tip.

That being said, I'd like to apologise to the nice waitress in Seaworld that I stiffed when I was 17, because I honestly thought that the standard tip was 10%.
 
I don't understand why American's have this tipping system, do they not pay you properly or something? In my part of the world - Australia we don't give tips - it's not a done thing. What is different in America ?
 
Story #4 with the religious pamphlets reminded me of my future mother-in-law.

As an ex-waiter, I have vowed to always tip 25% minimum, regardless.
 
The first example you gave - where somebody kicks in $75cash of a $150 bill, and then the credit cardist only tips on his $75 - is the most common screw-over I experience as a waiter. It's bad with gift certificates, too, but whenever I get the old "There's cash in there, and can you put the rest on the credit card," I do a tacky move. When I return the check presenter with their slip, I put their bill on top with the grand total circled. It's a little tacky, I know, but it's better than only getting tipped on half a meal.

I think another tipping issue is that most diners don't realize that the waiter doesn't get to take all that money home. After tipping the busser, bartender, dishwasher, (not the hostess currently), and the banquet manager on large parties, I usually pay out 1/3 of my tippage. When I work banquets where the bqt. manager and head chef get tipped out, I walk with about 11.75% of a 20% auto-grat. That hurts.
 
I really agree with everything that's been said. Brilliant blog. Cryptosporidium in the HaloScan comments nailed it, too.

I thought I was alone, posting about the same thing over at http://nonhopsite.blogspot.com. A focus on different subject matter, but my experience as a restaurant host was there too.
 
In the UK, a standard tip is between 10% and 15%, but is OPTIONAL. If I go to a restaurant and recieve poor service - if my food is late, or cold, or not cooked right, or if the waiter takes half an hour to bring me a new drink, then i'll tip less - sometimes not at all

I really enjoy your blog but I simply can't understand this 'should tip' mentality. I've always understood tips to be about rewarding a server for good service, not compulsory
 
Luke: I understand the drink length and hopefully the management is doing something about receiving food cold/prepared the wrong way, but ... take it out on the server?? Oh right, like he made it.
 
I am a frequent diner-outer. I am a middle class wage earner (mid $20,000's) with a College degree and in my early 50's. I feel justified leaving a low tip when I am in a restuarant that is not busy and my wait person is more interested in chatting with the other staff than telling me why my meal is so slow in arriving.

Far too many waitpersons are totally inept at providing service.

It is your choice to enter this profession. You should only expect to be rewarded by a large tip, when you earn it!

I have been kept waiting in a busy establishment, however the waitperson will take perhaps 5 seconds to graciously explain the delay and at least smile. BAM, 20-30% tip.

Often I endure a long wait while servers fold napkins or chat about God-only-knows while I am uninformed, thirsty, out of bread, and HUNGRY! BAM- 0-5% tip.

The mere fact that you are in this profession, does not entitle you to a large tip.

The concept of a percentage needs to be revisited as well. If I order the highest priced item on the menu, does that mean you work harder to serve me than if I had ordered the lowest price item? If I order a $35 bottle of wine is it harder to serve than a $12 bottle? Why should you be tipped $7 rather than $2 for the process of opening and pouring?

As my new friend Wise Gold Dog reminds me:

Three things in human life are important:
The first is to be kind.
The second is to be kind.
The third is to be kind.

Good server=good tip, poor server=poor tip.

I am assuming that you entered this profession freely and are not being forced into servitude.
 
I'm calling B.S. on bulu.

Look, I really appreciate all the hard work that goes on in this industry. But in the US, a tip is not compulsory. It is the strongest voice that a consumer has to the restaurant. If I could tell the waiter to take 100% of my tip and screw the chef that put mayo on my hamburger, I would - but I can't.

I sure as hell don't feel guilty about reminding the server that they forgot to refill my drink, or get me my requested (and billed) side, or who only visited me 2 times in my 1 hour stay (once to get my order, once to give me the bill) via a bad tip.

This is America. If you do well in any profession, you get rewarded - and visa-versa. If you want guaranteed pay for crappy service, go work for the government.
 
To the guy who won't tip people well because they're "folding napkins": it's called sidework and nearly all restaurants have their servers do it. Obviously the best time to do it is when it's slow.

If your food takes a long time to arrive, has it occurred to you that kitchen might be to blame and not the server?

Fucktard. If you're making $25,000 a year, stick to TGIFriday's or Wendy's.
 
For those of you who think tipping is optional, please consider the fact that in most of the country, waiters make $2.13 / hour. If people don't tip, and restaurants can't find compitent waiters, they will have to pay a decent wage, which will increase the cost of dining out considerably more than 20%.

For the Euros and Aussies, yes, tipping is optional or nonexistant in your country. When you come to heavy tourist towns (like New Orleans where I live and work as a waitress) you may want to tell the waiter that you know the tipping custom at the beginning of your meal to ensure good service and not being screwed. In August, when lots of Euros come to my city, I sometimes work for nothing. Yes, I chose this profession, and I love it. And I am aware that I depend on the education and kindness of strangers. I am just pointing out that there are reasons for tipping other than giving somebody something extra.
 
For those of you who think tipping is optional, please consider the fact that in most of the country, waiters make $2.13 / hour. If people don't tip, and restaurants can't find compitent waiters, they will have to pay a decent wage, which will increase the cost of dining out considerably more than 20%.

For the Euros and Aussies, yes, tipping is optional or nonexistant in your country. When you come to heavy tourist towns (like New Orleans where I live and work as a waitress) you may want to tell the waiter that you know the tipping custom at the beginning of your meal to ensure good service and not being screwed. In August, when lots of Euros come to my city, I sometimes work for nothing. Yes, I chose this profession, and I love it. And I am aware that I depend on the education and kindness of strangers. I am just pointing out that there are reasons for tipping other than giving somebody something extra.
 
For those of you who think tipping is optional, please consider the fact that in most of the country, waiters make $2.13 / hour. If people don't tip, and restaurants can't find compitent waiters, they will have to pay a decent wage, which will increase the cost of dining out considerably more than 20%.

For the Euros and Aussies, yes, tipping is optional or nonexistant in your country. When you come to heavy tourist towns (like New Orleans where I live and work as a waitress) you may want to tell the waiter that you know the tipping custom at the beginning of your meal to ensure good service and not being screwed. In August, when lots of Euros come to my city, I sometimes work for nothing. Yes, I chose this profession, and I love it. And I am aware that I depend on the education and kindness of strangers. I am just pointing out that there are reasons for tipping other than giving somebody something extra.
 
Just so you know, I'm a Canadian woman who tries to fight the stereotype of women tipping poorly by always tipping 20% for fair-to-good service, 25% for excellent, and 15% for middling to poor.
 
this is for all the folks who dine out that think they are the only people in the restaurant.come on people.if the restaurant is full.(ours seats 350)have a little patience when waiting for items you request.i dont get it.cant you look around and see the place is busy?also,to people who think a restaurant is a camp ground.did you ever stop to think others may want to eat also.i find this very rude.if you feel like chit chatting go to the bar.us waiters cant make money if you sit there all nite.
 
When hearing about customers or guest that frequent restaurants, with the intentions of not tipping or being a "problem guest". It amazes me. I learned a long time ago from my very wise grandfather who said "Never offend the person or people that are preparing your food. They will have the last laugh and it is usually done with a polite smile."
 
I can't beleive how poorly the customers are being talked about on this board.

(oh, and I definitely agree that the server / staff have the last laugh. I never taunt them or show my level of disgust.)

I generally tip 15% or more. If I get crappy service -- that goes down to 10%, 5%, or even lower. If you give me great service -- you get a bigger percent. I have even given 100% tip on a low cost meal.

In my business -- If I service my customers well, I get more business, which leads to bigger salary/bonuses/etc. If I don't service my customers well, they go away and I get smaller salary/bonus/etc (or lose my job). Why should wait staff have a different set of rules???????
 
if you get $2-$3 wage - why don't you ask your manager for a raise?

why should I tip for poor service and why 15% is *expected*?

tipping sucks. I can see why people leave $3 on a $47 bill - it is normal in Europe.
 
I don't mind leaving a nice tip for good service but I hate when there is an expectation of tipping on the total balance which on a big bill includes a lot of tax...
 
sidework while customers are waiting? I'm sure the place has better policies than that.

you do it when its not busy, not when people are waiting.

course, we dont know the whole story of his dinning experience.

the same with most people not knowing how a restaurant operates.. or the fact that a server takes care of their own station, area, etc.

a little understanding goes a long way.
 
Customers are being talked about poorly b/c 70-80% of the time they are assholes. No wonder americans are so damn fat (not that i have anything against americans, i am one), they get more upset about whether or not their food is cooked right or comes out in time than more important things such as their health. ITS JUST FOOD PEOPLE. Get over it. To the person who says they get money based on customers/bonuses whatever...yeah but you also get base pay I presume, and i'm also guessing it's min. wage or above (because otherwise that would be illegal) Servers get paid 2.13 an hour. If your bitching that you have to tip, well then don't go out to eat obviously the dining out experience is not for you. When you fuck up at your job does your manager go back and deduct money from your paycheck? Yeah I didn't think so. We pick this profession so that means we must like it huh? Okay so how many people that dont work in the restaurant business LOVE their job. Is that the one you'd pick if you could pick any job? Once again, got ya! So fuck off, if you can't afford to eat out, then stay at home.
 
I've been a server for about 6 months while im going through college. There have been alot of issues mentioned in this blog, and i'd like to put in my 2 cents. As far as hot food, time waiting for food, time waiting for your seat, or even waiting for a refill. These are things that are most of the time out of my control. I cant control how long your well done steak takes to cook. Your wait time wasnt my fault. If somethings cold, icant help it unless you want me to hold your steak and see how warm it is. Im sure the cutomer would love that. I cant cut into your steak to make sure its right. Think about how many times youve cut into your steak and decided to toss it back on the grill at home. But heres another observation, the tables that dont tip well are usually ones that arent personable. They're rude, quiet, stand offish. I thought going out to eat was to have a good time and relax? Anyways just some random thoughts!
 
One more note on the refill issue. Its not like people drink at a constant pace. When someone sucks down 3/4 of a sode in 15 seconds im sorry im not standing right there for a refill. And im someone who can drink that fast. But i understand. So just chill out .....as soon as i know its empty/close i grab you another.
 
I agree on some of the points "anonymous said about "concept of percentage needs to be revisited". Do you have to work harder when a more expensive entree is ordered that should entitle you to a higher tip? I tip between 15 and 20 percent wether service is great or sucky, but this idea makes sense to me.

I was raised to believe that tipping your waiter is automatic. But is it fair to tip less than 15-20 percent to someone who gave terrible service?

Also, why should I tip on tax?
 
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