A Gratuitous Conversation about Tipping

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Guys, more and more I'm seeing credit card receipts at counter service with a line for tip. Do you guys tip if you aren't being waited on, and the most service you receive is they bring your take-out when it's ready?

I tip about 10% if I am picking up takeout at a restaurant - I'm not 100% sure, but I think servers still get pegged on taxes for takeout. Anywhere else - if I'm picking up my own pizza, or waiting at an actual counter (coffee shop, doughnuts, sandwich shop, whatever), I don't. Basically, if the person who I am interacting with works for tips in general, they get a (smaller) tip. Everyone who gets a normal hourly wage does not get a tip.

Whoa and part 3 of that series has maths.

Here’s the underlying math of the whole thing. Let’s take a typical, Linkery-like restaurant (but one that accepts tips) where the guest spend average is about $25/pp, and our server can count on serving 40 guests in her five-table section on a busy weekend night.

At 21% average tip, her base level of tips is $210 before tipout

If she is able to increase her quality of service to top-tier, and things also go well with the parts of service she can’t control like the kitchen’s work, she would likely increase her average tip to 23%. Now she has increased her tips by $20, to $230 before tipout. She’s pretty dependent on the kitchen for this to work though, so she’ll probably tip out more to them in this case. I’ll estimate she ends up with a raise of $15 for the night.

If the server instead focuses on using the “Mega-Tips” techniques — such as calling the guests by name, touching them on the shoulder, squatting to meet the guests at eye level, and drawing smiley-faces on the check, all things which don’t require assistance from the kitchen — she’ll probably increase her tip average to 23% (or more) as well. In this case she’s less likely to increase her tipout to the kitchen, so she’s really increased her income by a full $20 for the night.

If she focuses on increasing sales to her section, she might get her guest spend average up from $25 to $28 — a very big increase from the business’ point of view. This, at 21% tip, would get her to $235, a raise of $22 from her original base.

Lastly, if she instead focuses her attention on increasing her section size — something which can be done in many ways, from coaxing/bullying the host or swooping in on tables, to emphasizing to the shift manager that it would save labor costs, or even telling a manager that the server next to them is overloaded and should cede some of his section — our server could bump her section from five, to say, eight tables, increasing the number of guests she serves in a night from 40 to 64. If she maximizes her section size, this will at some point stretch her to a point where her guests start getting poor service and are unable to purchase as much as they want. Let’s that happens here: sales per guest drops to $22 (a huge drop from the business’ point of view), tip percentage drops to 19%, and guests are less excited to return. This is a nightmare scenario for the business, and also lousy for the guests, but our server’s income before tip out has risen to $268, by far her highest yet. By pushing number of guests to the maximum possible, she’s made a raise of $58 on the night.

This is the plainest mathematical explanation I can give you to show that the tipping system, which is believed by customers to maximize quality of service, and believed by many restauranteurs to minimize the amount of supervision required of servers, actually works against the interests of both the guests and the business.

Haha. All that math is basically masturbation; it ignores the biggest numbers.

That glorious paper trail of tips is the IRS's wet dream. Income taxes on servers are practically designed to be hidden in this market, so making them trackable like that costs, what, 11% to the emlpoyer and an additional 11-15% to the server? I don't have my numbers in front of me.

Add into the fact that many servers willingly take paycuts to preserve a cash based income, and it's not as rosy as those numbers suggest.

I'm still largely in support of a "labor charge" to replace tips, but there's institutional reasons why it doesn't catch on here. Those laws would need to be changed first.

Kraint wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:
Guys, more and more I'm seeing credit card receipts at counter service with a line for tip. Do you guys tip if you aren't being waited on, and the most service you receive is they bring your take-out when it's ready?

I tip about 10% if I am picking up takeout at a restaurant - I'm not 100% sure, but I think servers still get pegged on taxes for takeout. Anywhere else - if I'm picking up my own pizza, or waiting at an actual counter (coffee shop, doughnuts, sandwich shop, whatever), I don't. Basically, if the person who I am interacting with works for tips in general, they get a (smaller) tip. Everyone who gets a normal hourly wage does not get a tip.

I don't tend to when I call something in and pick it up. I do sometimes, but it isn't a guarantee either way. Counter service is the same way for me, though I am more likely to tip then.

Generally if I'm not being served in a sit-down dinner situation, I don't tip. When I'm ordering take-out from PF Changs, it isn't a wattress bringing my food to the take-out counter, it's a hostess who merely rings me up.

Where I get messed up is when I take my son and I to get our hair cut. I never know how much to tip there, so I usually throw on $5 per hairdresser that serviced us.

Nevin73 wrote:
Where I get messed up is when I take my son and I to get our hair cut. I never know how much to tip there, so I usually throw on $5 per hairdresser that serviced us.

I tip $3 to $5 on a $13 haircut.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
Where I get messed up is when I take my son and I to get our hair cut. I never know how much to tip there, so I usually throw on $5 per hairdresser that serviced us.

I tip $3 to $5 on a $13 haircut.

I tip $5 on a $15 haircut

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
Where I get messed up is when I take my son and I to get our hair cut. I never know how much to tip there, so I usually throw on $5 per hairdresser that serviced us.

I tip $3 to $5 on a $13 haircut.

Yeah something like that. $3 on $15 is 20% after all.

Fun thing was I grew up with my uncle owning a barber shop and was never really introduced to tipping for a haircut. I mean he's the owner, he gets a cut of everything. Or maybe it was just the smaller town or the family thing. I don't know, but no one ever mentioned tipping for a haircut in my first 22 years or life or so. College was only a 45 min drive from home, so I'd still visit 1 weekend a month or so and grab a cut while I was there.

Was pretty shocked when my wife, then girlfriend, went to get some expensive ($80? $100?) haircut with highlights and whatever stuff going on and drops a big tip on top of that. Apparently tips for manicures and pedicures too.

So many unwritten rules of our strange society.

You tip for a hair cut?!? Good grief, I already have to pay 45-50€ being a woman and having shoulder length hair. Can't imagine tipping on top of that... Just not done out here.

Tanglebones wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
Where I get messed up is when I take my son and I to get our hair cut. I never know how much to tip there, so I usually throw on $5 per hairdresser that serviced us.

I tip $3 to $5 on a $13 haircut.

I tip $5 on a $15 haircut


So what, you think you're better than me?!

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
Where I get messed up is when I take my son and I to get our hair cut. I never know how much to tip there, so I usually throw on $5 per hairdresser that serviced us.

I tip $3 to $5 on a $13 haircut.

I tip $5 on a $15 haircut


So what, you think you're better than me?!

What he didn't say is what hair is getting cut.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
Where I get messed up is when I take my son and I to get our hair cut. I never know how much to tip there, so I usually throw on $5 per hairdresser that serviced us.

I tip $3 to $5 on a $13 haircut.

I tip $5 on a $15 haircut


So what, you think you're better than me?!

Well, yes

Nevin73 wrote:
Generally if I'm not being served in a sit-down dinner situation, I don't tip. When I'm ordering take-out from PF Changs, it isn't a wattress bringing my food to the take-out counter, it's a hostess who merely rings me up.

The kitchen staff divvies up the tips with the waiting staff. If you don't tip on things like takeout at PF Changs, you shortchange all those who depend on tips to survive. It's a sucky situation no matter how you look at it.

Yeah I don't tip on take-out either. Or carry-out pizza vs delivery. I mean come on, that's why I'm driving over there using my own gas and heading home to eat. I'm not getting any special service, just the food.

Edwin wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
Generally if I'm not being served in a sit-down dinner situation, I don't tip. When I'm ordering take-out from PF Changs, it isn't a wattress bringing my food to the take-out counter, it's a hostess who merely rings me up.

The kitchen staff divvies up the tips with the waiting staff. If you don't tip on things like takeout at PF Changs, you shortchange all those who depend on tips to survive. It's a sucky situation no matter how you look at it.

I'm not sure that is universal. My wife was a waittress for a long time and she doesn't generally tip on take-out either. I'll have to ask her more on that.

Eleima wrote:
You tip for a hair cut?!? Good grief, I already have to pay 45-50€ being a woman and having shoulder length hair. Can't imagine tipping on top of that... Just not done out here.

I wish I could live on Dantooine. Sounds awesome.

Nevin73 wrote:
Edwin wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
Generally if I'm not being served in a sit-down dinner situation, I don't tip. When I'm ordering take-out from PF Changs, it isn't a wattress bringing my food to the take-out counter, it's a hostess who merely rings me up.

The kitchen staff divvies up the tips with the waiting staff. If you don't tip on things like takeout at PF Changs, you shortchange all those who depend on tips to survive. It's a sucky situation no matter how you look at it.

I'm not sure that is universal. My wife was a waittress for a long time and she doesn't generally tip on take-out either. I'll have to ask her more on that.

If it wasn't like that back then it most certainly is how things are now.

Stele wrote:
Yeah I don't tip on take-out either. Or carry-out pizza vs delivery. I mean come on, that's why I'm driving over there using my own gas and heading home to eat. I'm not getting any special service, just the food.

This. The food and price are the same for carryout, so it's not about that. The tip is supposed to relate to customer service (i.e. it's not about the person/heat/utensils involved in cooking the food). The service of swiping my card & putting my food in a bag is very different to the quantity of attention that I would expect if I sat down for an hour.

Just follow the custom of the country you are in.

If the establishment accepts tips, I don't have a problem tipping flat 15%, more if service is above average.

However, in some countries, it's either frowned upon or not customary to tip so I just don't do it.

One of the better articles on tipping I've read in awhile. Here in the Midwest, even if tips aren't pooled, servers still have to tip out bartenders and bussers, and bartenders have to tip out barbacks. It really is a lot more complicated than it seems.

Throw the cash-incentives and tax loopholes in there, and it's a lot more difficult than "just charge a service fee."

Moral of the story? Always tip the full now-standard 18-20%, because it's not just your waiter or bartender you're paying out; it's the runners who are sending money home to their parents, and bussers who are supporting kids on their tip money, too.

Don't like the system? Thinking "Why is taking care of the employees my business?" Well, because you're eating at a restaurant in America, and by doing so, electing to participate. And maybe some day we'll figure out a different system, like every other goddamned country. But for now, this is what we got.

Edit - bottom line being that if you had terrible service (or food),quietly bring it up with a floor manager or GM. That's what they're there for, and it's in their best interest to fix the problem. Not tipping is a passive aggressive non-solution. Making a huge scene would be an aggressive non-solution, because once you become That Guest, the sympathy falls to the server.

Except tipping, for me, always has been and always will be voluntary. I do tip and generally well. But if anyone ever tells me that I have to tip (outside of large party situations) that will be the day I don't tip. Everyone in the "tip chain" are welcome to get other jobs if they want guaranteed money. It's like telling people that they have to buy what the salesman is selling because otherwise his kids don't eat. It just doesn't work that way.

Nevin73 wrote:
Except tipping, for me, always has been and always will be voluntary. I do tip and generally well. But if anyone ever tells me that I have to tip (outside of large party situations) that will be the day I don't tip. Everyone in the "tip chain" are welcome to get other jobs if they want guaranteed money. It's like telling people that they have to buy what the salesman is selling because otherwise his kids don't eat. It just doesn't work that way.

Sure it does. You're already buying the food, just refusing to pay for how the food got to you, in the circumstance you described above. It's like buying the car but only paying 80% of the agreed upon price because the salesman annoyed you.

Seth wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
Except tipping, for me, always has been and always will be voluntary. I do tip and generally well. But if anyone ever tells me that I have to tip (outside of large party situations) that will be the day I don't tip. Everyone in the "tip chain" are welcome to get other jobs if they want guaranteed money. It's like telling people that they have to buy what the salesman is selling because otherwise his kids don't eat. It just doesn't work that way.

Sure it does. You're already buying the food, just refusing to pay for how the food got to you, in the circumstance you described above. It's like buying the car but only paying 80% of the agreed upon price because the salesman annoyed you.

Except that legal "contract" between the customer and the restaurant is only for the price on the menu whereas the legal contract with a salesman is for the agreed upon price. A more appropriate analogy would be refusing to pay the destination charge on a new car. Good hagglers can get that charge deducted from the price of their new car.

Yeah, that's a better analogy. But regardless, it doesn't change the fact that not tipping only hurts people who had little or nothing to do with the complaints.

The worst insult, of course, is to tip 20% then never eat at that place again. Olive Garden has lost literally thousands of dollars from me since they pissed me off in 2007. Red lobster too, and that's just collateral same-corporation damage.

I think you just hang on out of habit now. Like your refusal to join the rest of the world with the metric system.

No one knows all the rules, few understand the depth of the chain, free riding is encouraged. It is a bullsh*t way of running things and the most common argument I see about changing it seems to boil down to: "well if we changed the system then we'd have to change all of the system so of course that won't work."

There are studies showing the performance pay is negatively correlated with performance so that prop to the argument looks to be on shaky ground. Why are you all so invested in this terrible system?