Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fuzzy Math - Servers Ticked at Tippers

Source: AOL News

The title of the article is "Waiters Say Diners Could Use Tips on Tipping," but from what I can tell, the waiters and managers could use some tips on mathematics.

Here's an excerpt:

One former waiter, Yakup Ulutas, is proposing restaurants change the system. Ulutas, a 36 year-old restaurant manager in Atlanta, founded a nonprofit organization, Fairtip.org, to persuade restaurants to implement an automatic 20 percent service fee on every check. He estimates 2,500 waiters have joined.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a server who wouldn't love to see his or her employer slap an automatic tip on to every check. But wouldn't it make more sense for restaurants to hike prices by 20 percent and raise workers' salaries?

"That wouldn't work," Yakup says. "Many restaurants wouldn't be able to afford to pay higher wages."

Something doesn't add up here. These folks want everyone to tip the "acceptable" amount or presumably, choose not to dine out. However, when the simplest suggestion, increasing the meal amount so that the servers can benefit from a living wage, we're told that this would drive restaurants out-of-business.

Again, presumably, it's only the non-tippers and low-tippers who would object to a built-in tip (or "autograt"), but that shouldn't matter, as servers and restaurant-owners must want these folks to stay home, anyway. (Unless they actually think they can tell people who don't believe in tipping x% where they ought to eat AND what to do with their money.)

The point is, either way, you're only left with patrons who believe in and support the tipping system. If the restaurant business can't survive without the folks who DON'T believe in the system, maybe the system should change to suit these people.

7 comments:

viperteq said...

Actually, the person quoted is correct in his assertion that higher item prices, and therefor higher wages, would drive a lot of the smaller Mom-and-Pop type restaurants out of business. The key to the whole thing is taxes. If menu items were to increase, by say 10%, not only would worker wages increase, but the amount of tax that the restaurant owner pays out annually increases as well. And we all know that Uncle Sam has been known for charging a dis=proportionate amount for tax in relation to what a restaurant actually grosses over the course of the year. In effect, the restaurant begins to start losing money.

Raising the prices on menu items also would have a detrimental effect on the patrons of these smaller restaurants. People usually eat their precisly because of the prices of the items on the menu. Price raising is often viewed as greed on the part of the restaurant and usually results in less patronage. Now, if you are a large upscale restaurant, none of those issues affect you at all....

West said...

re: "Actually, the person quoted is correct in his assertion that higher item prices, and therefor higher wages, would drive a lot of the smaller Mom-and-Pop type restaurants out of business. The key to the whole thing is taxes. If menu items were to increase, by say 10%, not only would worker wages increase, but the amount of tax that the restaurant owner pays out annually increases as well."

An tax increase isn't the same as going-out-of-business.

re: "And we all know that Uncle Sam has been known for charging a dis=proportionate amount for tax in relation to what a restaurant actually grosses over the course of the year. In effect, the restaurant begins to start losing money."

Actually, that's news to me, although it's not terribly surprising. Still, all sorts of costs could increase in any given year, for restaurant owners. Not all of them would drive them all out-of-business.

re: "Raising the prices on menu items also would have a detrimental effect on the patrons of these smaller restaurants. People usually eat their precisly because of the prices of the items on the menu. Price raising is often viewed as greed on the part of the restaurant and usually results in less patronage. Now, if you are a large upscale restaurant, none of those issues affect you at all...."

If this change took place, it'd probably be heavily advertised and reported. Let the customers know that no gratuity is necessary, as the price of the food has been increased to cover the tip.

People who are already paying that amount have nothing to lose and nothing to gripe about. Everyone else is unwanted, anyway, apparently.

Eudaimo said...

Not dead on topic, but the idea of an automatic tip is pretty preposterous. Have you observed the service difference between a waiter who knows he or she will be receiving a certain tip and a waiter who doesn't. It. Is. Dramatic.

I'm actually an extraordinary tipper. I routinely go over 20% for exemplary service. If there was ever an automatic tip (and I'm relatively certain that there won't be), I would never tip a dime over.

West said...

re: "Not dead on topic, but the idea of an automatic tip is pretty preposterous. Have you observed the service difference between a waiter who knows he or she will be receiving a certain tip and a waiter who doesn't. It. Is. Dramatic."

Kinda like how servers act when they assume they know whether they'll get a tip.

Then, if they don't, then some of them consider that to be confirmation of their suspicions.

If these folks believe, as the article suggests, that their service warrants these tips, then they ought to guarantee it and take the guess-work and variance out of the game.

re: "I'm actually an extraordinary tipper. I routinely go over 20% for exemplary service. If there was ever an automatic tip (and I'm relatively certain that there won't be), I would never tip a dime over."

I hope that's based on the idea that they wouldn't give you the same service. Otherwise, you're confirming what the article says about the weather determining the day's tips.

It's the employer's responsibility to pay the server. It's not the customer's responsibility to keep up with varied standards on tipping.

If the service is that bad, then the restaurant needs to fire the server.

Again, the server's wages should be between the server and his/her employer.

I go to dinner to eat, not to get dragged into a game with unclear rules.

raiden said...

I worked at a hotel for a few years and learned the value of tips to low wage employees. That said I refuse to go to restuarants where tips are manditory. I am a good tipper but I like having the option to control the value of my tip. I refuse to tip for bad service.

West said...

Currently, if the food is awful, you can object and not have to pay.

If the service were THAT bad, I see no reason why that would not also extend to autograts.

Kelson said...

Wait, enforcing a 20% tip? I thought the standard was 15%. Is 15% considered stingy now?

"I find it unacceptable for people not to know that the tipping rate is 20 percent," Burkhart said.

Apparently so. Wonder who made that declaration.

And now it's "20% after tax." (from bitterwaitress.com) WTF?

So apparently my usual practice of a base tip of 15% pre-tax, rounded up, plus extra if I'm impressed -- which I always thought was sufficient -- has become "unacceptable." Nice.

I go to dinner to eat, not to get dragged into a game with unclear rules.

...No kidding!