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Tipping: Yay or Nay?
April 13, 2011 4:26 PM   Subscribe

Australian author, John Birmingham, recently visited New York and has written an op-ed piece on the tipping culture in America. He found it strange, given tipping does not exist in Australia but he wondered if Australia should perhaps adopt it, especially if it could provide an increased level of service. However given the oft-discussed troubles with tipping and the somewhat decent base wage in Australia, one might think adopting tipping is probably not a good idea. Even some US businesses are now banning employees from taking tips, so perhaps this form of payment-for-service, described by Birmingham as "an excuse for slavery" will see its end soon.
posted by Effigy2000 (293 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
At the coffee bar at the nonprofit where I work, tipping was not allowed, because the cafe was owned by the nonprofit, so the profits from the coffee bar went to the nonprofit, so tipping messed with the accounting. It was weird at first, not tipping for espresso, but we got used to it.

Then, we turned over the coffee bar to Bon Appetit, and they've tried to institute tipping, like a regular coffee bar.

Want to see the worst tippers in the world? Check out some folks who had the habit drummed out of them for five years.
posted by gurple at 4:32 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Birmo's yankophilia aside, I think the practice of paying service staff actual wages is superior (that said; I tip in restaurants and taxis, where appropriate, as does everyone I know).
posted by pompomtom at 4:33 PM on April 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


I understand the need for tipping, and do tip wait-staff, although I find the practice intolerable. You have to pay tips regardless of whether or not the service is good or bad, and you're also forced to evaluate performance, which is a spiritually unpleasant and undemocratic way to end a meal, which should be a pleasant experience. Why not do away with this remnant of the class system by getting rid of tips and increasing the hourly wage for servers. This new overhead gets passed on to the price of the menu item, and you end up paying the same amount anyway.

As a former line cook, I can appreciate Orwell's observations about waitstaff:

The waiter's outlook is quite different. He too is proud in a way of
his skill, but his skill is chiefly in being servile. His work gives him
the mentality, not of a workman, but of a snob. He lives perpetually in
sight of rich people, stands at their tables, listens to their
conversation, sucks up to them with smiles and discreet little jokes. He
has the pleasure of spending money by proxy.

posted by KokuRyu at 4:33 PM on April 13, 2011 [21 favorites]


Somewhere Mr. Pink is smiling.
posted by m@f at 4:34 PM on April 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


A lot of states have exceptions to the minimum wage for positions where your income is expected to be supplemented by tips.

Now that's fucked up.
posted by kafziel at 4:34 PM on April 13, 2011 [56 favorites]


Effigy2000 posted "Even some US businesses are now banning employees from taking tips, so perhaps this form of payment-for-service, described by Birmingham as 'an excuse for slavery' will see its end soon."

They've only banned voluntary tipping replacing it with a mandatory service fee included as a line item on the bill.
posted by Mitheral at 4:37 PM on April 13, 2011



Somewhere Mr. Pink is smiling.
posted by m@f


Yes he is.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:37 PM on April 13, 2011


Austin's new cooperatively-owned brewpub pays its employees a living wage and does not accept tips. Their menu prices also include tax, which makes ordering really pleasant.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:38 PM on April 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


A lot of states have exceptions to the minimum wage for positions where your income is expected to be supplemented by tips.

Yep, when I waitressed in Chicago in the '90s I made something like $2/hr. because of this. The worst tips I got were at the fancy-schmancy restaurant at the old Bismarck hotel -- like "rounding up a $198 meal to $200" sort of tips. There were nights I'd walk out of there with maybe $20 in my pocket for an 8-hour shift. Best tips were at the working-class Irish bar, no doubt because A) drunk Irish (my people!), duh, and B) most of them had worked in bars or knew people who did.
posted by scody at 4:41 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


He found it strange, given tipping does not exist in Australia

Damn, I've been doing it wrong all this time.
posted by vidur at 4:42 PM on April 13, 2011


I throw change in the jar from time to time, mainly to get it out of my pocket, but the whole idea of tipping as a "rule" is completely abhorrent to me. I'm not your employer, why am I paying you?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:43 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


tipping does not exist in Australia

CIVILIZATION!
posted by DU at 4:43 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Let me rephrase: why am I paying your wages?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:44 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't tip when dinner is served, but I do compliment the chef often, particularly when she makes my favorite.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 4:45 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tip 20% in places where my order is brought to my table, but I almost never tip in coffee shops where they just hand things to me from the counter. Am I evil?
posted by nasreddin at 4:45 PM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, there is only one coffee shop I go to in town (in a town with the highest per capita number of coffee shops in North America). I go to that coffee shop because they can actually brew drip coffee, it's a pleasant environment, and because the staff are polite, and are reasonably attentive, and friendly. I always tip them.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:46 PM on April 13, 2011


Tipping is a great way to promote better service, but I think that service employees should still also be paid a fair base wage. When the average hourly in the US is $22, and service employees in some states make a little over $2, that's quite the discrepancy to make up in tips!
posted by worldli at 4:48 PM on April 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


but I almost never tip in coffee shops where they just hand things to me from the counter

How about at bars in which they just hand the drink over the counter?

I understand a difference in table service versus counter service, I'm just wondering whether it's a spectrum.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 4:48 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tip $1 per drink in bars, I don't even think about it.
posted by nasreddin at 4:49 PM on April 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I have a real problem with the "tip your barista" thing. I tip in restaurants because they are bringing me the food and they can do it better or worse. I tip cab drivers because they can do a good job and take me the short way and have a good convo with me, or they can do a bad job, take me a long way, and be muttering into their phones the whole ride with the heat turned up to 90 deg. But really, at Starbucks, I consider it a transaction, not a service. I receive approximately the level of service at Starbucks as I do at McDonalds, and no one tips at McDonalds.

If I do receive unusual service at Starbucks -- like at the one I went to regularly several years ago, where they knew my order, could spell and pronounce my weird name properly, and snuck out the Pumpkin Spice flavoring early or late in the season for me -- I definitely tipped. But if I just walk in a random one for a latte that the barista has to make just like thousands of other baristas across the world according to the Recipe As Decreed By Starbucks HQ? Please.
posted by olinerd at 4:49 PM on April 13, 2011 [21 favorites]


It's amazing where you see tip jars these days.

I mean, I don't blame folks for setting them out, if you can capture a few extra bucks, good for you, but seriously, the ice cream scooper wants a tip now?

Especially since I live in a state with a high minimum wage (with no exception for waitresses), it can get to be a bit much.
posted by madajb at 4:50 PM on April 13, 2011


I think in the UK you only really tip a barman if they've served up a really big round for you (£20+ as a rough guide), or if you're just completely trashed.

I was a barman for a couple of years in the students union in St Andrews. The first nights of Freshers' Week were great, because you'd get lots of American students tipping.

I imagine there was an American equivalent of me, cursing all the British students for not tipping during Freshers' Week.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 4:50 PM on April 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ah, see, and bars I feel different about too, because they can make my drink stronger or weaker, or let me try a beer first before I order a full pint, or whatever. That's more service oriented too. I'm happy to tip for that. (Plus I feel bad when the bartender is being mobbed, as opposed to the nice orderly line at a coffee shop)
posted by olinerd at 4:51 PM on April 13, 2011


Furthermore I think a culture of tipping is a culture of inherent falsehood and fakery. Better to be genuinely nice and helpful while making a living wage, than falsely nice and helpful just to get tips. Though smiling at assholes just so you get your 20% or whatever is a good way to teach somebody to eat shit for the rest of their lives, so maybe that's what it's all about. Oh god I think I'm on to something here.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:51 PM on April 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


To aid the discussion: Australian Hospitality Industry Pay rates.
posted by awfurby at 4:51 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I almost always tip 20-30% eating out, I have too many friends who bartend/waitress to do otherwise, but tipping is such a scam. The theory is that you're evaluating service, but if you get subpar service, and leave a sub par tip - no waiter is going to stop and think "Damn, I WAS pretty slow on the refills", they're going to think "What a cheap asshole" and when you live in a place as small and interconnected as Richmond VA, that bad tip will definitely come back to haunt you.
posted by youthenrage at 4:52 PM on April 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Worldly, please show your source from where you are drawing that tipping promotes better service.
posted by Knigel at 4:53 PM on April 13, 2011


In Russia, where I come from, it's pretty normal for waiters and clerks to act surly or give you attitude, and if they smile or are friendly to you, it's often a sign that something is fishy. As a result, I am almost totally incapable of telling good service from bad service, so I just tip automatically.
posted by nasreddin at 4:54 PM on April 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


tip $1 per drink in bars

Yeah, I tip $1 on each beer or espresso or coffee. So on a food purchase of, what, $5-$2, that's 20%-50%. At a cocktail lounge or restaurant I'll tip 20-25% on the total before tax.

There's some difference in my mind between counter service for a unit and table service for multiple courses.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 4:57 PM on April 13, 2011


Real-time tipping, a "reinvention of tipping" from "3rd Rock from the Sun".
posted by FJT at 4:58 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


"What a cheap asshole" and when you live in a place as small and interconnected as Richmond VA, that bad tip will definitely come back to haunt you.

That's why if the service is really bad you have to also tell them. It makes my wife very uncomfortable, but I'll state the reason why tip is sub-par. Last thing after bad service I want is to run away like I did something wrong.

However this is something that happens maybe once in 3 years.
posted by zeikka at 5:00 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I visit the US (from England), the one that always throws me is tipping barstaff. We don't do it in the UK, and so I keep forgetting to do it in the US. I always tip in restaurants, it seems to make sense given the length of time you're there being served by the same person, but it seems odd to us Brits to tip someone for pouring you one drink (like we're ever in there for one drink, I know).

But the one I really don't understand, even though I do it, is tipping taxi drivers. The bare minimum of their job requirement is to take me from A to B the quickest way, so how does my tipping increase the level of service? Sure, if some driver is great fun and I have a really good chat, I can see that, but most of them just shut up (or even worse, never shut up) and drive, and yet I'm still supposed to tip them?

Feel free to leave 15% if you enjoyed the post, I'm on minimum wage.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:00 PM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Tipping is a great way to promote better service, but I think that service employees should still also be paid a fair base wage. When the average hourly in the US is $22, and service employees in some states make a little over $2, that's quite the discrepancy to make up in tips!

In theory, yes. In practice, the baseline is apparently shitty service of tainted food, and the tip is to bring it up to actual service of food that hasn't been intentionally fucked with. If you're recognized as someone who doesn't tip well, your orders will be met with scorn. As youthenrage says, it's never "What did I do wrong?", it's always "Fuck that guy."

And weirdly, when I've had this discussion with the waiter I know, he's been very adamant against moving to a living wage/no tips setup. Part of which is probably living in Oregon where they are required by law to pay the full minimum wage before tips, but he still seems to hate the idea that the price on the menu is what people should be expected to pay for their food.
posted by kafziel at 5:02 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always have a hard time figuring if I'm supposed to tip when I do takeout meals from a restaurant. The gratuity line is there, but it isn't like someone waited on me...
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:06 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


And weirdly, when I've had this discussion with the waiter I know, he's been very adamant against moving to a living wage/no tips setup. Part of which is probably living in Oregon where they are required by law to pay the full minimum wage before tips, but he still seems to hate the idea that the price on the menu is what people should be expected to pay for their food.

This is because no other job of comparable qualification level can pay so much in cash in a night and still give you the opportunity to bitch about the people you're serving.
posted by nasreddin at 5:06 PM on April 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Part of which is probably living in Oregon where they are required by law to pay the full minimum wage before tips, but he still seems to hate the idea that the price on the menu is what people should be expected to pay for their food.

Because it'd be a pay cut.
People out here still tip 10-20% despite having one of the highest minimum wages in the country.
posted by madajb at 5:07 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


We had a Japanese working visa/student living with us for a while and she was employed at a Japanese restaurant. She said to come and eat there because the food was very good but not to leave a tip because the owner kept it. We went and the food was very good. I didn't want to leave a tip but my partner insisted, saying it felt wrong not to. I cannot to this day reconcile this.
posted by unliteral at 5:09 PM on April 13, 2011


Worldly [sic], please show your source from where you are drawing that tipping promotes better service.
Here's one [slightly NSFW] for you.
"When we give good service and one customer stiffs and another tips, we are naturally going to return to the tipping customer, that's just reality."
posted by unliteral at 5:21 PM on April 13, 2011


I love John Birmingham. Leviathan! his awesome review of Red Dead Redemption!

I tipped in the States because it was the only way for waitstaff to get paid properly. I only tip in Aus when I'm getting water at the bar - i feel like I need to tip to make up for it. That said some places have 'tip jars' or 'tip bowls' at the counter. The one at Doytao Thai sometime has $5 and $10 bills, which I can only explain by noting that they make the best Pad Thai in Sydney.

My dad works in a place that serves alot of Americans. Apparently they tip.

Improving service here would be nice. I heard that it wasn't due to tipping but due to the Australian 'egalitarianism' culture. But that might just be pop-sociology bullshit.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:23 PM on April 13, 2011


"When we give good service and one customer stiffs and another tips, we are naturally going to return to the tipping customer, that's just reality."

Right, that might show that it promotes relatively better service, but the question is actually about whether an environment in which everyone tips is better than one in which nobody does. And whether this improvement is worth the layers of awkwardness, posturing, insecurity, judgment, and stigma that tipping creates.
posted by nasreddin at 5:24 PM on April 13, 2011


MetaFilter: we have no tip jar
posted by bwg at 5:26 PM on April 13, 2011


The one at Doytao Thai sometime has $5 and $10 bills, which I can only explain by noting that they make the best Pad Thai in Sydney.

It is common practice to "seed" tip jars with cash from the register, then return it at the end of the shift. An empty tip jar just seems voluntary, one filled with cash draws the eye and seems like The Thing To Do.

Though, you usually do this with singles. Another practice is at slow periods to convert all the 1's to higher bills. 'Cos you run out of ones, or you just don't want to spend the end of your shift dealing with all of them.
posted by cj_ at 5:27 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huh? I tip in Australia if the service is good, and not if it isn't.
That's what tipping is, isn't it?

I find it absurd that this FPP suggests tipping doesn't occur in Australia, and equally absurd that people in the US feel it's mandatory to tip a certain percentage.

The first one is a gross inaccuracy, and the latter is an blindingly obvious example of where the US is obsessive about the perceived "Free Market" despite obviously jumping the shark a while ago.
posted by panaceanot at 5:28 PM on April 13, 2011


You gotta pour me 4 black and tans on a busy night? Ok, you're hustlin', and those types of beers don't exactly pour themselves. Here's your tip, get yourself something nice.

I order a coffee, you tell me to take a mug from the stack and pour from the carafe at the end of the counter? Then you sarcastically say "THANKS FOR TIPPING!" when I don't leave a tip? I bite my thumb at you, sir.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:29 PM on April 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Americans are weird about this kind of thing. Rather than include the service charge and sales tax, they want to just see the net price. So that 99¢ cheeseburger or $50 steak isn't the "out the door price". So we have to constantly to mental math adding between 8%-30% to the menu items. Ideally it would all be part of the price but we're stubborn like that.

As someone who has been born and raised in this system, I'll tip. I tip waitstaff, bartenders, taxistas, hair cut people, etc. I don't do it for better service, but because it is expected. And I don't mind it.
posted by birdherder at 5:30 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there any other aspect of our lives where we're expected to subsidize the wages of an employer? Can you imagine being expected to tip a nurse because the urgent care place pays her minimum wage plus tips?

I receive approximately the level of service at Starbucks as I do at McDonalds, and no one tips at McDonalds.

Yeah, the thing that always gets me is that tipping at a Subway or Quizno's or any other place like that is "optional" in the sense that there might or might not be a jar, and I'm not expected to tack 15-20% onto my bill. But they make my food right in front of me and to my exact, fussy, increasingly ludicrous specifications! (Chicken Bacon Ranch, add pepperoni, toasted but only after the onion and green peppers have been added, add jalapenos but only four.) And I get to stand there and direct the entire process!

I tip at restaurants because I have to--and always a minimum of 20% because as a former cabbie I know how tough of a hustle the service industry can be--but I enjoy shoving money in the tip jars at sub places. They didn't carry my plate to the table and top off my water...they made me a sandwich, you guys. A sandwich. I can't think of a single person in my life who'd slap mustard and a Buddig pack on two slices of white bread for me, yet this kind stranger counted out exactly four jalapenos and evenly spaced them across my sandwich in a row. And how do we repay him? Minimum wage and maybe a buck if the management allows a tip jar. That's bullshit.

BRB, getting sandwich
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:32 PM on April 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I just realized that I tip taxi drivers. I'm not sure why. Maybe its because I'm usually getting picked up at changeover, so anyone that stops for me is a blessing.

the fact that minimum wage for service staff is so low in America is fucked up.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:32 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I worked as a dish-pig for a small vegan cafe, in Sydney, a few years back. All the tips went to sponsoring children in Africa, whose photos were displayed all over the counter. The more tips we got, the more donor children were added to the line-up.

I know of another cafe where the owner keeps all the tips and once a year shouts all the staff a holiday weekend in Melbourne, or Byron Bay or somewhere similar.
posted by robotot at 5:32 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


LiB, the reason to tip taxi drivers is because they work for $7 - $10 an hour in a shitty dangerous job.
posted by wilful at 5:38 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every time this discussion pops up, it becomes more and more obvious from the comments people make that far from promoting good service...tipping merely prevents bad service, which is a whole other thing altogether.
A system that relies on giving staff extra money so they don't spit in your food next time is clearly a broken one.
posted by nightchrome at 5:43 PM on April 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


I usually tell the taxi driver "Just make it x" where x is the nearest rounded-up figure from the price I am quoted for the cost of my journey (so an $8.40 trip gets the lucky driver nine bucks), but only if I have not had to direct them.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:44 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


tipping does not exist in Australia

CIVILIZATION!


Not only that--all posted prices include the tax, and they end in a 5 or a 0 because pennies don't exist.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:44 PM on April 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Euros tip in restaurants and cabs but not in bars. So there goes that theory.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:44 PM on April 13, 2011


LiB, the reason to tip taxi drivers is because they work for $7 - $10 an hour in a shitty dangerous job.

Another reason is that some of them desparately need some negative reinforcement, especially the temporary shuttle drivers who have the Rush blaring at top volume and the A/C on full (in February), barrelling down side streets at 60 mph and braking at 9 Gs in order to "make up time" when most of the route is bumper-to-bumper traffic.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:44 PM on April 13, 2011


Well, I made a solid middle-class wage when I drove a cab, not even accounting for tips...hell, I took a pay cut when I became a copywriter. But I won't disagree about shitty or dangerous, and will add a lot more adjectives as well.

For the record, LiB, cabbies aren't like waiters...they keep every dollar they make, minus the rent for the cab. So a tip is nice, but not tipping a cabbie isn't the equivalent of him doing his job for free the way it is for a waiter or waitress. In general, if you like the driver you can throw him 10% or just round up like tumid dahlia suggests. Otherwise, don't sweat it.

RobotVoodooPower: For a hilarious good time, go to your local cab garage and suggest that you see them as no different from "temporary shuttle drivers."
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:47 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reason to tip a cab driver is because you're late for work and you don't have all day to wait for your change.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:47 PM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I never think anything of tipping bartenders, because the number of buybacks and nice, strong drinks I get seem to increase proportionally with the tips they're getting. That, to me, is a direct benefit. Tipping coffee people? Are they gonna start charging me something resembling a sane price for coffee? Probably not, so sorry, no tip for basically only opening the spigot and putting on the lid for my black coffee no sugar.
posted by nevercalm at 5:48 PM on April 13, 2011


Trick I learned in college: an organization I belonged to did car washes to raise funds, maybe once a year. The going rate then was $5. One year we did free car washes, "donations accepted" and we made out like bandits. Interesting psychology at work there.

My last year in school I was "beertending" at a small pub that offered an incredible beer selection. During the week I'd work alone, it was pretty quiet and the tips were meager. On weekends, we had a very, very attractive girl come in. Susan and I worked out a deal - she served beer and chatted up the customers, and I did all the shite work - replacing kegs, taking out the trash, washing the glasses - and we'd split the tips 50/50. I'd walk out the door with hundred bucks on a slow night. I loved working with her.

One of my favorite lines from the movies is Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven, "It's not about tipping....it's about overtipping!"
posted by Xoebe at 5:53 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm Australian and without entirely speaking for my countrywomen, I believe it is common here to tip for good service only.

I don't tend to tip as much in high end places with excellent service because I presume if I am paying $$$ for a dining experience where the white linen serviette is smoothed in my lap, I have my own super-attentive waiter and sommelier and a man comes out and sweeps the table down after each course, then part of the cost of the experience is going towards paying the staff a better wage than in an el cheapo noodle bar.

(True story: when I was waitressing in a fairly classy cafe an old man put a $20 note down my top. Being a waitress sucks.)
posted by jasperella at 5:56 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


You're not supposed to tip bartenders for immediate rewards of stronger drinks nevercalm. That's a bribe!

You're supposed to passively encourage the free market.
posted by panaceanot at 5:56 PM on April 13, 2011


I always tip at restaurants (at least 20%, usually more) for two reasons:

1) I was a waitress/barista during college and I understand how a decent tip can make your night

2) I am a member of a group that is stereotyped as being 'bad tippers', at least in the United States, so I feel that I have to overcompensate to overcome this stereotype. Sometimes I go to restaurants and I can tell that the server has already assumed that I'm not going to tip well, and their service and attitude reflects that. They're usually not blatantly rude, but there are subtle cues that I pick up on.

I've gotten some pretty shitty service before and I still tip well, but there's a whole lot cognitive dissonance a-bubblin' in my brain: On the one hand, I should not tip this server well because he didn't do a very good job. On the other hand, the reason he didn't do a good job was because he assumed I wouldn't tip well, so if I *don't* tip well, that will lend validity to his bigoted assumption.

In those cases, I often end up overtipping, just to prove a point. Dumb? Yes, I know.

I suppose the proper response would be to talk to the server or the manager or leave a note, but I'm too anti-confrontational for the former and too weirded out by all things passive-aggressive for the latter.
posted by chara at 5:56 PM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


My first job was for 25 cents a week and a dime if I helped take out the garbage, I WAS 5, thanks mom.
posted by clavdivs at 5:57 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can anyone explain to me how tipping isn't just some scheme to get customers to pay part of an employee's salary instead of the employer paying them? Seriously. I really don't see any other point to it.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:58 PM on April 13, 2011


in wage increase talks, dad cited nixon and the gold standard, i took the defered raise and a pack of hubba-bubba
posted by clavdivs at 5:59 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


You're not supposed to tip bartenders for immediate rewards of stronger drinks nevercalm. That's a bribe!

I tip very generously pretty much for the same reason that most good tippers tip really well....they worked a service job. My baseline is 20%, and it only goes up from there, in many cases no matter how the service was. I figure there's so much that can contribute to bad service that I can't spank the wait staff for it, unless it's something really egregious like serving me a glass of actual human vomit or such like.
posted by nevercalm at 6:02 PM on April 13, 2011


Improving service here would be nice. I heard that it wasn't due to tipping but due to the Australian 'egalitarianism' culture. But that might just be pop-sociology bullshit.

Well way I can understand the lack of tipping in Australia is a combination of this egalitarian culture, plus the relatively high wages people doing these jobs earn.

Quite simply, I think Australians consider a job to be a job. Some people have jobs selling insurance. Some people have jobs running the register at a supermarket. Some people have jobs mining. Some people have jobs serving people food at restaurants.

We don't draw any arbitrary line in the sand that says "This person running the register at the supermarket has a real job and so shouldn't be tipped, but this person bringing me food at a restaurant is just a poor, pitiable servant, so I'll slip them some extra money." I find that attitude abhorrent and completely classist.

But I do tip. If I take a taxi that costs $18.70, I'll hand the driver a $20 note and say "keep the change". Never had a complaint. If I get a pizza delivered, I'll do the same thing. It's primarily a time-saving thing, more than anything else.

The idea that someone who is employed to make coffee, whose job it is to bring me coffee, should be paid separately by their employer and myself, just because they belong to an arbitrary class of jobs that are looked down upon, feels completely ridiculous. The idea that in countries in the US, that coffee-server earns less than minimum wage because they get tips is cruel and abhorrent.
posted by Jimbob at 6:06 PM on April 13, 2011 [31 favorites]


I usually tell the taxi driver "Just make it x" where x is the nearest rounded-up figure from the price I am quoted for the cost of my journey (so an $8.40 trip gets the lucky driver nine bucks), but only if I have not had to direct them.

I do this too.
There's also a feeling of gratitude. If I'm catching a cab I'm either coming home late and drunk or going somewhere where I'd be late if I didn't catch a cab.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:07 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


But, nevercalm, isn't alcohol just as ridiculousy overpriced as coffee? Isn't making venti soy mocha lattes just as much a service as dumping some rum in some coke?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:08 PM on April 13, 2011


I'm being facetious, nevercalm. But this FPP is discussing a supposed reluctance by Aussies to tip.

Aussies DO tip good service. Staff are payed a decent wage. Tips are a bonus that reward good service.
posted by panaceanot at 6:09 PM on April 13, 2011



Quite simply, I think Australians consider a job to be a job. Some people have jobs selling insurance. Some people have jobs running the register at a supermarket. Some people have jobs mining. Some people have jobs serving people food at restaurants.


Yeah, this is one of those invisible cultural differences that gets a bit confusing. there's respect accorded to every profession, even garbageman and handymen and the like.

The idea that in countries in the US, that coffee-server earns less than minimum wage because they get tips is cruel and abhorrent.

and agreed that this is FUCKED. especially given how crappy food service jobs are.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:09 PM on April 13, 2011


I find tipping confusing and annoying. A friend of mine insists that you should always calculate the tip from the pre-tax total, which makes sense I guess, but I've never done it that way. It seems like if I did that, the wait staff would assume I was just leaving a lighter tip -- but I don't know. Do waiters expect to be tipped on the final amount, or on the pre-tax subtotal? At ~8% tax, it's enough to make a pretty noticeable difference.
posted by statolith at 6:12 PM on April 13, 2011


But, nevercalm, isn't alcohol just as ridiculousy overpriced as coffee? Isn't making venti soy mocha lattes just as much a service as dumping some rum in some coke?

I'm a bad judge, because I drink straight coffee and mostly straight drinks. But I generously tip the bartender at a place I semi-frequent, and now when I go in an order "Jim Beam and a Sam Adams," I get a Jameson's in a double glass and buybacks every second beer and third whiskey. That almost makes it worth it.
posted by nevercalm at 6:14 PM on April 13, 2011


I come from a place that doesn't tip. I've spent over ten years in the USA, and I don't think I've ever seen tipping do anything positive, ever, but I've seen it constantly cause strife and hardship and divide.

Waitstaff have trouble budgeting when they never know in advance what their paychecks will be. AskMeta has to help people confused about whether they're supposed to tip their dog-walker / mechanic / hairdresser / masseuse / whatever, when there isn't actually any correct answer. Waitstaff are constantly holding grudges. Dinners are constantly marred by ending with people trying to figure out how much they actually owe. Clients are uncomfortable when they're not sure if your trade is tipped. Bad tips communicating nothing to waitstaff who don't know which aspect of service was bad, or whether they were just bad tippers. Heated arguments. The whole thing is insane.
Step back, and all you see steming from tipping is misery.

John Birmingham should be shot.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:19 PM on April 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


Posted that before I made my point. Most of the time when I buy coffee (I never go to Starbucks, I'm a union member and they hate unions and destroy small businesses) it's wham bam gimme my 2.50 and that's it. With bartenders, you can form a relationship, as you're ordering over and over. If I drank as much coffee as I drank whiskey/beer/whatever I'd be bouncing off the walls. The reward for knowing my bartender is relaxation, the reward for knowing my coffee person is like amped-up anxiety.
posted by nevercalm at 6:19 PM on April 13, 2011


I am Australian. I tip taxi drivers (if they are good ones) and home delivery drivers.

I tip at restaurants and some bars if the service is good.

I feel sorry for some American folks who have to rely on tips to subsidise such a shitty wage. Food service should be a pleasurable thing for all.
posted by bdave at 6:20 PM on April 13, 2011


Birmo's yankophilia aside,

Man, I know what that word means, and I know that's what you meant it to mean, but it really sounds like it should mean something else.
posted by mhoye at 6:22 PM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


"It [service] was excellent everywhere except in the cloak room of the Museum of Modern Art where it was wretched, disorganised and actively hostile."

What a strange thing to say. The MOMA coat check people process hundreds of people, many with limited command of English, with astonishing speed and good cheer.

As for tipping in general, I have no explanation for the persistence of the idea that there's a correct system that can be arrived at by rational discussion, as opposed to a welter of contradictory national customs that can't in any meaningful way be called "right" or "wrong."
posted by escabeche at 6:24 PM on April 13, 2011


I keep hearing about 'buybacks'. do they have them in Australia?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:24 PM on April 13, 2011


Also, in countries without tipping, waitstaff are generally not looked down on like they are here, because they have proper jobs that pay proper wages, and you don't need to hold the possibility of a tip over them like a child, because they're fucking professionals, not circus monkeys performing for the peanuts.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:25 PM on April 13, 2011 [17 favorites]


But I generously tip the bartender at a place I semi-frequent, and now when I go in an order "Jim Beam and a Sam Adams," I get a Jameson's in a double glass and buybacks every second beer and third whiskey. That almost makes it worth it.

And that is why you tip in resatuarants and bars, kids. Tipping is done "To Insure Preferred Service" on future visits to the establishment. It's not only about what the waitstaff/bartenders did for you that night, but what you would like in the future. I could see how in an egalitarian cultures this wouldn't translate well, but at least where I live (NE United States) it definately makes a difference in the quality of the service you get, given the crappy hourly wage waitstaff make.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:28 PM on April 13, 2011


Australian here.

I'll 'round up/keep the change' tip anything that costs more than $15 to avoid getting a handful of change, unless the experience has been negative. Partly this is because we use $1 and $2 coins here. If something was $17 I'll give $20. If something was $57 I'll give $60. If something was $87 and I have two fifties, then that's what I'll do.

I'll tip generously *with cash to an individual* in restaurants if the service has been good, particularly if my group has been troublesome, but I won't add it to the wider bill that's paid with a credit card.

It bugs me shitless when travelling in North America to not get the full price put on things like menus - ie having to mentally add on taxes and tipping. I've ordered things and then discovered I don't have enough cash on me. How can you possibly compare prices? Its anti-competitive.

One other thing that bothers me in the US is the 'license to be asshole' approach to tipping. I've seen Americans be total assholes to hospitality staff, purely because they feel like the option to not tip lets them be lords of the manor. Not cool.
posted by jjderooy at 6:30 PM on April 13, 2011


Tipping is done "To Insure Preferred Service" on future visits to the establishment.

Seriously, what is with the bizarre persistence of bullshit backronyms and folk etymologies around the word "tip"? It's not an acronym, people. It predates acronyms.
posted by nasreddin at 6:31 PM on April 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


As for tipping in general, I have no explanation for the persistence of the idea that there's a correct system that can be arrived at by rational discussion, as opposed to a welter of contradictory national customs that can't in any meaningful way be called "right" or "wrong."

Substitute "correct" with "more ethical", and you'll see the beginnings of the explanation.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:32 PM on April 13, 2011


Seriously, what is with the bizarre persistence of bullshit backronyms and folk etymologies around the word "tip"? It's not an acronym, people. It predates acronyms.

It's also not a river in China. Just in case you were wondering.
posted by nevercalm at 6:34 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, I think John Birmingham just very successfully trolled us.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:36 PM on April 13, 2011


I am currently delivering pizzas (Dominos), and about one customer in six doesn't tip. Georgia is a state that allows paying below minimum wage if there are tips, and management recently split their hourly wage between on-the-road time ($5.00/hr) and in-store time (minimum wage, $7.25/hr). Oh also we get a flat $1.25 from the store per run to cover gas and car maintenance, while customers have $2 tacked onto their order for delivery.

The situation is sometimes known to drive me nearly to HULK SMASH levels of frustration.
posted by JHarris at 6:37 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's weird how the solution to that always seems to be "make people tip" rather than "fix the law so it doesn't screw people over".
posted by nightchrome at 6:39 PM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Waiter here. I know every ingredient in every item on a menu of over 30 items, and which wine, beer, and cocktails to pair with them. If you have a gluten intolerance, if you're vegan, if you have a garlic "allergy", I will get you through your dinner intact. I know what's good on the menu, I suggest the cheaper item when you order the not-as-good expensive thing, and won't even let you order the stuff I know is crap. I tell you which neighborhood bars are good to check out after your meal, I tell you where to get a taxi, I tell you which tourist destinations to skip and which ones not to miss. I humor you when you flirt with me, I give the same service no matter what race or age you are, and I do it in three languages. If you don't think good service deserves a big tip, you don't know what good service means.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 6:40 PM on April 13, 2011 [23 favorites]


I'm kind of "eh" on tipping in general but this seriously pissed me off:

I recently reserved/hired a car for someone going to Newark Airport. I did it online with my credit card. They add a 20% "gratuity" *that you cannot change or remove* at the time of payment.

So, not only are they MAKING me give a "tip," they're MANDATING it be 20% (too much for my tastes), AND I'm had to pay it BEFORE the service was given. What if the fucking guy got lost and assaulted the passenger, or some shit? I've ALREADY tipped him!

Seriously, what the fuck?
posted by tristeza at 6:42 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


So what you're saying, BuddhaInABucket, is that you are a professional at your job, yet you are quite happy to be paid like the nobility throwing pennies at a peasant, instead of being paid for the job you do by your employer. Your choice, I guess. Pretty sure most people in here could list all the skills they display in their jobs, but don't expect their clients to leave change for them.
posted by Jimbob at 6:43 PM on April 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


Jimbob- I understand your point, but people who are bad tippers because they dislike the institution of tipping shouldn't take it out on me.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 6:45 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm fairly transatlantic when it comes to tipping - I start at a standard 10% and go up to 20% for great service. In theory, I'll not tip at all if service is bad, but I'm English enough that the thought of a tip-based confrontation is too appalling to consider.

Ah, see, and bars I feel different about too, because they can make my drink stronger or weaker

That would, technically, be breaking the law in the UK - singles, doubles, large/small glasses of wine, pints of beer, &c. are all measures defined in law (and marked on the side of some glasses). They're bringing in a new 2/3 pint soon, IIRC.

Another Britishism is the '...and one for yourself' - a tip for a barman/maid that is supposed to be enough for bar staff to buy themselves a drink.

It's an econo-social minefield.

There's no way of knowing what it means when you say it: some staff will take 20p, some will take the change from the note you gave them, some bars have a set price (equivalent to a soft drink, in places I've worked).

As a punter, the timing of the '...and one for yourself' is key. I always think it looks a little desperate to deploy it on the first round, so tend to drop it on round two, in a bid to be served quickly on subsequent rounds.

Of course, if the barman/maid is particularly attractive, you'll be assumed to be a flirt or a sleaze. And, while deliberately targeting the less hot staff for tipping can be effective, it's basically a tacit endorsement of the hotness-based barstaff hierarchy: not something you want can forgive yourself after the sixth gin.
posted by jack_mo at 6:46 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


BuddhaInABucket, how much an hour is your wage?
posted by wilful at 6:48 PM on April 13, 2011


I'm in California, which doesn't have a lower service wage, and I'm in San Francisco, which has the highest minimum wage in the country. I do pretty well, my hourly wage is a negligible portion of my income.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 6:50 PM on April 13, 2011


Can anyone explain to me how tipping isn't just some scheme to get customers to pay part of an employee's salary instead of the employer paying them?

Customers are paying all of the employees' salaries anyway. The difference between the tip and the rest of the bill is that you have no idea what proportion of your bill is distributed to the wait staff, whereas all of your tip goes to them, in general (some is split with busboys and possibly kitchen staff, but typically the employer does not take a cut of the tips).

Also, in countries without tipping, waitstaff are generally not looked down on like they are here, because they have proper jobs that pay proper wages, and you don't need to hold the possibility of a tip over them like a child, because they're fucking professionals, not circus monkeys performing for the peanuts.

I worked in food service for a while, and agree that it's enormously hard work. It's not a profession in my view unless you're a chef or occupy a supervisory/expert role in a fancy restaurant, such as a sommelier. It's a job, which is just fine, and I never felt like I was being treated like a circus monkey. Certainly, I had the occasional asshole customer. There are assholes in all walks of life, from the lowest to the highest.

So what you're saying, BuddhaInABucket, is that you are a professional at your job, yet you are quite happy to be paid like the nobility throwing pennies at a peasant, instead of being paid for the job you do by your employer.

Yes, how dare some of us be happy instead of feeling as oppressed as you do. We're obviously part of the problem.

It bugs me shitless when travelling in North America to not get the full price put on things like menus - ie having to mentally add on taxes and tipping. I've ordered things and then discovered I don't have enough cash on me. How can you possibly compare prices? Its anti-competitive.

You get used to it after a while, but I do still find it very irritating. I don't think it's anti-competitive as such, since if you live here you can easily make comparisons. As far as I can tell vendors do it to offset grumbling from customers about prices - 'it's not my fault taxes are so high.'
posted by anigbrowl at 6:57 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in California, which doesn't have a lower service wage, and I'm in San Francisco, which has the highest minimum wage in the country. I do pretty well, my hourly wage is a negligible portion of my income.


So you're just bitching cause you feel like you deserve more money? Sorry, no amount of service-industry sympathy is gonna make that a compelling argument.
posted by nasreddin at 6:58 PM on April 13, 2011


nasreddin- actually, I'm not bitching at all. I make more than 20% on my sales on average, and that's including getting stiffed by foreigners (which happens regularly, because I work in a hotel-heavy area). My point is that high-end restaurant service is not the same thing as getting waited on by a teenager in a hamburger joint. Don't come spend $200 at my restaurant and then tip me 10 bucks because you think it's not any harder to bring out more expensive food. As a matter of fact, there's more to my job than getting food from point A to point B.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:02 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is there any other aspect of our lives where we're expected to subsidize the wages of an employer? Can you imagine being expected to tip a nurse because the urgent care place pays her minimum wage plus tips?

Maybe some of you are missing the point. It's even worse than this. In many states in the US it isn't just that the wait staff only gets paid minimum wage, it's that there are special exceptions carved out in our labor laws that allow them to be paid significantly less than the otherwise standard minimum wage. So for example, in Rhode Island, the minimum wage for wait staff is only $2.89 (compared to the usual nationwide minimum of $7.25 an hour).

So feel free not to tip them if your waiter isn't ingratiating (or more likely, attractive) enough. They'll take home less than half of what any other worker would at the very minimum. That's got to be plenty, for someone who doesn't have enough charisma, right?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:04 PM on April 13, 2011


So...I dunno...fix the goddamn law?
posted by nightchrome at 7:06 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm Australian. When I was a student, I worked as a kitchen hand, washing dishes and peeling ginger and garlic and mopping floors.

I don't tip, ever, because the price on the menu includes a fair wage for the waitstaff.

Plus, the waitstaff earn more in a year than I do.

But when I go out to dinner with a big group of people, when the bill arrives at the table, we put all of our money onto the table in $5, $10 and $20 bills.

The waiter takes away the money, and brings back our change - which will be a mixture of $1 and $2 coins, 50c, 20c, 10c coins.

We will almost always leave the change on the table, because it's less difficult than trying to divide approximately $5 or less of coins between 10 or more people.
posted by Year of meteors at 7:11 PM on April 13, 2011


"Every time this discussion pops up, it becomes more and more obvious from the comments people make that far from promoting good service...tipping merely prevents bad service, which is a whole other thing altogether."

I'd never really thought about it that way, but, yeah, essentially tips often end out being "protection money". "Nice steak you have there. It would be a pity if it fell down the stairs."

I have to count my blessings living here. Sure, we have earthquakes and radioactive clouds, but the price on the menu is the price I have to pay, and great service abounds, despite absolutely no tipping.
posted by Bugbread at 7:16 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another Aussie here. If I'm at a restaurant and the service was pretty good, I'll leave a bit of a tip (usually by rounding the bill up to something reasonable) because, as a former waiter myself, I know it's nice to feel appreciated. I don't tip out of any obligation, however. I'm also aware that there are plenty of restaurants where a tip by credit card wont ever get to the waiters (it didn't when I was a waiter – all went into the owner's pocket).

I find the idea of tipping bar staff strange. It's a long time since I did my bar training, but we were told in no uncertain terms not to overfill people's drinks, or give them doubles when they asked for singles. Drink driving rules around here are ridiculously strict, and many people keep track of what they're drinking in order to stay under the limit (an inexact science, but often the best you can do). There was always the belief that if you gave someone a double they weren't expecting, and they lost their license as a result, you could be liable (but I don't know in practice whether that has ever happened).

Bar staff in Australia are supposed to have completed a "responsible service of alcohol" course – I'd be curious to know what they actually teach in it these days in regards to that.
posted by damonism at 7:25 PM on April 13, 2011


Every time this discussion pops up, it becomes more and more obvious from the comments people make that far from promoting good service...tipping merely prevents bad service, which is a whole other thing altogether.

I don't agree, and can't see why you claim to find validation for your view in the thread, unless you are only sampling remarks from other people opposed to tipping. I feel customer service is better (sometimes much better) in places where tipping is the norm, even though I often end up paying more as a result.

If I get really bad service, to the point that it makes me not want to tip, then I don't go back there for a long time, if ever. I will usually leave a note on my bill/receipt to explain why as well. That only happens once every year or two, happily. I'm not sure whether the Netherlands' labor market has become less rigid in the decade since I lived there. I do remember it being a haven of truly dreadful customer service, to the point that many of my Dutch friends complained about it on a regular basis.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:29 PM on April 13, 2011


I travel a ton. I've been almost everywhere. Countries where tipping is strong seem to correlate to service industry economies. The staff is often more polite and responsive to the customer's needs. However there is also usually a greater gap between rich and poor. I don't think it is necessarily worth impoverishing millions just so I can get my drink order in 2 minutes sooner.
posted by humanfont at 7:29 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Countries where tipping is strong seem to correlate to service industry economies. The staff is often more polite and responsive to the customer's needs.

The nation of Japan strongly disagrees with that.
posted by smoke at 7:30 PM on April 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I find the idea of tipping bar staff strange. It's a long time since I did my bar training, but we were told in no uncertain terms not to overfill people's drinks, or give them doubles when they asked for singles. Drink driving rules around here are ridiculously strict, and many people keep track of what they're drinking in order to stay under the limit (an inexact science, but often the best you can do). There was always the belief that if you gave someone a double they weren't expecting, and they lost their license as a result, you could be liable (but I don't know in practice whether that has ever happened).

No, no, don't worry--getting too much alcohol is not an issue at all. When people upthread refer to increased drink potency upon tipping, they mean "not watered down."
posted by Sys Rq at 7:33 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I believe wait staff should not be at the mercy of the mood of their customer, or the uncontrollable circumstances of their job (eg, no Monk fish today). I believe people who do a good job should get good pay, not have to rely on tipping.

Oh, yeah, I'm Australian, I rarely tip except to avoid taking change with me. I don't feel guilty about this. I don't deserve to feel guilty about this either, I'm a nice customer - never give wait staff a hard time, always polite, always understanding about delays and so on.

I would feel weird starting to judge people on whether they deserved a better reward from me, like there was a class divide between us, and I was in the higher class (which actually I'm not, by birth and recent separation, I'm back in the lower class again).
posted by b33j at 7:56 PM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


There is a simple argument against tipping no matter the perceived benefits.

When we as customers of a business are paying someone for intermediary services
then we are appointing them as brokers. The waiter is your meal broker.

If you are a regular then you might get premium service but if you are a tourist in town then don't be surprised if your broker pumps and dumps last weeks oysters and takes a huge tip for it.

Institutional tipping does not guarantee any particular level of service but it does guarantee a race to the bottom condition for minimum wages. Tipping is harmful.
posted by vicx at 7:57 PM on April 13, 2011


Watering down beer seems un-Australian.
One thing I've noticed here is that you're expected to give extra money so your change can be in round bills. Like if something costs 10.20 you give 20.20 and get back 10. Still requires some math but less than with tipping.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:58 PM on April 13, 2011


In Japan the service is generally so good that before I leave a restaurant I have to check to make sure that the staff didn't surreptitiously tip me.
posted by No-sword at 8:04 PM on April 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Oh come on: You should Tip 'Well' if you have decent service, expect to come back again, and expect decent service in the future. It's only logic or something.
posted by ovvl at 8:09 PM on April 13, 2011


There is an urban legend that claims that patrons who wear a T-shirt that says "What would Jesus do?" are the worst non-tippers ever.
posted by ovvl at 8:12 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a simple argument against tipping no matter the perceived benefits. When we as customers of a business are paying someone for intermediary services then we are appointing them as brokers. The waiter is your meal broker.

In places without tipping, the restaurant owner is your delivery broker - swings and roundabouts.

Institutional tipping does not guarantee any particular level of service but it does guarantee a race to the bottom condition for minimum wages. Tipping is harmful.

Your conclusion doesn't seem to follow from your premise.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:14 PM on April 13, 2011


Jimbob- I understand your point, but people who are bad tippers because they dislike the institution of tipping bosses who dislike the institution of paying fair wages shouldn't take it out on me.

ftfy.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:16 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


anigbrowl: I know! I thought I was going crazy not being able to follow.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:24 PM on April 13, 2011


There are, apparently, huge differences in how waiters get paid from state to state. Both of the states I've waitressed in (MD and MA) require that servers make at least minimum wage, so we start with a low hourly wage (around $2.50) and add our tips to that. If we make above minimum wage, yay! If not, our employers have to make up the difference.

Unfortunately, this is usually calculated on a paycheck to paycheck basis. So sometimes you'll get a manager asking you to open or close, and you spend an hour or two setting up tables or scrubbing things and not taking tables, and you're subsidizing yourself with whatever extra you earned on Friday night. Drives me crazy.

I wasn't aware that there are states where they don't even pay the difference up to minimum wage. That's horrifying, and I'm surprised that they're allowed to do it - wouldn't you need an exemption from the federal minimum wage too?

And I am insanely jealous of folks who get paid minimum wage as their baseline and then get tips from there, since I imagine most people are still tipping them 10-20%.
posted by shaun uh at 8:28 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another Australian here. I'm travelling to NYC in September, and know from previous experience that tipping is going to give me daily anxiety attacks. Mandatory tipping is completely alien to me; I simply can't wrap my head around it. I find US-style tipping ethically abhorrent: I want the prices on the menu to be real, actual prices, and I want all the staff to be paid real, actual wages.

However I also understand that I will have to tip in the US. If I don't tip, the person bringing me my meal won't receive their anticipated wage. I hate it in principle but accept that as a traveller I'll have to adopt the custom. I obviously want the servers to be properly renumerated.

The problem is that I'm terrified of doing it wrong: that I won't tip enough, that I'll tip the wrong person, that I won't have enough cash, that I'll forget entirely. Oh believe me, it's possible I'll forget; if I'm with my husband (who's been to the US more often), he'll remind me, but if I'm alone all bets are off. I have a terrible memory and it's just not built into my reflexes. Also: what are the rules? If the meal is terrible and the service incompetent and openly hostile (this has happened before in NYC) do I still have to tip? Do I have to tip for takeaway? Do I have to tip at Subway? At a museum cafeteria? How about Five Guys? Do I have to tip retail staff? I think I need to print out a guide and carry it in my pocket.

(FWIW, I come from a hospitality background—I've cooked and served for a living, and have owned and run a cafe—and although I've received lots of positive feedback I've rarely been tipped by customers, nor expected it. Also, the Australian minimum wage is $15 per hour, which is totally liveable.)
posted by hot soup girl at 8:29 PM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Maybe some of you are missing the point

No, I think you may be missing the point. Birmo's asking "should we imitate US tipping culture in Aus?". We have pretty strong laws against paying people joke wages. That way, no matter how shitty a day the customer is having, the waitstaff get to pay their rent, and maybe even have a night out themselves.

There are probably a number of elements of US culture Australia could imitate, but the treatment of those with low incomes is not among them.
posted by pompomtom at 8:30 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


pompomtom: I meant that people (like the one I quoted) who were characterizing wait staff as working for only "minimum wage and tips" were missing the point. Because they don't even earn the mandated minimum wage in a lot of states in the US. That's the point I meant to say some people were missing (because a lot of Americans and possibly visitors to America) don't actually know that. Alles klar?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:36 PM on April 13, 2011


We have pretty strong laws against paying people joke wages.

If you're not paying them joke wages why is all the money in fun colors?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:38 PM on April 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Damn, I misplaced a parenthesis. Should have started at "(and possibly visitors...."
posted by saulgoodman at 8:38 PM on April 13, 2011


saulgoodman: Ahaaa. Ta.
posted by pompomtom at 8:42 PM on April 13, 2011


Wait, am I understanding correctly that if you're in North America, and you go into an eating establishment, and you sit down and you look at the menu, and say you go for the $10 burger and fries, because it's listed on the menu as costing $10, then that's not actually what you're going to be paying?

LOL
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:47 PM on April 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Can we just get back to the concept of minimum wages in the range of $2.50 an hour. I mean, stop and pause and think about that for half a second. How is that market clearing? I mean, I understand the concept of working poor, but jesus christ. Give me Kelly's Australian Settlement any day.
posted by wilful at 8:51 PM on April 13, 2011


But wilful, everyone is going to be a millionaire at some point in the future.
posted by pompomtom at 8:59 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


...but we were told in no uncertain terms not to overfill people's drinks, or give them doubles when they asked for singles. Drink driving rules around here are ridiculously strict, and many people keep track of what they're drinking in order to stay under the limit...

I've had two experiences here in Brisbane in the past three months that have ensured that at least 2 separate drinking establishments in town will never again be receiving any of my (considerable) drinking budget.

First establishment:

Me: Pint of pale and a shot of Jack.
Barperson: Sorry, no.
Me: Then just a shot of Jack.
Barperson: Here you go.
Me: *glug* Thanks. Now a pint of pale.
Barperson: *goes to pull drink*
Me: *vanishes*

Second establishment:

Me: Double Gordon's and tonic with lime in a tall glass.
Barperson: Sorry, no.
Me: Then two Gordon's and tonic with lime in normal glasses.
Barperson: Ok. *prepares drinks* Here you go.
Me: Sorry I have changed my mind, goodbye.

Also Brisbane has precisely one good bar, and it is this one. But I haven't been there since the floods so don't know if it still exists.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:00 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


As an American living in Melbourne, I was quite confused about tipping when I first arrived here. I will say that I appreciate looking a menu and seeing the "out the door" price for my meal or drinks -- the price quoted inclusive of taxes, and gratuity not "mandatory" like at home.

I also appreciate having friends who are waitstaff or barmen, who are not constantly obsessing about needing to convert tips into money to pay health care bills. My American friends who work hospitality are huge bundles of raw nerves when it comes to paying rent, bills, etc. as one slow weekend night on the job can dash their finances for the month. The Australians seem much more relaxed, happier, etc.

However, service is typically much better at home, and sometimes I want to yell at bartenders here to get on their shit and serve me already, because I've been queuing for 5 minutes and I know they're making $20+/hr. I'd never think of saying something like that in the States, I'd simply vote with my wallet.

My parents came to visit last year, and we spent a few days in Sydney. We ate at an excellent upscale restaurant with Opera House views, and had one of the best meals that I've had in the country. The bill came to around $300, and my dad paid it, adding a 20% gratuity as the service had been quite good -- nothing remarkable, but definitely what you'd expect from a restaurant of that caliber.

We left the restaurant and started walking back to our hotel, and a moment later heard someone shouting "WAIT!" behind us. We turned around and saw our waiter sprinting after us. He had just seen the $60 tip on the credit card receipt and wanted to thank us personally for our generosity, smiles and handshakes all around. I've never seen ANYTHING like that in the States... well, maybe people being chased down for being cheapskates, but never a thank you like that.
posted by adamk at 9:08 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: what are the rules? If the meal is terrible and the service incompetent and openly hostile (this has happened before in NYC) do I still have to tip? Do I have to tip for takeaway? Do I have to tip at Subway? At a museum cafeteria? How about Five Guys? Do I have to tip retail staff? I think I need to print out a guide and carry it in my pocket.

For hot soup girl and others...

In NYC a 20% tip on your meal tab (including alcohol) is standard. If the service or meal is so terrible that you don't feel it's appropriate to tip %20, that's OK but ask to speak to the manager and let them know what went wrong. Often it's not the server's fault.

At a bar, minimum $1/drink.

At Subway, Five Guys, or any other fast-food type place it's fine to not tip. Leave change in the tip jar if you feel like it, but it's not necessary.

I usually tip about 10% on pick-up takeaway.

Don't tip retail staff.
posted by lalex at 9:13 PM on April 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


However, service is typically much better at home, and sometimes I want to yell at bartenders here to get on their shit and serve me already, because I've been queuing for 5 minutes and I know they're making $20+/hr. I'd never think of saying something like that in the States, I'd simply vote with my wallet.

THIS. I wonder if the laziness is part of the 'laid back'/lackadaisical Australian style. But I haven't noticed service that's too horrible. My dad's in hospitality. I could ask him about the difference between the two countries' styles.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:16 PM on April 13, 2011


Yeah, I've never had a drink in a bar in another country but even with it being what I'm used to, I have to agree that in the vast majority of cases, bar service in Australia is supremely shitty. Plus the drinks are way overpriced and, again, in the vast majority of cases, don't even bother getting anything that's on tap. Bottles only.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:20 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, service is typically much better at home, and sometimes I want to yell at bartenders here to get on their shit and serve me already, because I've been queuing for 5 minutes and I know they're making $20+/hr.

You say you're queuing for 5 minutes - do you mean you're queuing because there are other people waiting in front of you? Or do you mean the bar staff are ignoring the customers and having a laff amoungst themselves? If the former, suck it up. If the later, telling them to get off their arse and serve you is completely appropriate. I'd rather have to occasionally demand service when it's bad, than pay extra every single time simply because it's up to standard.
posted by Jimbob at 9:21 PM on April 13, 2011


2) I am a member of a group that is stereotyped as being 'bad tippers', at least in the United States, so I feel that I have to overcompensate to overcome this stereotype.

And I thought I was the only one who does this.

When I was living in NYC, I once went to a restaurant that was a little too close to Times Square. When they brought the bill out they had handwritten in the 20% tip and the sum for me, as if I was some sort of foreigner unaware of American tipping customs (this despite my American accent). I almost wanted to cross it out and put a zero in out of spite.
posted by pravit at 9:23 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You say you're queuing for 5 minutes - do you mean you're queuing because there are other people waiting in front of you? Or do you mean the bar staff are ignoring the customers and having a laff amoungst themselves? If the former, suck it up. If the later, telling them to get off their arse and serve you is completely appropriate. I'd rather have to occasionally demand service when it's bad, than pay extra every single time simply because it's up to standard.

A bit from Column A and a bit from Column B. Queues are to be expected, but sometimes the people behind the bar are so slow and incapable of multitasking that things get just plain ugly.

Certainly not EVERY experience I've had here has been bad, and especially in Melbourne there are some small niche places where service is fantastic, and the staff work as a team like a well-oiled machine (although you're probably paying a premium price for the drinks and nibbles on the menu, rather than tipping).

When I was younger in America's midwest, I worked as a host at one of those giant soul-sucking chain restaurants you've probably seen lampooned in TV/movies. For one of the qualified servers to get one of the coveted bartender shifts was a Big Fucking Deal -- moreso on weekend nights. So many people were hungry for the chance to work their asses off and sling drinks, and they had to prove themselves and work their way up through a bunch of nonsense to even be allowed to do it. Highly skilled, motivated bar staff anxious to serve unremarkable people, at a unremarkable bar, in an unremarkable town. Huge money involved for everyone, and the managers knew this and a lot of politics went into making the schedules.

Here you have 19 year old backpackers from England taking a RSA course the day after they fly into Sydney, and getting jobs pulling beers at trendy clubs with $20 cover charges and $10 pints, because they're easy on the eyes. Give me a fat guy from Detroit with a mortgage and 2 kids any day.
posted by adamk at 9:41 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, service is typically much better at home, and sometimes I want to yell at bartenders here to get on their shit and serve me already, because I've been queuing for 5 minutes and I know they're making $20+/hr.

If the alternative is paying people below-subsistence wages to ensure they're appropriately obsequious, I'll wait the five minutes.
posted by pompomtom at 9:50 PM on April 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Does anyone have any studies and scientific research showing that tipping actually improves service? There are studies showing that show that incentives sometimes undermine motivation e.g., Dan Ariely. I suspect that tipping culture sounded good and seems like common sense; however, it is likely that it has an opposite effect. Workers add a value to their niceness; therefore, they can ask themselves if a few dollars is worth being nice to some strangers. They can ask if their effort is worth the few dollars. Furthermore, if a few Asians come in, why even bother being nice? They're likely tourists, right? It seems that tipping culture creates racism and unequal treatment from prejudice.

Also, I live in Korea and have been to Japan. Both have fantastic service and I am so happy that I don't have to tip.

Until people start tipping customer service and other industries, I see no reason to tip restaurant staff.

I don't want to support that system. More people should refuse to tip until bosses pay their employees fairly. That isn't my responsibility. Don't mess with my money.
posted by Knigel at 9:57 PM on April 13, 2011


I almost wanted to cross it out and put a zero in out of spite.

You should have.
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:00 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wasn't aware that there are states where they don't even pay the difference up to minimum wage. That's horrifying, and I'm surprised that they're allowed to do it - wouldn't you need an exemption from the federal minimum wage too?

Employers are required to meet the Federal minimum wage but they can use a tip credit to make up a portion of it.
At the end of the day, though, they need to be able to prove that you were paid the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 (or whatever it is now)
If you're a waiter and you're not bringing home at least minimum wage for every hour you work, you're getting screwed.

Department of Labor.
posted by madajb at 10:03 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Countries where tipping is strong seem to correlate to service industry economies. The staff is often more polite and responsive to the customer's needs.

The nation of Japan strongly disagrees with that.

--smoke

When I went to Japan many years ago I had heard that you aren't supposed to tip. But the guy at my hotel room opened the drapes, pulled down the bed cover, showed me all the various accessories in the bathroom, and the bathrobe in the closet, to the point that I became convinced that he was going to keep doing this until I tipped him. So I tipped him, at least I tried to tip him. I'd never seen someone so insulted in my life.

It was described to me as a matter of pride. You have pride in yourself and in doing your job well, no matter how menial. If someone tips you it is as though the only reason you are doing a good job is because someone is paying you a few coins--it is almost as though you are being treated like a cheap prostitute. (How much to tip? $20, same as in town). You do NOT tip in Japan.

I like this culture. But in many places in the US they deliberately underpay waitors knowing that they will get tips. The IRS even assumes they get tipped and will audit them if they don't report tips. Tips are considered part of their pay by the whole system, top to bottom, so I tip.

I wish more places had no tipping policies. I would go out of my way to frequent such places.
"Our employees are proud of their good service. No tipping is required or allowed. Employees who take tips will no longer be working here, so do not make their job more difficult by trying to tip."
posted by eye of newt at 10:05 PM on April 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


yankophilia

That's when you pull Hamlet's girlfriend out of the water.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:05 PM on April 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


More people should refuse to tip until bosses pay their employees fairly. That isn't my responsibility. Don't mess with my money.

Exactly. And the thing is, if I was hypothetically eating in an American restaurant, and the meal was 20% cheaper than a comparable meal back home, I would quite happily add 20% to the bill, because that's just fair play. But I have strong doubts that served food, pulled beer and barista'd coffee is 20% cheaper in America than it is in Australia.

Our dollars are at parity at the moment. I paid $4.80 total this morning for a large/tall (internet suggests 16oz) flat white with an extra shot of espresso (which runs to 50c, which means that the coffee would have originally been $4.30). What would I be paying over there in the US before I added some kind of eating tax and then tipped the coffee person?
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:07 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you tip at funeral receptions?

I was at a city club for a post-funeral reception (two-plus hours, multiple open bars paid for by the widow, so drinks were free, for the about 500+ people who came), and I was the only person I noticed who tipped. Of course there was nothing as gauche as tip jars, strictly a hand-to-hand thing.

And I'm sure the widow provided the staff a substantial tip, as at a wedding, so I'm not sure I should have tipped. Should I have tipped?
posted by orthogonality at 10:07 PM on April 13, 2011


I've worked in crap food service jobs in both the US and Australia. In the US I felt like an expendable wage slave who had to be subservient to everyone. It was miserable, more than once I was in tears. In Australia I was treated like a professional, like someone who was hired to do a job, like a real person.

I'm not why there was such a large and palpable difference: the tipping (none in Australia, expected but unpredictable and capricious in the US), because I was paid a livable wage in Australia ($23.00/hr vs $2.30/hr in the US; yes, seriously), or because there's generally more a feeling of respect in Australia towards anyone who works an honest jo to support themselves, whether you're a lawyer or a ditch digger.

But I do know that I hated every day of restaurant hell in the US and that I don't think I could ever do it again. I like feeling as if I'm a human being deserving of respect too much to go back to that.
posted by mosessis at 10:08 PM on April 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


More people should refuse to tip until bosses pay their employees fairly. That isn't my responsibility. Don't mess with my money.

Yeah, that means you're punishing service employees for unfair laws. In the U.S., tipping is part of the cost of eating out. Until those laws are changed, and I hope they will be, the only person you're punishing by not tipping is the (less than) minimum wage employee.
posted by lalex at 10:14 PM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was at a city club for a post-funeral reception (two-plus hours, multiple open bars paid for by the widow, so drinks were free, for the about 500+ people who came), and I was the only person I noticed who tipped. Of course there was nothing as gauche as tip jars, strictly a hand-to-hand thing.

Wasn't this an episode of Party Down?

or because there's generally more a feeling of respect in Australia towards anyone who works an honest job to support themselves, whether you're a lawyer or a ditch digger.

It goes beyond 'respect' (which is admirable). Ditch diggers, electricians, garbagemen, and the like get cute nicknames (garbagemen - garbos, electricians - sparkies) and under the label of 'tradies' (tradesmen, like in an RPG) are considered sex symbols. snarky info here
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:20 PM on April 13, 2011


Lalex, I will fully support the employees when they go on strike and demand that bosses pay them. I also sympathize with beggars; however, I am not obligated to use my money to help them. It is MY money. If people stop accepting that culture, employees won't get as much as before and will then demand more from those who should be paying them. As long as we pay, there is less opportunity for the law to change.
posted by Knigel at 10:22 PM on April 13, 2011


Lalex, moreover, I am not punishing them, their bosses are. Don't make me responsible for someone else's deeds. Why punish me?
posted by Knigel at 10:24 PM on April 13, 2011


I also sympathize with beggars; however, I am not obligated to use my money to help them. It is MY money...moreover, I am not punishing them, their bosses are. Don't make me responsible for someone else's deeds. Why punish me?


What makes you think you're being punished? According to your Randian theory of economics, if (when, hopefully) servers are paid a living wage, the prices of menu items will go up accordingly. It's not like your going to save any money if the tipping system gets abolished.
posted by lalex at 10:34 PM on April 13, 2011


That's funny, I pay pretty much the same (if not less in many cases) for stuff here in Japan where there's no tipping, compared to back in Canada where there is. This whole idea that things would somehow get crazy expensive if people were paid decently is a crock.
posted by nightchrome at 10:38 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lalex, there is nothing Randian about what I am saying. The boss should pay the staff. If there is something on the menu that I like, I'll buy it. The boss and I can negotiate that price without taking it out of the employee's wages. If I don't like the price, I do not have to pay. If the boss doesn't want to lower the price for me, and for market demand, then they don't have to, but their competitor might.

Now, it's as if the boss is using the employee's money to make up for the boss' loss.

The price may or may not go up, but I can choose to buy what I want without being obligated to pay the employees instead of the boss.

To be honest, I wouldn't mind paying more because the evidence shows that the tipping system is unethical, anti-social, and ineffective. I'd rather pay more for a more moral system.
posted by Knigel at 10:49 PM on April 13, 2011


And what Nightcrome said. Here in Korea, the prices are fine and there is no tipping culture.
posted by Knigel at 10:51 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Come on. If you don't have the money to tip, you don't have the money to go out. Period. If you can't afford it, you don't go out. It's part of the cost of going out, it's part of the deal. It is what it is.

Quit being so cheap.

If you don't like it, don't go out.

It sucks that it's set up this way, in particular the tip jars set up in corporate sandwich shops annoy me, or corporate coffee shops, jars just set out there to induce guilt, shame people into tossing a few bucks in the kitty. You know for a fact that these people aren't working for tips only. But. You also know that they aren't making a ton of money. They live off those tips.

I know a lot of people who work in coffee shops, I hang out in coffee shops more than you do, more than I ought probably, but whatever. My fave local dive has refills for a buck, I've usually a cup in the pickup, I give them a buck and drop a buck in the jar. It's what I do. If I get a sandwich and chips and/or whatever else, it's always at least 25%, usually more.

I spoke with Ben this afternoon, stopped in on my way as I was sleazing my way down into South Austin to hang with a buddy. He told me about school -- he's taking a weed-out physics class that is bending his head considerably so he's only taken a total of nine hours this semester. He works full time there at that coffee shop. He travels when he can, he's knocked around a lot, an adventurous kid, and smart, and good looking -- I mean, I want to kiss this kid myself. If he didn't get those tips, he's barely be surviving. Why shouldn't I help him out? Yeah, it'd be better maybe if life was set up differently but it isn't, and here's Ben, and I love this kid, what's it hurt me to toss a buck in the jar, or a five?

Sal, his room-mate, she works there too. Great gal, Sal is, one of the best smiles in town, a friendly woman, mid 20s maybe, she's got the requisite South Austin tattoos festooned about her person, she wears her hair like a dope but she's supposed to, she's a kid. She makes a fair living working there, and the reason she makes a fair living working there is because of her tips.

Laura. Skinny, pretty kid, young enough to still be plenty green, not yet totally awake, the lights are on but nobodies home, if you catch my drift. I like to listen to her tell of her last night, out drinking, this band or that one, this group of friends or that one. She lives with about fourteen other kids and is barely squeaking by -- she's got to have money to go drinking on, right? -- and I'm glad to give her some.

And. About seven hundred years ago, at the dawn of time, I was married, and living in Clearwater Florida, working as a carpenter. Working as a carpenter in mid 70s Florida was pretty much a losing game, made only enough money to keep from starving, keep my piece of shit Ford Falcon on the road to get me back and forth to the jobsites. Kathy worked as a waitress in a restaurant in Clearwater Beach. There were times -- weeks -- when we ate off her tips. Counted pennies. It's all we had. Pinto beans and corn-bread. Kathy was pretty much the smiling-est, friendliest, red-headed-est most freckled-up young woman that there was, and the best damn waitress, too -- people would wait until they could get into her station and I don't blame them, and she made spectacular tips, esp once we left FLA, went back to yankee-land where everyone was falling off their wallets.

More. When we were starving down there in Florida, people opened up their hearts to us and opened up their wallets, too, and did it in the kindest of ways, found ways that it didn't sting us. One guy in particular, a neighbor of ours, he bought some macramé crap that Kathy'd strung together, gave us $100, and of course it wasn't crap, Kathy was really talented, but it wasn't worth no $100 and everybody knew it, he was giving us gas money to get that van -- we'd bought a van from a flower shop -- back to Illinois. And other times, since, when I've come upon hard times, people have opened to me, mostly without my asking of course, not wanting to sting me.

Who is it who gives to me, mostly, esp when I'm in hard times? Others who've known hard times. And/or poor people. If I live to be a hundred years old -- and I damn sure want to -- I won't forget Richard, downstairs of the apt I had in Houston, him stopping me on my way up those stairs, giving me a plate of poor mans food -- I was awful thin and getting thinner, not broke so much as just drinking and drugging, running hard as I could from the foolishnesses and heartaches of losing Kathy -- and he didn't ask anything at all, he didn't say a goddamn word, he just knew, and he gave me that food. I do love Texas.

By the way, that hundred bucks that guy in Florida gave us? I've given it back as many times as I've been able, I owe Life and I know it. You do too.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:09 PM on April 13, 2011 [18 favorites]


Bar staff in Australia are supposed to have completed a "responsible service of alcohol" course – I'd be curious to know what they actually teach in it these days in regards to that.

I did one about 4 years ago. They teach you almost nothing. It basically comes down to "don't serve alcohol to drunk people". And it takes about 4 hours to do, for some ungodly reason.

It's a stupid window dressing law, similar to trying to tax 'alcopops', i.e. premixed drinks such as Bacardi breezers, because the government though that by making sweet drinks more expensive, teenagers wouldn't drink so much.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:11 PM on April 13, 2011


There is a simple argument against tipping no matter the perceived benefits.

When we as customers of a business are paying someone for intermediary services
then we are appointing them as brokers. The waiter is your meal broker.


Why is there not a bigger shit-storm over this?

This implies that anyone who has an information advantage (ie, almost everyone you pass on the street) is a threat. Or, the other way, if you know the spoon's grease, then they're the mark.

None of this is true in dining/the service industries at large. Certainly there's a learning curve, but that curve is much more shallow given digital communication. A service's reputation (especially over the long wrong) has never been more valuable. Don't be a dick.

Now, as per the supply-side question of whether someone provides better service when in a tipping system, I don't think there's a question. It's just whether you, as a person, consider your consumer experience as more valuable than someone else's self worth.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 11:12 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let me get this straight. In the USA you can do a deal with the bartender where you give them money directly and they give you the bar owner's liquor? Is this legal?
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:16 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dancestoblue, I stopped reading after this: "Come on. If you don't have the money to tip, you don't have the money to go out."

This is one of the biggest arguments that I always see; however, it is also the most illogical. I have money, so what? What entitles anyone else to my money? It has nothing to do with being cheap. It's my money. Why should I just give it away?

Tipping is immoral, and discriminates.

If you don't have money to tip, don't use customer service.
If you don't have money to tip, don't buy clothes in a retail shop.
If you don't have money to tip, don't go to a mechanic.
If you don't have money to tip, don't use a teller at a bank.
If you don't have money to tip, don't use any of the other services that people provide.
posted by Knigel at 11:18 PM on April 13, 2011


Knigel -- Mr. Pink.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:21 PM on April 13, 2011


I'm also in Korea and there's no tipping. And tax is always included in your price for just about everything. No mental math required. I love it. And taxis are very cheap, but the cars are always clean and new-ish.

That said, when I used to drink in bars back in America tipping was all about how much the waitress would flirt and/or compliment you. I tried not to encourage this but I was going against the tide. On the one hand I saw some depressing shit re: creepy guys trying to cop feels. On the other, I knew some waitresses and there's no way in hell they'd prefer a "no tip" system because in a crowded college bar on a Friday or Saturday night they could bring home 200 bucks if they worked it.
posted by bardic at 11:22 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have any studies and scientific research showing that tipping actually improves service?

Well once when I worked at Target, this woman slipped a bill and a hand in my pocket telling me there would be more if I could take the basketball hoop she just bought and put it into her car.

Being 18, horny and in need of money, I totally did. I reached into my pocket and found a dollar as she started to pull out. That was the last time I did anything hoping to get a better tip...and I worked in restaurants after that.

Its not the customers who should pay the workers...its the owners of the business who should pay the workers.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:22 PM on April 13, 2011


It's the percentage that gets me.

"Here, I carried an $8 burger to your table."
"Here's $10. Keep the change."
"A 20% tip? Thank you."
"No, I just...ok then, no worries."

"Here, I carried a $68 lobster to your table."
"Here's $70. Keep the change."
"Surely monsieur meant to give me a $14 tip?"
"Is the plate seven times harder to carry than the burger I ordered yesterday?"

The Aussie 'round it up, keep the change' approach is much more civilised. If it's a group, then we all do this when working out our share, then again when we compare to the total bill, so you end up with a bigger tip anyway as a result of our collective laziness.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:25 PM on April 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


I know a lot of people who work in coffee shops,....

Oh come on. Not everyone wants their daily caffeine purchase to be a scene from a coming-of-age sitcom. Why do your skinny, attractive friends deserve my money more than any other randomly chosen schlub?
posted by nasreddin at 11:25 PM on April 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Dancestoblue. Absolutely. I am Mr.Pink and your next comment should be "I'm convinced, gimme my dollar back". That is unless you have a solid argument against myself or the actor that plays me.
posted by Knigel at 11:28 PM on April 13, 2011


Come on. If you don't have the money to tip PAY FAIR WAGES, you don't have the money to go out OWN A BUSINESS. Period. If you can't afford it, you don't go out OWN A BUSINESS. It's part of the cost of going out OWNING A BUSINESS, it's part of the deal. It is what it is.

ftfy.

After moving to NZ, where people consider it "cheeky" to tip, and I've had my tips rejected by restaurant staff, I realized that these people consider themselves PROFESSIONALS. You don't tip your doctor for his specialized service...and you certainly don't tip your restaurant staff.

Tipping is like giving the boss of a business a discount on employee wages. Fuck that.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:28 PM on April 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


(...although don't get me started on the recent trend for outrageous corkage and cakeage charges in Australia. Cakeage this, you fucking philistine.)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:28 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


CAKEAGE?
posted by tumid dahlia at 11:33 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


And btw, I spent a summer working in a Maryland crab house/shit-hole as a bus-boy. And I got paid half minimum wage (about $2.50/hour) and I had to get "tipped out" by the waitresses. We were serving staff, technically, because sometimes we'd bring water or napkins to a table, but our main job was to haul big bins of crab guts, crab shells, and empty beer cans to the back of the restaurant. But before we did that, you had to go forearm deep into said piles of crab guts to pluck out the razor-sharp knives and wooden hammers you use to wreck a blue crab and get to the meat inside. This was not easy to do without cutting yourself. It was impossible to do without smelling like crab guts and Old Bay, permanently.

And the worst part of the job? At the end of every night trying to work while at the same time keeping an eye on the waitresses (the owner only hired women to be waiters) who would try to sneak out without tipping out to the bus boys (who were always male). And they got to decide how much you would make for the night if they hadn't run off already.

Fuck you, Mike of Mike's Crab House in Annapolis. And come to think of it, fuck you too Maryland.
posted by bardic at 11:33 PM on April 13, 2011 [4 favorites]



(...although don't get me started on the recent trend for outrageous corkage and cakeage charges in Australia. Cakeage this, you fucking philistine.)


what's worse is paying for individual packets of ketchup/mustard/tarter sauce. that's just wrong
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:35 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Common, tumid, if you bring your own cake to a restaurant/cafe. Somewhat understandable, as dessert is typically one of the biggest earners.

Doesn't mean I want to PAY it, mind...
posted by coriolisdave at 11:36 PM on April 13, 2011


I do appreciate you fixing that for me, hal_c_on, but fact is that it's not set up that way. Business *should* be that way. People *should* get a living wage. Banks *should* pay their fair amount of taxes. There *should* be an easter bunny. But there isn't.

And this is how it is set up, currently, and until it changes I'm damn sure not going to change. I've been given way. too. much. in my life to consider shutting down the flow from my end. No. Way.

I had no idea the take that metafilter people would have on this: "I've got mine, get away from me." It runs counter to so much of what's often here.

I hope you get the opportunity to count pennies one day. You'll change, unless you're Scrooge, which, quite frankly, many of you sound like to me.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:36 PM on April 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it's not about "I've got mine, get away from me."
It's about "If people keep going along with this terrible situation, it is never going to get fixed."
But sure, you keep throwing your cast-offs at serving staff and feeling good about yourself rather than trying to change things so they get a fair shake in the world.
Two can play the self-righteous indignation game.
posted by nightchrome at 11:39 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


You're wrong dancestoblue. It IS setup that way.

Check out what bardic wrote. Its the same way in Illinois (or it was). If you don't make enough in tips to cover minimum wage, YOUR BOSSES HAVE TO PAY YOU so that your wages equal minimum wage.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:39 PM on April 13, 2011


How can I free your doubtful mind /
And melt your cold, cold heart?

posted by dancestoblue at 11:39 PM on April 13, 2011


You'll change, unless you're Scrooge, which, quite frankly, many of you THESE BOSSES sound like to me.

your welcome.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:40 PM on April 13, 2011


I meant "you're"
posted by hal_c_on at 11:40 PM on April 13, 2011


My parents always refused to tip anyone that they believed earned more money than they did.

While I've never been able to adhere consistently to the same principle myself, I definitely endorse it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:41 PM on April 13, 2011


I just wanted to share this. Oh, and to apologize to anyone I've inadvertently screwed out of a tip by putting the tip on my card when I didn't have cash. I didn't know servers don't usually see the money if you tip that way--I'm so depressed to hear it! Damnation.
posted by Neofelis at 11:41 PM on April 13, 2011


Common, tumid, if you bring your own cake to a restaurant/cafe. Somewhat understandable, as dessert is typically one of the biggest earners.

Who the fuck is taking food to a restaurant? Isn't that contrary to the entire idea?

Your own wine I can understand. $10 a glass for stuff that is coming out of a bottle that will cost you $7.99 at the Liquorland? Fine. And you're probably going to have more than one glass, so that's cool. But you're not eating your barramundi and asparagus with a side of cake, and refilling the cake when it's finished. It's just one piece of cake you're having, at the end. Pay for the damn cake. God.
posted by tumid dahlia at 11:42 PM on April 13, 2011


You'll change, unless you're Scrooge, which, quite frankly, many of you sound like to me.

Don't forget that if your skinny, attractive, down-on-their-luck friends happen to work at a corporate coffee shop, it's okay to stiff them! Keep Austin weird!
posted by nasreddin at 11:43 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dancestoblue. I believe that if you look at the comments, they are quite the opposite of what you are saying. Actually, you seem to be for the status quo. You're saying that the system sucks, but people should keep begging for spare change instead of demanding to be paid fairly by those who owe them.

You say that there *should* be many things, but there isn't. Why doesn't this same argument work for tipping? People *should* tip, but there is no Easter Bunny.

I believe that others including myself have stated quite clearly many solid arguments that you do a disservice to by suggesting they are cheap and Scrooge-like.

Show me where anyone has said: "I've got mine, get away from me."

Let me ask you, do you give money to every beggar that you see? If you don't, are you being cheap?
posted by Knigel at 11:44 PM on April 13, 2011


I give money to all beggars that do a funny little dance when I command them to. But they must do it well.
posted by tumid dahlia at 11:45 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


tumid: typically, birthday cake. Group celebration thing, you see.
Not that I disagree, mind. Get the damn dessert
posted by coriolisdave at 11:46 PM on April 13, 2011


Let me get this straight. In the USA you can do a deal with the bartender where you give them money directly and they give you the bar owner's liquor? Is this legal?

I've never had it set up as a "deal" where terms were negotiated as such, but yes, it's common at bars for good tips to be rewarded with expedited service (e.g. you get acknowledged as soon as you walk up to the bar, before the people who were at the bar before you), and free drinks.

At one of my favorite bars in LA, I used to tip $1 on every $3 pint of beer -- so my cost was $4 per beer. One day I decided to start tipping $2 on every $3 beer -- so $5 total. After buying a few rounds this way, the bartender asked "What's your whiskey?". I told him my brand of choice, and every beer purchased from that point on came with a "free" whiskey. Yes, I'm paying a bit more, but it's still cheaper than buying (and tipping for) the whiskeys outright.

Not sure of the legality, but it seems to be well understood in the bar culture there. Your relationship with your bartender is an important, and potentially rewarding one.

Another place where tipping can work wonders is in the hotel industry. In Las Vegas you can get crazy hotel upgrades by handing the check-in clerk $20 on the fly. See The Twenty Dollar Trick
posted by adamk at 11:48 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've never been out to dinner with more people than myself :'(
posted by tumid dahlia at 11:48 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I stopped giving money to beggars when I gave one all the change in my pocket and he started yelling at me and chasing me for not giving him enough.
posted by bardic at 11:49 PM on April 13, 2011


At one of my favorite bars in LA, I used to tip $1 on every $3 pint of beer -- so my cost was $4 per beer. One day I decided to start tipping $2 on every $3 beer -- so $5 total. After buying a few rounds this way, the bartender asked "What's your whiskey?"

So what you're basically saying is a good way to get cheap whiskey is to just go into a bar and start putting $2 notes down on the wood until the drinks start arriving? INTERESTING.
posted by tumid dahlia at 11:50 PM on April 13, 2011


That beggar was just like a waiter then, Bardic?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:50 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I stopped giving money to beggars when I gave one all the change in my pocket and he started yelling at me and chasing me for not giving him enough.

Oh, hey, fun story, ran into a homeless down in Melbourne years back, he asked if I had a spare cigarette, I was feeling gregarious and had just been paid so I said "What's your smoke?" and he was like "Whatever" so I popped into the 7-11 nearby and got him a pouch of White Ox and some papers and matches. Handed over like $30 worth of stuff to him and said "Enjoy!". Then he was like "Got any spare change?" I was gonna go to the cash machine and pull a fifty for him but I was fearful that the next question would be "How's your asshole?", so I just walked away in the end.
posted by tumid dahlia at 11:52 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


How is Jeff Kennett these days, tumid?
posted by coriolisdave at 11:55 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does the whole minimum-wage-plus-tips thing in hospitality in the US also apply to more expensive/upmarket places? So, for example, in a Michelin star (or equivalent) restaurant, would the waiting staff be making minimum wage plus tips? Is it just expected that the experience/competence of waiting staff required in such places would be adequately compensated by the higher tips associated with the higher costs of the meals (if that makes sense)?
posted by damonism at 11:56 PM on April 13, 2011


Sprightly, with gnarled, vicelike hands.
posted by tumid dahlia at 11:56 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


dancestoblue, "How can I free your doubtful mind /
And melt your cold, cold heart?"

Okay, since you're attempting to pull on heartstrings to win arguments, let me ask you something. Is it really fair to tell a poor family who can just manage to save up just enough to take their little twins, Billy and Timmy, to their birthday dinner that they should simply not eat out if they can't afford a tip? That sounds like the cruelest thing ever. You're talking about your poor friends, but then you would deny a poor family a little bit of joy simply because of their economic status? How can I melt your cold, cold heart?
posted by Knigel at 11:56 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


(over here still singing 'bout your cold, cold hearts...)

ah, just saw your response here, nasreddin -- nah, I give them money at Starbucks or whatever, too, and more than fair, too, though I tend to stay away from those joints as much as I can, because I don't like to feed the beast. I said it above, probably not clearly, that I know they are not working for tips only but still aren't getting rich, and depend on those tips.

another edit -- this thread is moving FAST, whoa!

Knigel, I don't give money to every beggar I see, no, but I give it to a lot of them. I've known any number of them who are not really in hard times, just running a game, one I don't like at all, I just try to feel it out, each person. I admit, I'm a sucker for a kid with a dog, and no doubt these kids know this. But even the fact that they are on the streets begging tells me that they're in some kind of trouble, and it's sortof kindof not for me to judge; I really do let it go, each person at a time. I look them in the eye though, no matter I give them bread or not, and say isn't it a nice day, or isn't it cold out, or whatever, I give them what shred of dignity I can, who am I to hold back, right?

And I never have hung in a thread this way, mostly I say what I've got to say and move on, I've stayed because I was rude I think, plus it's just so close to my heart; I truly have lived off other peoples generosity.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:56 PM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why don't you give to every beggar? You expect me to give to every waiter and waitress.
posted by Knigel at 12:00 AM on April 14, 2011


"That beggar was just like a waiter then, Bardic?"

It was DC, so he was probably a consulant.
posted by bardic at 12:08 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I shouldn't even read these threads, much less comment in them. But, everything that dancestoblue said, pretty much. In the world we're actually living in, here in the US (in Austin, yeah, too) if you can't afford to tip you can't afford to go out.

I seriously, seriously don't get what people don't get about this. Yeah, maybe it sucks, I don't know, never lived anywhere where it wasn't a fact of life. ($23/hr for tending bar? Sounds about right to me, although I'm sure there's a bunch of bartenders take home more here. Then again, they also get no socialistic healthcare here, so probably that at *least* evens it out)

But since it is a fact of life, hey- it's not that goldanged complicated. Your meal/drinks/whatever cost whatever they cost, plus 20%. Or more. You can do the math in a couple of seconds I bet, hey, you can figure it out before you order if that makes you more comfortable.

I don't know, I enjoy tipping. Worked a bunch of service industry jobs, have a bunch of friends who still do, I actually kind of enjoy it. In my experience, it doesn't create any kind of class-divide, dance-for-me-monkey kinda dynamic, not at all. Far as class stuff goes- it's not the upper-crust who tip particularly well anyways, it's... bartenders and waiters! Go figure.

People talk about being uncomfortable with having to judge another human being, decide how much of your money they're worthy of (again, if the math's a problem I bet there's an app for it- 20 damned percent, more if you feel like it, except in cases of terrible service, 10% as an insult, if you must. Or better, as suggested upthread, talk to someone about what went wrong.)

I bet it's the other thing though- you know damned good and well that *you're* being judged, as a human being, based on how you tip. You under-tip? You're a bad person, pretty much. Maybe that's not fair, but hey- that's reality. You want to change it? Talk to the restaurant owner, get a law passed, I don't know, but if you express your political opinion by stiffing your server? Yeah, you're a bad person and you're making the world a worse place. Please don't do that.
posted by hap_hazard at 12:08 AM on April 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am NOT disagreeing with what you are saying *in principle.* But we live here, now, and people do in fact live off these tips, the kindness and generosity of others.

edit -- Nope, I don't expect you to do anything other than what you will, Knigel. It's your call. Don't be surprised, though, if/when people react/respond such as I have in here. Though they may not say it, of course. But they'll have it in their heart, for sure.

Read A Christmas Carol. Read Twains howlingly funny "The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut." Both of these stories talk about exactly what this thread has covered; Scrooge says, not word for word but absolutely principle for principle many of the voices expressed in this thread. I try to read it every December 25, my bow toward Christianity, tis the season, etc and etc.

I do know all the arguments, I've made them myself. But I just cannot anymore. I've been given too much. I owe it back, what tiny bit I can give I do. I am not consistent -- you've surely picked that right out -- but I do what I can.

You should have seen Richards face, when he gave me that food. You should sit with your little wife, counting out pennies, out of gas, no food.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:10 AM on April 14, 2011


I also want to point out that many people who live on the streets eat at restaurants because they have no kitchen.
posted by Knigel at 12:11 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hap_hazard, so people who don't always give money to beggars are bad people then?
posted by Knigel at 12:18 AM on April 14, 2011


Sorry, must have missed the whole connection between working a service industry job in the US, and being a beggar. But if you purposely go to where the beggar works, to buy food, and the beggar brings you some in a timely manner, and you don't tip him, then yes.

Yeah, I really shouldn't comment in a thread like this. It's my natural empathy and generosity that make me want to tip well- it just feels good. I can't claim anything that noble, for the way I feel about people who *don't* tip well- I don't know where it comes from, but I'm pretty sure it's not amenable to reason. Much less sophistry. So yeah, sure- if it helps move the discussion along, then in answer to your question, yes. But don't worry, I'll give a little more to take up your slack.
posted by hap_hazard at 12:28 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had a big thing all written up, really trashy and godwinny and terrible with comparisons to propping up slavery and everything, but then I erased it and felt terrible.
Not because of the ridiculous crap I almost wrote, but because for just a second I let the self-righteous "you're a bad person" types make me feel like I should stoop to their level.
posted by nightchrome at 12:28 AM on April 14, 2011


Dancetoblue, I believe that you are disagreeing with what I am saying in principle. I also find your comments quite condescending. You seem to have been saying that anyone who is against tipping is cheap and not as charitable as you are. You keep mentioning your own generous deeds while assuming that the rest of us do not contribute to society and the underprivileged.
posted by Knigel at 12:30 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, must have missed the whole connection between working a service industry job in the US, and being a beggar.

Sorry that's just the impression us folk on this side of the Pacific get. You know, when there is a whole class of people who get paid $2-something an hour to do a hard manual job, who are considered servants to a "better class" of people who throw their spare change at them. Maybe beggar isn't the right word. Serf might be more appropriate.

I've worked service jobs. Up until a few months ago, I was supplementing my income delivering pizzas. About 50% of people wouldn't tip me at all. I didn't treat them like shit next time I delivered to them. Occasionally someone would give me, like a $25 tip. I would tell them no, and try to give it back. Somehow, Australian society didn't collapse.
posted by Jimbob at 12:32 AM on April 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hap_hazard. The problem is that it is forced. I really want to give extra to some people. It makes me feel really dirty, however, when it is demanded and they feel that they are entitled to my money. I want to be able to leave some secret money without causing a big deal but letting them know that I appreciate their effort. I do not want to give money when their standing their tapping their foot even after they have done nothing for me.

The reason why I brought up beggars is that the arguments seem to be that the system is broken but we should keep paying anyways. There are many parallels between tipping and giving money to the poor. It isn't sophistry. It is a legitimate comparison. Why would we not feel obligated to give money to every beggar if we feel obligated giving money to restaurant staff? If the bosses aren't looking after them, then everyone else should, right?
posted by Knigel at 12:37 AM on April 14, 2011


It really seems that some of you are just being apologetic for unjust laws while calling those who find it immoral "bad people". You're essentially blaming us for bad laws. The bosses love this. They would rather workers to hate on the customers than ask them for better wages.
posted by Knigel at 12:43 AM on April 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hrm, well, maybe we're all serfs over here then. Not sure where 'spare change' comes from, either- if you're trying to envision living on the "round the $58 up to $60" kind of thing, then yeah, it'd be like that. But it's not like that. And the class thing, to me, just doesn't apply- I have a 'real job' now, but there's hell of service industry types who make more than I do, and they deserve it. It doesn't seem, to me, like any kind of condescension, to tip- it's a matter of doing the right thing for your fellow man, and figuring he'd do the same for you.

I'm certainly not going to try to make the case that it's an optimal state of affairs- jesus, I'm barely even a capitalist, and not what you'd call a big defender of the American status quo. And frankly, I don't belong in this discussion, because I'm not in Australia, and if there's some discussion about whether to institute tipping as a social institution, then maybe y'all are better off without it, I have no idea. Just solely talking- and talking too much- about how it works here. I can't help the vehemence of my opinions, but if they seemed too personal to anybody, then I apologize for that, and I'm gonna close this tab now.

Good night, tip your servers!
posted by hap_hazard at 12:46 AM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


It also shifts the responsibility for a badly run business from the management onto the staff. Under a no-tip-system, you simply take your business elsewhere. Under a tip-system, you take it out on the individual staff member if you were unhappy with the place - they suffer, management doesn't give a toss.
posted by Jimbob at 12:47 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


It doesn't seem, to me, like any kind of condescension, to tip- it's a matter of doing the right thing for your fellow man, and figuring he'd do the same for you.

Any particular reason you don't tip your lawyer / person who scans your groceries / guy who build your house / landlord / bank manager / nurse who looks after you in hospital / airline hostess?
posted by Jimbob at 12:55 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm going to follow hap_hazards lead and leave this to those of you more qualified than I to discuss. No hard feelings, truly sorry if I've ruffled feathers, I just got lit up is all, all of those things and plenty more have happened to me, it's awfully close to home.

G'night all!
posted by dancestoblue at 12:57 AM on April 14, 2011


It really seems that some of you are just being apologetic for unjust laws while calling those who find it immoral "bad people".

I hate effing Metafilter because I keep agreeing with things lefties say. But yes, it is clear that false consciousness is leading people to identify bad tippers as the enemies of the working class, while in fact it is capitalists who are exploiting us all by using our feelings of guilt as an excuse to deny their workers a living wage. As a result of their machinations we are divided and forced into a master-slave relationship in which we are unable to recognise our mutual interest in having an enjoyable meal.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:58 AM on April 14, 2011 [14 favorites]


Holy shit, Joe's a god-damned Trot.
posted by Jimbob at 1:01 AM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


You under-tip? You're a bad person, pretty much.

Damn, that beggar is chasing me down the street again...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:04 AM on April 14, 2011


Eff you Jimbob, do you know how self-disgusted I felt typing that? I need to go oppress someone to clean my morals out.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:10 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Make comrade tumid a cake instead.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:22 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Na zdorovje!
posted by tumid dahlia at 1:25 AM on April 14, 2011


So I leave here and go to Knigels profile, and then on to his site, and I like this guy, and I'd bet I said things here in ways that could have been said in a kinder way.

This is why I write what I write and then leave threads, say my say and then go -- I'm not fast on my feet, not with grace anyways, esp when I'm lit up.

I'm glad I left when I did.

Apologies to anyone/everyone for jerkiness on my part, plz accept my apolgies for aiming at people rather than the topic; Knigel, you rock.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:27 AM on April 14, 2011


Dancestoblue, if I ever see you working at a restaurant, I'll toss you a healthy tip. (I'll also unscrew the saltshaker though, but that's just cause I respect you). You seem pretty cool too, and it takes a lot of courage to say what you did. Very awesome.
posted by Knigel at 1:37 AM on April 14, 2011


So I've just been to New York, where all the prices are like London prices but in many cases much more, and then you're expected to tip 20% to everyone, even people just passing you in the street or working in nearby offices. It just felt like New York was slapping me in the face and robbing me blind every step I took.

If there's going to be a tip culture, wouldn't it be better to have a set service fee rather than a percentage? It would increase according to number of people eating, number of courses etc - ie the stuff that actually requires extra service. If you buy lots of wine, for example (which is the thing that increases prices the most) why does that then mean you pay huge amounts more for service? It's basically a huge fleecing exercise.
posted by Summer at 1:38 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


What felt really weird for us (NZ people visiting Hawaii) was that we're pretty cheap diners and we don't buy booze at restaurants. So when we figured out the tip following the instructions in the guidebooks or whatever, we were paying less for service than the dude next to us buying expensive plonk.

Made us feel bad for asking for water, it did.
posted by xiw at 1:46 AM on April 14, 2011


Here in Hungary we have a tipping culture that extends to just about every service - bars, restaurants, delivery men, car mechanics, etc... - but also includes tipping doctors and nurses in hospitals. There is an ongoing debate about this - officially tipping is forbidden, yet doctors and - especially - nurses are officially underpaid with the understanding that they will make it up in tips. It's one thing to depend on a barista or waiter living off of tips... wait until your bedpan service depends on it. And although people expect tips, it doesn't mean service will be better. It simply means wages are low. Service is often rude and resentful, tips or not.

If you ever go out to eat in restaurants in France or Italy you expect excellent service without the servile attitude. That's because wait staff there do not depend on tips. They are paid to be professionals making a living wage, and if they don't perform, there are other trained workers ready to take their positions. And yes, it is reflected in your bill. If you just want to grab a bite, there are lots of other options, but if you sit down your server is a well paid, middle class professional. Which is why in Italy if you stand and have a coffee you pay less than if you sit at a table and order a coffee.
posted by zaelic at 1:54 AM on April 14, 2011


In my medium sized city I used to get a lot of pizza delivered. More than once Ive got a taxi home late at night when very drunk and fallen asleep in the back. When I wake Im in the cab but outside my house and I haven't given any instructions on how to get there. The taxi driver also had a pizza delivery job and reckonised my face. Those guys get tips.
posted by vbfg at 2:04 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tipping will not go away because business owners (the guys with the money) enjoy being able to advertise much lower prices than you will actually be compelled to pay when you actually fork over the money for the product.
posted by pracowity at 2:24 AM on April 14, 2011


I despair of the increasing tip culture infiltrating into the UK. I find the US system and the assumption of tipping abhorrent.

Let me put it this way, I once had the misfortunte to take a taxi in Phoenix, AZ to the Airport. The taxi drive had done nothing more than grunted at me and had a loud conversation pretty much having a domestic with his other half over the phone whilst driving. When we arrive I give him a note and await some change and he just sits there glaring at me. 'My change?' 'Tip' 'For what exactly' 'TIP' he shouts. 'For doing your job?' Nice system you have there people.

On the flip side, eating at a fantastic winery in NZ and knowing that they would be insulted if one tried to tip. Leaving that judgement call to the customer and having to sum up someone's worth by throwing them a few measly dollars as if its a satisfactory way of doing things. If I considered myself a professional in the service industry I would see tips as insulting and demeaning. Tipping exists because its gives the vain customers a feeling of power and buy in of the power transaction and secondly because it allow employers to offer piss takingly low wages.
posted by numberstation at 2:40 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


One thing I haven’t really seen mentioned is how work servers in the US do outside of taking your order and bringing your food and drinks to the table. I worked at an Italian restaurant with upscale pretentions in downtown Atlanta for about a year. Aside from the expected tasks of stocking wait stations and rolling up silverware, wait staff were expected to:

• Completely empty the massive ice machine once every two weeks and scrub it down inside
• Empty, clean, and refill over 100 oil and vinegar bottles every two weeks
• Thoroughly clean the soft drink dispensing and espresso machines every night
• Stock glasses in all wait stations and in bar area (bartender made $15 an hour, he smoked and read the paper while we stocked his bar)
• Stock ice and carry garnishes up to bar area (bartender at least cut the citrus himself)
• Prepare and stock garnishes for the expediting area
• Cut bread for the bread baskets
• Stock carry out containers
• Sweep/mop/vacuum entire massive dining area every night
• Spot-clean upholstered chairs and banquettes every night
• Check and, if necessary, clean toilets before, during, and after service every night (doesn’t it comfort you to know that your server may have been cleaning up shit and vomit ten minutes before she brought your appetisers?)
• Pick up cigarette butts from around restaurant entrance before every service
• Pull up all rubber mats in kitchen every night after service, hose and/or sweep down kitchen
• Clean and sterilise all prep areas in kitchen
• Take out at least 20 bags of trash during and after service (down dangerous, narrow stairs)

And I’ve probably left a whole bunch of things out. Why aren’t porters or kitchen staff doing this work? Because they cost at least minimum wage. Wait staff cost less than $3 per hour. Many wait staff do hours of unpaid labor every week outside of the actual work they’re tipped for – unpaid, because at $2.79 per hour, you’re getting a paycheck of $0 after taxes. You don’t get tips while you’re scrubbing the toilet. US wait staff defend the tipping system because they’re addicted to the thrill of occasionally coming home with hundreds of dollars of cash for a few hour’s work. I know I was, which is why I stuck it out for so long in spite of the fact that I was actually earning about $5 an hour on average for doing hard, dirty, shitty work.
posted by cilantro at 3:02 AM on April 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd never argue that waiting tables (i.e., dealing with bitchy assholes) is easy. But I do hate tipping because it obscures the true cost of what you're getting.

That said, I do tip when I go home to America. I love not living in America.
posted by bardic at 3:46 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


US wait staff defend the tipping system because they’re addicted to the thrill of occasionally coming home with hundreds of dollars of cash for a few hour’s work.

Then they're doing it wrong. They need to press for a living wage. The American culture of tipping will still continue.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:48 AM on April 14, 2011


Aside from the expected tasks of stocking wait stations and rolling up silverware, wait staff were expected to [...]

Isn't it illegal to pay people a shitty sub-minimum wage as if they were being compensated with tips when in fact they are not being tipped and therefore are just getting the shitty sub-minimum wage?
posted by pracowity at 3:48 AM on April 14, 2011


There's a lot of illegal stuff that goes on in American restaurants. It's its own outlaw culture from the owner on down.

For example, as bad as waiters have it think about the dish-washers who are often undocumented and paid excruciatingly low wages and make no tips.
posted by bardic at 3:51 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yep. It's totally illegal to have staff clean the kitchen for $2.79 an hour. Any waiter who complains will hear "fine, don't mop the floor, see you on Monday at lunch time because that's the only shift you'll ever see again". As Bardic says, restaurant owners are a law unto themselves, and they intentionally foster an attitude of competition (for good shifts and good sections) among staff that prevents them from organising to fight it.
posted by cilantro at 4:04 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Are restaurants and cafes vastly profitable? I thought most of their profit went on rent. And lots go bust very quickly after setting up. And assuming they're evil capitalists they're charging as much as they can for their food and drink - because they want to make lots of evil money, right?

So if you make them pay their staff more you'll get fewer restaurants and cafes, no? Or, I suppose, reduce rents on restaurant and cafe locations. Or reduce the number of wait staff employed in the sector. I'm not convinced these are great outcomes - well, except for the rent, maybe.

I suppose one has to give consideration to who is working as wait staff. Is it students and schoolchildren getting a few bucks to spend on partying? Or single parents providing their household's only source of income? I'd be more inclined to favor the latter group - they've not got such a great higher-earning future. That brings us to in-work welfare benefits again, which can be costly to administer and produce odd effects. Hmmm.

Personally, I waited tables years ago, before the UK minimum wage, and in a not-very-tipping culture. So I tend to leave largish tips, I hope, for the culture in which I'm operating, because I've done that job and know you don't earn much and I can afford it. But I do find it fatiguing in the US where everything has a tip and a tax attached - I just got to adding 20% to every posted price. My apologies to the server who delivered my drink at a casino table and I didn't tip - I was drunk and just forgot. Sigh. I otherwise showered out dollar bills, I think. Still, doing better than that first time in NYC when the server actually berated our table over the paucity of our tip! All a bit tricky to navigate for we foreigners.
posted by alasdair at 5:21 AM on April 14, 2011


"So if you make them pay their staff more you'll get fewer restaurants and cafes, no? Or, I suppose, reduce rents on restaurant and cafe locations. Or reduce the number of wait staff employed in the sector."

Or raise the price on the food, which at first looks bad, until you realize that it's how much you're paying anyway.
posted by Bugbread at 5:31 AM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was deeply disturbed when I visited a friend in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago and she told me that it's now considered appropriate to tip in certain bars in the city. Fortunately I live in Canberra, where customer service is so universally shithouse that I will never be tempted to tip more than the rounding error.

So if you make them pay their staff more you'll get fewer restaurants and cafes, no? Or, I suppose, reduce rents on restaurant and cafe locations. Or reduce the number of wait staff employed in the sector. I'm not convinced these are great outcomes - well, except for the rent, maybe.

Or restaurants will just increase the prices in their menus so that they accurately reflect the amount of money that is expected to change hands at the end of the meal and a great deal of unpleasant servility and passive aggression can be avoided. Everyone wins!
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:33 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry bugbread, that was preview race condition failure rather than deliberate plagiarism.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:34 AM on April 14, 2011


I work in a restaurant as a server, and my hourly wage is $2.13/hour. My paycheck almost always winds up being for $0, because most of my lowly wages goes to pay taxes.

In other words, tips are not only my main source of income, they are essentially my only source of income.

I have often thought how odd it is to practice this concept in our society. It surely has to do with encouraging good service (which theoretically means better tips) . . . but its main impetus must be that employers get to get away with not paying its waitstaff. That saves them quite a bit of money.

And let me just say to all of those people who have never been in the food industry: it is hard, grueling work! People are weird and difficult when it comes to their food. There is a lot of manual labor that goes on behind the scenes to keep the restaurant ticking smoothly. There have been many, many times I've worked 12 hours on my feet with no break. So when someone tips me a bad tip (an acceptable tip being 15%, a good tip being 20%, a great tip being more than 20%), it comes across as a major insult.

If servers were to get paid, minimum wage WOULD not be enough. I'd say it should be at least $10/hour, probably closer to $15. The job does require a large amount of skill and finesse, while also demanding hard physical labor and long, intense hours.
posted by fignewton at 6:08 AM on April 14, 2011


understand the need for tipping, and do tip wait-staff, although I find the practice intolerable. You have to pay tips regardless of whether or not the service is good or bad, and you're also forced to evaluate performance, which is a spiritually unpleasant and undemocratic way to end a meal, which should be a pleasant experience.

Well, you don't need to evaluate performance. I just always tip. I've only not tipped once in the past couple of years and it was because the staff spent the entire time chit-chatting around the bar and basically ignored our table when we didn't get up and get their attention and I was just really pissed off by the time I left.
posted by empath at 6:26 AM on April 14, 2011


Do americans travelling abroad tend to tip pretty much every where, even in countries where tipping isn't customary? I imagine that they do.
posted by empath at 6:29 AM on April 14, 2011


Shame on those of you who practice the dark art of not tipping on the excuse that your cheapness will magically undermine the system. You're not the bleedin' Orange Alternative, you're a cheap asshole. Your behavior doesn't affect "the system". It just stiffs hard-working people who have no choice but to rely on your generosity.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 6:37 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do americans travelling abroad tend to tip pretty much every where, even in countries where tipping isn't customary? I imagine that they do.

The impression I've gotten from visiting Americans here in Japan is that they read, some time before they come here, that there is no tipping in Japan, and they dutifully refrain from tipping, while finding it weird and fascinating. I know I've had the "it feels so strange that there's no tipping in Japan" conversation multiple times with different visitors.
posted by Bugbread at 6:42 AM on April 14, 2011


Gorgor, you're suggesting that we feel shame; however, would you care to debate the arguments posed earlier. I'm ready to be convinced if you can provide solid rebuttals.
posted by Knigel at 6:43 AM on April 14, 2011


If you are unable to offer valid arguments, you can go ahead and can your righteous indignation.
posted by Knigel at 6:49 AM on April 14, 2011


And let me just say to all of those people who have never been in the food industry: it is hard, grueling work! People are weird and difficult when it comes to their food.

Here, here! If we actually correlated compensation with the degree of difficulty of the labor (that is, if we really believed more difficult, demanding work = higher pay), restaurant workers would all be millionaires. But that's not what we believe in.

I spent a few years working in restaurants as a high school kid and young adult. It was awful. I've never encountered a more manipulative and contemptuous class of employer.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:05 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok, here's the deal. I work for tips. It is awesome. I love this system. Seriously.

I am well educated, witty, and cute. My employeer could not afford to have a whole staff of people like me if we got rid of tipping. Working four nights a week at my bar will earn me close to 50K. If the bar had to pay each of us 50k your food costs would go up tremendously. You would be aghast. And, no, it would not be the same final cost for you because of the legions of my customers who: throw me a fifty at the end of the night, tip 40-50%, give me a twenty for giving them a couple of smokes. Oddly enough, this happens most every weekend. If you want professionals, then this system has to continue or you should expect more doubled food costs.
posted by stormygrey at 7:09 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Knigel, I don't believe you're ready to be convinced that some things are the way that they are and you should care for your fellow man who is caught on the other side of your predicament of having to pay more for your food than what is written on the menu. But I actually didn't want to raise your particular head on this. It would be great if restaurateurs treated their staff as professionals as stated above, and to have tips abolished once and for all. This won't happen here, but it would be great.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:10 AM on April 14, 2011


(It would be great for many reasons, not the least of which is the stoking of the narcissistic waitstaff who annoy one with their "charms" when one has come to dine.)
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:14 AM on April 14, 2011


Stormygrey:

If that's the case, why can one get good service and drinks at bars in Japan (and from what I understand, Korea as well) without tipping, and at non-exorbitant prices?
posted by Bugbread at 7:20 AM on April 14, 2011


Bugbread: Because America is just different, of course.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:21 AM on April 14, 2011


I am well educated, witty, and cute. My employeer could not afford to have a whole staff of people like me if we got rid of tipping. Working four nights a week at my bar will earn me close to 50K

Counterpoint -- if it weren't for tipping, he'd hire (currently unemployed) less skilled labor for less money and you'd put your education to work doing something else.
posted by empath at 7:21 AM on April 14, 2011


Gorgor, I understand both sides very well. I myself have worked for tips and commission in many types of occupations. You are attempting to use an ad hominem on me. You are suggesting that I am on some other side and am unaware of the situation; therefore, my arguments are invalid. This attack on my credibility is flaccid when you rely on it while avoiding my previous arguments. If you would like me to summarise them, feel free to ask; however, your assumptions are weak and better not said. Furthermore, you are making a claim that you cannot support because you simply do not know the future. You are as ignorant as anyone as to want can and cannot happen.

As I have said earlier, I wouldn't mind paying more for food if tipping were eliminated.
posted by Knigel at 7:31 AM on April 14, 2011


Stomygrey, other countries do not have a tipping culture and I'm sure you can find people just as awesome as you.
posted by Knigel at 7:33 AM on April 14, 2011


The education that I and my co-workers have (all of us have college degrees, some have a more than one, I and a couple others have masters) is oddly enough put to good use at the bar. Our bar is a talking bar, no music and shows. Our customers expect to be able to have a good, intelligent exchange with us and we can provide that. I get to meet all kinds of people and have my days free to pursue whatever I want. Sure, you could get a less skilled lot in, but it wouldn't provide the same kind of experience.

I think its really obnoxious that so many people assume everyone in the service industry is there while they look for a "real job". This is a real job and it requires a lot of real skill.
posted by stormygrey at 7:34 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you work at a bar where you could double the price of food and drinks, and your clientele wouldn't bat an eye, given that they are going to a premium bar and are frequently big tippers.
posted by Bugbread at 7:37 AM on April 14, 2011


bugbread: Or raise the price on the food (also A Thousand Baited Hooks)

That only works if the business owners aren't the venal capitalists we think they are and are somehow not charging as much as they possibly can. Again, given the high failure rate of restaurants for example, and the high levels of competition, I don't think that's the case.

Ah, you're saying "customers pay $40, but in the form of $30 to the restaurant and $10 to the staff, so why not just make the bill $40 with no tip"? That makes more sense. The drawbacks, as noted in this thread, is that you're penalising good waiting staff (they don't get tips any more) and poor people (who can no longer manage to dine out but save money by not paying a tip - which we accept is legal but socially uncool. There's also some loss in restaurant business there at the bottom end of the market, so you're still going to lose some restaurants, jobs and economic activity - in the poorer parts of town too.) But you're right, that's a valid approach.

posted by alasdair at 7:45 AM on April 14, 2011


Drat, sorry for the shouting.
posted by alasdair at 7:46 AM on April 14, 2011


That's why if the service is really bad you have to also tell them. It makes my wife very uncomfortable, but I'll state the reason why tip is sub-par. Last thing after bad service I want is to run away like I did something wrong.

Here's the thing, and this thread is going very fast so I'm sorry I'm saying this so late after your initial comment, but what do you do when the service is especially good? Do you take the time to compliment them?

When we go out and the server has done a great job, my husband has a habit of going out of his way to find the manager to let him know. He's also complimented kitchen staff for little details like how they have trimmed and seasoned the steak, etc. A director himself, he knows how important it is for workers to get that positive feedback on a job well done, and for their supervisors to be made aware of their contributions.

And you know what? They all know us now, and go out of their way to give us great service. And we tip well, too, but then we always did, and I feel that it is the respect we give them as much as the financial reward that makes them do that.

But these workers are also being paid a decent wage. For those of you saying paying under minimum wage and then making the customer provide the difference in tips is a bad system, you're right. And sadly, that's a lot more common.

The service industry in the states is different than, apparently, Australia. Although we do have some fine restaurants where the wait staff are professionals, they aren't the norm.

No, the majority of wait staff here are teens or students. And this is maybe their first job, and they really don't have the clout OR the confidence to stand up for a better wage at their establishment. And it wouldn't help if they did, because there's always another teen or young adult that needs work who will happily take their place, because without a degree and work experience you can't get those better-paying jobs. You know, the ones that offer a decent living wage.

And since these kids move on to something better as soon as possible, often Management doesn't put the time in to train them properly. So maybe they accidentally mess an order up, and you know what happens then? They not only don't get a tip, they get berated for poor service. People treat them like dirt and insult them. They could get fired.

And that's not even considering those shadier places where illegals are hired to do the worst jobs. Employers know they can get away with paying them next to nothing because they're afraid they are going to be deported if they complain.

So saying that the servers need to band together and protest? Yeah, not very realistic here.

Of course I don't think there should be loopholes that allow employers to get around paying anyone under minimum wage. I am out there voting every single time there's a notion to raise the minimum wage or do anything to help people in the service industry.

But in the meantime . . . well, I suppose I could explain, in the patronizing way I have seen in this thread, that as I am against the current tipping system I will not deign to propagate it by adding so much as a dime to my dinner check.

But when I see a person there in front of me working hard, trying to make a living, someone who has rent to pay, and insurance and maybe medical bills and just wants to keep the heat turned on and put food on the table this month, and maybe trying to get an education in addition to working long thankless hours, too, then HELL YES, I tip!
posted by misha at 7:55 AM on April 14, 2011


Misha, so you tip all services?
posted by Knigel at 7:59 AM on April 14, 2011


Another point along that line, alasdair, is that mandatory tipping in a certain sense pushes management's responsibility for evaluating and properly compensating their employees' performance onto the consumer in a way that shields the restaurant itself from the consequences of any mismanagement that might contribute to a server's poor performance. So for example, if the kitchen is backed up, or the dishes are dirty, due to poor management rather than any failure on the part of the wait-staff, the individual servers often end up being financially penalized, when the underlying fault actually lies with an incompetent shift manager.

In practice, it's not clear that tipping necessarily rewards good service--it might also reward social acumen and good looks. But more importantly, bad service often isn't the fault of the server alone. Who tips generously when their order gets screwed up in the kitchen, when their food is terrible, or when they find a piece of used chewing gum at the bottom of their coffee cup? Not one of those scenarios is the fault of the wait staff, and yet, its typically the wait staff that suffers.

So saying that the servers need to band together and protest? Yeah, not very realistic here.

You could make the same argument about most laborers throughout the history of the US labor movement. In many cases, not only were the workers exploited and relatively powerless in exactly the same ways you describe, but they literally had National Guard units deployed to slaughter them. And yet, somehow, they managed to organize and keep fighting until they got big concessions.

And not that it matters, but since this keeps coming up from people who think this is a conversation about stiffing servers, in the states, I always tip at least 20%--usually a couple points more.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:04 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I dine with religious relatives (or non-relatives, but that's even more rare), and they say grace, I put my hands together and lower my head in a "saying grace" position. Not because I am actually praying to any god, but because that's what you do when dining with religious relatives. When I was a teacher, and the school would play the national anthem at graduation, I would stand along with the other teachers and students. Not because I was particularly patriotic (it wasn't even my own country), but because that's what you do when the national anthem is played.

Essentially, a "when in Rome" approach.

So, in the same way, when I visit the US, and go to a restaurant, I tip. Not because I think tipping is awesome, nor because I think tipping is terrible but it's the only way for people to get a decent wage, but because I'm going to a restaurant in America. That's what you do. Participating in a native ritual, as it were.
posted by Bugbread at 8:04 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"and from what I understand, Korea as well"

Eh, not so much. Korean restaurants are usually quick to bring you your food, they just don't smile and try and make you feel good about yourself. Because that's Western/American faux happy bullshit.

What's worse are Western style restaurants in Korea. IMO, no tipping = horrible service, at least in Korea.

The Korean joints are usually family affairs, so they at least want you to come back. The Western chain restaurants here aren't like that, and the service is usually terrible.
posted by bardic at 8:30 AM on April 14, 2011


Misha, so you tip all services?

I can't think of any I don't, where tipping is allowed. Tip jar? I drop some money in. Bartender? Yes. Hair person? Yes. Hotels, if someone carries my luggage? Yes. Casino, tip the dealer? Yes.

We tipped in Europe, too, though in deference to the customs there our tips were more of the round-up or "and one for you" variety.
posted by misha at 9:05 AM on April 14, 2011


The lowest Australian workers get paid A$15/hr (US$15.75/hr) and if they're casual (i.e. don't get paid annual leave, sick leave, etc) which they probably are they bump up to A$18.15/hr (US$19.05/hr). Under the award they get bumped up to A$22.50/hr on Saturdays, A$26.25/hr on Sundays and $41.25/hr on public holidays.

I'm not tipping when the guy at the bar on Anzac day is making the equivalent of 85K a year.
posted by Talez at 9:20 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've had two experiences here in Brisbane in the past three months that have ensured that at least 2 separate drinking establishments in town will never again be receiving any of my (considerable) drinking budget.

You sure that was their fault? There can be some pretty weird laws when it comes to serving alcohol. For instance, I cannot hand a customer more than two drinks at the bar to take back to her table, even though it's only five feet away and I know that all the drinks are for separate people. If someone is intoxicated I am not allowed to serve alcohol to anyone else at his table. I cannot serve alcohol during a power outage (which happens pretty often here).

On, tipping: I generally don't get tipped at my part time bartending job, but it's not surprising because of the circumstances. I work Friday nights at a health club that has a bar. Because mostly everything goes on tabs people usually don't tip. I get paid a pretty good wage regardless (probably a great wage compared to most bartenders), plus I get free membership, so I don't really mind. Still, when someone pesters me about when the free food will be ready and painstakingly counts out quarters for the drink special every week it can grate on me a bit.

I always tip. Usually around 25%. I take it into account while looking at the menu so there's no surprises. I consider it just part of going out in Canada.
posted by ODiV at 9:27 AM on April 14, 2011


Is there a Mr. Pink corollary to Godwin's law for tipping threads?
posted by madajb at 9:30 AM on April 14, 2011


I tip 20% at a restaurant, no matter what. My wife & I went for our anniversary dinner to a place here in Austin that we'd been wanting to go to for a while, Uchiko. We both ordered omakase, which is basically a 10 course chefs tasting menu. I swear, we had the best service from not only our waiter, but every server of every dish. I was happy to tip well beyond what I normally would because they actually added something to the dinner. Knowledge, help, etc... it was fantastic.
posted by jbelshaw at 9:50 AM on April 14, 2011


Oh man, it's been ages since we had a proper tip thread!

1. If I don't tip, I'm not punishing the server. I don't pay their wage. It's between them and their employer. Yes, it's the way the system is set up, but it's never going to change if people keep playing along.

2. When did a proper tip become 20%? What happened to 15%?

3. It's ensure not insure.

If I go out with someone, I prefer to cover the meal and let them tip if they feel like it. I don't feel bad in a group situation where I throw in enough to cover my meal and tax but not tip (like if it works out to just under $20, so I'm only tipping a few pennies). Because:

0. It's called gratuity. It's gratuitous. It's not called a mandatorium.

One place I do tend to tip is a bar. Because I'm almost only ever ordering water, and I kick a bit towards the person who has taken time out of servicing paying customers to help me. But if I don't have any change, I don't really sweat it. Again, I'm doing it because I want to.

My heart goes out to underpaid servers, it really does. But no one tosses me money while I'm between jobs to help me make rent. I've gotta hustle and find a job that pays my bills. And pays my bills without taking any bonus into account. A bonus should be just that: a bonus. If my base wage won't make it, then I cannot work that job (or have to take a second job).

But I'm an Ask person. I'm guessing most of the people who engage in this obscure dance of tipping and resentments and expectations are Guessers. I don't truck with that shit, and I don't care what you think of me. If you tamper with my food, I'll send it back (and yes, I'll even leave! oh no, creating a scene! you didn't think I'd do that, but you were wrong). If I can't tell you've tampered with it, then who cares? Congratulations, I hope you feel really great about yourself. Big man, yeh?
posted by Eideteker at 9:56 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I honestly can't understand how people go through life worrying about not making waves. You're going to make some waves. Better to be intentional and thoughtful about it than to just thrash around drowning in a sea of passive-aggression and second-guessing.

*cannonballs into the thread* SPLASH MOTHERFUCKERSSSS!
posted by Eideteker at 9:58 AM on April 14, 2011


oh no you got wet boo hoo
posted by Eideteker at 9:59 AM on April 14, 2011


You know who else made waves?
posted by ODiV at 10:12 AM on April 14, 2011


Eh, not so much. Korean restaurants are usually quick to bring you your food, they just don't smile and try and make you feel good about yourself. Because that's Western/American faux happy bullshit.

I went out with a colleague to a local Korean restaurant. He ordered some sort of faux Japanese boxed lunch, and it was brought fairly quickly. Just as he was about to dig in, breathing heavily over the food chopstick poised about 5mm from the first sushi roll, the server appeared, declared she had brought the wrong order, took it away and deposited the plate in front of a neighbouring diner.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:57 AM on April 14, 2011


I pay 20%+ at restaurants and pay 10%+ even if it's picking up to-go food from a restaurant. Sure the average is closer to 15% (or double sales tax in some states) but I feel like it's necessary to counteract the chronic under-tippers.

The simple fact of the matter is that restaurant owners aren't charging us the actual cost of our meal. They are excluding a percentage of the cost (the cost of waitstaff) in order to get us in the door. In addition they are only charging you sales tax on the "discount" rate.

When you don't tip you are screwing over the restaurant owner, he's already got his profit margin when you settle your bill, you are screwing the waiter and the rest of the staff that are likely tip-sharing.

Would it better if the system was more transparent and instead of charging $10 for a burger and fries and a drink you were charged $12? Yes but that's a structural issue with the way sectors of our service economy work. I don't think it's particularly fair to screw over the working class server because the service economy is stacked against them.

Further if you just quit looking at tipping as a reward for good service and just treat it like a VAT it makes the dining experience much more rewarding. That way you don't have to be punitive for someone who is slow at refilling your drinks. If you need to comment on bad service ask for the manager and talk to them face to face about the bad service you receive. Almost always that actually works much better towards fixing problems with service, undertipping or god forbid the 1 cent tip simply just don't act like an effective stick anymore.
posted by vuron at 11:57 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tip really well, like 25%-30%, whenever I intend to go back to a place. It makes a huge difference in the quality of service and that's worth it to me. The service is part of the dining experience and I should pay for it. If the service sucks, I'm not going to pay as much for it.
posted by desjardins at 12:11 PM on April 14, 2011


I don't feel bad in a group situation where I throw in enough to cover my meal and tax but not tip (like if it works out to just under $20, so I'm only tipping a few pennies).

o_O
posted by lalex at 12:25 PM on April 14, 2011


Yes, lalex, exactly.

I tried formulating a response for a while, but that pretty much covers it. I just did my taxes, my federal minimum of 2.13/hr does not cover what I owe because I am taxed on my tips. We have a formula where we claim all of our charge tips plus 15 percent of our cash sales. So if Eideteker is paying in cash and not tipping me, he is literally costing me money as I am taxed on what the government assumes I am being tipped by decent people.
posted by stormygrey at 12:31 PM on April 14, 2011


But he isn't literally costing you money because you average more than 15% tips on your cash sales. Right?
posted by ODiV at 12:41 PM on April 14, 2011


There's about to be some major changes in the way pay+tip employment is regulated.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:49 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I learned everything I know about tipping from my grandfather. He carried a roll of ones and fives in his pocket that was just for the purpose of greasing palms. And he tipped everybody, everywhere. He was real smooth about it too. If you weren't paying attention, you wouldn't even realize that his big friendly handshake was really a financial transaction. Needless to say, he was treated like a king everywhere he went.

I'm not quite as generous as he was, But I tip well and often. I don't see it as a reward for good service, or wage supplement, or even think about it much at all. It's just a thing you do, and people seem to treat you a little better when you do.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:12 PM on April 14, 2011


If a person comes in and has a bill of 100 dollars that he then pays in cash, it is assumed I made a minimum of fifteen dollars off that transaction. I am taxed on that fifteen dollars, something like two dollars. So yes, that transaction literally cost me two dollars. I would have just paid an additional two dollars to the IRS a moment ago, when I hit transmit. (Which really is a drop in the bucket to the couple of grand I just sent, but still.)

Of course, what I assume you mean is that it averages out over the long haul, which it does otherwise I wouldn't be doing this.
posted by stormygrey at 1:14 PM on April 14, 2011


nevercalm: "My baseline is 20%, and it only goes up from there, in many cases no matter how the service was."

Oh, so you're the one who fucks up the whole system for the rest of us. Gee, thanks for positively reinforcing bastards and sociopaths.
posted by falameufilho at 1:34 PM on April 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


nasreddin: "Seriously, what is with the bizarre persistence of bullshit backronyms and folk etymologies around the word "tip"? It's not an acronym, people. It predates acronyms."

Gary Busey would like a word with you.
posted by falameufilho at 1:37 PM on April 14, 2011


Do americans travelling abroad tend to tip pretty much every where, even in countries where tipping isn't customary?

Yes, having spent a good portion of my life working for only tips, I tip abroad everywhere I go and I don't really care if it marks me as a stupid American somehow.
posted by elizardbits at 1:41 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


So yes, that transaction literally cost me two dollars. I would have just paid an additional two dollars to the IRS a moment ago, when I hit transmit.

Really? Wow. I just assumed your system was something like Canada's where you declare and pay taxes on estimated tips once a year.
posted by ODiV at 2:06 PM on April 14, 2011


Yes, having spent a good portion of my life working for only tips, I tip abroad everywhere I go and I don't really care if it marks me as a stupid American somehow.

You realize that in Japan, you're probably just creating a headache for the waiter and owner, who are trying to figure out what to do with this money that, essentially, you left behind? It'll probably go into the cash register at the end of the day, not the waiter's pocket.

I mean, it's not like it's going to make them angry or anything, but unless you're working with folks who essentially work alone (taxi drivers, etc.), your tip is almost certain to in no way increase the amount of money received by the person you tried to give the tip to.
posted by Bugbread at 2:29 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's fine by me, I'd rather confuse the occasional person with unexpected money than have an overall policy that leaves some people short.
posted by elizardbits at 2:33 PM on April 14, 2011


Elizardbits: That makes sense, and I guess if you have to have an overall policy to be used in every country, it's a good choice. It just doesn't seem, to me, to be something which requires an overall policy.
posted by Bugbread at 2:45 PM on April 14, 2011


I hate the tipping culture in the USA. I'd rather people were paid properly. Once when I was in NYC I'd had dinner with MeFite TrishaLynn and at the end of the meal the waiter came over to me and demanded a bigger tip than the 15% I'd left on our bill. I was absolutely astonished and told him that, given his behaviour, it seems I'd left way too much.
posted by essexjan at 2:56 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tried formulating a response for a while, but that pretty much covers it. I just did my taxes, my federal minimum of 2.13/hr does not cover what I owe because I am taxed on my tips. We have a formula where we claim all of our charge tips plus 15 percent of our cash sales. So if Eideteker is paying in cash and not tipping me, he is literally costing me money as I am taxed on what the government assumes I am being tipped by decent people.

Really. Because the IRS seems to want you to track your tips and report the actual amount, not apply some formula to restaurant income to determine your appropriate tips.
posted by kafziel at 3:06 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given kafziel's link, perhaps that last sentence should be rewritten this way: "So if Eideteker is paying in cash and not tipping me, I am literally costing myself money as I choose to report to the tax bureau what I figure people get tipped in general, and not on what I'm actually tipped."

And if ((overall) you get tipped so damn well, but you're reporting as if you get tipped at a regular "decent people" rate, isn't that tax fraud? I don't mean intentional, you may just not have known.
posted by Bugbread at 3:14 PM on April 14, 2011


Once when I was in NYC I'd had dinner with MeFite TrishaLynn and at the end of the meal the waiter came over to me and demanded a bigger tip than the 15% I'd left on our bill.

See. This is it. The fact that tipping results in staff who feel the need to come over, demand, extort money from you - this is the "great customer service" that tipping encourages? Of course, the waiter probably did it because he was counting on every cent to pay his electricity bill or rent that week, a few customers had stiffed him earlier, he was in a spot of bother, and he decided to take it out on you. On the other hand, if he'd just been paid a wage that he could rely on every week, rather than depending on the fickle nature of customers, and how busy the restaurant was that day, he'd probably be a happier chap.
posted by Jimbob at 4:33 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Our dollars are at parity at the moment. I paid $4.80 total this morning for a large/tall (internet suggests 16oz) flat white with an extra shot of espresso (which runs to 50c, which means that the coffee would have originally been $4.30). What would I be paying over there in the US before I added some kind of eating tax and then tipped the coffee person?

I just ordered a double-grande latte this morning, which is roughly equivalent. I paid $3.85 and tipped a buck.
posted by KathrynT at 7:28 PM on April 14, 2011


On the other hand, if he'd just been paid a wage that he could rely on every week, rather than depending on the fickle nature of customers, and how busy the restaurant was that day, he'd probably be a happier chap.

Hellz yeah. He shouldn't have to depend on bitches like me who are under no legal obligation to provide his wage. He should expect his boss to pay him an adequate wage for the work he does.

Otherwise, the boss has a good racket going:

"Yeah, ya see, I get these kids to come in, serve the customers, pay attention to them, and then clean up. I only pay them like $7/hour. They should be thanking me they get a chance to work here so they can tap the resources of the customer, who pays most of their wages. Maybe I should get a cut of that."
posted by hal_c_on at 9:07 PM on April 14, 2011


I don't really care if it marks me as a stupid American somehow.

And so the stereotype perpetuates...
posted by wilful at 9:11 PM on April 14, 2011


Once more, with feeling: tipping is a crappy vestigial remnant of master/servant relationships. You don't tip your dental hygienist.

Metafilter: comparative tip culture for 10 years plus 20%, rounded up.
posted by holgate at 9:36 PM on April 14, 2011


stormygrey, you're in luck! I never pay in cash. Can't be bothered with it.

(Though since you invited me to your bar once, I'd totally tip. I mean, I'm an idealogue, but I'm not a prick about it. =D)

Describing me as "decent" is a stretch at best, though.
posted by Eideteker at 9:38 PM on April 14, 2011


Our customers expect to be able to have a good, intelligent exchange with us and we can provide that. I get to meet all kinds of people and have my days free to pursue whatever I want. Sure, you could get a less skilled lot in, but it wouldn't provide the same kind of experience.

I think its really obnoxious that so many people assume everyone in the service industry is there while they look for a "real job". This is a real job and it requires a lot of real skill.


This is exactly what I'm talking about. Here in Aus, people don't necessarily assume that everyone in the service industry is there while they look for a "real job": service industry people have a real job already, and it pays them real job wages. Reliably, every month, from their employers in the form of a paycheque.

Also, to the question of whether or not eliminating tips would eliminate all choice and personality from bars or restaurants: it's not like Australia is Soviet Russia in terms of drinking or eating establishments. There are tons of different types of bars, cafes and restaurants. The drinks/food/coffee in these places costs different amounts of money. The owners of the establishments decide what type of establishment they want to have, what type of employee they need to help run that establishment - well trained, educated, can talk to customers, steams a perfect jug of milk, makes a killer cocktail, or is cheap labour that will probably only stay 6 weeks but that doesn't matter because they don't really need someone trained; and then they set their prices according to what people are willing to pay. So, you can get a coffee for $5 and it will be a damn good coffee from a place with a great atmosphere and really well trained baristas who know your name and order, or you can get a coffee for $2 and there will be no place to sit and the staff will be different every time you're there. You can go to a grungy suburban pub and watch sport and drink 6 dollar metallic tasting pints and get hit on by the skeezy locals or you can go to an upmarket cocktail bar and get amazing $23 wonders made by well trained professionals and get hit on by - well, still by the skeezy locals, but whatever.

And at each place the staff will be paid according to how valuable a resource they are. $2 coffee and interchangeable staff? Probably minimum wage: about $18 as mentioned above (which is still a livable wage, but that's a whole other problem). $5 perfect coffee from knowledgeable and professional baristas? Probably more like $25 or $30 depending on location. It works like every other type of job. Are you valuable? Paid more. Are you expendable and replaceable? Paid less. And that's built into the prices because customers will pay more for what they value.

I feel like reading this thread, we're talking past each other in some ways. The article is about whether or not Australia should adopt American-style tipping. I think most of us would agree: No. People here get paid a livable minimum wage and they get paid according to what the market thinks they're worth. Therefore, we don't need to tip them additional money. Their wage is already built into the cost of the product. Statements like:
"Come on. If you don't have the money to tip, you don't have the money to go out. Period. If you can't afford it, you don't go out. It's part of the cost of going out, it's part of the deal. It is what it is."
just don't apply here.

That is not true in the US. I think most of us would agree that the cost of going out in the US includes the assumption that you will tip. I think most of us would also agree that, while this situation persists in the US, we should continue to tip those working in the service industry in the US. I think some of us, myself included, also think the situation in the US sucks right now and should be reevaluated.
posted by mosessis at 1:51 AM on April 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


When I worked in hospitality in Australia I used to be of the mindset that tipping was morally wrong. I hated the customers that would tip at the beginning of the meal, with a nod and a wink and a read of my name tag as if we were suddenly in some special club together. I would ensure that they got exactly the same level of service as all the other customers.

It was a weird place to work though; the Gold Members section of a racecourse pavilion. Gamblers are very likely to tip if they win. Luckily for my mindset, they seldom did!

AFAIK the really rich, in the corporate boxes, would hardly tip at all. They had staff permanently stationed in each box though, so no need to worry about getting attention to their needs.
posted by asok at 2:33 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I went to the USA in 1998 I knew all about the tipping culture over there and it kind of freaked me out but I also knew about the $2.78 an hour thing (that was back then; I'm appalled that there are still people working for that in the USA, fer fucks sake) so I was happy and prepared to pay the extra amount.

I was working in a mexican restaurant at home and was earning $10 an hour which even then was a bit cheap, but I was mostly there for the free food and gossip so I didn't mind. It was nice when someone tipped; it was extremely rare but always appreciated.

The whole tipping for every drink you got at a pub kind of spun me out though. Okay, no problem, I was stocked up with dollar bills and was putting them in the bowl and my friend said 'no! wait until she's looking' and I was all oookay. Clearly there was more to the whole thing than just propping up someone's pay.

That was new to me. It's probably the same over here but I remain both naive and oblivious. It's certainly not as obvious.

I agree with everyone who says that employers in the hospitality industry in the USA should pay a living wage to their workers. That should be self-evident. The fact is that tipping is far more necessary in the USA than it is in Australia because employers are not providing a living wage, yet these people are still there doing their job and you should be thankful (when it's done well, of course) and they should be compensated accordingly. If the boss isn't doing it then why not you, who is the recipient of their work? I love it when someone else gives me food.
posted by h00py at 6:02 AM on April 15, 2011


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