From the Heartland

This is my soap box, on these pages I publish my opinions on firearms and any other subject I feel like writing about.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Being a lousy tipper could land you in jail.

Obviously there may be a bit more than is being reported in this story.

Tipping and how much is enough?
In Lake George, New york a 41 year old man has been charged with theft of services when he and his party failed to ante up the pizza parlors 18 percent mandatory tip policy for parties of six or more.

It seems the party of eight, dissatisfied with the quality of food and the service, left less than ten percent of the total bill.

Owner Joe Soprano (I'm not going there) reportedly chased his customers down "like a bunch of criminals" after being stiffed.

Soprano complained that the guy was rude and "practically threw" food at us.

Can restaurants, make a minimum tip mandatory and automatically tack that price on the bill for large parties? I guess this case will determine that.

Tipping is always a touchy subject, depending on whether you are a customer or a waitperson. The problem in many cases is the distinction between the quality of service and the quality of food.

It is hard to justify small tipping an outstanding waitperson for lousy food. Waitstaff usually don't have control over what comes out of the kitchen. Nor do they have any influence over the menu price of the meal.

Minimum wage for waitstaff is usually several dollars an hour below the minimum wage dictated for all other professions. In many cases that wage in less than three dollars an hour. It seems to be accepted the wage that restaurants pay waitstaff is for the required side work such as making coffee, wrapping the silver in napkins and other duties. Waitstaff rely on customers for their "real income".

The Government standard is fifteen percent
To ensure that the government gets its due, employers are required to withhold from a tax rate based on a fifteen percent tip for all receipts served by that person. The government assumption is that everyone tips at least fifteen percent everytime.

Tipping is suppose to be voluntary
Over the years the concept of tipping has changed. In the past people tipped based on the level of service they felt they had received. Since the government made it mandatory that waitstaff be taxed for fifteen percent, whether they make that much or not, many waitpersons end up paying taxes on income they have not received.

This has caused a level of silent friction between waitstaff and customers.

Should there be a requirement for a minimum tip in all instances?
This is where it can get really controversial. Waitstaff know that on a thirty dollar ticket they are going to be taxed for an expected tip of four dollars and fifty cents (15%). If a customer is not pleased with the level of service and only leaves a tip of three dollars (10%), the waitperson will be taxed on a dollor and fifty cents that was not received.

The other side of the coin is the customer and how they felt about the service received. Was that service worth 15%, 20%, 10% or is the customer just a tightwad.

I personally know of a waitress that insists that everyone should pay fifteen percent everytime. Her Justification? "Well you had a waitress didn't you?"

My personal philosiphy is summed up in the reply to my daughter-in-law when she was a waitress.

If the restaurant is extremely busy, I don't expect that my waitperson will have a lot of time for my table, I accept that. If that waitperson treats us like we are the only customers he/she has for the ten or fifteen seconds here and there that they can give us, that person will have earned a tip of at least fifteen percent or more. Usually more, much more.

Conversely, if the place is near empty and the waitstaff is too busy, yacking with each other or putting side work ahead of service, to refill a cup of coffee, that will be reflected in the amount of tip.

No comments: