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Jun 12, 2009 01:27 PM

Should we rethink tipping?

I was recently in an upscale restaurant in West Hartford, Ct and asked my waitress if tips were pooled. She said management took a cut of their tips! I was wondering if this had anything to do with recent changes in minimum wage laws or something. I have heard that wait staff in some states can no longer be paid less than minimum wage (which is pretty high in Ct). Is this something new? If I thought waitstaff were being paid a living wage I certainly would rethink my usual 20%. After all, tipping is more a tradition than anything else. If you knew waiters were paid $15-20 per hour and that tips went to the owner how much would you tip if at all?

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  1. Bottom line: it's servers who would most resist replacing tipping with a minimum wage.

    I don't know about CT, in MA it's very illegal for the house to take a cut of tips, and places have been busted nastily for doing so.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Karl S

      Yeah ... even though you always hear about the starving waiters who can't make ends meet with tips, every time this comes up the largest complaints are from servers who say that they make a good living now and would make less afterwards.

      1. re: jgg13

        Well, yes, because they know their asshole bosses wouldn't adjust the costs accordingly and give them raises, they would just pay them minimum wage. If restaurant managers and owners actually paid a fair amount to compensate for loss of tips, it wouldn't matter.

      2. re: Karl S

        In college i waited tabled where the M'd demanded a cut of our tips. If we weren't willing he'd assign us the worst tables and then try not to seat people at them unless he had to.

      3. I wait tables in an upscale restaurant in Memphis, Tn. We do pool tips, but we also still make $2.13 per hour. Tipping is not a tradition for some of us, it's our living. The house taking a portion of tips is awful. I have had experience with this in the past. These are restaurants that don't want to pay their management what they're worth, so they take it out of the waitstaff's pockets, I think people should inquire about this before tipping and not frequent these places.

        13 Replies
        1. re: cookiekelly

          is this legal to do or does it vary by state? right now i'm working at a sushi restaurant in CO and the servers get 21% taken out by the boss for the sushi chefs ( owner is one of the chefs)...i am very against this practice and have tried to do some research but the laws are very confusing...any input?

          1. re: liveloveat34

            Here is California we recently had a court decision ruling it unlawful for management to take a share of barristas' tips,

            1. re: TomSwift

              I think the starbucks case was reversed because the "managers" main duties were the same as the barristas.

              I have always hated tipping [although i always check the bill when my mom is paying to tell her what to leave]. it seems unfair to me that a waitress in a diner works just as hard as a waiter at a pricier resto, but her tips are usually limited by the cheapness of the dishes, while the waiter benefits from the higher meal price.

              In san fran, they make the high minimum wage, so I'm thinking of lowering my tip.

              If insufficient tipping leads to shoddy service, find another job.

              1. re: himbeer

                Yep the smart servers, who are the quality servers, do find a better job and you are left with crappy servers!! I cant believe you dont understand this BAD TIPPING LEADS TO BAD SERVERS WHO GIVE SHODDY SERVICE!!! Upscale restaurants have great knowledgable servers and high prices to match so that HIGH TIPS LEAD TO GOOD SERVERS WHO GIVE GOOD SERVICE!! If you want good service at a restaurant you have to pay for it!!!! Himbeer servers recognize bad tippers so if your getting bad service its because we know you are a bad tipper and we will spend our time on someone we know tips better. Its called common sense!!!

                1. re: vic20

                  There is a thing known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you, for god knows what reason, identify me as a 'bad tipper' when you come to greet me and then decide to act accordingly - well, you'll probably be correct.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    The people who make snap judgments like that don't last long-- too many complaints. Usually you'll either get bad service because you tipped there badly before, or because the service is generally shitty.

            2. re: liveloveat34

              It varies by state. There was just a huge issue with this is my area (MA), which involved a lot of court time and a lot of publicity. It was deemed totally illegal for the house to take a cut of the tips.

              1. re: invinotheresverde

                right but what if the house, or owner is one of the chefs? and how does to-go tips work? who should get those?\

                1. re: liveloveat34

                  They're still already making plenty enough money that tips aren't needed.

                  1. re: liveloveat34

                    I've never worked in a restaurant where the chef/cooks are tipped. To-go tips have always gone to the person who rings in the order, in my experience.

                2. re: liveloveat34

                  That's different from management taking a cut of the tips. Essentially the restaurant is pooling the tips and sharing it amongst servers and sushi chefs. Why shouldn't sushi chefs share in the tips?

                  1. re: PeterL

                    there's more to the story, but yes i do agree that tips should be shared between. fwiw, prior to the owner being the chef, a percentage was taken out to go to 'the house'. now this is not necessary.

                    1. re: liveloveat34

                      The sushi chefs most likely get paid a lot more than the $2.13 the server makes. That's why they shouldn't get a cut of the tip. The tip is for the server for serving the guest.

              2. Minimum wage is not a living wage in any state. I tip about 20% as a matter of course, but often tip higher if the service is really good and attentive. Tips should never be shared with the owner, but not tipping at all does not help the waitstaff.

                1. IMO, tipping should be continued (vs a big pay raise) if for no other reason than to provide an incentive to provide adequate to superior service. While there are some who would provide decent service no matter what, I think that service in general would deteriorate drastically if tipping were discontinued. Not to mention that food prices would soar.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: al b. darned

                    considering that you have many people here tell you that you're an evil human being if you tip below 20% for merely adequate service, and then go on to tell you that 99% of all problems that a customer is not the server's fault and thus not dingable, and then take into account how entitled many servers are these days ... i don't know how much incentive tipping really gives any more.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      I wouldn't call them EVIL.... Cheap and arrogant--sure. Better off eating at home and waiting on themselves--absolutely.

                      I think it's your perception that is the problem. I haven't come across many so-called self-entitled servers (that characteristic is usually better suited to describe the ones being waited ON, not the other way around.) Any server who is rude to me does get a reduced tip. The ruder, the cheaper. Being nice is the simplest thing you can do, so if you can't even put in THAT effort.... But mistakes often DO result from the group effort. Serving is very much a team sport. But the server almost always takes full blame for what goes on behind the scenes that is totally out of their hands.

                      Anyway, people look for ways to tip their server less all the time. It's more a matter of selfishness than rationality.

                    2. re: al b. darned

                      I agree. I just came back from Australia where tipping is not the norm. Service was SO slow and just good. I went to all sorts of restaurants while there, ranging from upscale (where I had the worst service) to smaller and more casual restaurants. The chinese place I went to had the best service. An aussie friend made a comment about how she felt service here is so much better because of tipping and I whole heartedly agree.

                      1. re: al b. darned

                        This guy knows what he is talking about!! AGREED al!!!!

                      2. I don't like tipping pools, it gives the slackers a cut of someones deserved earnings. If I go to a place that pools tips, I usually tip minimally then palm the waitperson, via a handshake, with some green to thank them.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: cstr

                          When I waited where there was a pool, we all busted ass to help the other person out. It was so much more positive a place than the place where we did not pool. No one cared if you were in the weeds and miserable since it didn't affect their bottom line.

                          1. re: cstr

                            They will give that money to the pool-- if they didn't, they would be fired very very fast.