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Jul 9, 2010 10:52 AM

Slipping the waiter a "tip" under the table

Restaurant pools its tips.

Customer pays both the bill and the tip with a credit card.

Customer then slips the waiter some cash under the table as special "personal tip"


More importantly, is this common?

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  1. I prefer to pay the restaurant tab with the credit card, and tip in cash. That lets the waitron decide how much he wants to share with the rest of the staff, and, since his 'earnings' are based as a percentage of the credit carded tab, it makes his life a little less expensive on April 15.

    Of course, if you're on an expense account, and must provide receipts, it's a different matter. If your reimbursed expenses would only allow a 15% tip, and you wanted to remain in the good graces of the server, certainly a little 'off the books' under the table wouldn't hurt.

    9 Replies
    1. re: southocean

      So if I understand you correctly, you are encouraging the waiter to screw his/her coworkers and break the law by underpayment of taxes. On April 15th I pay all may taxes, why should a waiter be able to skirt his/her obligation.

      1. re: southocean

        jfood is not big on aiding people in screwing fellow workers or the IRS.

        Ask the MOD on the way out how to handle.

        1. re: southocean

          I don't think the person that was doing this was trying to either encourage the waiter to shortchange the rest of the staff or become an accomplice in tax fraud.

          Rather, I believe the intent was to provide an extra reward for the waiter that had provided uber service -- service that deserved more "tip" than her pro rata share.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            My personal feelings exactly. If there is any ethical issue, I assume that the recipient will handle it properly. As the CEO of the Ritz Carlton chain shared with me at dinner many years ago, the tenant is "we're ladies and gentlemen, assisting ladies and gentlemen." This was in response to my question on how they won their first Malcom Baldridge Service Award.

            At the car wash, I usually tip the person, who finishes the auto, and hands me the keys. Does he/she pass that on to the crew? I hope so.


          2. re: southocean

            I understand the desire to pay extra for a special waiter, but this put the waiter in a moral dilemma situation. By accepting the money, he also has to hide this money and this transaction from his coworkers and he has to break an agreement: the agreement for all waiters and waitresses to share their tips. If his coworkers find out, the he will get in a lot of troubles. As far as his coworkers' concern, they share their tips with everyone, but this waiter did not. Even if he is not punished, this act would have shaken the trust among the servers. Now, everyone wonders if everyone is doing the same thing, if it is ok for everyone to pocket the money now.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Is that not the moral responsibility of the server? If I find a pile of $, and feel that I know from whom it fell, am I not responsible for trying to return that?

              I see no dilemma in this. If I know that I share tips, regular, or extra, I am then morally bound to do so. There should be no issue in that. It is all about how things are set up. If a man, or woman, is honest and responsible, there should be zero equivocation.

              Maybe I am just naive, and that all people are out to scam all others?


              1. re: Bill Hunt


                You have a good point, but I feel there is no need to pay two separate tips in this case. What is the intent of the customer for "slipping the waiter a special personal tip" if the customer expects the waiter of interest to share the tip? Then what is the purpose of tipping under the table? If the customer desires the waiter to pocket the extra tip, then is it not expecting the waiter to break a trust?

                If the customer want to show his/her appreciation, the customer can send a card, buy a small gift, ... The waiter can freely accept these other forms of appreciation without breaking the promise and the trust.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Nothing says thank you as well as $$$.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Money being a vestile gift may be true, but in this specific case, it put the waiter in an odd situation. If you expect the waiter to share the extra tip, like Bill Hunt expects, then it is gift which the person cannot have. Why give a person a present he cannot have? If you desire the waiter to pocket the extra tip, then is it tempting the waiter to break an agreement, a trust?

          3. I don't know the answer to any of your questions, not having waited table in 45 years. A lot depends on what's required/customary in any given restaurant. I do however sympathize with the basic impulse--there have been many instances in which outstanding service is provided but clearly not the norm in a restaurant, and it would be nice to tip the server, not the entire waitstaff.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Masonville

              In an anecdotal instance, we dined at a resort restaurant. Our waiter was pretty bad, but our busser was excellent and did triple duty for our needs. I tipped lower than I normally do on the bill, but slipped the busser US $20, for the extra work and attention. I have no reservations having done so.


            2. Personally, I would never tip twice.

              If I had a doubt about the restaurant owner's practice towards tipping, I would not tip by credit card but in cash. That said, I think pooled tips divided between all employees are a good thing, so all contributors to the diner's experience benefit (that said, I'm much more in favour of the system in, for example, Belgium and France, where the menu price includes service and no additional tip is expected.)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Harters

                Ninety-nine point nine % of my tips are done on my credit cards.

                As for any policy of sharing tips, that is between the individuals. They become responsible for handling that aspect, should I add monetary amounts beyond. Maybe I am just a capitalist, and do not ascribe to the "collective good" idea. If someone does extra, they should reap the benefits, and if others just barely get by, they should not receive anything extra. Gotta' do well, and you shall be rewarded, especially by Hunt.


              2. I had never considered the concept of screwing the IRS or somebody's coworkers if a waiter was especially good, far better than their coworkers, if I give them something extra. I don't think I've ever done it, but to think I never would because it's against the law or cheating somebody's coworkers is a reach.

                After all, I wouldn't be slipping the waiter the crown jewels.

                6 Replies
                1. re: EWSflash

                  I do it all the time. If a server I know really well is waiting my table, I tip generously on the bill via credit card and hand the server some token cash in appreciation.

                  Am I going to stop doing it? Guess.

                  1. re: anonymouse1935

                    I' m against the pooling of tips because frankly I do not feel its fair to the ones who deserve the better tips. I always wished I knew in advance who pools and who doesn't but I guess the majority do

                    1. re: Gold

                      That is a good point. Some will skate by, knowing that a collective concept will still cover them, regardless of how poorly they perform. Others will rise to the occasion and offer excellent service. Who should be rewarded? In a Communist culture - each should receive the exact same compensation. However, I like to say "thank you" to those, who rise above, and do not just sit back, expecting to be compensated too.

                      Sorry that service still makes an impact with me, but that is life.


                    2. re: anonymouse1935

                      I am with you on this one. I do it all the time too.

                      I don't agree with pooling tips. Aren't we supposed to be a Captialist economy and not Socialst? If we work hard and do a good job, aren't we supposed to be rewarded for that effort?

                      I know some of the reasons for pooling because my mom was a waitress. On one level it avoids conflicts among staff members and MIGHT result in better service for the customer.

                      In places that didn't pool my mom often got stuck with the undesirable tables that were deemed not likely to tip. No one else would wait on them.

                      I'll leave the moral decisions up to the server who can then decide to drop it in the tip pool and share with all. If the server chooses to keep the money, then whether or not they report it on their tax form is their decision.

                      I am trying to acknowledge and reward excellence. My hope would be the server keeps the money and pays the government.

                      1. re: rworange

                        I do it, too. Typically it's for bussers that are the only ones making the dining experience decent.

                        I don't really care what he does with the money. None of my business. I just want to show him or her that i appreciated them picking up the slack of the server.

                        I used to be a server in nice restaurants, not in tip pooled ones. Management didn't care about disparity in tips. You earned what you earned. Sometimes you'd get a 5% tip after busting your hump, sometimes a 100%. Luck of the draw and it all evens out in the end.

                        The pool tipping makes sense in really well run places where everyone works together and they treat every table like it's their own. They're responsible for every guest in the building and they all work hard. Of course, it's up to management to keep the staff well run.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Oh wait, if one shows up for work, should they not reap the benefits from those, who go overboard? Of course not, but that concept is too quickly lost, on too many.

                          Service is about, well service. If one goes beyond, and one just gets by, who should get the extra "thank you?"

                          "Excellence" SHOULD be rewarded. Mediocrity should not. Now, in a totally communal environment, it will be, as we are talking about the "collective good," and that is a good reason to reward that "excellence."

                          Just my capitalistic opinion,


                    3. The only places I frequent that I know tip pooling occurs is at certain Chinese restaurants and the service is normally just adequate, so I see no reason to give a waiter a special "personal tip".

                      OTH: One day at Elite (dim sum) in Monterey Park. I met the waiter at the cashier to pay the bill. The waiter gave me the bill and walked away. The bill came to about $100 including tax. I put $100 on the tray with the bill and was going to leave the $15 tip with the cashier. She wasn't looking and pointed to a box with a slot next to the cash register and said it was for the tips. The slot was so small you have to fold the money in quarters to put it into the box.
                      After I put the $15 tip into the box, it occured to me I could have just slipped a few bucks into the box and no one would have been the wiser.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: monku

                        " I could have just slipped a few bucks into the box and no one would have been the wiser."

                        The person in the mirror you saw before you went to sleep that night would have known. Character is doing the right thing when noone is watching.

                        1. re: jfood

                          Do you think the waiter thinks the same thing when he's filling out IRS form 4070 ?

                          1. re: monku

                            that is completely up to the server, same mirror, same position by jfood. people who think that aiding a person screwing their fellow employees says a lot about that person, not the person jfood would want handling the splitting the bill at jfood's table.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Yes, that "mirror" can be pretty harsh - light of dawn and all. That is where "the rubber meets the road."

                              It's all about ethics. You all remember those, don't you? Do what is right. Your "heart" will tell you what to do. Trust your heart.