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Are "shared" tips Communism in action?

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I have a favorite greasy spoon I frequent for breakfasts or burger plates probably 60 or so times a year. The wait service is brusque, curt, most of the time off-putting. These ladies know me as a regular. But the service I get is indifferent--always.

My bill for a meal is usually $7/8. I tip $2.00 Obviously more than 20%.

So after years of this treatment, the lightbulb went off! I finally noticed that the table busser takes all tips and drop them in a bucket under the counter at the front of the restaurant. Ah, these servers split all the tips left during their shift.

So I think: my 22% tip means nothing more to any of the servers than a 10% tip left by someone else. It's all homogenized at the end of shift, so there is no reason for the servers to provide pleasant service to me, specifically.

Your observations?

  1. Henceforth 15%

    1. Well....on the flipside...as for pleasant service, since a good tip for one is a good tip for all, why not be uniformly of good cheer?

      3 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        Honestly, I don't know how to answer you, pine.

        I eat at this place because I think it makes the the best breakfast at the nicest price anywhere I dine. And the flaptop grilled burgers are artery-clogging good. I'd like some small acknowlegement that I'm a regular, and that I appreciate the service these ladies provide me by tipping well. That doesn't happen!

        1. re: RedTop

          It's been my observation that in any business attitude tends to start with management and flow downhill. You seem to be taking personally a group 'tude that isn't about you. If the waitstaff in general is sour, it probably isn't that they're all just unhappy with life, but they may be unhappy with the particular restaurant where they're employed, and that may or may not have anything to do with the distribution of tips, or the courtesy of their customers. I've worked with a lot of people who did restaurant service at one time or another and they each had a lot of tales to tell about the behind-the-scenes problems they endured. Maybe at this particular restaurant the overall environment makes for an unhappy "family" of employees, and so a dysfunctional relationship with customers.

          And, according to Jan and Michael Stern, of "Roadfood" writings, some restaurants actually seem to pride themselves on the grumpiness of the waitstaff and how fast they churn customers through. Go figger, but enjoy the roadfood.

          1. re: afridgetoofar

            I've noticed that one particular grocery store I go to has friendly employees who always smile and say hello, whether it's the guy in produce, the guy in dairy, or the checkout lady (I'm a "regular") and other stores have grumpy employees. I've also noticed that these same folks have been at this store for a *long* time. I've always figured that the "good" grocery store must have management that makes the employees relatively happy to show up every day. Obviously no tipping or not tipping to blame here.

      2. Tip "pooling" as the industry term goes is hardly unique to this establishment but rather widely practiced.

        There are a few things in play here, obviously tipping is supposed to be based on the merit of the service received not on what is desired. So if the service remains sub par your tipping shouldn't remain generous or excessive. (Even if we are talking fractions of a dollar)

        The concept of pooling is generally based upon everyone working together towards a common goal, in this case excellent service. If your not receiving that than perhaps a comment to a manager is in order in addition to a reduction of your tip amount.

        1. Oh, please. Your title is way over the top.

          1. after you reduce your tip percentage, please let us know if you perceive any difference in the quality of service you receive.
            this could be an interesting experiment.

            1. Honestly, servers who are friendly are friendly, regardless of your leaving $2 or $1.50 That 50 cents isn't going to make a difference. If you're pleasant to them, you're much more likely to get good service. If the whole wait service is brusque to you, maybe it's not the wait service? Leave more because they have a tough job at a low pay, not because you want to get something out of it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                "Tough job, low pay" yadda yadda yadda. If these poor servers want bigger tips, they can damn well smile and, at least, pretend to be pleasant.

                1. re: grampart

                  It depends on whether a regular is pleasant and kind, also, or a PITA. I've never been to a place where every server has been brusque, curt, off-putting. In fact, I'm hard pressed to think of a case when a server has been rude to me. Just throwing in an extra 50 cents isn't going to make the difference a smile and being nice will.

              2. I have quite a long post about pooled tips vs. non-pooled tips below - but from my experience if you'd like to improve the service, I would focus on spending more time talking to the servers. Learn their names and try to chat with them. Your money will get you nothing from them, but being a bit more engaging may improve things.

                Or not, but that would be my suggestion.

                1. Well, at least the spin is different on this tipping thread...

                  Let me get this right...
                  by tipping "well" you hope to get better service. However, the waitstaff can't know how good a tipper you are as its the busboy, not the waitresses, who is actually picking up the tip from the table?
                  Is this your quandary?

                  I think the "problem" lies elsewhere.
                  Its a cheap place where you can get a good meal for $7/8.
                  A single server has to hustle quite a bit to get big sales (thus big tips), no?
                  A bit different from an upscale place where one tab can be $200.

                  The dollar amount between 10% and 25% tip on $8 is only about a buck and a quarter. The busboy sees $0.80 to $2.00 all day, everyday and there is not much difference one way or another.

                  Believe me, the waitstaff knows who the tippers are and even more so who the tippers ain't (busboy or no busboy). Like I say, it doesn't mean a whole lot in such a low brow joint.

                  westsidegal wonders if service will go south with lower tips. Me? I don't think so.
                  I'd say to experiment the other way - start leaving $5 tip and see what happens.

                  1. No, it is not communism. But you should ask the manager the rationale behind the pooled tips practice. I'd think it resulted from some problem in the more common practice of each person keeping their own tips.

                    1. Leave no tips. See if any change in service. If none then there's your answer. Sometimes people go to these places specifically to experience brusque, curt and off putting service. It's part of the "charm" of the place.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: PeterL

                        I couldn't not leave a tip. Not in me.

                        And the Ed Debevic school of service doesn't charm me.

                        1. re: RedTop

                          Oh wow, I haven't even thought about Ed Debevic's in years. Blast from the past lol.

                      2. Personally, I think you're overthinking this. If you like the place, eat there and tip what you want. It's a small joint so it's not like the tips are going to be shared by 50 people.

                        If you want them to remember you, find out their names (but you should know this already!) and give them a card around the holidays. Include a $20 - $25 gift card to a local store (grocery or hardware, just something). They will remember that.

                        Better yet, grab the coffee pot and make a round or two when they are busy. They will totally appreciate that!

                        1. One of my first jobs as a teenager was at Starbucks where tips are pooled (staff is also not paid servers wages) - and as someone who worked in the morning when the bulk of the tips would arrive, such a system felt a lot less "fair" to me than to someone who would work closing and perhpas only deal with a handful of customers. However, what I can also remark is that I was far more "routine" with everyone whether they came in every morning or only once.

                          People who wanted to tip would tip, but I wasn't going to try and make sure your favorite blend was heavier in the rotation because that extra 50 cents didn't really make it to my pocket. If anything, customers that received "extra consideration" were ones who would chat with staff when things weren't as busy. Customers who became "work friends" would receive the perks of regulars, because that was an immediate currency. Being super quite, efficient, and leaving regular tips would earn you polite (corporate) service, but nothing else.

                          One time someone tried to make a big deal of tipping $50 from some extra assistance of something or other, and while people weren't ungrateful or rude about the gesture - ultimately it would mean about an extra $2 of so to the 3 of us that provided the service. So while the $50 may have made the guy feel very generous to the people in front of him, he was really just giving a tiny bump to the entire store's staff.

                          The next summer, I worked at a private coffee shop where we tipped out after shifts (still not receiving servers wages). And at that place I paid attention to who were the regulars and who liked what because there was a very direct benefit for me. That extra dollar in the tip jar when Ethiopian blend was served got you noticed. And we went through a lot more of that coffee.

                          So while avoiding the title regarding "communism" - I will say that when tips get pooled, there's essentially no insentive to fawn over a 22% vs a 15% tip, because the overall amount to the server is just too small. Corporate places like Starbucks have other way to drill "service with a smile" issues, but in my experience, pooled tips are a very effective way to ensure that service becomes about something other than trying to earn a tip.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: cresyd

                            Great post.

                            1. re: chowser

                              +1

                            2. re: cresyd

                              hehehe. I would also call it communism or socialism. How about a collective farm but in a restaurant? The cultivation and harvesting of tips is collectivized so less incentive for the individual server to exert him/herself

                              1. re: lastZZ

                                To me, we're not really getting into socialism unless the store is also partially owned by the workers. When there's a system when management is still paid differently and ownership is at a different level, talking about communism/socialism all seems a bit moot.

                            3. Tip pooling , or the levy of a percentage service charge on the bill, is commonplace where I am in the world. I have never felt that the system gives me a lesser standard of service than if the server keeps the full tip themself. On the contrary, the system tends to mean that there is a team approach to service which, to my mind, offers a better level of service to the diner.

                              1. I have seldom had really good service at U.S. restaurants where tips are pooled. The concept of team service doesn't often translate into a workable reality.

                                I have worked as a server quite a bit. I always average a higher percent than most of my coworkers. I work harder than most and would not be interested in working for pooled tips. I think most good servers would find this objectionable so this sort of system probably draws a less motivated employee.

                                I, and most of the servers I know who I consider good, provide a certain level of service out of professional pride and because it is an aspect of our personalities. I don't really look at my tips during the course of an evening. I don't want my preformance swayed one way or the other. I'm pretty democratic in feeling every one deserves good* service.

                                In casual places servers often look to the customer to set the tone. A chatty customer may get more chat, a quiet customer may seem like they want less interaction. We try to get a read on the customer but cues are not always easy to interpret!

                                Upon reflection I realise my definition of "good" is much higher than the word could sound.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: meatn3

                                  It's funny, the best service I ever have had has been in very expensive, fine dining restaurants where tips are shared and the team service approach is employed. Le Bec Fin, EMP Le Bernardin, etc. all have incredibly wonderful service and, if I understand correctly, pool all tips across the house.

                                  As to the OP, communism, really? Is it communism when a large corporation splits its revenues into scheduled salaries for all of its employees? I mean, they are all equally sharing according to agreements and have no incentive to out produce one another.

                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    >>As to the OP, communism, really? Is it communism when a large corporation splits its revenues into scheduled salaries for all of its employees? I mean, they are all equally sharing according to agreements and have no incentive to out produce one another.<<

                                    At will employees at all of the top 1000 corporations in the USA do not share equally in the revenues of the corporations they work for. Every at will employee earns a salary complimentary to work responsibility, skill, effectiveness on the job, and perhaps a half dozen other qualifiers. And finally, an At Will employees wage is determined by who their boss is--and what the boss thinks of them. Wages for represented employees are not so arbitrary. But even for a union member, what you do, and how your job is classified, determines your wage. No equality anywhere in those two groups.

                                    1. re: RedTop

                                      Revenue comes in, it's sliced up according to a predetermined formula. Name one multi-national corporate entity that bases pay exclusively on the revenue generated by each employee. There's a reason Danny Meyer's staffs pool their tips and get paid according to the predetermined scales for their jobs.

                                      I don't know how much you know about communism or socialism, but I suppose you do know that there is no such thing as capitalism either?

                                      1. re: MGZ

                                        We could peel that onion for eons and not get to the core of free market economics...

                                        But this is a food site so, I don't want to derail this thread.

                                        1. re: RedTop

                                          Let me step in and try to defuse this situation. {{changing topics}} Its Ash Wednesday! Religious debate anyone?

                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                            I have long thought it would be interesting to take a purely secular approach to understanding the development of food rules in religions. I've always intuitively believed (and years of study did not change my mind) that much of the philosophical thoughts/systems have a practical genesis.

                                            Enjoy your fish!

                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              Thank you! I think I'm in the mood for some fish and scallops, I heard the Shipwreck in Brielle is the place to get the best.

                                              I'm going say my name is Jake, my understanding is there is a scruffy guy at the bar, in a baseball cap, waiting to buy someone named Jake a drink. Might as well capitalize on the info.

                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                Bad night for me. I'm makin' the Mrs. lobster and eggs at home. Nonetheless, if you ever spot me at the Shipwreck (or anywhere else for that matter), you need not assume anyone's identity, just say nothin',* smile and nod in our direction, and I will have the bartender make you a martini that is the antithesis of mine.

                                                If you do go to the Shipwreck tonight, however, I would suggest that you sample some oysters and move on to the lobster ravoli with with scallops. Though, I should note the Mrs. does like the grouper.

                                                *I stay Clarke Kent when in public.

                                    2. re: MGZ

                                      Ah, Le Bec Fin brings back memories of a wonderful birthday dinner with my family thirty years ago. I can still taste that food, and the service was impeccable.

                                  2. Au contraire, this is part of the charm of a cheap greasy spoon. You just don't get it. People are only all "honey" and "sugar" in the movies. Or certain corners of the South, but only if they already know you.

                                    Some people (I know, I am one of them) have a natural expression that makes people think they are angry or upset when they feel they have a perfectly neutral face. I've walked by people in the hallway at work who have said things like "Wow, remind me to stay out of your way today!" or "It's one of those days, huh?" or whatever, when I promise you I am just walking down the hallway and am not mad about something. I'm Greek. A scowl is our natural expression, sorry. Perhaps it's the issue with some of these people. I've gone out of my way to be nice to another person on my floor at work who has a similar expression (and a gruff German accent on top of it, which can be off putting to some people), and she is actually really nice and very friendly. But she always looks like she's ready to cut someone's head off. You have to push past the looks and talk to someone.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                      That's RBS, a sad disease afflicting many women throughout the country. To-date, no cure has been found. http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/the-ov...

                                      1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                        Love it!

                                    2. Have to agree with the people recommending developing a rapport with the servers. I frequent an upper-range fast-food chain location near me, and the people behind the counter know my order when I walk in. I chat with them about how things are going, what they're doing with their weekends, who they're visiting on the holidays. They don't even get tipped most of the time, and when they do, it goes in the tip jar.

                                      You can't buy pleasant service for the most part.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Heatherb

                                        If the OP has been in this joint over 100 times and still feels his treatment is "brusk, curt, off-putting, and indifferent, I'd say "developing rapport with the servers" is hardly possible. Personally, I'd find another greasy spoon.

                                        1. re: grampart

                                          I think it depends on what someone wants from a dining experience. If the OP would like a more friendly dynamic with the servers, tipping them well isn't going to achieve that and making an effort to talk to people couldn't hurt.

                                          However, if the surly service is just part of the experience, but the OP was making an obvservation of linking pooled tips with service - then that's also fair. There's a 24 hour diner near where I grew up and regardless of what time I went, the service ranged from passable to openly hostile. But the food was very cheap, tasty, and convenient so the service was tolerated. If I was to guess why, I would have assumed it was because the place always appeared to be grossly understaffed - but that would just be a guess.

                                          1. re: grampart

                                            >>Personally, I'd find another greasy spoon.<<

                                            But the foods offered are basic, tasty and cheap. The coffee? Well not so much.

                                            1. re: RedTop

                                              Around here, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Waffle House. Their coffee is mediocre, but the food is good and you can't find friendlier waitresses. I'm sure glad I don't have your problem.

                                              1. re: grampart

                                                First world problems. Cheap tasty food and complaining about not being able to buy friendlier service for less than $1.

                                        2. Sounds like my kind of place. Here is what I expect from a server; take my order, bring me my food.

                                          What I hate are the chatty ones.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: kengk

                                            Me, too. I don't expect Julie McCoy, just bring me the food and I'll be happy.

                                          2. Shared tips are the perfect example of socialism. You take away from the hardworking to give to the lazy in order to be "fair".

                                            26 Replies
                                            1. re: PotatoHouse

                                              one could equally argue that in some establishments, shared tips will encourage a server to notice/help/respond to any table for needs rather than only looking out for his or her tables.

                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                A food server that acts one way or the other will do so no matter how tips are treated. That's the difference between a good server and a bad one. You don't change a bad server by taking money away from a good server.

                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                  Exactly, DGresh. I find the team approach to work well where I am in the world (and, in general, also in those countries that I visit most often). Perhaps America just has a different culture in this (as often the case).

                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                    I would gladly wager that most of the finest restaurants in America use a team approach.

                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                      Certainly a team approach with tipping out to assisting staff is most common in US fine dining. Pooled tipping is very different from tipping out or shared tipping.

                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                        "Pooled tipping is very different from tipping out or shared tipping."

                                                        Could you explain this? I understand that fine dining restaurants place all of the tips in the pool and then apportion according to job and the schedule agreed upon (as I suggested above, it's basically just using the pooled revenue to award each member of the organization according to task level). Am I wrong?

                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                          Tipping out:
                                                          A specific percent of each servers tips go to bus persons, runners, bartenders. I have worked at some places where each server decides the percent they wish to give to the support staff, but that is less common.

                                                          Pooled tips:
                                                          All tips go into the pot. All servers get the same percentage of the pot. All other tipped people get their percentage out of the pot.

                                                          Most fine dining that I've worked uses the tipped out system.

                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                            So, as I understood, fine dining places, generally, put all the tip revenue into a pool and divide it according to a predetermined schedule. If you think about it, that seems a lot like how most major corporations pay their employees.

                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                              No, most fine dining ime tips out - does not pool!

                                                              Hard to compare serving to corp. jobs. Corp. jobs you have a relatively set schedule, benefits, a wage which is not dependent upon personal daily sales, reviews, raises, bonuses and numerous verifiable ways for a supervisor to gauge your productivity.

                                                              A supervisor gauges a server based on sales, side work and customer comment. They can only directly observe a small aspect of a servers performance. No paid time off, hours can be cut at any time, if you are sick YOU have to find your replacement. The usual "raise" is shift leader which entails extra hours and responsibility in exchange for a better section and longer shift.

                                                              Very different work cultures and realities.

                                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                                Your explanation of "tips out" is fundamentally the same as a fine dining restaurant that puts all gratuities into a single fund and the splits them according to job.

                                                                It's bullsh*t that servers in most restaurants are treated and paid the way they are, but it does not change the fact that "tipping out" and "pooling" share the same communal pay concept the OP finds offensive.

                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                  No, tipping out each server goes home with differing amounts based upon the tips their section left. Pooling the servers all go home with the same amount.

                                                                  Tipping out is quite common, especially if the restaurant has a bar. Some places pay the bussers a higher hourly and the servers aren't expected to tip out.

                                                                  Pooling is not found often in the US.

                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                    Meatn3 is using "tip out" as the secondary transaction once the server has received their tips for the night they subsequently "tip out" the servers support staff. The support staff is typically the bus people, food runners and sometimes service bartenders. So for this example "tip out" is the secondary tipping transaction between the restaurant employees. Tipping out individually is most common in restaurants that do not use pooling as their tip practice thus it's each individuals responsibility to tip out their respective supporters. I have never experienced where the amount of the tip outs were left up to the individual servers to determine. Normally there is a house rule as to what percentage a bus person vs food runner vs bartender should receive. Although there is a rule generally only the server knows exactly what their gross tips were for the night so it is common for them to understate their gross so to reduce the amount of their tip out.

                                                                    Pooling is more regulated because all the money is in the common or in this case communist pot so the gross tips are known by all servers and support staff. Automatically the house policy for tip outs comes off the top of the communal funds and once all service support staff receives their percentages of the gross pool then the net balance of the pooled tips are split evenly between the servers. Similar to your earlier corporate structured example.

                                                                    ***edit

                                                                    Pooling is very common in the US however again mostly in the higher end dining environments however I know first hand several chains which promote pooling as well.

                                                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                      I wonder if pooling in high end dining varies by region? Most of my restaurant work has been in the South...

                                                                    2. re: MGZ

                                                                      <It's bullsh*t that servers in most restaurants are treated and paid the way they are>

                                                                      The owner is the one making the profits....it's the owner's decision how he/she decides how to do it.
                                                                      The server has a choice. They make the money they're offered & decide to work there or they don't.
                                                                      Simple.

                                                    2. re: PotatoHouse

                                                      In general I think tying this to socialism/communism is poor because it implies knowing a lot more about how the whole business is run. While the consumer may know that tips are pooled, it's often based around a greater theory of how to run a business. Not any view on fairness.

                                                      Going back to my Starbucks example - the reason why the morning shift at my store 'received' the most tips was because that was when their heaviest number of customers arrived. Even if tips were just the extra 50-15 cents from someone's change, that would add up given the sheer volume. And those of us working in the morning, most of us were providing bare minimum "service" because the main focus was getting people their orders as quickly (and correctly) as possible.

                                                      Furthermore, part of what would make morning service go well was an entire set of prep work that the closing shift would do. So while one shift would go through the highest volume of customers - the system of the store is not to value workers that take the busy shifts. Because often staff at the less busy shifts do lots of other duties that the busy shift is not expected to do. Also it serves to prevent that the salary of a two-week barista doesn't top a supervisor of a not-busy shift given the possible wild fluctuations in tips based on shifts.

                                                      So while you could argue that pooling tips is about an attempt to be fair or socialism - at Starbucks, I don't see that. Rather, it tries to make the employees value reflected in their salary (and other internal perks) - which for that business model makes more sense to them.

                                                      1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                        <in order to be 'fair'>

                                                        I don't understand the entire concept of 'pooling tips'.
                                                        If I'm working my ass of to make sure my customers are happy (I'm not a waitperson but I know my work ethic) and one of the people I work with works half has hard as I do....why should that person get the same amount in tips that I do? That's certainly not 'fair' for me, is it?

                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                          "If I'm working my ass of [sic] . . . and one of the people I work with works half has hard as I do....why should that person get the same amount . . . that I do? That's certainly not 'fair' for me, is it?"

                                                          That pretty much describes just about every office I've ever worked in. And, honestly, when you're a twenty-something lawyer showing up at half past five in the morning and your "classmates" are making the same salary and gettin' in at ten, it's a bit more disconcerting than being grumpy about splittin' an extra thirty bucks a night. Nonetheless, the goal is to do the best job you can because it's your job - not to be overly concerned about what someone else is doing. Guess that makes me a commie, though.

                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                            And realize that a person not pulling his/her share will be the first out of a job. That's the big difference between communism and this system of teamwork.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              I'm not sure how best to express how much I disagree with you. So, lest we get too far off track, let's just leave it as: my experience in the office situations I mentioned are in stark contrast to what you have posted, and my knowledge of the writings of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky appear to be at odds with yours. Thus, I simply disagree.

                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                I was actually agreeing with you that you need to be the best you can, regardless of what others do. A person who isn't puling his/her weight usually ends up being the first out the door, nepotism aside. I don't think it makes you a commie so maybe we'll disagree on that because there's so much more to communism than just doing your best and ignoring the rest.

                                                              2. re: chowser

                                                                not necessarily.
                                                                not if "the person not pulling their weight" went west point like the boss did. . . . . . .

                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                  As I said, nepotism aside.

                                                              3. re: MGZ

                                                                <it's a bit more disconcerting than being grumpy about splittin' an extra thirty bucks a night>

                                                                It's all relative, isn't it?
                                                                I'm not concerned about what other people are doing in a workplace, never have been. It's my job and I always, as with everything I do, create my own personal payoff. For those of us who've worked in a setting where there's an obvious imbalance of production, we all get it. That being said, the discussion is about pooling tips in a restaurant setting. One person works harder than the next and they all get the same in tips? It doesn't make sense, it's obviously not fair, but then again we all make choices where we work.

                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                  One of the national department store chains where I am is owned as a collective between all the employees. They do not receive bonus commission payments based on their own sales but, rather, as a fixed share of the group's annual profits. It is a very successful business and a sought after retail employment - the team approach works here to everyone's benefit as it does in other industries.

                                                            2. re: PotatoHouse

                                                              Depends on whether tips are pooled voluntarily or not. I have pooled tips, and as a unit, the staff at that restaurant was great: we wanted all the tables to get good service. I could bring drinks to a table while another staff member was in the weeds. They'd pick up an order if I had gotten stuck at a table unexpectedly.

                                                              At my first place I worked at, I was not part of the pool. The waitstaff decided who was in the pool and who was flying solo based on their assessment of a staff member's skills. To be fair, it was my first job waiting tables, and I was not good at it to start off with. My presence in the pool would have cost them money. They would watch impassively as I floundered with my tables, because my tips were not reflected in their income.

                                                              I think there is a distinction, however, between a tip pitcher at a Starbucks, where people might not think to tip without a jar and a sign, and pooling tips at a restaurant because the participants want to share.

                                                              1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                Unless a lazy server is related to the owner, I seriously doubt they're going to last long. It's not exactly hard to find someone to replace them. Consistently poor service, as others have pointed out here, is usually more a reflection on the ownership rather than the staff. At a well-run establishment, the substandard servers will be noticed and let go.

                                                              2. Yep, creeping spectre of communism. Red Scare all over again.

                                                                1. I am told that waiters and waitresses pool their tips in most Siberian restaurants.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: beevod

                                                                    It's so hard to find a Siberian restaurant on the East Coast. Worse, most of the Siberian-American restaurants are so inauthentic.

                                                                  2. never thought about it before, but yes it seems it is.

                                                                    1. Ha! Funny title considering your username. Like unions, tip pooling rewards and encourages the lazy, while penalizing and dulling the hustlers

                                                                      1. At places with really cheap food, I usually tip for the work not a percentage.

                                                                        While over 20% is a good tip, $2.00 is not a lot of money.

                                                                        1. Yes, it is Communism in action.

                                                                          22 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Dagney

                                                                            Really? Care to elaborate?

                                                                            Given the fact that some form of communism is ultimately going to be necessary for the existence of mankind, are you saying that pooling tips is a progressive step in the right direction?

                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                              <communism is ultimately going to be necessary for the existence of mankind>

                                                                              Really? Care to elaborate?

                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                Sure. In simplest terms, economic systems are fundamentally based upon resources, access thereto, and their distribution. Capitalism's premise is based upon infinite resource availability. Communism is a system for permitting the management of finite resources. The Earth, like each of its inhabitants and the resources they require, is finite.

                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                  You're espousing an economic philosophy that doesn't work.

                                                                                  China, with approx. 1 1/2 billion people, abandoned their economy 10 yrs. ago that they'd had in place since 1948. They adopted capitalism. Their global economy is 2nd to the US and it's just a matter of time before they bepass it. Communism stifles human nature....the ability to excel and achieve...traits that many of us believe are essential to personal growth.
                                                                                  Pooling tips is not something alot of people would choose to be a part of for that reason.

                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                    " Communism stifles human nature.....the ability to excel and achieve..."

                                                                                    The idea that within human nature is the innate desire to excel and achieve I believe is a very wishful statement. On average I would dare to say Communism actual serves a far majority of a population whom I feel are just happy being complacent and pacified. Give them reasonable comfort and food in their stomach and I believe the vast majority of the population is content.

                                                                                    As I like to explain to my children when they ask me why they should have to work so hard in school. I tell them....in actuality they don't. There is an EXCELLENT chance that both Valedictorian of their class and the last ranking student will both wind up working for NASA. One will be designing or guiding space ships and the other will empty the firsts garbage. It's up to them which they want to be. (most are happy emptying the garbage is my point....again in my humble opinion)

                                                                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                      "Not that I condone fascism, or any 'ism' for that matter. Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself" - Ferris Bueller

                                                                                      latindancer has it right....nothing squashes arts, books, creativity, religion, ambition or human spirit like communism or socialism. State controlled industry? Complete lack of environmental responsibility? Non recognition of patents? Gulags, death camps, gestapo, baidu, filtered internet? I require more out of life than "reasonable comfort," and am immensely grateful to be living in a country where I can read and make public comments like this, and not fear the stasi, or the csp. Even with hussein obama, God bless these United States

                                                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                        <Give them reasonable comfor and food in their stomach and I believe the vast majority of the populataion is content>

                                                                                        I'm speaking, solely at this point, about the financial part of their culture. It's changed. I'm well aware of several women who've 'opened the flood gates', so to speak, and have had enough of what you've described in China. They're entrepreneurs, successful, adventurous and highly ambitious. Time will tell about other concepts, beside the financial, in that highly world-wide competitive country.

                                                                                      2. re: latindancer

                                                                                        First, economic reform in China dates back 35 years. Second, they do not actually have a capitalist economy (although for that matter, neither does the Good O'l USA). Third, their previous economic system was not actually communism (in the sense of the philosophy contemplated by Marx, Engels, et al.). You are, however, basically correct when you say that after the Chinese Civil War (1949), the prevailing Communist party did adopt a form of planned economy.

                                                                                        Folks have been throwing around words without understanding what they're sayin' a lot in this thread. I'll simply close by saying pooled tips ain't communism.

                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                          Folks, a debate about the nature of economic systems is a little too NOT about food, even for Not About Food.

                                                                                          1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                            I agree. Sorry, mods for the interruption.

                                                                                            Pooling money, tip wise, in a restaurant where there's a complete variation in work ethic, ambition and customer service discourages self motivation in my opinion.
                                                                                            Why should I work harder than anyone else when I know the payback is going to be the same for everyone?

                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                              "Why should I work harder than anyone else when I know the payback is going to be the same for everyone?"

                                                                                              Pride. A belief in the success of the endeavor. Human decency.

                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                And there are plenty of jobs where you get paid the same whether you are helpful or not, pleasant or not. Think the cashier at the grocery store. Or the guy behind the desk at the post office. I run into plenty of really nice people in those jobs.

                                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                  " I run into plenty of really nice people in those jobs."

                                                                                                  Me too.

                                                                                                  1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                    Correct, however their compensation is set....they are getting a fixed return for every hour they work, it's predetermined.

                                                                                                    In the broader conversation of this thread we are speaking of people who's attitude is directly related to the amount of compensation potentially earned in an hour.

                                                                                                  2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                    All of which defines most people I know.

                                                                                                    I also believe that hard work and decency and the 'success of the endeavor' is not for everyone. Not everyone has the mindset.
                                                                                                    Being paid for not working hard, not being productive, isn't how I roll. Being given something for doing very little creates very little incentive. However, over a period of time, I can see how it can evolve to the point where the collective has the mindset & pooling money, in a restaurant, becomes the norm. It simply would not be something that would interest me.

                                                                                                  3. re: latindancer

                                                                                                    I suspect your view is influenced by the cultural differences from you are in the world, to where I am in the world.

                                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                                      To forget one's own desires? Work only for the collective? It's not natural for lots of people. Having had a driving force from a very, very early age where i could see what my hard work created, the payoff was there, and it benefited my own personal growth.
                                                                                                      Pooling money/tips puts everyone on the same equal playing field. Not everyone thinks like that.

                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                        Not natural or not ingrained? Your post implies the latter.

                                                                                                    2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                      Now you venture into what I would say is managements role in this scenario of ours. If you are a manager or owner of a restaurant it is your responsibility to make sure you have like minded customer friendly people who are working towards the common good.

                                                                                                      Regardless if you are pooling tips or not it should be every servers outlook to create as pleasant a dining experience they can. If a servers disposition is "I'm only going to do what I need to flip this table as often as possible" then management needs to step in.

                                                                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                        I agree.

                                                                                                    3. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                      So if we exchange the term "dollars" for "donuts" then we should be fine, right?

                                                                                            2. re: MGZ

                                                                                              In the sense that a collective approach, rather than an individual approach, might be thought of as more a communist/socialist/syndicalist approach than a capitalist one.

                                                                                              I am all in favour of collective approaches to how we manage ourselves in society. I find them generally more successful.

                                                                                          2. Just out of curiosity, how common is tip pooling in casual to mid-level dining?

                                                                                            I can understand it in a fine dining setting where you are getting superb/team service. In that situation you have multiple sets of eyes on you ready to fill your water glass, replace your flatware, etc. It seems that staff is incredibly well trained and do things in a very specific manner. I can see all tips being pooled and then divided according to position as it truly is a team effort to make sure the guest is completely taken care of. It benefits all service staff. I'm guessing at this level of restaurant that servers are smart enough to 'buy into' the mentality and you are less likely to get someone who isn't pulling his or her share.

                                                                                            On the opposite spectrum, I can sort of understand (but don't really think it is necessary) to pool tips in a greasy spoon type of place because your sales totals are going to be low, leading to more variance in tip percentage. Some people will leave a couple of quarters on their $5.96 check even if they get the most superb service one could imagine, meanwhile the person sitting next to them at the counter may have surly service, but still leave a ten dollar bill for their $7.12 check (a 40% tip) because they don't like leaving less than a couple of bucks, don't want the change, think it looks cheap to take the change, etc. In this situation, pooling may at least even out the variance of the complexities of people and how they tip.

                                                                                            In the case of casual restaurants (chains like Applebees, Chili's, etc) to mid/upper-mid priced independent and chain restaurants, tip pooling seems like it may be more unfair. There are servers that try hard to provide the best service possible and there are people who really don't care, need a job, and feel that they are entitled to a 20% tip simply for taking your order, delivering your food (in no particularly order or pacing) and dropping off your check. Pooling in this situation would screw the hard-working and reward the slackers. I can see why chains or other places may want to 'encourage' pooling--it may seem in theory to apply pressure on all to do a good job, but in practice there are too many people willing to take advantage of other people's hard work.

                                                                                            I guess it depends on the situation...

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                              As I've mentioned above, at Starbucks I think there is an internal logic that basically rotates around the idea that employees' value (both in terms of level of position and years working) is measured by your salary/hourly wage. Tips are seen as a nice bonus to be shared by the team but are not meant to result in one person ultimately making $11 per hour and another $15.

                                                                                              Basically, I think that whether tips are pooled or not and how that translates to service really revolves around whether or not it fits an internal logic of the place.

                                                                                            2. If a server is getting less than $3/hr, and is taxed on tips, why should their tip money be shared with bussers or dishwashers getting $10/hr?

                                                                                              1. I think this thread brings us up to about the 996th reason why tipping should be abolished.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: kengk

                                                                                                  I disagree.

                                                                                                  Tipping, and the reward for giving good service, creates incentive & empowerment and the ability to want to excel.
                                                                                                  It's not for everyone. Not everyone has that 'fire' or that need to achieve. However, for those who do...

                                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                    I concur.

                                                                                                    There is an "art" to being of service to people and to do it right.

                                                                                                2. If you eat at a place where the servers don't provide pleasant service anyway - which is what you've said - and you choose to tip them more than they deserve anyway, then what's the problem?

                                                                                                  Personally, I think the internal economics of eateries are none of my business. I tip the standard amount, which in NYC is now 20% before tax, put on my coat, and leave. If I'm a regular customer, I find I get treated well without having to buy the waitstaff's good will by over-tipping. Indeed, if I'm not treated well I don't become a regular customer.

                                                                                                  The one thing I'm careful to do is always tip in cash on the table, because too often, tips added to a credit card charge are pocketed by management and never get to the staff. It's illegal, but it happens, and now and then it's prosecuted.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: John Francis

                                                                                                    Well said.

                                                                                                  2. I'm done.

                                                                                                     
                                                                                                    1. In my part of the world, tip pooling is very, very common in mid to high level dining. It either works for the house, or it doesn't- it's really a different situation for every restaurant, and there are pros and cons to each.

                                                                                                      I know a LOT of servers in my city who prefer to pool- it tends to create a take home pay that doesn't vary as much without it. (i.e. they'd rather take home 150-200 every night, than 50 one night and 300 the next). Also, in a pooled house, if someone is not pulling their weight, that person can not hide, because their fellow servers will throw them under the bus viciously, and without any sympathy. They may not be able to control how much money table X gives them, but if they are making less because <insert server here> sucks, they CAN have some control.

                                                                                                      As many here have stated, a pooled house can create a team environment, where you have 6 people looking at your water glass instead of 1 or 2. It honestly comes down to the culture of that particular FOH staff. Yes, management decides whether or not it will be a pooled house, but the staff decides how successful it will be.

                                                                                                      1. We're talking about a privately owned business that made a decision regarding employee compensation. In a (relatively) free market society, that is their perogative. If it works for them, it works. If it doesn't, they will either change or go out of business. If you think the tipping system leads to poor service and service is that important to you, then don't go there. That is not in any way communism.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: mpjmph

                                                                                                          +1.

                                                                                                        2. It looks like this thread is heading off track again and is getting pretty personal and testy, so we're going to close it.