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When there is no "tip" option on the credit card receipt....

There is a new bakery/restaurant near our house that is quickly becoming a favorite. Most of their sales are to go, but they do have a kitchen and food can be ordered from the counter and enjoyed there. (There are at least 10 tables and restrooms, so presumably they are planning on people eating there).

Anyway, a few days ago we stopped there for a late breakfast/early lunch after a morning of shopping. It was totally impromptu: we were hungry; we drive past this place on our way home from anywhere, and suddenly our plans of eating at home seemed silly (especially given their low prices and good food).

Neither one of us had a penny of cash on us (remember, it was an impromptu decision to stop). And DH went to pay with a credit card, and realized as he was signing the receipt that there was no way to add a tip. I suppose he could have asked them to add a tip to the total if he knew there was no option on the receipt, but at that point it was too late. So DH came back to the table (its an "order at the counter" place) and asked me if I had a few dollars for a tip. Nope.

We were embarrassed to sit there and eat, knowing that we had no way of leaving a tip. I figure when they set up the account the credit card processor must have assumed it was a bakery where most people take the goods home, and thus no tip line was necessary. But as I said, the place is clearly expecting folks to eat there with that many tables, and clean public restrooms.

I wanted DH to explain the lack of the tip to the owner, but he was embarrased and just said "We come here all the time; I'll just leave them extra cash next time" (I confess; I was embarrased too).

I hope they give us good service and good food the next time we go, which will surely be soon enough that they will remember us. This is an ethnic establishment and family owned and operated, so maybe they don't expect tips?

What would you guys do? Say something? gently remind the establishment that they might get bigger tips if there is that option on te credit card receipt? Leave it alone? My suggestion was to rush home, get some cash, and rush back to leave it for them....but DH was having none of that.

Curious what others would do, but mostly just venting here. I know there are folks that own similar establishments that frequent chowhound...let this be a warning to you: think these things through before opening!

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  1. I hate that too, makes you feel cheap. I almost never have change on me so it is a concern. Say something for sure.

    1. I'd make a point of carrying cash with me when I dined there. I'd also cheerfully say to them, "hey, there's no tip line on my receipt!" hoping they'd get the hint.

      1. Where I am in the world, it is increasingly commonplace for restaurants to set their credit card machine not to prompt for a tip. If you know that this is their practice then there's no problem - you just ask them to add x% or a cash amount. However, there is no way that you can be sure that this is going to find its way to the staff.

        If you don't know that this is their practice, you need to be prepared to have some cash with you assuming you intend to leave a tip.

        The solution is simple, as an increasing number of places have found - simply replace old-fashioned tipping with a % service charge. It's relatively rare these days, except at the bottom end of the market, to come across places that don't have service charges.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          I have a problem with the automatic service charge. It is up to the establishment to pay their staff. The tip, for me, is for service over and above. Forced service charges leave no incentive for the worker.

          1. re: Bigjim68

            Many north Americans seem to have an issue with service charges (although many north Americans seem not to vary their level of tipping by very much, regardless of standard of service). It's not an issue where I am and I would disagree entirely about the no incentive for the worker argument (not least when I compare American and European styles of service).

            1. re: Harters

              There is one thing about tipping in the United States that ALL folks should understand, whether they live here or not. (and many do NOT understand and may not have learned here unless they've read through every post on tipping).

              Many if not most restaurants in the US pay their workers LESS (in many cases far less)than minimum wage and expect the workers to make up the difference with tips. Some cities have disallowed this practice, I believe, but it is true for many places around the country. This may be why North Americans have a problem with service charges (they are afraid the workers are being short-changed at the expense of management) and why tipping levels may not vary much despite service). For example, my niece is a server in a well-known sports bar chain in a college town; an establishment that I know does good business. And in fact she is paid well through tips. But her ACTUAL wages are something like 3 bucks an hour, and barely cover her taxes. So if for some reason (say a nasty snow storm) very few people come in on a given day she is expected to be there but not well compensated. For this reason I always feel badly shorting a tip: after all, I might be causing someone to receive less than minimum wage that hour. I've gotten to the point where I expect to pay 18 percent no matter what. Yesterday we went to a restaurant that happened to be the only one in a small town open on Easter Sunday. They were slammed and clearly understaffed. The waitress made several errors (forgetting our drink orders, and then when reminded she brought me the wrong drink). DH insisted on paying only 15 percent tip because of the screw-ups...and I felt guilty. I probably shouldn't, because she was plenty busy and I'm sure made good money that morning...but otoh it WAS a holiday at least for some and she was working her tail off.

              1. re: janetofreno

                I think your post provides some evidence to support my point that American tipping patterns do not provide an incentive. You and your partner's difference between a "normal" tip and a tip for poor service is just 3%. I often read similar stories whenever tipping is discussed on the board.

                1. re: Harters

                  "I think your post provides some evidence to support my point that American tipping patterns do not provide an incentive."

                  They do if you know how to game the system, and bigger tippers can actually save themselves money and get better service at the expense of lesser tippers. But most people are clueless about that and just argue about decorum. Is it 15, 18, or 20 percent? Not going to make a huge amount of difference when it comes to the level of service.

                  1. re: Harters

                    "I think your post provides some evidence to support my point that American tipping patterns do not provide an incentive. "

                    That's because Janet is a nice person. The problem is servers know if they mess up badly enough, they can be totally screwed. Not given a tip at all.

                    Call me a commie but I think restaurants above a certain amt. of gross revenue (and chains, obviously) should just have to pay servers minimum wage. Or, since they aren't even getting paid minimum wage, the IRS should say their tips are non-taxable "gifts" we are giving them because we feel sorry for them!

                    1. re: Fin De Fichier

                      Wouldnt regard your view as at all left-wing.

                      In most westernised countries (and even in some American states) minimum wage is wage minimum. Tips, service charge payouts, annual bonus, etc are all regarded as "extra". By the by. where I am, most restaurant servers get paid above minimum wage (albeit many by not very much) and we have a general custom of a 10% tip level (although it is always entirely discretionary and many people tip less or not at all).

                  2. re: janetofreno

                    You're right about that, janetofreno. Many of my friends worked for years as servers. They made something like 2-3 bucks an hour and no health insurance. It's a tough job.

                    My husband and I probably over tip but that's ok. Our minimum is 20% + $1. Not sure how we came up with that formula but it works for us.

            2. I just assume that this is done on purpose and that the establishment either does not accept or does not expect tips. To use a couple chains as an example, Nando's Peri Peri and Corner Bakery are both places that you order at the counter but that actually have someone delivering your food to you as opposed to you picking it up at the counter. Neither of them have tip lines on their receipts, or even actually have you sign the receipt.

              1. They know this because that's how they've set up their system. If it's counter service then they likely neither expect nor will accept a tip.

                What makes you think they didn't think it through? They probably thought about it heavily and decided you shouldn't have to bribe someone to get decent service.

                2 Replies
                1. re: acgold7

                  The OP notes that it's an "ethnic" restaurant so I'm sure youre right that, in their culture, you don't need to bribe someone and they've brought that to America with them. Good for them!

                  1. re: acgold7

                    Well, actually I was thinking that a bank or a processor set up the credit card system for them, and just assumed that they were not actually serving food there since it is a bakery. And it is a Mexican bakery. Now, admittedly its been a while since I lived in Mexico, but I seem to recall that tipping is customary in that country (and at least when I lived there so were bribes, but that's a whole other topic:-) What I meant by the ethnic comment is that maybe tipping is only customary in their part of the world in establishments that are primarily restaurants and not primarily bakeries...

                    Actually, maybe they intended originally to just be a bakery, and then decided to add food service later. After all, the store was a restaurant previously, so maybe the tables and restrooms were already there. And it is true that they have yet to have an actual menu...just hand-printed signs with specials and not always those. So maybe the food service WAS an after-thought. Still, I felt badly at leaving without a tip, especially considering our food was brought out on real plates (no paper items...)