Eclectic Eccentricity

The assorted ramblings of Aunty Bertha - west coast socialist

Friday, August 19, 2005

Now how do we reward good service?

Mandatory tipping?

...Per Se is one of the top rated restaurants in the city [New York]. Management has decided to do away with tipping and has brought in a 20 percent service charge that is automatically added to the bill when its handed to you....

When did tipping become a service charge?

Tipping started off as a monetary choice for customers to show appreciation for good service. The choice was twofold; whether to tip, and if so, how much.

Tips were a bonus, not a necessity for survival. Nor were were they expected to be shared with other staff.

Then it became expected that a percentage be added when paying the bill to tip the server. Then came an expectation that the server must share the tips with the kitchen staff.

I have worked both as a server and as kitchen staff. I never felt that I should be tipped just because I was the server, let alone that I should be tipped a percentage of the bill. I felt that if I received a tip, it should be based on the quality of my service.

As a prep cook, it never occurred to me that I should recieve a portion of the server's tips just because I did my job.

I can't imagine someone saying, "oh and give this to the prep cook. The carrots in the soup were cubed to perfection."

I see restaurant owners looking upon tipping as an excuse to pay their workers less. When I go out for a meal, I expect the price of labour to be included. I do not expect to be arbitrarily charged 20% on top of my bill so that restaurant owners can get away with paying their staff less and themselves more.

Further, if we are charged extra on our bill as a service charge, should we tip in addition when we receive good service? Then will there become an expectation as to how much we should tip? Then will there become the expectation that the server should share the tips with the kitchen staff? Around and around it goes.

I still consider tipping a choice. While I always tip, how much depends entirely on the service. Good service always gets a good tip. Bad service gets a nickel.

As for restaurants that add a service charge to the bill? I'll take my business elsewhere.


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