Monday, September 13, 2004

Greedy bastards in the food service industry

A man in New York was arrested for leaving a small tip. He was displeased with the service whilst dining with a large group and refused to leave the full 18% mandatory tip for parties of six or more.

Mr. Taveras is my hero. Restaurants started adding on 15% to larger groups as a convenience factor a long time ago, and many have raised that amount to 18% or 20%. Rarely do large groups get 18% service, much less even 15%. How can a gratuity be mandatory? Webster's defines gratuity as something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service; especially : TIP. If it's mandatory, how can it be given voluntarily?

Taveras faces charges of theft of services. I wish him the best of luck in fighting these charges. A precedent needs to be set to protect consumers from excessively greedy restaurateurs.


Blogger finou said...

I hope the guy wins... I don't think that you should have to pay 18% tip just because you are in a large party. After all, tip is proportional to the bill and so waiters get more for larger parties anyway.

9/17/2004 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Requiring a certain percentage tip (particularly when they're as large as or larger than typically given) totally defeats the purpose of using tips as part of the compensation system for service workers.

Personally, I like having a significant dispersion in the tips that I leave. Otherwise, there's no incentive system.

9/22/2004 02:59:00 AM  
Blogger Jacob said...

18% is pretty high, but I know that, as a server this summer, I often got stiffed for providing very good service to parties of six or more. The problem is that parties that big require lots of attention, sometimes leaving other tables with less attention. I don't think that this man should have been arrested, but I certainly understand the principle behind the rule.

Jacob Gerber

10/05/2004 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

A couple of points, the IRS has a certain minimum tip income that must be reported (10%?). If I wait on a table with a $100 bill, I have to report at least $10 in income. Tipping less than that, in effect, requires the server to pay taxes on income he or she never received.

Also, minimum wage laws assume that servers will be making a substantial portion of their money from tips. Despite Webster's definitions, the reality is that tips in restaurants are assumed to compensate for lower wage rates.

Personally, I would like to see restaurants add 15% to the cost of items, pay their servers appropriately, and leave tips as a pure bonus for good service, but I doubt that sort of cultural change will be forthcoming.

I am interested, though, that an avowed Democrat, particularly a Massachusetts Democrat like Vincent, would take this sort of stance. If you support a "living wage", doesn't it make sense to tip well above 15% as a minimum? If a "living wage" is $15-20/hr, which is in the ball park for a large city like New York or Boston, surely you should be leaving 25% tips with some regularity...

10/22/2004 01:39:00 PM  

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