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NAME AND SHAME. Restaurant service charges

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Praise, Vent & Warnings
227 replies 112.9K views
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  • atotoriatotori Forumite
    36 posts
    There was a big employment law case a while ago which made it quite clear where law stands on this matter. At half three in the morning the names of 'who verses who' escape me, but I'll try to dig the information out of my memory bank.

    The ruling on the case boiled down to a few points relevant to this discussion.

    Number One is that a company is responsible for making sure that any tips received by staff are declared and taxed as income. To do this they have to have some kind of formal collecting, recording and re-distributing senario in place.

    Number two (and this is the really nasty one) employees have no rights to the tips above and beyond their contractual wage. This means that a company can (within the law as highlighted by this case) collect together all the tips their employees are given and put the money towards the normal expence of paying staff taxed wages.

    Technically a waiter could be given £100 in tips a week, hand it over to the company for the reasons above, but see nothing extra on his payslip at the end of the month. If the company can demonstrate that collective tips have gone into paying collective basic salaries, the law is satisfied.

    Fortunately most service companies either don't know this, or arn't quite that heartless, and either

    a) do distribute (some or all) tips into employee's pay on top of the contractual wage ... or
    b) in particularly warm-blooded establishments they operate a 'don't tell us you get tips and we won't have to do anything about it' policy. This informal policy is usually upset when somebody points out all the staff behind the scenes contribute to the service but don't share in the tip rewards. This is the main problem with tips not being pooled and shared formally.

    The main problem with pooling tips, for taxing and re-distribution, is that they quickly grow into amounts of money which can generate feelings of greed and naughtiness in the very people trusted to manage them honorably. So you do get cases of restaurant managers quietly helping themselves to fistfulls before handing the pot over to the bean-counters ... or directors / owners wanting it for their business and looking for ways to justify paying as little as possible back out to staff.

    There are a lot of mean-spirited practices that crop up in the service world. One of the worst I've heard of so far is that if customers run off without paying some establishment take the customer's bill out of the wage of the service person who waited on the customers... because, according to the company, the waiter is responsible for the customers slipping away without paying.

    One of the places exposed for this practice on TV was Planet Hollywood !!! Can you imagine how much of your salery you could loose if a table of 4 sneeked off without paying in that place! I can't remember when going out for a family or friends meal came to less than £100 and that's at Pizzahut !

    anyhow that's my 10 pence in the discussion ring...night all
    Sometimes you wake up grumpy ... but if you're wise, you'll let her sleep in.
  • atotoriatotori Forumite
    36 posts
    gemsurf2 wrote:
    I refuse to tip - people should be doing their jobs to a good standard anyway shouldn't they?
    Nobody tips me in my job!

    You are absolutally right gemsurf2 ... tell you what we'll do then, we'll harmonise all employment contracts so that nobody gets anything that you don't get. That will make things much fairer, remove the need to disuss the issue of tipping in the service industry; and it will solve lots of other complicated employment issues as well. I can see the employee - employer conversations now...
    "What do you mean you need a petrol allowance? I don't care how many 1000's of miles you travel on company business, gemsurf doesn't get travel expences to do her / his job to a good standard ... so you're not getting any either!"
    "Bonus you say? isn't that like a tip, but from the company for good service? ... just because you've made the company an extra ten thousand above your target doesn't mean you deserve to see any of it. gensurf2 says it's your job to sell to the best of your ability for us and we say in return for your efforts it's our job to pay you as little as we think we can get away with".
    My belief is simply this. Everybody should be able to go home at the end of a days work (or nights work) and have no reason to feel underpaid or under apreciated for the work they have just done.

    Does it really matter in what form or manner the pay and apreciation is given, as long as it is given and is meaningful to the recipient?

    gemsurf2, I think you should consider tipping people for good service when you receive it. If nothing else, it is an act of generosity and respect for their efforts and at least helps to balance out the unhappiness service staff can feel when they are treated badly by other customers (which is a surprisingly large minority).

    ... but even more importantly I think people should start giving you gifts (of something you value) for a job well done on their behalf too. And because you clearly have a strong work ethic, you would be given lots gifts and they would make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.... until some manager took them off you so that the company could take a large bite... but I digress.

    Ok ... I'm definately going to bed now, before I fall off my soap box!
    Sometimes you wake up grumpy ... but if you're wise, you'll let her sleep in.
  • SidB_2SidB_2 Forumite
    3.3K posts
    Personally i really believe that if restaurant menus were priced as you suggest (from someone that does know how much that would be) no-one but the uber rich would eat out, unless the quality of the food was rubbish and therefore cheaper.
    Whilst I agree with the sentiments in the rest of your post I can't agree with this generalisation. If I understand you correctly, the bottom line cost remains the same however the service charge is added.
    Every silver lining has a cloud...

    Feb 2009 - Won a pole dancing lesson - Too bad I'm a 45-year old beer gutted male !!
  • IvanOpinionIvanOpinion Forumite
    20.6K posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Why is that some people say 'I don't Tip' with pride? I would be embarassed to say this out loud particularly in relation to establishments that make it very clear that 'service charge is NOT included'.

    According to the Americans 'TIP' comes from the phrase 'To Insure Promptness' and they felt it was the only way that they could get good service. When we first started going to America for holidays there was a major difference in the service in their restaurants versus our restaurants - the waitresses were freindly, looked clean and went the extra mile to make your dining experience enjoyable (versus our waitresses that had a fag butt hanging out of their mouth, a pinney that looked like it hadn't been washed since the coronation and were only capable of making grunting noises). Nowadays our service industry has come along way and there are very few restaurants that do not offer equal if not better service (or maybe I should say 'very few that I would go into').

    Oh, and it came back to me about one of the reasons why the restaurant kept some of the tip. It was to cover things like fresh flower table decorations, candles etc. Things that provided the general ambience making the dining experience more enjoyable.... I can live with that.

    One problem I have seen is that some establishments using the chip'n'pin don't have a gratuity line and if the card has gone through first then you can't leave a tip ... unless you have some change (I am like royalty and never carry change) ... this has caught me out a couple of times.


    In any case it normally does not matter if you tip the waitress or tip the restaurant ... do whichever makes you feel better, just remember to tip if service charge has not been included.

    Ivan
    Ivan has left the building ... but reserves the right of reply!
    Use PM to keep in touch
  • morning all....

    i sighed a great sigh on reading gemsurfs comments.
    I do not think it is an "obligation" to tip. I certainly don't tip if the service and less so the food (i would ask that the offending dish be striked form the menu rather than make the wait staff suffer)is not up to scratch.

    i would never expect a tip, or expect other people to tip, it is their choice, a choice that, should menu pricing change as outlined above, would be taken away.

    Ato is right about a bonus. I currently work in an establishment which has several types of different restaurant, table service, self service, bars and coffee shops all under one roof. my chefs who work in the table service ones get a cut of the tips, the ones who work in self service do not. they are bonused on performance (ie % of turnover, Food hygiene audit results, making budget etc)
    I, being in charge of all outlets, do not receive tips, i also get bonused on the above, PLUS staff turnover, it is part of my job to look after my chefs and i do that to the best of my ability, but should i do it in such a way that it shows on paper (ie the finance and HR people can look at how many people left the business), if it's not many it counts towards my bonus.
    i know my dad, who worked in the finance sector, used to get a bonus based on turnover and sales figures.
    point is, bonus's are a regular occurance all over the working world. The good thing about the tips system is that is actually the End Service Receiver, the one person more qualified than anyone to judge whether the service provider has done enough to earn a bonus, pays it direct (or not, in the case of bad service).

    If you had two job interviews for two jobs that were the same, both paying the market rate for you skills and experience, but one employer offered to pay you a bonus either monthly or annually based on performance, and the other did not, and you were offered both jobs......................i know which one i would take.

    To say "you don't tip, ever" is to make a sweeping statement that no-one everis worth thanking for going as Ivan puts it, that extra mile.

    Many many people are bonused, and the issue of how that is paid out is just as cloudy sometimes as the issue of tipping.
    That doesn't mean we shouldn't tip, what it means is we have the choice. Just like we make the choice to go out and eat, so then we pay for the food on the menu.

    If menu prices were increased like this, what about self service places like pizza huts buffet, or harvesters salad bar? or more confusingly a carvery lunch where you go and get your meal but the meat is professionaly carved by a skilled chef and the plates are cleared and the drinks served by wait staff.
    In these places YOU are doing a percentage of the work because of the nature of the establishment, so then what percentage should the menu price rise by?

    it would end up more confusing than the confusion and disclarity you claim is rife now.

    Menu prices reflect the prices of the food, drinks menus the prices of the wine/other drinks. The price you pay does include the % of profit the establishment needs to pay the staff and other bills. If you then choose NOT to leave a gratuity, the that is your right and choice.
    The thread is not about the ethics of tipping in essence, it is about the poor ethics of some operators who do confuse the matter by adding what they think they need to tip their staff without giving you a say in it.

    As i said at the start, i totally agree with Martin with regards this dispicable practice of adding xx% automatically.
    To tip, or not to tip, it's your choice, not the restaurants, and they should not pressure you into it, if you believe in tipping and the service deserves it, then please do, you will be making a hard worker very happy. if you don't believe in tipping whatever then don't, it's that simple!

    BTW the above post is correct about abusive customers, sometimes this ranks up there with the abuse that police, and NHS staff amongst others have to deal with.
    I'm a chef, i could NEVER be a waiter, i don't have the "people skills" :-)

    Oh and Sid, bottom lines costs are always changing due to the transient nature of the seasons and food quality. The point i was trying to make was, that if restauranteurs upped their menu prices and made it clear "do not tip, the entire cost of your dining experience is included in the price you pay", they may try to compensate for less diners due to high menu prices by lowering the quality of their ingredients and/or the quality of the staff you didn't see (amongst other cost saving measures that might make you sick!:-))

    ta muchly

    Ace
    Talon "Ace" Karrde
    the more i see, the more i know, the more i know, the less i understand
  • student100student100 Forumite
    1.1K posts
    Tips should be strictly optional and, in my opinion, a reward for excellent service above and beyond the normal level you would expect. The basic level of service should be paid for by menu prices etc, not by tips. (You wouldn't think of leaving a tip in Sainsburys, but there are still staff working very hard there providing the service. The cost of this is covered by the "menu" (i.e. shelf-edge) prices of the products. If someone went above and beyond the call of duty you might consider rewarding them somehow, but otherwise they're just doing their job for which you hope they're being paid a reasonable wage.)

    The same priniciple should apply in restaurants etc. Menu prices should cover the basic costs of providing the meal - the food, the cooking, the presentation (yes, the candles and napkins and everything too), the dishwashing etc. That way every staff member would get their fair share.

    But if you feel that the service from your particular wait staff was exceptional, give them a tip. If you think the meal tasted much better than you could have expected, then tip the chef. If the plates are cleaner than you could possibly dream of, tip the dishwasher...

    Service charges should never be added by the restaurant as a percentage onto the bill - I'm sure the staff work just as hard whether you buy an expensive meal or a cheap one. The basic level of service should be included in the menu price - any exceptional service can be rewarded by the customer, if they wish, in the form of a tip.
    student100 hasn't been a student since 2007...
  • nickinoonickinoo Forumite
    617 posts
    So many points in the previous postings that I agree with. The rounding up of the bill & leaving a huge tip really bugs me (but of course that is not the waiters fault), we did this at Xmas & in the end after considering the service etc took enough money out of the tip to buy a round if drinks in the pub next door but still left the waitress with a nice little sum.

    I was in Pizza hut the other week & sorting my little one out & the waitress said "have you paid for your meal yet as if you leave 1st that comes out of my wages", I was shocked at this as we were talking the lunchtime buffet which was really hectic.
  • yay to the student who gets it!!

    love at YOU!
    Talon "Ace" Karrde
    the more i see, the more i know, the more i know, the less i understand
  • Ah to be taken back to previous days when I was in Australia. Tipping is just not the done thing in Australia. NO ONE expects it so no one does. You might very occasionally tip if you had some exceptional service where someone went completely out of their way for you. :T

    When I was back there on holiday a few years ago with some English friends, I actively encouraged them not to tip. I would hate to see the restaurant industry in Australia go into the tipping spiral. Once one place starts doing it, others will catch on and then we'd see restaurants starting to exploit service staff by paying less and telling them that they should rely on tips more.
  • John_GrayJohn_Gray Forumite
    5.6K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    ✭✭✭✭
    In Pizza Express yesterday the Chip-and-Pin Card Machine actually asked me how much Gratuity I would like to give, before I entered my PIN!

    I declined, and left the equivalent on the table for the pleasant waitress from New Zealand. I hope she got it?
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