How to ask for optional service charge 12.5% to be taken off?

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  • gunsandbanjos
    gunsandbanjos Posts: 12,246 Forumite
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    Blimey, if it's really like that, I'm glad I'm not a waitress :rotfl::rotfl:

    It is indeed like that unfortunately! Big tables really are a nightmare, people forgetting what they ordered, claiming the wrong food which is one of my biggest bugbears.
    I had a big table of guys do that last weekend, 10 of them all ordering steaks, all cooked differently and with different sides, one guy claimed the wrong one and consequently one of the other guys didn't get the right food so sent it back to be redone which meant more work for the kitchen and the table probably thinking its my fault.
    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
    Bertrand Russell
  • jordanchaos
    jordanchaos Posts: 179 Forumite
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    HappyMJ wrote: »
    I say. "Sorry, I'm eating here on business expenses and my company does not allow tips on the bill to go through on expenses and I can't afford it".
    .
    Solid excuse. Nice one.
  • PeteW
    PeteW Posts: 1,213 Forumite
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    Pretty sure that on the chip and pin terminals if you press 'cancel' or 'back' it goes to the previous screen where it asks you to enter the amount so if the service has been bad, just change it to the pre-tip amount.
  • Jew
    Jew Posts: 276 Forumite
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    PeteW wrote: »
    Pretty sure that on the chip and pin terminals if you press 'cancel' or 'back' it goes to the previous screen where it asks you to enter the amount so if the service has been bad, just change it to the pre-tip amount.

    Interesting!

    Can anybody verify?

    Doesn't the restaurant normally have to include it's own PIN to do so?
  • Guifre
    Guifre Posts: 23 Forumite
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    I work as a waiter, and I have 15 years experience as a restaurant manager. The chain in which I currently work adds an optional 10% service charge to the bill for tables of 8 or more. Every penny of this goes to the waiter or waitress who serves the table, as do all other tips that they receive.

    In restaurants that charge service on large tables, and allow the server to keep it, it's because tips are a significant proportion of a server's wage, and if their section on a given night is six small tables, they will almost certainly make reasonable tips from two-thirds of those tables. If however they serve one large table there's the risk of no tip/a poor tip, and no other tables to help them to recoup. Large tables are significantly less likely to tip, and also significantly less likely to tip a 'standard' amount - let's say 10% for the sake of argument. The reasons for this are many and complex, but it's easily provable by observation. In these cases the addition of an optional service charge increases the likelihood that the server won't have poor tips that night because of one large table. It tends to remind people that a tip would be appreciated, or strengthen the case of the members of the group who are suggesting that everyone 'put a pound in for the waiter'. You get the idea.

    The question of whether we 'should' tip is a complex one. I won't go too deeply into it on this occasion. Suffice to say, waiting staff tend to be obliged to work unsociable hours, precisely when needed, including split shifts, and rarely the number of hours that makes minimum wage anywhere approaching enough to live on. Except over Christmas, of course, when 60-70 hours is normal, just for one week. If you imagine that tips are an unnecessary bonus, then I would recommend that you try being a waiter. If you think it's mindless and /or easy, I would say that it can be easy to be a bad waiter. But then you shouldn't tip a bad waiter anyway.

    It's not a living wage without tips. You can blame this on the restaurant's pay structure if you like, but is that a reason not to tip the waiter? And with reference to other minimum wage jobs, I think it's obvious why handing food over a counter does not warrant tipping. I've done it and it does not even approach the challenge of waiting tables. Nor did the 8-5 office job I held, with the benefit of guaranteed hours, a decent lunch break and evenings and weekends off. You get the idea - it's a can-of-worms kind of discussion but I believe there are more people that agree with tipping waiting staff, than disagree, in this country. In fact I could prove it.

    I certainly am aware of chains and independents where service and/or tips do not go to waiting staff. This is contrary to the (far from widespread) industry Fair Tips Charter. If you want to know where tips and/or service charges go, ask your waiter - they will probably be able to give you an honest answer. Paying anything more than the menu prices to the restaurant, or to reasonably-paid managers (who enjoy salaries and more perks) is probably wrong in most people's books. Paying a tip or service where some goes to e.g. the chefs is more of a grey area, but please bear in mind that in the places where they don't receive a share, they tend to get a higher hourly rate, and typically a chef can expect enough hours on which to live in any case - not true of front of house staff.

    To come back to the original thread, any restaurant that makes you feel uncomfortable about taking off the optional service charge is somewhere you might not want to return to. It should never be a way of increasing the restaurant's profits. However, please consider leaving a cash tip for the server instead, if you have enjoyed their service and company. Particularly if they have gone out of their way to make sure you left happy. And if you're not sure where tips and/or service goes, just ask.
  • Guifre
    Guifre Posts: 23 Forumite
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    Just a quick response to PeteW: please don't encourage people to start programming chip and pin machines themselves - the staff are trained to do that properly, not the customer. Also, many machines cancel the transaction if your instructions are followed. Clearly, the correct solution is to question the amount if it's not correct, before the member of staff starts to process the transaction on the machine.
  • Jew
    Jew Posts: 276 Forumite
    edited 21 August 2012 at 11:27AM
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    One question, why did you decide to make an account only to reply to posts only about waiting staff and tipping on this forum? (You have 3 posts at the time I'm writing.)

    Everyone, be skeptical:

    It sounds awfully like a major restaurant chain looking through forums and replying to negative posts. Almost every major business does this. Especially suspicious when writing such lengthy posts...
    Guifre wrote: »
    I work as a waiter, and I have 15 years experience as a restaurant manager. The chain in which I currently work adds an optional 10% service charge to the bill for tables of 8 or more. Every penny of this goes to the waiter or waitress who serves the table, as do all other tips that they receive.

    That's not the case in most large chains in the UK — I've asked the staff. Most of the tip goes to the restaurant, managers and chefs.
    In restaurants that charge service on large tables, and allow the server to keep it, it's because tips are a significant proportion of a server's wage, and if their section on a given night is six small tables, they will almost certainly make reasonable tips from two-thirds of those tables. If however they serve one large table there's the risk of no tip/a poor tip, and no other tables to help them to recoup. Large tables are significantly less likely to tip, and also significantly less likely to tip a 'standard' amount - let's say 10% for the sake of argument.

    Maybe the service was bad? Why do you assume that the only factor is the fact that it's a large group? If anything, if the group tips 5%, then that just basically makes it into a collection of regular tables, where some people tipped, and some didn't.

    I find that waiters in the UK aren't comfortable with serving large groups. They are much better in the US, for example.

    In the US, they really work for the tip. I can't say that for the UK.
    The reasons for this are many and complex, but it's easily provable by observation. In these cases the addition of an optional service charge increases the likelihood that the server won't have poor tips that night because of one large table. It tends to remind people that a tip would be appreciated, or strengthen the case of the members of the group who are suggesting that everyone 'put a pound in for the waiter'. You get the idea.

    I think all it does is puts peer pressure on people to tip — even people who don't want to tip (because they found the service bad/rude/nothing special), but don't want to look "cheap" in front of their friends, when it's actually a matter of principle.

    So many bad waiters are rewarded by automatically added tips because there's an awkward social barrier to have it removed — needing to ask and providing reason. (It takes a toll. We British tend to stay away from awkward confrontational situations more than, for example, southern European nations.)
    The question of whether we 'should' tip is a complex one. I won't go too deeply into it on this occasion. Suffice to say, waiting staff tend to be obliged to work unsociable hours, precisely when needed, including split shifts, and rarely the number of hours that makes minimum wage anywhere approaching enough to live on. Except over Christmas, of course, when 60-70 hours is normal, just for one week. If you imagine that tips are an unnecessary bonus, then I would recommend that you try being a waiter. If you think it's mindless and /or easy, I would say that it can be easy to be a bad waiter. But then you shouldn't tip a bad waiter anyway.

    Don't be a waiter if you don't like the job, what can I say...
    It's not a living wage without tips. You can blame this on the restaurant's pay structure if you like, but is that a reason not to tip the waiter? And with reference to other minimum wage jobs, I think it's obvious why handing food over a counter does not warrant tipping. I've done it and it does not even approach the challenge of waiting tables. Nor did the 8-5 office job I held, with the benefit of guaranteed hours, a decent lunch break and evenings and weekends off. You get the idea - it's a can-of-worms kind of discussion but I believe there are more people that agree with tipping waiting staff, than disagree, in this country. In fact I could prove it.

    Fact is, restaurants can afford to pay their waiters more. The reason they don't is because they want to keep more of the profits.

    Now, if I wanted to donate money to help waiters I would do so, but I think there's other charitable causes where that money would be more useful than here, in a highly developed country with a high minimum wage, free healthcare, etc.

    Restaurants know that by making people feel bad about not tipping will solve the problem you describe — a problem they caused.

    The solution is for you guys need to unionize and let the cause of the problem know your thoughts.

    I don't think the solution is adding 12.5% onto every bill. You won't get returning customers if they feel ripped off after bad service if asking for it to be removed wasn't easy.
    I certainly am aware of chains and independents where service and/or tips do not go to waiting staff. This is contrary to the (far from widespread) industry Fair Tips Charter. If you want to know where tips and/or service charges go, ask your waiter - they will probably be able to give you an honest answer. Paying anything more than the menu prices to the restaurant, or to reasonably-paid managers (who enjoy salaries and more perks) is probably wrong in most people's books. Paying a tip or service where some goes to e.g. the chefs is more of a grey area, but please bear in mind that in the places where they don't receive a share, they tend to get a higher hourly rate, and typically a chef can expect enough hours on which to live in any case - not true of front of house staff.

    The reason I go to restaurants is for the food, not for how my waiter looks or acts — I think chefs getting higher pay is justified. They've also endured more expenses: various courses, schooling, usually a lot of past experience, etc.
    To come back to the original thread, any restaurant that makes you feel uncomfortable about taking off the optional service charge is somewhere you might not want to return to. It should never be a way of increasing the restaurant's profits. However, please consider leaving a cash tip for the server instead, if you have enjoyed their service and company. Particularly if they have gone out of their way to make sure you left happy. And if you're not sure where tips and/or service goes, just ask.

    I agree with this. But again, leaving a cash tip does not mean it goes to the waiter. From my experience, and I've asked, many chains get most of the money from the tip pot — very little is left for the waiters. I don't want to support that system.
  • lazer
    lazer Posts: 3,402 Forumite
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    How many waiters/waitresses do you think declare a cash tip for tax purposes?

    I disagree with tipping, this country has a NMW, so therefore no-one is very low paid.

    At one stage when i was workiing in a shop on NMW, and serving customers, going beyond the job description, carrying things to cars, wrapping presents for them etc, also on my feet all day.

    If I went out for dinner, I didn't tip the waiters as they were on a hourly rate as me.

    Nowadays, I will still only leave a small tip - usually rounding the amount of the bill up accordingly, for example if the bill came to £37 - £38 I would leave £40.

    To me serving me is part of the waiters job, and a tip should be given if she/he does more than is required of them eg: If i wanted something not on the menu, if they got a phone number for a taxi etc, then they deserve a tip,

    I don't think percentage tipping is correct, is it any extra work for the waiter to serve me a lobster (costing £30), or a roast dinner (costing £10). in both cases the waiter carries on plate to the table.
    Weight loss challenge, lose 15lb in 6 weeks before Christmas.
  • Jew
    Jew Posts: 276 Forumite
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    Agreed completely:
    lazer wrote: »
    How many waiters/waitresses do you think declare a cash tip for tax purposes?

    I disagree with tipping, this country has a NMW, so therefore no-one is very low paid.

    At one stage when i was workiing in a shop on NMW, and serving customers, going beyond the job description, carrying things to cars, wrapping presents for them etc, also on my feet all day.

    If I went out for dinner, I didn't tip the waiters as they were on a hourly rate as me.

    Nowadays, I will still only leave a small tip - usually rounding the amount of the bill up accordingly, for example if the bill came to £37 - £38 I would leave £40.

    To me serving me is part of the waiters job, and a tip should be given if she/he does more than is required of them eg: If i wanted something not on the menu, if they got a phone number for a taxi etc, then they deserve a tip,

    I don't think percentage tipping is correct, is it any extra work for the waiter to serve me a lobster (costing £30), or a roast dinner (costing £10). in both cases the waiter carries on plate to the table.
  • Guifre
    Guifre Posts: 23 Forumite
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    Hi.
    In response to Jew, I joined the forum because I'm interested in consumer issues. Like many people I have more in-depth knowledge, and indeed interest, in things I regularly experience. I work in a restaurant, and I love to eat out.

    My replies are lengthy, I imagine, because that's the way my mind works, and because arriving late at a thread often means there's a lot that one might want to respond to. Additionally, see above about having extensive experience of the particular subject matter.

    I appreciate and respect your opinions. I do, however, find your tone fairly aggressive and aimed mainly at rubbishing my own opinions. It's surely not difficult to acknowledge that there are strong points on both sides of the argument - or else everyone, or no-one, would tip, all of the time.

    Your experience of 'who gets the tip' seems not to contradict my experience, only to add more data to the sample. I don't believe that you can say what happens in 'most large chains in the UK'.

    Also I would hate to think that people who tip are doing so out of peer pressure. It's not the case in my opinion. And, with respect, going to a restaurant 'just for the food' puts you in a minority - most people rate the atmosphere and service very highly in any survey that you care to observe. Again, though, it's a valid opinion as far as your personal case goes.

    But although we disagree, I appreciate that you have revealed your opinions to me, and I hope you appreciate mine. Sadly, it seems that you do not.

    One last thing - please don't wheel out the 'if you don't like the work, do something else' line. Not everyone is blessed at every point in their life with boundless choice about what options they have for earning a living. It's a throwaway comment that some (not me) would actually find offensive.

    Lazer - cash tips do not need to be declared. Tip earners have the fact reflected in their tax codes.

    Again thanks for your opinions. I think the NMW point and the fact that other jobs have similar needs and challenges is fair comment, but I don't think it necessarily trumps every argument for a tipping culture. And if everyone rounded up the bill in the way you suggest, I would make somewhat more in tips than I do now ;-)
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