Here’s a Tip, Stop Leaving One

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Published December 11, 2019
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The Montclarion
Joy Velasco | The Montclarion

He grabbed his two kids and stormed out of the restaurant, the check on the table was left untouched.

He got away with a free meal, and I was left with no tip.

I was recently hired as a server at a pizza restaurant and this is the reality that my coworkers and I face on a daily basis — moody customers and unreliable tips.

That is why I believe tips should be eliminated entirely.

This customer in particular became impatient when he noticed something was wrong on his check. Instead of waiting for my manager to fix the problem, he left and I lost a tip over a simple misunderstanding.

Tipping is a practice that has been around for centuries and while the idea behind tipping has stayed the same, the culture behind it has changed drastically.

In Europe, tipping over 15% is considered excessive, especially if a service charge is already included on the bill.

Service charges differ from a tip in that a service charge is generally counted as a wage, whereas a tip is separate income. Many restaurants in Europe have a 10% service charge built into the menu and some restaurants in the US are only just starting to follow.

Also, in Europe, customers will only tip their server if they were given exceptional service. Customers accept that the server’s wage is already built into the check as the “service charge.”

The relationship between servers and customers can be complicated and honestly pretty awkward. For both parties, it is a power struggle. The customer is the “guest” and demands to be served politely and promptly, while the server tries to drive up the bill with alcohol or other expensive items.

In the end, the customer holds all the power because they determine how much their server will be tipped.

How is this fair for me, the server, when I could get stuck with a customer who is having a bad day?

I could give exceptional service and get pennies in return because someone is in a bad mood.

This is not just based on the customer. Sometimes the restaurant might be having a slow day or a slow week. How are we supposed to survive on a $2.60 wage with no tips to take home from any given night’s work?

I have worked nights where I served only one table and the rest of the time I stood around chatting with my coworkers. That is all fine, my coworkers are great, but at the end of the night, I am wasting my time.

Serving is challenging, but the bonds I create with some people are worth it. It is nice to see familiar faces who return for the third time in a month and remember your name. I have always enjoyed helping people out so that is why I chose to work at a restaurant.

Some people argue that without tips, restaurants will drive up prices on the menu because they will be paying their workers more. However, if you are used to leaving 20% tips, you would end up paying about the same amount for your meal.

Owner of Comal Restaurant, Andrew Hoffman, was profiled by Thrillist.com. After eliminating tipping and replacing it with a service charge at his restaurant, he found great success.

“Within the first week, I had servers coming up to me asking, ‘What have I gotta do to get a raise? How do I become more valuable?'” Hoffman said.

Some skeptics are worried that servers will become lazy and not tend to their tables as often, but I believe servers’ performances will only improve. Competition between co-workers’ wages will motivate servers to do their best.

If a server is caught slacking, they risk losing their job and being replaced by someone else. In other words, their job becomes highly valuable.

During a slow week at my job, my coworkers start to fight over tables in hopes of squeezing a $10 tip out of a customer’s pocket.

Just because leaving tips has become customary and so ingrained in Americans’ minds, does not mean we have to keep it that way.

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