Spurred on by this article, I got to thinking about tipping.
I have mixed views on this practice, as I’ve been on both sides of the issue. My first job was as a busgirl at a large, busy restaurant during the summer in a tourist area. I earned the grand sum of $4.75 an hour to clear off tables, collect trash, refill ketchup dispensers, clean washrooms, water plants…you get the idea. Since it was a buffet restaurant without wait staff, people generally did not tip (and I wouldn’t expect them to; I know I wouldn’t if I went to that sort of place). However, I got to know which tables to go clear off first, because the drivers/tour guides of those big bus tours always left a dollar or two on the table 🙂 I saved my “tips” in a jar, and by the end of the summer I believe I collected around $80- $90.
I’ve also eaten in a LOT of restaurants all around the world, from Hong Kong to Warsaw. I’ve gotten stellar service that I remember to this day (the waitress at the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando back in 2001 who divulged the “secret” of the Heinz glass ketchup bottle), and some really bad service (the guy at the Hard Rock Cafe in Montreal who told us as he saw us leaving the table after our meal, “You DO know tips aren’t included?” We promptly went back and took our tip right off the table). I firmly believe that a tip is a small amount of money that tells a server “Hey, you did a great job today”. I do NOT agree with many practices employed by eateries, such as instituting a mandatory “tip”, usually 15-20%. You can be sure that if I did not receive adequate service, I would be requesting the amount be removed from my bill. The article included above stated that a staff member informed people that the surcharges were to cover extra waitstaff, marketing costs, and janitorial staff; costs I believe that a) the owner/management should have snticipated ahead of time, and b) should not be passed onto the customer.
In short, I don’t believe in price-gouging, whether it be in the form of a mandatory tip or increased prices during a major event. I believe that a server has to earn his/her tip, and if they don’t earn it in my opinion, they aren’t going to get it. I’d love to hear what others think about this issue 🙂