Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Here We Go Again

"There is a consequence" is the forbidding slogan of a US website calledLousy Tippers, which I discovered via this piece on Eater.com. It's a forum for food delivery guys, waiters and the similarly employed to upload stories of bad tippers, shame them by listing their names and addresses and to append vengeful comments. These can get pretty furious. Of an address in New Hampshire, one user writes: "The guy here tips fine, the woman tips like shit. Maybe you'll get a warm 2l Coke next time." Elsewhere: "What kind of cheap ass leaves less than 10% tip? Go die." An Ohio man who left a $2 tip on a $30 bill finds himself succinctly glossed as a "fucking nightmare".
Publishing people's real addresses is wrong, of course, and the occasional flare-ups of racism on the site are thoroughly depressing. But I confess to feeling a good deal of sympathy for the principles behind Lousy Tippers. A waiter or deliveryman in the US likely earns under $3 an hour – they're heavily reliant on tips to secure a living wage. Absent a forum like this, he or she has no recourse to complain about bad customers or to reinforce the need for others to tip properly. The carrot of doing a job well has failed: it's time for the stick.

Undertipping is less of a problem in the UK, where most restaurants whack 12.5% on to every bill regardless and where there is, in general, less of a tipping culture. (If you've ever felt that service wasn't very good in New York, don't take it, as they say, personal – Brits are notorious there for being polite customers but terrible tippers, and some waiters don't try as hard at a table of British accents.) Nonetheless, there are British punters who routinely exercise their option to deduct optional service, even when nothing was wrong with the meal. They should be discouraged from doing so.
Gossip websites love to describe celebrities who fail to tip: Sean Penn reportedly failed to leave a cent after one $450 bill; John Kerry, it's claimed, once left a $20 tip on a $700 check. The actor Jeremy Piven is supposedly banned from Nobu restaurants after he almost unbelievably left a DVD of the TV show Entourage, in which he has a major role, instead of a tip.
Moreover, Lousy Tippers isn't the only place that waiters can complain about customers who undertip. The 15percent blog is full of smudgy photographs ofcheap tips. It also features helpful thoughts on tipping from staff themselves, explaining things from a waiter's point of view.
And that's surely the point. Eating out is a contract between staff and punter, and the latter should willingly pay a fair price if the food and service have been good. The customer will be the first to kvetch on Yelp or TripAdvisor if they feel their waiter has underperformed: though Lousy Tippers takes the reverse too far, it shows there is indeed a consequence.
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Plenty of yellow (and I was restrained) but first off, this article seemed to be anonymous and I couldn't ascertain if the author(ess) was American or British.  Why not make this clear and at least provide a name for the person who penned the piece?  Onwards:

1- the usual excuse trotted out and the contrite reply is usually "why is it my problem America doesn't have a minimum wage"?  To which I have still to hear a good argument.  Why can't waiting staff be as active as they are when bleating on about under tipping and campaign for a better salary?

But my preferred response is "so because you preferred to not bunk off school, have fun and not get an education, you now expect me to subsidise your life?  How about go back to night school, get some qualifications and a better paid job?

2- Wrong.  I do not offer my barman, bus conductor, shopkeeper, MP, mechanic, lollipop lady, teacher, vicar (should I use one), electrician, nurse, doctor- do I really need to go on- a 12% gratuity or any other kind of tip, simply for doing their job.

I tip for exemplary service and that does not include knowing my name, wishing me a "good day" or hovering around waiting to fill my water glass.  Now if that person tries to speak in English with me in a foreign land, that will always obtain a suitable stipend as I am immensely grateful but to carry my bag up in a lift and drop it into my room, when I have been lugging it from the airport and have it on my back?  Nope.

And notice the key word here, "optional".  Has the author forgotten its meaning?

3- No, I eat out and make a deal with the establishment.  How they run their restaurant is none of my concern in the least.  I check the menu to see if cost of food is fair and if I approve, I will dine there.  If I deem it unreasonable, I'll be going elsewhere.  But I expect good service as the norm as this is what the restaurant pays its staff for.  If they don't like it, see #1 above.

Plenty more in this but too bored now.  Check the readers' comments at the end, the majority are also getting sick to death of these hidden taxes.

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