'tipping' in restaurants and other places

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Related, although slightly different: Labour of Love

Pret A Manger—a London-based chain that has spread over the past decade to the East Coast and Chicago—is at the cutting edge of what the Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild calls "emotional labor." Emotional because the worker doesn't create or even necessarily sell a product or service so much as make the customer experience a positive feeling. Labor because, as Hochschild wrote in The Managed Heart (1983), the worker must "induce or suppress [his or her own] feeling" to achieve the desired effect in others. Creepy as it sounds, emotional labor is a growing presence in this economy, coming soon to a fast-food outlet near you.

The British journalist Paul Myerscough flagged Pret's reliance on emotional labor in afascinating recent essay for the London Review of Books. (He called it "affective labor," a phrase borrowed from Marxist scholarship.)1 Pret workers, Myerscough noted, are required to master what the company calls the "Pret Behaviours," which in addition to the usual requirements—courtesy, efficiency, etc.—include "has presence," "creates a sense of fun," and "is happy to be themself" [sic]. (A list of the Pret Behaviours, posted on the company website before the London Review article appeared, has since been removed.)

Pret doesn't merely want its employees to lend their minds and bodies; it wants their souls, too. It will not employ anyone who is "here just for the money." Noting that one Pret worker in London got fired soon after he tried to start a union—the company maintained it was for making homophobic comments—Myerscough suggested the worker's true offense was being unhappy enough to want to start a union, since "Pret workers aren't supposed to be unhappy." The sin commenceth with the thought, not the deed.

 

Unionist

Michelle wrote:
Oh please!  You actually believe that she left a 17% CASH tip after writing that screed on the bill?

Well... I don't know. Maybe she didn't. Maybe you're right.

What difference does it make? It's a horrible incident where the wrong people are blamed for a horrible system.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Unionist, it seems like you're condoning not leaving tips. I know that's not your message but we must be careful. Until we are able to get our allies to join in the struggle we must ensure they're paid a living wage. We're all part of that. Sorry, if I can afford to eat out, that's expected. (I don't eat out)

 

I just see reason's to avoid tipping as right-wing drift. I try to tip 20% minimum if I can go out. They deserve to go out too.

Unionist

I agree with your stand, RP, but please read my posts and show me a single one where I suggested customers shouldn't leave tips.

It's the practice and system of tipping which I oppose. Don't you?

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Yes, sorry U, I apologize if I misconstrued where the conversation was going.

 

Like I said, you were never going in that direction but I was concerned the conversation was leaning that way.

 

I'm with you but it ain't practical right now, is it?...

 

We're forced to subsidize our indulgences.

 

And notwithstanding change, we need to recognize our allies, no? It's easy to tell them to Unionize. A lot harder in theory. Most are transient. I'm with you U, but how do we deal with the harsh realities?...

jas

I still disagree, and not just because I'm cheap. Kiss In fact the more I've thought about this, the less I feel the need to be peer-pressured into tipping more than I am comfortable with.

I don't owe someone else their living. It's not my problem or responsibility to "make things better" for someone who is underpaid in their job. I have had horrendous jobs that I have had to do for money. I have also taken very frightening financial risks in leaving or in refusing jobs because of the shitty conditions or pay they offer. We all have this choice. They are not easy choices. But I am not here to pick up the slack for an industry that guilts its clientele into supplementing its own payroll shortcomings. If a restaurant server is not happy with the money s/he is making, s/he will need - like anyone else - to look for something better. And her doing so, along with others doing so, will put pressure on that industry in the exact place it needs to change. That is how change will happen. Not by us guilting each other into bandaid solutions. Imo.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Hi jas. Sorry if I'm guilting. But if you can afford to go out, you can afford to tip.

 

If we foresake our sisters, so be it. They bear the brunt of the service industry, we can't forget that. Unionist is the most relevant but I'm afraid he has no dog in the fight.

 

Until we recognize, we'll plod along, everyone cut-throating each other?

 

I'm not trying to guilt anybody. I'm pretty poor myself and can't afford shit. But I recognize other workers.

 

And if I think I can afford a meal out those workers deserve a tip.

jas

Further to my above post, I think if you like tipping, if you like being generous with others, then by all means do so. But don't guilt others into doing the same if they don't want to. It's really none of your business. If you have a problem with the way a group is splitting the bill, suggest next time that you each pay separately.

I enjoy being generous when I feel inspired to be, not when someone is expecting me to be.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

It's so idealistic jas?

 

We need to come together.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Sorry jas, but you sound cheap and like people I don't like.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

And it is my business. You made it so...

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Typical Tommy the rest of the bill.

jas

Most people I've known working in the restaurant industry are doing so because of the money, not in spite of it. See the difference? If you work in the kind of restaurant where 18% tips are expected, it is not uncommon for you to take home $200 a night or more in tips. This is often (and currently) more than I make in an 8-hour day. But you want me to feel sorry for this person, who has chosen this job because of the money they can make? Why?

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

You seem bitter about folks helpimg themselves?

 

 

Yep, they make good money and they WORK for it? No?

 

And, yes, you should feel sorry for them. How you doin?

 

 

jas

No, Rev. I don't feel sorry for someone who makes more money than me. I feel happy for them, and I'm glad they are in a job they are enjoying. 

Sven Sven's picture

RevolutionPlease wrote:

We're forced to subsidize our indulgences.

Is your reference to "we" a reference to restaurant patrons?

Fidel

Unionist wrote:
I find this story less than shocking. Put all that righteous indignation into organizing a union. Otherwise, you never know what bullshit reason you'll be fired for next.

Post of the thread.

jas

And of course, with the penny now being phased out, my ability to tip within my comfort zone becomes ever further strained... Will it NEVER END?!??

ryanw

no amount of tipping is going make a meaningful difference to those really in need when trickled down to the kitchen staff. They're the ones making that lofty minimum wage but every night end up with less than 20-50% of the money that the servers took home from their 'unliveable' 5$/hr or whatever base pay. Servers are rich, they make significantly more than 4 year degrees in less hours per week.

maybe someone can modernize the restaurant experience to have customers order their meals with their phones and have the cooks bring it out, I think they have the capacity to carry a tray and take money.

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

To go even further, why not just robotize the dish washing experience and robotize the cooking as well? And have meals served by conveyer belt to a front desk where another robot can carry it to your table. Smile

Slumberjack

Ideally, as Unionist and others point out, fair remuneration for labour would negate having customers pick up the slack in compensation from the food and beverage industry.  For many people, an hour or so of sitting down in a restaurant constitutes a well earned treat from their own low paid existence.  The issue of tipping food and beverage workers is also of some significance for the minimum wage retail sector employee, the corporate chain convenience store clerk, gas station attendants, the shoe person at the bowling alley, the barber, the kid who delivers newspapers, drive through employees, etc.  If we apply the same standard everywhere, a day at the mall for example would require that a tidy sum be brought along just for the round of tips that might be incurred, on top of everything else.  We should feel the same way, and I suspect most of us do, about charity work in society and the circumstances making that necessary.  Where tips are concerned, the automatic inclusion of a set percentage as a non-negotiable part of the bill, in the same way as the tax portion of the bill is applied, is simply another way that the corporate world fleeces workers in our society while shirking responsibility to their employees in providing a living wage in return for labour, in order to enhance profit.  In a way, we abet these lecherous and unfair industry practices by providing cover through tips for inadequate compensation levels.  In essence, we let industry and government off the hook when we tip, in the same way that charity work does.  This is not to say that we shouldn’t tip, but that industry and politics should be held to account by both workers and the general public being expected to ante up for the sake of corporate and bourgeoisie profit margins, over and above markups as they exist.

jas

Boom Boom wrote:

To go even further, why not just robotize the dish washing experience and robotize the cooking as well? And have meals served by conveyer belt to a front desk where another robot can carry it to your table. Smile

Robots need tips too. What do you think they run on - love?

 

(Good post, SJ.)

Slumberjack

And the industry damn well knows what they're doing by allowing percentages to be coded in on their bill processing machines.  It's not the worker writing in their own percentage codes.  The percentage becomes the industry standard, at 10, 15, 17% or whatever, by and large as a top up to both low paid workers and low salary managers alike.

Caissa

I tip but I am very aware that what I am doing is perpetuating an exploitive system where the ultimate beenficiary is the owner.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'm  amazed we never see this subject brought up by progressive politicians. At least I haven't. Maybe they all feel it's a system that is frankly impossible to change.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The Living Wage Campaign speaks to the real issue.  A living wage for servers would make tips redundant.  In BC the activists have targeted municipalities and have had some success.  Maybe from there it can move into a campaign to make a living wage the minimum wage.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

When you mentioned The Living Wage Campaign, something clicked - I remember this being discussed somewhere. I'll have a look tomorrow, going to bed now.

Mr.Tea

Came across this article, written by someone who worked as a server in restaurants. http://jezebel.com/5982011/fuck-you-if-you-dont-tip-your-server

"There are 10,000,000 restaurant workers in America, and 2/3 of those earning sub-minimum wage are women. Even with tips, the average amount a restaurant worker brings home is $9/hour. If you're withholding those tips, how much do you think they're actually earning? The $2.13 minimum wage for servers hasn't changed since 1991.

So, no, there's absolutely no excuse for not tipping. If you think you have one, let's try to address the most common "reasons."

If you can't afford to tip at least 18 percent, then you cannot afford to eat out, period. No questions, no free "birthday" flan. Before going to a restaurant, look at the menu and do the calculations. If it's not in your budget, stay home and cook or choose a different restaurant. I'm not trying to beat you up for being poor, but servers are often living hand-to-mouth, too. If you clog up one of their tables and then don't tip, you have impeded their ability to make rent, buy groceries, and are potentially endangering them. It's not right."

Sven Sven's picture

Slumberjack wrote:

Ideally, as Unionist and others point out, fair remuneration for labour would negate having customers pick up the slack in compensation from the food and beverage industry.  For many people, an hour or so of sitting down in a restaurant constitutes a well earned treat from their own low paid existence.  The issue of tipping food and beverage workers is also of some significance for the minimum wage retail sector employee, the corporate chain convenience store clerk, gas station attendants, the shoe person at the bowling alley, the barber, the kid who delivers newspapers, drive through employees, etc.

Huh?

Today, if a meal costs $10 and the expected tip is, say, 15%, then you will pay $11.50 for the meal.  If tipping was banned and the restuarants had to pay a higher wage (to make up for the lost tips), then do you, for even a tiny instant, think that the restaurant wouldn't charge $11.50 for a tip-less meal??

There truly is no free lunch.

If the cost to the average patron would generally be the same in a tip versus tip-free environment, what tipping does is give a patron a say in the service (and gives the server an incentive to do well).  Who benefits from that?  Patrons.  And is the purpose of a restaurant to provide employment for servers or to provide service to patrons?

Sven Sven's picture

Mr.Tea wrote:

If you can't afford to tip at least 18 percent, then you cannot afford to eat out, period. No questions, no free "birthday" flan. Before going to a restaurant, look at the menu and do the calculations. If it's not in your budget, stay home and cook or choose a different restaurant.

That's pretty sounds advice.  And kind of a no-brainer.

jas

Yes, let's pin the problem on restaurant patrons. That is the easiest for now, and perhaps for always.

Gee, it's almost like this thread doesn't have five previous pages of discussion on this issue...!

Unionist

Sven wrote:

Today, if a meal costs $10 and the expected tip is, say, 15%, then you will pay $11.50 for the meal.  If tipping was banned and the restuarants had to pay a higher wage (to make up for the lost tips), then do you, for even a tiny instant, think that the restaurant wouldn't charge $11.50 for a tip-less meal??

Oh, so restaurant owners can charge whatever they want, without fear of losing customers to the competition. I'm surprised you can still get change from $100 at the local diner. FYI, it doesn't work that way.

Quote:
And is the purpose of a restaurant to provide employment for servers or to provide service to patrons?

Well... neither.

Tthe purpose of a restaurant - unless it's a charitable soup kitchen - is to allow the owners to make a living, maybe even a little extra (called profit). Absent that, it doesn't get established, and it doesn't carry on in business. Hiring staff and serving customers are a means to that end.

 

Sven Sven's picture

Unionist wrote:

Sven wrote:

Today, if a meal costs $10 and the expected tip is, say, 15%, then you will pay $11.50 for the meal.  If tipping was banned and the restuarants had to pay a higher wage (to make up for the lost tips), then do you, for even a tiny instant, think that the restaurant wouldn't charge $11.50 for a tip-less meal??

Oh, so restaurant owners can charge whatever they want, without fear of losing customers to the competition. I'm surprised you can still get change from $100 at the local diner. FYI, it doesn't work that way.

It doesn't work that way, huh?  Let's say the company that I work for makes a medical device and we compete with two other companies who have a very similar device...and all three companies sell their devices for $10,000.  Then, the goverment imposes a medical device tax of 3.5%.  If one of the other companies increases their price to $10,350 (to pass the tax on to their customers), we'd almost certainly do the same (as would the third competitor).  If we were willing to hold our price at $10,000, while our competitors increase their prices to $10,350, in order to be more competitive, we probably would have dropped our price before the new tax was implemented if we thought a price adjustment would have made competitive sense.  But, if a common tax is imposed on the status quo, competitors are likely pass that along to customers rather than suffer the cost themselves.

I've seen something similar with increased petrol prices.  We and our competitors, when petrol jumped to over $4 a gallon, started passing through fuel-surcharges to our customers.  And the customers ended up bearing the burden of the rise in petrol prices.

Same with sales taxes.  If the sale tax rate on retailers increases from 6% to 7%, you won't see retailers eating that extra 1%.  The customers will pay it.

I'm confident that the same thing would happen with restaurants if they were "taxed" with a requirement to increase wages and eliminate tipping.

Unionist wrote:

Quote:
And is the purpose of a restaurant to provide employment for servers or to provide service to patrons?

Well... neither.

Tthe purpose of a restaurant - unless it's a charitable soup kitchen - is to allow the owners to make a living, maybe even a little extra (called profit). Absent that, it doesn't get established, and it doesn't carry on in business. Hiring staff and serving customers are a means to that end.

I disagree.  The purpose of a restaurant is not to make the owner money.  The purpose of the restauarant is to serve meals to patrons.  If that purpose fails, then all other objectives and interests will fail.  The ancillary result (hopefully) for the owner is to make a profit and, from the employees' perspective, to earn a wage.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Sven wrote:

I disagree.  The purpose of a restaurant is not to make the owner money.  The purpose of the restauarant is to serve meals to patrons.  If that purpose fails, then all other objectives and interests will fail.  The ancillary result (hopefully) for the owner is to make a profit and, from the employees' perspective, to earn a wage.

The purpose of a restaurant is to make a living for the owner.  This is really quite below your usual Sven.  I cook to serve meals to the people in my family all the time.  My wife cooks large amounts of everything she cooks to feed not only ourselves but our extended family.  If either of us were going to cook beyond that it would be for patrons.  At that point it would either be for free and thus in a soap kitchen or something similar or it would be to earn a living.

One of my sister in-law owns a successful little restaurant and she bought it because she needed to earn a living. Strangely another sister in law bought a flower shop for the same reason.  Of course the reason they chose that method of trying to earn a living was because of their skills and interests. When the restaurant owner plans it is to have enough patrons to pay the bills and one of those bills in any proper business plan is the owners salary.  Restaurants come and go and when they cease to pay the bills beginning with the owners salary they close their doors or go bankrupt. The purpose is to earn a living. The product used to fulfill the purpose is the food and service.

Bacchus

Vancover requires 38k a year to live? You must have a huge amount of people below that

Roystonbones

 

 DP

 

Roystonbones

 

DP

 

 

Roystonbones

Most wait staff are paid the least in the restaurant because they are expected to make up thier income with tips. Some do and some don't. But they should not have to grovel to a customer in order to make sure the rent is paid. The customer is not always  right. What we should be talking about is a living wage.

Quote:

Working families need living wages to survive and prosper. And a 2012 report Working for a Living Wage, released
by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), calculates
Metro Vancouver's living wage at $19.14 an hour. In Victoria, it's $18.07 an
hour.

The minimum wage in BC is $10.25 per hour.

 

 

Roystonbones

Yes. I know people who work 2 jobs and some who work 3. They need to work more than one job to make ends meet. Tips included.

 

 

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