You Said It: What if Server Tips Were Eliminated?

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A couple of days ago, we asked Facebook fans to weigh in on the idea of no tipping for servers. Would the experience be better or worse? There are other countries in which tipping is not even allowed. If servers were paid a regular wage and not made to rely on tips, would service be improved overall, or would it suffer?

See what some had to say; visit the Facebook post to include your own feedback.

Laura Sheppardson It seems that many restaurants have been doing this successfully for years. Check out the FAQs here for example. Many of our assumptions are not borne out in fact.

Jim Moore You would get the same service you get at McDonalds.

Amy Beene I was a server for 6 years and a bartender for 4 so I feel like I have some experience on both sides of the argument. Personally, even though it used to pay my bills, I don’t like the tipping system. I think I would IF IT WORKED. But more and more progressively I think we are losing good service and a good tip becomes an EXPECTATION rather than a reward. I remember coworkers complaining when they only received 15% and feeling as though they probably deserved less since I heard what they said about their patrons behind they backs. I rarely feel blown away by service I receive… and for what I tip… I feel like I should receive EXCEPTIONAL service. But what i get is just mediocre. I want my server to be knowledgeable, kind, and efficient. If not, I reserve the right to tip less. I feel like a tip should be optional. I would like to tip you if you are good. Not because you expect me to. I would like to tip you because you are exceptional… NOT because i’m afraid you’ll complain to your coworkers about me or give me crappy service next time I come there. Furthermore, I don’t understand when people are talking about how restaurants would lose money if they abolished the tipping system. I kind of get that logistically, but I kind of feel like the prices of food are already pretty high. However, I don’t fully know what goes into opening and managing a restaurant so i’ll claim ignorance on that one. For the record we normally tip 20% and tip 25% to 30% for really good service. OR if its a place we like to frequent. IF someone gives me something for free (drink or appetizer) I tip the price of the free item plus 10-25% more (depending on the value of it and my bill) I tip outrageously because I used to love the feeling of cleaning off the table and seeing the check and being pleasantly surprised. It used to make my night. I want my servers to feel that same feeling HOWEVER, I often feel robbed of my generosity if that kind of tip is expected and not appreciated.

Mike Azlin Supposing the laws are still the same when I open my next restaurant, here is what I propose to do: I will price my menu as in the past, but then I will add some set amount (say 18%) to each and every item. Servers will have a base pay–nothing wrong with the current amount–and then they would get that percentage–or at least the largest slice of it. Let’s say that they get 15/18, and the other three would go to support. NONE would go to cooks/management. Servers would still be motivated to preform –pre-bus those tables so they can be turned!! I’m totally against an equal distribution. I can’t tell you the times that as a server, I had a $1000+ shift in sales while others spent half the shift on smoke break, didn’t turn their tables, and had half the sales. I regularly had $6000 weeks (sales–not tips!) at the Red Lobster in Tupelo from ’94-’97. Check averages weren’t over the top either–most of the dishes cost less than a burger and fries and several of our local establishments (don’t even get me started on a $10.00 bacon and egg breakfast). It seems like a mixed bag because you’re trading one set of pros and cons for yet another. The financial structure of so many businesses is based on not having to pay their waiters a real wage, and I can only imagine how reluctant many businesses would be to implement a new system. But yes, I think a set wage for waiters could free up the servers to just serve, and many businesses could scale this into better food to serve the customer if done right. Whew long comment . –Matt

Tiffany Rushing Especially in right to work states restaurant owners get away with getting the public to subsidize their payroll. $2 an hour is crazy. Every restaurant owner should strive to pay more and maybe evenly distribute the tips throughout the restaurant. EVERYONE should be able to earn a living wage in a restaurant or anywhere, but maybe it shouldn’t be up to the public to pay the majority of that wage.

Erika Lipe just read this article an hour ago about this really cool restaurant in Natchez where they pay the servers well, then donate tips to charities each month, picked by employees.

Whit Hamilton That’s a great concept Erika.Though I totally understand the argument for the wage/ service fee, vs tipping system that most of our better restaurants have in place, I disagree with its functionality in these times in the American economy. Mostly because as aforementioned, the infrastructure of most restaurants as it stands could never offer a truly competitive wage. It would either break the owner or short-change the better servers. If “servers” were paid a “comparable” wage, (which I’m assuming would have to be required by all restaurants,) it would remove a lot of incentive for a server to hone or excel at their craft. It would theoretically level the playing field for someone (at a waffle house, for instance) (a fine establishment) to be on the same level as someone at a much “finer” tier of restaurant. That’s just not the case. And it never will be. Does that mean that you can’t get good service at waffle house? Absolutely not. I personally tip 15% for bad service, 20% for standard service, and more for what I’d consider truly great service. But it does mean that a working knowledge of “fine” food and wine required by the latter of these two establishments isn’t necessary at waffle house. And it never will be. We, the ones who truly didn’t spend the better part of our lives learning about these things, did not do so to be on the same pay scale as someone who would theoretically never have to in order to compete with a knowledgeable server fiscally. Again, this is strictly my opinion, but I like the idea that my monetary worth is reflected directly by how I treat my customers and my dedication to great service. It provides for a friendly (and in some cases not so friendly) sort of competition, without which, I believe we would see service decline drastically across the board.

Juliana Headings As a server, it is very disheartening to see how enthusiastic people are to take away my (and many others, including those with college degrees) source of income. I think it is commonly misunderstood among those that have never worked in the restaurant industry, regardless of how long or many places you’ve dined, that when they fill out the tip line there is no paycheck to fall back on because after taxes it is <$20 usually. Regardless of what I make an hour, I am offering my customers my service and the dining experience as a whole so what I make is up to the customer not my employer.

Chris Day It would be a hard sell in America since servers are so used to it and they probably wouldn’t work as hard it that system went away. But if tips never existed, I think it’d be great!!

Erin Scott In many of these countries (my experience is mainly Europe): service is poor, you only do dinner NOT dinner and a movie, and the customer is never right.



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