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Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 01:48 pm
observations from a tipless restaurant (part 1)
A certain small number of very vocal men (and it was always men who were vocal about it) resented that we were not letting them try to exercise additional control over our team members. This was true even though compelling research has shown that servers do not adjust quality of service as a result of tips; instead the idea that the restaurant was not offering our servers up as objects of control, was heresy. For these people, the primary service they wanted from the restaurant was the opportunity to pay for favors from the server — much like the patron at a strip club pays the club for the opportunity to dangle bills in front a dancer for individual attention. The idea that a restaurant could legitimately want to be in a different business than a strip club, was not an idea these guests could countenance.
You should read through all the parts and the postscript, because it's really an insight into the American psyche as well as an exploration of the illogicity of tipping.

Now I want a study about tipping in Australia vs. tipping in America, what it means and how it operates in comparison to the things that he looked at in his article...
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 06:55 am (UTC)
I am so, so glad that we don't have a tipping culture in Australia.

I don't want waitstaff to feel they have to be faux-flirty or faux-friendly for a decent wage.
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 01:32 pm (UTC)
There's no tipping culture in my country (though occasionally you do hear of extravagant spenders who leave a shockingly big tip). They slap on a 10% service charge instead. They did away with tipping years and years ago because (one of the reasons) it was too troublesome to monitor how much in tips the servers got and as you'd imagine, there were lots of disputes.
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 03:53 pm (UTC)
It's an interesting read and as not a guy, I can't tell whether it's really a thing with any of the guys I know. I do know that's not at all why I'd have been horrified by not being allowed to tip before reading this article. There is a huge cultural myth that I did not know before was actually a myth: that servers are all severely underpaid. Not being able to tip when I have an irrational culturally American distrust of bosses actually doing right by their employees in that industry until proven otherwise, it would make me think the servers were underpaid. I always assumed because of the nature of tipping, minimum wage laws, etc. that the kitchen staff had much better pay and the servers were as underpaid as popular myth.

I suspect, the men aside (which very well may be a thing, I'm not that social with guys outside of work), that this is also a big factor in America's tipping culture. There are also people who maliciously like to express their disapproval through tipping, but in the line of satisfied with the service, I was surprised that none of this even came up. It's like the author had cultural blindness because he's aware that servers get higher pay. I had no idea. Everything I've ever been exposed to gave me the idea that all servers not in super high end restaurants were underpaid.
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 04:02 pm (UTC)
That may be related to the East Coast tip compensation laws he briefly mentioned? So servers in some states can legally be paid less with the expectation that tips will make up the difference, but that's not a factor in California so he doesn't really address it as a cultural issue.
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 04:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's one of the things that provides "confirmation" to the public idea that servers are underpaid, but it is a huge cultural thing, in media, in minimum wage conversations, in the server being the number one example provided of low-wage jobs available to single mothers, new graduates, etc. in practically every conversation about employment ever. I'm in the midwest, and culturally, the idea of an overpaid server is so outside my fathoming, I have to force myself to ignore my cultural understanding of the job to believe the article. I do because it's obvious I was just completely wrong, but it's embedded in my understanding of the world. Servers are underpaid and you can't trust the employer to make up the difference so if you're served poorly, tip the minimum, otherwise tip as much as you can.
Thursday, August 10th, 2017 12:21 am (UTC)
Than the kitchen staff. I agree about unconscious bias, even though my own bias reflects my own mixed race and gender. But I've never even thought of service-geared assumptions. They exist. I can't speak to them. But he knows servers have higher wage than kitchen staff. I'd never imagined that. Tipping is highly tied to jobs that are culturally bandied about as underpaid, and tipping is supposed to make up for that. I'm against tipping culture/systems for that reason, but I thought it bore mentioning that he's entirely aligned all complaints/issues along one legit vector while being oblivious to one I started picking up in childhood.
Thursday, August 10th, 2017 10:58 pm (UTC)
Ah. $15/hr is quite good for me, never made $16 yet. But it is why I'd not like being flat unable to tip. Unless I knew they had a full living wage. It's not just about exerting control.
Friday, August 11th, 2017 02:15 am (UTC)
I was? I literally said I don't know about the guys, it was eye-opening because I was entirely wrong about the dynamic between serving and kitchen staff, but also knew there's another cultural dynamic at play as well. I don't consider the save the waitress element any less harmful than seduce her.

I am trying to look at tipping culture overall, the stuff he mentioned and the additional widespread myths around it I never even realized were myth, not truth. Being American, examining my participation in that culture seems a good response to the new information.
Friday, August 11th, 2017 12:05 am (UTC)
That is...not at all the reasoning behind why I tip. This is going to be an interesting read, isn't it?
Friday, August 11th, 2017 01:26 am (UTC)
I wasn't trying to imply #notallAmericans.

I really just meant it was going to be an interesting read because it would provide a different perspective from my own.
Saturday, August 12th, 2017 12:18 am (UTC)
Semi as I read chain of thought -

There's so much in it - and so many things that he says that stick out as just a american as the things he's talking against, and in the studies (like over here, quality of service is the primary influence on tips, but maybe because we choose to tip? It isn't expected/normal. Uni with americans was weird at times (we were all totally bemused when the americans tipped for their pints in the pub - and when one asked us what they should tip for their pint))

It would be interesting to know if the people who gave bad reviews, were more inclined to because they couldn't tip.....as it would the only way to show how they felt (rather than before it would have been a lower tip, and prob no review) - and the whole bit with his tipping restuarant is interesting (he was totally successful in highlighting the cuisine and helping grow it in SD, it just failed partly because of the evil of tips...) And there's a level of not recognising thar maybe someone liked the service and food enough to want to pay more, but had no way to do so, so was frustrated (though yeah, doubt that a common version - but if you add in the 'men pay to support women and more pay means higher status' cultural thing, there's a non sexual side, though still sexist).

He also comes across a bit creepy when he admits to having had essentially sexual fantasies about the women serving him at times......even if it is 'a standard thing' :/ Add in the fact it leans towards his hiring policies potentally favouring a certain look.....and they were whole persons because of flirting not being a for tips thing (ignore that by default, as a customer facer still, I know men take friendly as flirting too often, and there is a default behaviour you develop with customers) - and there's a lot of male gaze (and dear god the worst of early hominid/early 'settlement' research stuff *face palm*)Part five is just awkward.

Part six less so - but it doesn't consider whether worse service to non-white males is still worse than to white males, even when you remove the tip (given that even with service charge, they didn't get above overall 'good' apparently) Pkus, if you had a regular non white male who tipped higher, that might shift your attitude to them, versus minus the tip there is no incentive/cause to shift that perspective.

This is interesting - and funny in some ways - in last work place I had to explain to the others that tipping was a standard thing in US (and Canada), and otherwise service charges, and all were horrified and said that they would default not tip and refuse to pay the service charge, because why should they? (and the amount being 15/20% was also an issue to them.....)

It is one of the strangest conversations I have ever had with anyone - and to have four people so horrified by, and completely unable to understand, the idea of a culture where tipping is standard expectation *face palms*

There are a few UK places that do a service charge that you have to pay (mostly fancy and sometimes calling it the table charge), step down are suggested with restaurants (with 10% of bill being standard), then no where else basically, and no tips as we consider the service charge the same thing as a tip. And you tip in cafes, if you want. And apparently a whole bunch of people have an aversion to tips/service charges (I was raised to tip if you had good service - and to pay the service charge, but always in cash, because there are places over here where if on card the staff do not get any of it....and like: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/dec/15/michel-roux-jr-restaurant-staff-no-share-service-charge-le-gavroche )

Though interestingly, over here, cooks generally get paid more than wait staff as they are the skilled workers (so the lack of tips to cooks doesn't have the same effect described). Add in that eating out in the US and Canada is so much cheaper than here (whether because we do have salaried/minimum wage and that's reflected in the price...) there's a lot of interesting elements, and it's a shame he only focuses on comparisons to canada at the widest.

I think you could do a really interesting wider study or various cultures/countries and how it compares....
Saturday, August 12th, 2017 11:23 am (UTC)
In my experience we do have a tipping culture in Australia, just not the US 'you can't pay the rent if you don't get tips' one. I and the people I like going out with always tip if we've had a pleasant time. When I worked in events we always tipped big because we were pretty demanding of the F&B staff. Event staff know how to party.

Anyone who doesn't tip: I try to never eat out with them again. For me, they're showing disrespect to the staff who are on their feet for hours and working hard to ensure you have a good time. Even though I know they may have a different view of tipping to me due to different life experience, I still judge!

I've never visited the US so I don't really know that culture.

The only other countries I've been have a compulsory % service charge so the culture was not to tip. Sometimes I did though. Hard to break habits. I hope the staff got the money and not the restaurant.