Sunday, February 28, 2010

News Tip

How interesting. Restaurant refuses to serve customer because customer does not tip.

1. If a tip is required, is it a tip?
2. Can restaurants refuse to serve someone, based on the refusal to pay a voluntary gratuity? After all, the restaurant could add 18% to its price, and give the extra money to the servers/table chef (it's one of those "Japanese Steakhouse" places with a mostly Latino staff).
3. Isn't a petition, and public scorning, the right thing for the customer to do, if she disagrees.

1. No.
2. Yes, but then I think a private restaurant can refuse to serve anyone, at any time, for any reason. What part of "private" don't you understand?
3. Yes.

(Nod to Anonyman, who even tips at Locopop, because he is washed in the milk of human kindness, even though that took a LOT of milk)


Dagon said...

1) Maybe. it could be mandatory and still classified as "tip" for IRS or other purposes. Many restaraunts have mandatory (or at least automatically added) charges for parties over a certain size.
2) Yes, agreed. However, if the former customer is a member of a protected minority, there is a large risk of such choices being misconstrued, with very bad consequences.
3) Probably not. Petitions can be a good way to show support, but I can't imagine most restaraunts will care about annoyed non-customers as long as there are sufficient satisfied paying customers. Public scorning on a non-universal topic has a way of backfiring if you're not sufficiently high status.
3a) in many cases, the right thing for a customer who has been so treated is to go elsewhere.

Matt Gilliland said...

Unfortunately, in states such as NC, the minimum wage for those classified as "tipped" employees is ~$2.13 an hour. Tipped employees are also taxed by their employer (for tip sharing with busboys, hosts, etc) on their sales. Therefore, if someone doesn't tip, the service was not only given at below minimum wage but actually cost the server money.
Restaurants don't add the tip to the price because of several reasons. An extra 18% would add to "sticker shock" and would make the restaurant look more expensive to those who don't think about the tip. Most restaurants don't care about their employees, so even if the occasional non-tipper is served, they're fine with that because they still make money. Tips are also quite traditional, and many who didn't realize that the tip is included would then feel obliged to tip anyway, fostering ill will toward the restaurant for its high prices.

I would have loved to work for a place that required the tip back in my food service days. I might have been able to afford rent.

Anonymous said...

Good points, both. I understand that tipping is in effect figured toward the average compensation received by wait staff.

The question is about MARGINAL compensation.

So, I think it is fine for lady not to tip, fine for restaurant to refuse to serve her, and also fine for the lady to boycott in response. Let a thousand whingers boom!


MikeRussellMcK said...

Question 4: Can the restaurant have the patron arrested for failure to tip?

A: Where I live, the answer is somehow yes.

(the case was later dropped, but someone still had to wear the bracelets because they didn't put in 18%)

HBanan said...

I would be embarrassed to have earned a reputation as such a poor tipper that a restaurant banned me. If I was ever at a restaurant where the service was so poor I refused to tip or tipped less than 10 or 15%, I would never darken the door of that restaurant again. I would be ashamed to have anyone know I had angered the management and waitstaff so much that they no longer wanted my money. I sure as heck wouldn't broadcast it about trying to get sympathy.

Anonymous said...

I think what is interesting with this incident is the legal differences between norms and laws/rules. Here the restaurant industry has a norm that as an incentive for good service the patron can decide their compensation. However, if good service is provided, but the expected compensation does not materialize, then the industry must decide if and how to enforce this norm or the norm will cease to exist.

In this case the restaurant decided to enforce the norm and made it a rule by adding the tip to the bill and taking away the power of the patron to accept or reject the norm. The patron took it one step further to reject the norm on tipping and fight the the entire industry by putting pressure on the restaurant to change their new rule.

If this can't be resolved by one party backing down, then it will likely turn to the courts to decide via the law whether the tipping norm will preserver.