Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Great Tip Debate

As I was fixing fence the other day, the subject of tipping came into my mind. Why? I dunno... perhaps it was because I was checking 5 miles of fence and knew I'd be getting bupkiss for it.

So as I sat here watching the rooster pheasant stroll by my front window, I decided it was time to chime in on the subject.

Now I'm not averse to tipping, in fact I do tip quite often, but something about it has always bugged me and I recently was able to put my finger on it. Sometimes explaining something is more effective if you use analogies (that's where you compare things, PinTA) so here goes.

Let's say that your favorite Loser asks you out to dinner and a film and you accept the offer. What we have here is the classic offer and acceptance, creating a contract. The only thing left is consideration by both parties. Now the Loser is gaining companionship, and that is his consideration, you ladies are getting an even better deal. Not only do you gain companionship, but you're also getting a meal and get to see a film at no cost to you. Of course it can be argued that the dinner and film don't make up for the companionship that you're forced to endure for the duration, but that's on you because you accepted the offer.

Ok... so you have a semi enjoyable evening, a good meal, and liked the film to boot, but now your date looks at you and says, "Your place or mine." "Erm... excuse me? My place or yours for what?" "So that we can have sex." Immediately you start to rethink your position (if not... what are you doing this Saturday?). You tell this guy that you never agreed to this term and condition. He protests back and says that everyone knows that dinner and a film means sex afterwards, it's implied. What do you do?

Now let's compare that to your typical restaurant situation. This restaurant makes an open offer to me to come and eat at their establishment. The finer points of the offer are in the menu where the individual entrees are there with their associated costs. When I come in and sit down, I take the menu and decide what I want. By ordering one of the meals, I've now accepted the restaurant owners offer, and he and I have engaged in a contractual relationship.

The restaurant owner has also engaged in another contractual relationship with another person. That person is the waiter/waitress. The particulars of that contract, I'm not privy to, as I've never been one, but I suspect at their essence it is simply this: To take orders from the customers and then deliver these orders in a timely fashion.

So... we have two contractual relationships here, the customer and the restaurant owner, and the restaurant owner and the waitress. There is one contractual relationship that is glaringly omitted. The contract between the customer and the waitress. Now why should the waitress expect anything from the customer, or the customer expect anything from the waitress other than the basics that she's already obligated to the restaurant owner for? This is the root cause of the rub with me and the infamous tip. The waitress and I have no understanding of what I expect from her and the compensation I plan to give her for that degree of service. Nor has she made me an offer of service so I know what she's willing to do and what compensation she expects in return. How can this situation not generate hard feelings?

Since I know there are a couple of waitresses who frequent this blog, I submit to you that you'd be better off in the long run if you'd approach each of your tables in the future with this in mind. I think you should walk up to the table and say, "Hello, I'm Missy, I'll be your waitress this evening. Before we start, I'd like to tell you all something. It was recently brought to my attention that you and I have no real relationship with each other, so in order to remedy that, I'm going to tell you the different levels of service I offer, and when I'm done, you'll get the chance to choose which level you'd like from me. The most basic level of service is the one that I've contracted with the restaurant owner to give you. Under this level, I will take your order and deliver it to you in a timely fashion and then give you your bill. If you order coffee, you'll probably only get one or two refills at the most because I won't be spending much time at your table. I expect no money from you for this level of service.

"The next level of service I offer is what I call level 1 service. This level means that I will do a bit more than the basic. I will check on your table once or twice after serving your meal, deliver a bit more coffee and pop in every time I walk by. This level will cost you 5% of your final bill.

"The next level of service I offer is Level 2 service. I will take a greater interest in your table, and make sure you have the coffee you desire as well as check in on you regularly. This level will cost you 10% of your final bill.

"The final level of service I offer is Level 3. This is the highest level I offer and it means I will take a great interest in your table. I will concentrate my efforts on your table and my other level 3 tables as much as possible. I will make sure you have everything that you order as quickly as I can and that you are satisfied with it. Because this is the most time consuming for me, I expect nothing less than 15% of your final bill. Now... which level would you like to have?"

If they select the basic or lower levels, you'll know that going in and not waste your time and effort on those tables. They can't be mad at you, because it was their decision. Definately a win win...

I could go on, but blogger is about to go offline and so I'd better split!


Blogger trinamick said...

Now I'm confused. Why is the restaurant owner expecting sex from you?

The word "tips" actually originated in olden days as an acronym for To Insure Prompt Service. It was meant as a little sumpin' sumpin' to encourage better service. But when it became commonplace, owners began looking at it as an excuse not to pay their waitresses as much, so they can further line their already bulging pockets.

Now, waitresses get paid crap and the customer is expected to make up the difference. I agree that it's not exactly the fairest arrangement, but I think you would definitely see a drop in service if the situation was changed. I know a lot of waitresses who are only nice and attentive if they are getting something out of it.

As for me, I'm nice to all of my customers, even the ones who are worthless tippers. But I think good thoughts about good tippers. ;P

And as far as contracts go, a good tip does not mean there is a contractual obligation for a waitress to go home with a customer. :P

4/06/2006 12:32 PM  
Blogger LL said...

"And as far as contracts go, a good tip does not mean there is a contractual obligation for a waitress to go home with a customer. :P"

But it should!

4/06/2006 2:49 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

This is excellent, my lordship! Just like those philosophical treatises we used to study in school. Your logic is unassailable.

With your sturdy precepts in mind, I'm heading down to Hooters with a big wad of dough to request Level 10 service. I'll let you know how things go.

4/10/2006 10:43 AM  
Blogger LL said...

I'll look forward to it.

4/10/2006 3:48 PM  
Blogger e said...

ok i think you need a little information about being employed as a waitress. waitreses are paid 2.13 an hour, but because of "supposed tips" all of this hourly money gets taken by taxes, so the majority of the time a "paycheck" is between 0-4 dollars. this includes when the pay period is 2 weeks. so a waitress as myself makes 0 dollars by paychecks. this means we are entirly dependent on the "tips" of the customer. customers may not feel its "fair" to have to tip their waitress but it is not our fault we dont make hourly wages. ALSO 3 percent of our sales are taken out to pay the busers, bartenders, and hosts. so if you are tipping a mere 10% you are actualy tipping 7%. As a waitress we deal with 4 or 5 tables of people who all want refils, condiments, complaints, ect. at the same time. try having 25 people needing something in one time period. needless to say being a waitress is VERY stressfull. top that off with a kitchen who makes mistakes which you are held accountable for, and a management staff who doesnt know what they are doing half the time and there you go. so if you dont see your waitress 5 times while you are eatting chances are she is running around getting something for one of the many people who HAVE TO HAVE 22 napkins while they are eatting. ALSO waitresses make the desserts at some places even make the salads so if you are with the group that orders 8 salads 8 deserts and 8 coffees while the waitress has 3 other tables all equally needing things it is physically impossible to do all at the same time. and 15% is seen as an insult. at least 18 is acceptable. seeing as we tip out 3% and deal with the most extreme people if you tip us 18% is actualy is 15%. ALSO the wait staff deals with your food. certain things happen to customers who make it their job to make the wait staff miserable. please rememeber the wait staff doesnt cook the food, seat the table, or have anything to do with how long the food takes. i hope this helps those who have no idea what a waitresses job is like.

8/26/2006 8:48 PM  

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