[Dixielandjazz] Tips, "Death of Jazz", Yellow Dog Blues

Rob McCallum rakmccallum at hotmail.com
Thu Mar 6 18:02:22 PST 2003

Hi Pat and listmates,

Gratuity in the United States is certainly different than in other parts of the world.  I wholeheartedly disagree that a tip to a restaurant server is for "service above and beyond the call of duty."  As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry from moderate to upscale and fine dining, a restaurant server, though technically employed by an establishment, is really more of an independent contractor working on commission.  Servers across the board are generally paid $2.52 an hour by the house (by law).  Servers in most houses are required to tip out 3% of their sales (not what they actually make, but a % of what has been sold) back to the house for "tip-outs" which are then divided by another % to bussers and bartenders.  (i.e. there really are no "wages" per se).

This means that a server is generally paying out of pocket to work at the house as their tip-outs are almost always more than what they are getting paid by the house.  In addition, by law, all restaurant servers (and bartenders too for that matter) are required to claim a minimum of 8% of their sales to the government for income tax (again, this is based on sales and not on what is actually made by the server), though most servers generally make and claim more.  So a server is tipping back 3% and claiming for taxes at least 8% plus of their sales.  A server is "given" floor space to earn this gratuity in much the same way a commissioned salesperson is given floorspace in other retail outlets.  

Therefore if someone orders a $100 meal and only leaves $5, $3 goes back to the house and at least $8 has to be claimed for taxes.  What's the point in serving?  Generally in the U.S. a 15% gratuity is considered reasonable for adequate to good service and 16 to 20% for exceptional or outstanding service.  This is why even in less expensive restaurants a gratuity of 15 to 18% is automatically added on to larger parties, if sales are high and the gratuity is neglected, the server is losing money and the house loses quality people.  Good quality servers (customer service reps in general) are not easy to come by as it is, especially because restaurant serving is a difficult and often thankless job.

This is not to say that if the service quality is poor, than a high gratuity is in order.  Poor service is poor service and should always be reflected (as well as speaking to the manager) - I. personally, have very low tolerance for bad customer service anywhere.

Jazz content?  I don't know, forgive me this one time! Oh yes, if I make a request, I'll always throw a couple of bucks into the tip jar if there is one!  

All the best,
Rob McCallum 

 Original Message ----- 
  From: PLadd36932 at aol.com 
  To: JimDBB at aol.com 
  Cc: dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com 
  Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2003 3:56 PM
  Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Tips, "Death of Jazz", Yellow Dog Blues

  In a message dated 06/03/03 18:49:41 GMT Standard Time, JimDBB at aol.com writes:

    Actually, to request a tune from a band and not attempt 

      to tip is gauche as I see it. 

  Hi ,
  I think that tipping in the UK is not a regular thing. I know I am constantly surprised when in America at the size and frequency of tipping.

  A| tip here would be generally 10% although for some unknown reason this is beginning to creep up to 12.5%.
  Taxis, restaurants and for some totally obscure reason, hairdressers expect a tip, and that is about it.
  In the States I have been pursued into the street by a waitress who considered that I had undertipped her.
  Tipping is for service above and beyond the call of duty. Not a device to allow  employers to pay low wages. If staff dont get a proper wage, see the Union, not me




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  Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com

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