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Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Splash…into the “tip pool” we go!

Posted by gratrueities on March 1, 2010

Just last week, the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of restaurants. The court found that restaurants have the right to create a “tip pool” requiring servers to share a percentage of their tips with kitchen staff  as long – and this is the important caveat – as the restaurant pays their servers at least minimum wage.

A Portland, Oregon waitress claimed that the pooling arrangement violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. Misty Cumbie  argued that because the tip pool at the Vita Cafe (sounds like a place to try soon based on Yelp reviews!) included employees who are not “customarily and regularly tipped employees,” it was invalid under the labor act.  The court did not agree.

This can all get a bit complex – but, to simplify, the restaurant owners wanted their servers to share with the “back of the house” and at least one server, Misty, was not happy with this arrangement.  However, because Misty and her fellow servers were paid at least the Oregon minimum wage (which was BTW $2.10 above Federal minimum wage!), the restaurant owners were not eligible for a tax “tip credit.” Hence, the servers were deemed to be compensated fairly  – the opinion of the court was that “Cumbie received a wage that was far greater than the federally prescribed minimum, plus a substantial portion of her tips.”

Tip pooling seems to be a hot litigation trend of late. This past year, Chili’s Grill & Bar servers won a large settlement against the chain’s parent company, which intends to appeal. Dealers at The Wynn Las Vegas are currently suing their employer for 35 million in back pay and penalties, also claiming that the resort’s tip pool violates state labor laws (we shall see how/if the Oregon case impacts this decision). The ruling for the Wynn case has now been delayed until May. If the Wynn employees are victorious, expect a flood rather than a splash! In fact, they may soon be hiring -if interested, you may want to check this out.

Whether or not legal action enters into the picture, there seem to be strong feelings – both pro and con – on tip pooling. We, at GraTRUEities, see both sides of the argument. It’s complicated because the server is ultimately the one with whom we interact (i.e. puts up with the customer), but we also appreciate clean plates, glasses, silver and a full water glass – and of course a delicious meal! We, therefore, feel that the people who make all that happen should be duly rewarded as well. Of course, in an ideal world restaurant owners could/would pay all of their employees enough that they did not depend on tips for wages, but with so many restaurants struggling to stay open, it seems that labor costs are a problem. And all this brings us right back to tipping! We, the customer/patron fills the void. More to follow on this topic…

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Posted in Portland, Service, Tip Pool, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

GraTRUEities Demo: The Standing Tip

Posted by gratrueities on January 3, 2010

Using your tip to create a stand. Demonstrated at Cafe Bernardo, Davis, CA.  Excellent New Year’s Day late breakfast, and friendly, fun service. A must stop if you are in the area.

Posted in Dining experience, GraTRUEities, GraTRUEities In Use, Paying the bill, Service, Travel, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Has The Spirit Moved You?

Posted by gratrueities on December 21, 2009

Have you completed your holiday tipping yet – or at least strategized as to how you plan to recognize those who have made your life a little bit better or easier this past year?  If not, time is running out!

On another note, have you felt the urge to spread a little extra joy by beefing up your regular tips?  Or…are you feeling pinched by all the extra holiday expenses?  Do servers find that their tip percentages are greater or reduced during the holidays?

Personally, I feel moved to be  more generous at this time of year  – caught up in the spirit of the season – and “pay the price” in January!

Posted in Etiquette, Holiday tipping, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Ho Ho Ho! Holiday Tipping

Posted by gratrueities on November 27, 2009

Well,  ’tis the season and that means we need to start thinking about the annual bout of holiday tipping for those who provide services throughout the year, or even just occasional services. 

At GraTRUEities we know that many of us share the confusion that often comes with holiday tipping: who should we tip?  How much should we tip? When should we tip? Should we tip with cash or a gift?

One general guideline we like to keep in mind is this: tipping is a personal expression of thanks between you and the service provider. 

Only each of us  knows how much a particular service throughout the year means.  For instance, our hairstylists. How many times have we called at the last-minute to say we are running “ten minutes late”? How many times have we  had to cancel an appointment completely? I know I’ve done this more than once this past year.  An accommodating stylist should be rewarded for the times when they’ve had to switch around their  appointment book to accomodate our scheduling mishaps.

How many times have we all left ‘extra’ garbage by our curbs, just knowing our pick-up crews will haul it away without a word said? Again, this thoughtfulness can be acknowledged at the end of the year with a small token of appreciation.

Keep in mind some service providers, like U.S. mail carriers, cannot accept cash. But, I know that my mailman loves the tin of Peppermint Bark I hand him in late December every year.

So, start jotting down your list and thinking through how much these service providers actually do to accomodate us throughout the year. And, let our words and deeds of thanks reflect that.

To help guide you through, we’ve created a special page here on GraTRUEities with helpful links to sites and articles with all kinds of Holiday Tipping advice.

We’d also like to hear from you.  If you’ve got any specific questions about holiday tipping or bits of advice you’d like to share, please do. And, in the meantime, happy shopping, happy holidays and happy tipping!

Posted in Tipping | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Do You Believe in “Tip Coordination?”

Posted by gratrueities on November 6, 2009

You can even order a t-shirt that poses this very question! In the first ‘Seinfeld reunion‘ episode of ‘Curb Your Enthusiam,’ Larry David shares with Jason Alexander his feelings on the subject. What is “tip coordination” you may ask?  Basically, it is an agreement, when splitting a restaurant bill, that all will tip the same amount or percentage – price fixing, if you wish!  Here is an interesting commentary on the psychology of tipping and the subject of “tip coordination” from the blog cheeptalk.wordpress.com:

“Economists have often wondered why people tip.  We have lots of sophisticated explanations for why rational (i.e. selfish)    people pretend to be altruistic.  A leading explanation, the reputation model, relies on some repeated game concern but how would that apply in a one shot waiter game?  The puzzle is, of course, easily resolved if one allows homo economicus to have a heart. Warm, mushy feelings for waiters can easily explain tipping, even if you both know your relationship is the restaurant equivalent of the one night stand.

As our well-educated and well-read readers know, the heart is a complicated thing and often responds to incentives in odd ways.  Larry David is the dark Jane Austen of our cynical time and his (second!) magnum opus, Curb Your Enthusiasm, is the warped Sense and Sensibility.  I enjoyed the Seinfeld non-Reunion episode.  There were so many treasures in one half hour but the business lunch between Larry and Jason Alexander was my favorite bit. Larry and Alexander go dutch and Larry suggests they coordinate the tip.  He wishes to avoid the embarrassment of under-tipping.  It is just obvious to Larry that other people’s opinion matters so he must tip.  Note it is not morality but image and hence self-image that guide Larry.  He certainly does not want to tip low when his Dutch partner tips high.  But if your partner tips low, there is still an incentive to tip high, because it is quite natural that you want your image to be better than your partner’s.  In other words, there is a dominant strategy to tip high…a Prisoner’s Dilemma of tipping. Once we open up the heart of homo economicus, not only is there an incentive to tip, but toovertip.  No wonder Larry wants to collude and coordinate tips.”


Posted in Dining experience, Etiquette, Paying the bill, Pop Culture, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tip Jar Debate Rages On

Posted by gratrueities on October 29, 2009

The lowly Tip Jar continues to provoke controversy of all sorts.

 Some, like MSN Money’s personal finance expert Liz Pulliam Weston are tired of seeing Tip Jars pop-up almost everywhere, moving way beyond the traditional deli counter or coffee shop setting.

In this post, from early October, she writes, ” You can ignore tip jars. Throw in some change if you’d like or if you get particularly wonderful service, but otherwise, don’t bother.”

Others, as evidenced by the comments on the above post, are most concerned with the tips that the Tip Jar  silently commands. GraTRUEities previously wrote about Tip Jars here.

But, realistically speaking, you can’t always ignore Tip Jars. Here, from our Tipipedia, is GraTRUEities guidelines on Tip Jar tipping:

Tip Jar

“Always the question…what to do about the ever-present Tip Jar?  This is a subject of much debate for which we offer no concrete guideline. It its our opinion that, if you regularly frequent an establishment, it is wise to tip at least every so often.  Also, if you place an order that requires extra effort a tip is warranted.  How much to tip?  10%-15% seems to be the consensus.”

Posted in Coffeehouse, Tip Jars, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rude?

Posted by gratrueities on October 14, 2009

Yes or no – a little of both?

In her recent MSN Money article, The Rude New Tip Jar Economy, Liz Pulliam Weston explores the increasing pressure we feel to tip “more and in more situations than ever before.”

Many of us take pride in being generous tippers and take pleasure in rewarding people for a job well done.  Just as we like to be compensated for our own efforts.

That said, the economic realities of this past year have made most of us more cognizant of the value of our dollars – and possibly both more cautious or more generous, depending on the situation.  We want our tips to have meaning and value, not to merely compensate for deficient wages.

That brings us to the other reality:  most service providers depend on their tips to earn a living wage, leaving them at the mercy of the customer, not all of whom play by the rules of the tipping game.

Therein lies the dilemma. How do service providers earn their due without offending the customer by crossing the line? Tip jars, mandatory service charges, etc. all convey the expectation of a gratuity and, while they bring in money, they can also have a detrimental affect.

People still want to feel they have a choice  – they want their tips to be meaningful, not not judged as lacking and especially not take for granted.

Has the time come to revamp the system?

Posted in Dining experience, Economy, Paying the bill, Pop Culture, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Reader’s ‘Digestion’ and “The Waiter” revisted…

Posted by gratrueities on July 21, 2009

From Reader’s Digest Magazine and from Waiter Rant via Yahoo …a little reminder of some things to avoid when dining out!

Oh, those waiters!

Posted in Dining experience, Paying the bill, Pet Peeves, Pop Culture, Tipping, Travel, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

More — Celebrity Tipping

Posted by gratrueities on February 7, 2009

One of our regular GraTRUEities readers just sent the following link to a list of good and not-so-good celebrity tippers. We definitely cannot vouch for the reliability of this list. And, we don’t know how up-to-date it is…but we think it is worth sharing.

There seem to be a lot of professional football players on both sides of the list. And, note that the entire Los Angeles Lakers NBA team made the good-tipper list. They dine as a unit?

It’s good to see that one of our favorites, Tom Brokaw is a good tipper. But very disappointing to see Al Gore on the bad tipper side of the aisle. Maybe he is trying not to litter?

And, in the “I’m not surprised” category, Whitney Houston is a bad tipper….

On the other hand, tell me it isn’t so Jimmy Buffett and Don Henley?

Share your insights/thoughts on celebrity tipping…

Should celebrities get away with tipping less than regular folk?

Should they tip more?

Do you have a celebrity tipping story to share?

Curious minds want to know more!!

Submitted by a reader, the website Glamorati also has a list of notoriously bad celebrity tippers…for curious minds!

Posted in Paying the bill, Pop Culture, Tipping | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Viva Las Vegas!

Posted by gratrueities on January 19, 2009

I just returned from a Las Vegas get-away with friends… four women, three days of fun! Said fun included excellent and plentiful food and drink, a luxury hotel, shows, shopping and (a little) gambling.

The aforementioned offered many tipping “opportunities” – along with the chance to contradict the notion that women are “bad tippers.”  From cab rides, to the airport curbside check-in at departure, we dispelled that assumption…even with a few glitches along the way.

Our Venetian/Palazzo Hotel package included a credit for Woo Restaurant, touted as one of the few local restaurants to secure a high profile location in a major hotel.  We, of course, wanted to take advantage of the credit, while knowing it would make only a small dent in our bill. We enjoyed a delicious meal and presented the “coupon” after calculating the tip on the total bill – before the credit.  Perhaps – or obviously – that was not the norm.  When our server returned for payment, he had added an 18% gratuity – certainly less than we were prepared to leave! We assumed this is policy to protect the servers, but really could end up being a disservice in the end!  What happened to the new 15%?? (20%, in case you haven’t heard!)

So…the next evening, we decided to try the other hotel promoted (read, we had another credit) restaurant, LAVO.  We dined early as we were had 7:00 show tickets for  Jersey Boys (excellent, by the way!). Again, we had outstanding meal accompanied by along several tasty cocktails!. All went well, but at an extremely relaxed pace…a bit too relaxed! Our server was delightful, but so reassuring that we had plenty of time …I quote, “these shows always start about 15 minutes late.” We were lulled into a false sense of security. Finally, we realized we were cutting it a bit too close, slogged down our desserts (part of the prix fixe dinner), paid (with a hefty tip) and jogged across the casino to the theater.  Even so, the show literally went on without us – we were locked our of the theater for the opening number!  Lesson learned here?  Not quite sure!

Our final dinner experience was at Mesa Grill, the Bobby Flay outpost in Caesar’s Palace.  Three of us had eaten there before, so it is a testimony to our experiences that we returned. The meal was as excellent as before (the prawn tamale appetizer is especially memorable!) and the service flawless. Our waiter fully understood that we were on a timeline and did not want to miss the first moments of Bette Middler. He anticipated and timed every course perfectly – and recommended just the right margaritas!  We were happy and let him know! We were also compelled to leave a “test” GraTRUEity – “Timing is a mark of genius,” which he had surely proved.

Lastly, one amusing, confusing accidental tipping incident did occur. We left $6 – the paltry remaining profits from a joint gambling venture – sitting on top of the television cabinet in one of our rooms. When we returned, the room was made up and the money gone. It seems housekeeping believed we had left that as a tip. We were unsure as to whether that was really considered very generous!  Also, we wondered what would have happened if we had left $100 sitting there – would that have been interpreted as a tip as well. Is it protocol to take any money left out?  Honestly, we didn’t know the answer to that…and still don’t!

Posted in GraTRUEities In Use, Paying the bill, Tipping, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »