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Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:28 AM

Waitressing wages. Are these bar and restaurant businesses getting away with slave labor?

One of my daughters roommates in the Boston area only made $400 last month. That didn't include tips, but it doesn't sound like she makes a lot there either, since some nights she came home with nothing. My daughter saw a week's pay stub, and the girl only made 8 dollars. I know this girl and she has a lot of personality and is very athletic so it's not a question of not working hard enough.

What laws allow a company to pay below minimum wage?

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Reply Waitressing wages. Are these bar and restaurant businesses getting away with slave labor? (Original post)
Baitball Blogger Nov 2012 OP
JaneyVee Nov 2012 #1
Baitball Blogger Nov 2012 #2
JaneyVee Nov 2012 #4
Democracyinkind Nov 2012 #7
justabob Nov 2012 #16
obamanut2012 Nov 2012 #35
justabob Nov 2012 #42
jberryhill Nov 2012 #3
CreekDog Nov 2012 #5
CTyankee Nov 2012 #6
jberryhill Nov 2012 #15
SoCalDem Nov 2012 #24
enlightenment Nov 2012 #28
CTyankee Nov 2012 #44
Matariki Nov 2012 #52
jberryhill Nov 2012 #54
Baitball Blogger Nov 2012 #9
HopeHoops Nov 2012 #8
JayhawkSD Nov 2012 #10
HopeHoops Nov 2012 #13
jberryhill Nov 2012 #20
HopeHoops Nov 2012 #21
jberryhill Nov 2012 #32
HopeHoops Nov 2012 #46
Matariki Nov 2012 #55
ParkieDem Nov 2012 #25
obamanut2012 Nov 2012 #37
RagAss Nov 2012 #39
HopeHoops Nov 2012 #45
Matariki Nov 2012 #56
B2G Nov 2012 #11
HopeHoops Nov 2012 #14
justabob Nov 2012 #18
datasuspect Nov 2012 #12
HeeBGBz Nov 2012 #17
justabob Nov 2012 #19
rainbow4321 Nov 2012 #31
justabob Nov 2012 #36
obamanut2012 Nov 2012 #40
Baitball Blogger Nov 2012 #23
HeeBGBz Nov 2012 #26
Sadiedog Nov 2012 #27
obamanut2012 Nov 2012 #38
seabeyond Nov 2012 #22
ceile Nov 2012 #29
rainbow4321 Nov 2012 #30
Care Acutely Nov 2012 #33
obamanut2012 Nov 2012 #41
NuttyFluffers Nov 2012 #43
Cleita Nov 2012 #50
NuttyFluffers Nov 2012 #51
Care Acutely Nov 2012 #58
Cleita Nov 2012 #59
obamanut2012 Nov 2012 #34
LadyHawkAZ Nov 2012 #47
Cleita Nov 2012 #48
SomethingFishy Nov 2012 #49
Cleita Nov 2012 #53
Egalitarian Thug Nov 2012 #57

Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:31 AM

1. I believe if you work in waitering they can pay you $2.25/hr b/c of tips.

But the law states the employer must make up the difference if it their pay falls below minimum wage. If they don't they're breaking the law.

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Response to JaneyVee (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:33 AM

2. I'll relay the information.

Thank you.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #2)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:40 AM

4. Here's a link:

http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/q-a.htm#.UKzno45TM20

I think it's a ridiculous law. Tips should be ON TOP of your wages, not to make up the difference.

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Response to JaneyVee (Reply #4)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:42 AM

7. Couldn't agree more.

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Response to JaneyVee (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:30 AM

16. but usually

the employer doesn't have to kick in on a per shift basis, but a per week basis. If you have a great Saturday night that pushes you over minimum wage for the week, you just have to suck it up on Monday and Tuesday when you made nothing and spent the whole shift doing side-work and cleaning the place.

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Response to justabob (Reply #16)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:53 PM

35. It's only on what you SHOULD have made in tops

As per a tax formula. So, if your boss makes X amount of money on a Saturday night, you should make X amount in tips. If you don't, too bad, and the owner doesn't have to pay you a red cent.

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Response to obamanut2012 (Reply #35)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 01:06 PM

42. whatever the actual formula is, server not likely to win that battle

I am sure there is an ethical owner or two out there, but they are the minority.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:38 AM

3. Food service has a lower minimum, because of tips.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:41 AM

5. not in any west coast states

minimum wage is about $8/hour, tipped or not.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:41 AM

6. This doesn't happen in European countries that I've traveled to.

Wait staff get paid more and tips are not expected, unless you have received service above and beyond expectations. Altho a waiter in Brussels last month tried to tell me that it really wasn't the case and encouraged a big tip, I think he was counting on Americans to expect to pay a tip, when that is not necessary (altho you can tip all you want if you like).
It didn't work with me.

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #6)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:25 AM

15. It varies by country, even in Europe

In some countries it is customary to round up to the nearest convenient denomination of the currency.

In some countries tipping on drinks - "trinkgeld" - is expected apart from the food total.

But even in places where "tipping is not expected", I tend to think of it as a "inconvenience fee" for the waitstaff having had to go out of their way to deal with someone in a language with which they are uncomfortable. If you are outside of a "touristy" area, folks are really bending over backwards to help you out. That has value.

It's amazing to me how many people let their memories of fun trips be clouded by nonsense like this. I was reading a travel review the other day where some guy was going on about how he was overcharged by a cab driver who wanted 1000 baht for a half hour fare that should have only cost 800 baht.

I mean, good golly, the guy spends two weeks in Thailand, and wants to spend the rest of his life obsessing over six bucks? Because some guy who lives in a shack "got one over on him"? It's just not freaking worth it.

I let this happen to me once, and learned my lesson. After an utterly fabulous stay in Marrakech, we were having some trouble with our luggage at the airport on the way out, and a porter showed up with a cart to get us where we needed to go. I was going to give him 5 dirham, but the smallest bill I had was a 20. He told me that he would take the 20 and go get change. I gave him a tough look and handed him the 20. He took the 20 and disappeared for a while, and I stood in line thinking "That SOB just ran off with 15 dirham". I felt like a total fool, and was really pissed off.

You know what that is in US? A buck fifty.

By the time he came back with the change, I felt like a total ass for even bothering to worry about it and told him to keep it.

So, you know what I'm stuck with as one of my standout memories of that trip? Standing there fuming over a buck fifty. The guy had, like, five teeth in his mouth total, and I'm going to begrudge him a buck fifty in currency that would have only accumulated in my drawer of foreign currency not worth exchanging in the first place?

Now, haggling over stuff is all kinds of fun, and there is no shortage of folks who take advantage of well-meaning or naive tourists. But you eventually reach a point where you have to ask yourself, "How much of a dick do I really want to be and live with for the rest of my life?"

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #15)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 11:52 AM

24. I had a colleague who accidentally tipped a driver $50 while travelling abroad

The very next day, the driver showed up to offer her and her companion a guided tour. She did not realize she had over-tipped until that next day, but decided she would take him up on his offer. He told them they were generous when they tipped him, and he wanted to offer them the tour as a thank you.

He spoke English well, and they thoroughly enjoyed his tour..the tour they got was worth more than any they could have done alone or from a routine "get on the bus" tour.

She was more careful though when she paid for stuff on the rest of their trip

This was back in 1975, before there were all the fancy calculating things we have now

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #15)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:19 PM

28. Thanks for writing this.

It is an excellent reminder of what matters - and what doesn't.



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Response to jberryhill (Reply #15)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 03:27 PM

44. Western European countries just have higher standards of living (mostly, altho Sicily was a

different story). Workers are treated better there and the safety net is stronger. It's bare bones for workers here...

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #15)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:09 PM

52. I believe "trinkgeld" is actually the word for that rounded up tip

It means "drink money" in German. The idea being that it's a small amount of money that could be spent on a drink. Sort of like "here, buy yourself a cup of coffee" or "have one on me". It's not a tip on drinks per se.

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Response to Matariki (Reply #52)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:45 PM

54. After enough trinks, I'm out of geld

But I think you are right. I've seen it separately printed on receipts, but its usually after a few.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:52 AM

9. Maybe she needs to go somewhere else?

I know a waitress in the area that can make 100 in tips! That's the advantage of tapping into a restaurant that caters to tourists.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:42 AM

8. Personally I think minimum wage should apply. They rely on tips.

 

They STILL get 15% taken out of the tips (automatically), but they should still get a not-nearly livable wage. I tip 20%+ in general. The only time I go lower is if the server sucked moose cock (recently had one of those). They work hard and deserve the pay PLUS the tips. The "tip as you go" law is stupid. Some people don't bother to tip at all.


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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #8)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:00 AM

10. Unless the bad service is caused by the kitchen

Wait staff cannot be held responsible for a slow kitchen.

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #10)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:06 AM

13. Agreed, but I account for that. I've rarely encountered bad waitstaff, HOWEVER,...

 

... I do NOT like being ignored. If I try to flag someone down to ask for a napkin or something, I'd rather get a "I'm really up to my ass in customers" type of answer than no recognition at all. Like I said, it's rare, but it happens.

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #13)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:40 AM

20. The other extreme can be just as bad

They'd have to spit on my food to make me tip less than 20%.

Almost worse than being ignored, and this seems to be part of the training at some chain restaurants, is what amounts to being constantly pestered with "is everything okay?" hovering. I was at a place a couple of weeks ago where we were having a fairly engrossing conversation over dinner, and the waiter would keep coming over and actually interrupt our conversation with robotically over-the-top cheerful reminders of his presence. I was on the edge of asking, "Would you like to pull up a chair?" by the third or fourth time.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #20)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 11:02 AM

21. la vache qui rit.

 

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #21)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:48 PM

32. Fetchez la vache

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #32)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:01 PM

46. "RUN AWAY!"

 

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #20)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 02:15 AM

55. I really hate when I'm asked if I'm "still working" on my meal

As if eating was work. Seems like a particularly puritanical influenced Americanism that I find really annoying.

That and people who are WAY too eager to take away my plate. Yes, I actually wanted those last tiny bits of crunchy shrimp ends, thank you very much. Especially when they grab it away without asking.

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #8)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:03 PM

25. 15% automatically?

Are you talking about withholding?

It may have changed since I waited tables, but I never got 15% taken out of my tips for withholding. I just got them in cash and took them home each night. I never reported them, so hopefully no one who works for the IRS is checking out this board

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Response to ParkieDem (Reply #25)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:57 PM

37. You get taxed for a specific amount of tips

And reported for making a certain amount in tips, even if you don't make that amount. It's toed to the business' totals.

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Response to ParkieDem (Reply #25)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:59 PM

39. The IRS would need to be the size of the old Red Army to check everyone who did this.

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Response to ParkieDem (Reply #25)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 04:59 PM

45. The 15% thing is common practice, especially in pooled tip places.

 

It sort of sucks because a lot of people don't tip even that, but it's assumed that they did. I like to pay in cash so the waitstaff can report what they HAVE to report, not what they got (which is almost always at least 20%). Fuck the IRS.

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Response to ParkieDem (Reply #25)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 02:17 AM

56. You must have waited tables before Ronald Reagan

He seemed to think that waitresses and waiters were committing the hugest tax scam in America.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:04 AM

11. Ask any waitperson if they'd rather get tips or minimum wage

and get back to me on the answers. Even though I already know what they will be.

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Response to B2G (Reply #11)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:07 AM

14. Depends on the place. I think minimum wage AND tips should be the standard.

 

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Response to B2G (Reply #11)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:34 AM

18. it is true

Most would rather take their chances with tips. I don't know a waiter that would do it for min wage alone, and I worked in the business for 20 years.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:04 AM

12. slaves don't get paid

 

and they are property.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:33 AM

17. I make $2.13 an hour as a server

It really pisses me off when they make me shampoo the carpet for that wage when they used to pay a cleaner $80 to do it. Now they make servers do it for "extra cleaning duties". Saves them a bundle.

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Response to HeeBGBz (Reply #17)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 10:36 AM

19. there is currently a lawsuit about that

I think waitstaff is suing Applebees to be paid minimum for side work. Sorry I don't have a link handy but I read about it last week. The other big one is tip share... where waiters have to cough up cash out of their tips to pay bussers and runners etc. The last place I worked, we had huge rings and decent tips, but it sure does suck when you tip out over a hundred dollars a shift.

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Response to justabob (Reply #19)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:44 PM

31. Applebee's may end up losing that case

As I said in another post here, when my daughter worked as a server, the restaurant chain she worked at gave the servers' min wage when they had to do side chores that didn't involve serving (wrapping silverware up in napkins, filling condiment containers). The servers much rather wanted to be serving since they made more $ in tips than they did in the side chore pay.

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Response to rainbow4321 (Reply #31)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:55 PM

36. I just saw that post... good!

As I read your post, I wondered where your daughter worked that was so enlightened. Side work is the salt in the wound for servers, especially on those days when you didn't even ring 100 dollars in sales, but had to scrub the gunk out of the cooler, under the wait station or whatever.

The other server issue I would like to see challenged is tip share. I have no problem kicking in a bit for the bussers, runners and other support staff, but the problem is that there should be a cap. I think the rule is that restaurants can charge servers 3% of their sales to share amongst support staff, which doesn't sound like much but it can translate to 25-40% of what you actually make in tips. I had many shifts that I would "make" 250-350 in tips, but "walked" with 125-225. That isn't right, the restaurant should be paying those people via wages. I tried to research it when I was still waiting tables, but never found more than a forum post that said there is a part b to the tip share rule saying that 3% of sales but no more than 15% of tips. I never could confirm that.

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Response to justabob (Reply #36)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 01:00 PM

40. I don't think servers should have to do that

The owners should pay them, or let the kitchen staff have to kick in, too!

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Response to HeeBGBz (Reply #17)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 11:10 AM

23. There is all kinds of wrong there.

2.13 should only apply to waitering duties. And I'm not convinced that it's appropriate to go below minimum wage.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #23)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:11 PM

26. Agreed

I could go on. I get fed up and want to quit, but I do make decent tips and at age 58, it gets harder and harder to find work.

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Response to HeeBGBz (Reply #17)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:13 PM

27. Yes, it should depend on what work you are doing! NT

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Response to HeeBGBz (Reply #17)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:58 PM

38. I have never thought of that

You should get different wages for ANYTHING that isn't "on" waiting time, including stocking your tables.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 11:06 AM

22. ah, back in the day as bartender and waitress. $6.80 an hour and tips in reno. gamblin'

and drinking. wonderful source for tips.

4-6 hours, 4 or 5 day, kept me healthy.

and a restaurant under 13 employees, i didnt have to declare tips.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:20 PM

29. I had paychecks that were $20

But could easily walk out w/ $100-$400 in tips depending on the night. I could make rent and bills in one day during football season. It does suck if it's slow.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:41 PM

30. My daughter worked as a server for a few months

and made the a little over $2/hour in her "pay" but she also pulled in around $400-$500/week in tips.
The servers had to share some of the tips with the workers who cleaned off the tables and the ones who put the food together on the plates before the meal went out to the diners but she still made a good amount of money per week.
The only time the restaurant bumped the servers' hourly rate up to minimum wage was when the servers had to do "side chores" like wrap silverware or fill condiment containers.
She was living at home with me at the time so she was able to put the money in savings to use later when she moved out.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:49 PM

33. The establishment profits from the labor

And they should pay for it - period. A tip should be a reward, not a wage.

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Response to Care Acutely (Reply #33)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 01:01 PM

41. 100% this

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Response to Care Acutely (Reply #33)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 01:17 PM

43. seconded.

tips should be a phased out tradition. living wages first, token rewards later.

and i also believe minimum wage should be greater than $20 nationwide, too. our economy can afford it.

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Response to NuttyFluffers (Reply #43)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:46 PM

50. Having worked as a bookkeeper in restaurants, it's not practical for restaurants to pay a high

hourly wage. On slow days or shifts it could bankrupt a place. A better way would be to add a gratuity to the food price to go directly to the server and other staff. That way the servers would get a better wage according to what was sold at their tables. We experimented with the concept at one of the restaurants of the chain I worked for and the concept really worked from the end of the workers in getting them better wages. The problem was the customers didn't like being forced to pay a service charge. I think probably what we should have done was include it in the price of the food, you know hide the gratuity instead.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #50)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 08:57 PM

51. many things would cost more if wages haven't been artificially suppressed

it's been many years of bad republican cheap labor policies. our market has been thrown completely out of wack because of it. the adjustment period will be painful, but it comes nonetheless.

like our changing ecology, painful change now or excruciating change later, you don't get a choice to avoid pain. you must accept the judgment against avarice and all shall pay, for both complicity and ambivalence. practicality in one node is an ethical viewpoint in the microcosm, but in the current entropy of the macrocosm such viewpoints will be whisked away like sentimentality in the breeze.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #50)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 04:48 AM

58. Instead the establishment pushes the bankruptcy to the laborer on slow days

and slow shifts. Kind of blows out the canard about "if workers don't make minimum wage they can file" blah blah blah. Waitstaff on the crappy shifts/days get screwed, period, but it's not like they can just leave and cut their losses. They just have to eat it? It's utter bullshit, and it should stop.

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Response to Care Acutely (Reply #58)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 04:50 PM

59. Okay, you don't see the whole picture. Getting stiffed on tips on busy shifts

does no service to the worker and it happens. I once worked as a waitress while I was in college and I always made better tips on moderately busy days because I could take the time for extra service, spending a little extra time on pleasantries, that I couldn't on days when we had lines waiting for people to get in. Yes, they got good service on those days, but they didn't get the extra friendly service I could give on slower days so therefore the tips were less. Although the restaurant did well on those days, the servers and staff did less well in tips. Adding a service charge to the ticket would have made a huge difference.

On slow days and shifts usually the wait staff gets sent home and they make no money. The skeleton staff left behind gets the minimum wage although they may serve one or two meals at lunch time. The restaurant at that time has to run at a loss to keep the doors open. Most servers will try to get on busier shifts leaving the slow times to the new workers. We found out when they were assured a gratuity, they worked harder at being good servers, at increasing the volume of those they waited on and making sure that what came out of the kitchen wouldn't come back. When we tallied the amount of money they received against the hours they worked, we found they were making an average of $20 for every hour they worked and that was twenty-five years ago.

So there is a way that works for both the worker and the restaurant. Most restaurants are not McDonald's with a hard formula for making their bottom line, so if you want good service and good food you need to make sure that the servers are compensated and that means leaving tips. Since there are people who will not tip and hide behind the good service BS the server get's stiffed, it just works better to add the gratuity to the ticket.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:51 PM

34. Federal Law -- and changed during Reagan's Admin

To tax tips wait staff earn, EVEN IF THEY DON'T MAKE THAT AMOUNT OF TIPS.

I have had friends get paychecks for, literally, a few pennies.

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Response to obamanut2012 (Reply #34)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:05 PM

47. The casino I worked at had cocktail waitresses

who occasionally OWED money on their checks if they didn't get enough hours in for that pay period. And they paid full minimum wage.





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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:07 PM

48. This is how they get away with paying less than minimum wage.

There is an allowance allowed for meals that they can deduct from the wages. Most servers don't even get to eat those meals if they don't work an eight hours shift, so they get the shaft. I think restaurants should really add at least 8% for gratuity to the bill. The servers still have to pay taxes on that 8% even if they don't actually get enough tips to cover it. I used to do p/r for restaurants so this is the way it was twenty years ago. I don't know if the rules have changed but it could help explain why she gets so little.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:29 PM

49. Until the law is changed it's up to the rest of us

to help them out.

I tip 15% if the service was horrible. 20% on average and 25-30% if I get exemplary service or if we have a large unruly table

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Response to SomethingFishy (Reply #49)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:11 PM

53. Many restaurants in my area already charge a gratuity for large parties.

It's gaining in practice but I think it should apply to everyone being served. Even if they only charge the 8% that servers have to pay taxes on, it would be fairer. Also, if you do get exemplary service, then you could add a small gratuity if you like. But people really should pay for basic service. Sometimes bad service is because the hour you arrived is very busy, like at lunch for instance and the server can't give you the attention you would get at a less busy time.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 02:57 AM

57. No. Slaves have to be cared for lest their owners lose their investment. n/t

 

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