Gratuity Entitlement aka Adventures In Stupidity!

The latest round of entitlement thinking is coming from not only those who demand services, but now it’s coming from those whom render service. I mean at this point it’s all a joke.

Like many who’ve climbed the ladder of success, I’ve worked such jobs as bartender, waiter, and others in my life. The pay structure for many was our first real entry into the world of pay based on merit. If you want to experience first hand a true example of “the entrepreneurial employee” there is none better. However, it now seems that the “I deserve” mindset is not only creeping into these entrepreneurial laboratories, but are being validated by the very owners of these establishments. This calamity can’t come about unless the attitude of both is “the customer be damned!”

Many establishments in the New York area [and also peppered throughout the country] are including the charge of a 25% tip to your bill. Automatically! Regardless if the server was the equivalent of being a contestant for “Worlds Greatest” or “Worlds Worst.” Not only are you going to be billed, but more than likely you won’t even be told. It’ll just be there as a line item along with your martini, steak, and dessert. The line item will give you a whole new meaning to “finger food” I’ll bet.

Wait staff of any order has always been a low waged salary because of the opportunity for the server to supplement their pay with tips. The word tips is attributed as an acronym for “to insure prompt service” whether or not that’s 100% correct is irrelevant. The underlying definition or meaning is the same. It was a reward for quality service above or beyond what was expected. If someone gets only what they paid for, well then why would a tip ever be necessary?

Over time it has been customary to tip 15% there or about. This was the equivalent of a server living up to expectations. If they were courteous, prompt, and pleasant, the customary gratuity was the reward. Over and above was up to the patron. Horrible service was of course discounted from the average. [I have never deducted from the wait staff for something coming from the kitchen when obviously it was not their fault. A piece of undercooked fish is unknown till served as an example.] Large parties such as multiple tables or family settings of 8 or more were treated differently. Gratuity was added at the customary level, but was stated “before” you ordered whether posted at the bottom of the menu or somewhere else. This was done to ensure not only the wait staff, but the house, and the patrons themselves some level of expected service because you were taking a person away from the ability of making money since they would now be relegated to serving only one party instead of many. This also stopped the party from deciding they wanted to be cheap and stiff the wait staff because they think $10 should be more than enough for 2 people to serve 20.

In tough economic times everything gets discounted. Gratuity based employment seems to get hit hardest first. However, owners can’t raise a salary by forcing or tricking someone else to pay. It is also just as foolish of servers demanding a fixed level of gratuity. If these establishments want to continue trying to force patrons into paying their employee costs than both are going to lose in the end because patrons will not go along regardless how extensive the wine list.

Check Please!


© 2011 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved