To Tip, or Not to Tip, that is Now the Question
Last week CBS news reported on a story. In early December, a group of people got together to give one large tip to a server. The story would not have gained much steam except that the restaurant, that does not have tip sharing, wanted to split it between all the servers. The server went out and told the customer what the restaurant wanted, so the customer went back to complain. The restaurant split the money between the two servers that had worked at the table, but only after the customer went back in and forced them to do it. The restaurant in Arkansas was not happy with the server, so they fired her. That is the abridged version of the story, if you want the extended version, you can go here.
Now there is an NBC News article with a different take on it. They believe that the “practice of tipping needs to end.” Their reasoning makes some sense. Restaurants are supposed to keep up with how much a server makes in tips, and make sure they get minimum wage after their tips. If they do not, then the restaurant needs to reimburse the server. According to NBC this does not happen very often. There is also the issue with servers not making a “living wage.” They also explain that there is no standardized way to spread out the tips so different restaurants can do different things. It is not fair and equitable.
As I wrote before, some of these points make sense, but I have been a server in the past and I would like to make an argument for why the tipping system works.
First, it keeps the restaurant costs down. In a restaurant, one of the highest costs that they deal with is labor. If the labor goes up to at least minimum wage, many restaurants will have to charge more or even go out of business. In Seattle Washington, the city raised the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour and many restaurants had to close. Would you as the customer want to pay a much higher price for food if it meant that you did not have to tip?
Second, it gives many customers a way to tell the server whether they did well or not. If a server did not have to work for their tip, would they work as hard?
Last, I think we should ask servers if they are ok with getting minimum wage or a little higher and losing their tips. I can almost guarantee that most of the servers would say “absolutely not.” I was a server for a long time and, my per hour amount with tips was much higher than minimum wage. I worked less hours, and my average was 2 to 3 times minimum on a bad night and 4 to 6 times minimum on a good night. Let people work where and how they want to work. If the server did not like working for tips, there are many other jobs right now that pay good hourly wages. Heck, even Hobby lobby is now giving 18.50 an hour for full-time employees.
I will end with this reminder. In the State of Texas, the minimum wage for servers is much lower than it is for other jobs. When I was waiting tables, it was 2.13 an hour and most of my paychecks went to taxes. Try to tip your server something even if they are having a bad night. It could possibly turn their night around.