Tipping Point

This is a new one on me.

Courtesy of  click2houston.com:

HOUSTON, TX – [May 01, 2012]

Jasmine Marks said she was trying to enjoy dinner recently with several friends at La Fisherman, located at 1935 Highway 6 South. She said the service was less than stellar; the wait staff was rude, their drinks didn’t get refilled and they didn’t receive their entire order. 

When the bill came, Marks said there was a problem. The restaurant added an automatic 17 percent gratuity because their party had more than five people in it, but Marks didn’t feel like the staff earned the full tip so she asked to speak to a manager.

“We asked her, could the gratuity be removed? Could we give our own tip? She said it was part of their policy and there was nothing she could do about,” Marks said. “If you’re not satisfied with the service, you shouldn’t have to pay gratuity.”

The gratuity policy was clearly marked on the restaurant’s menus. But Marks said when they questioned it the workers wouldn’t let her or her friends leave; she claims they locked the door and called the police.

There are a few things in this story that we don’t and can’t know: how good/bad the actual service was, and if the clients were the type who always try to weasel out of paying the whole bill. That said, I really have to side with the customers here: they paid for the food and were only contesting the tip portion of their bill. Also, since the restaurant owners aren’t disputing the description of the service, I’m feeling pretty safe.

The customer (Marks) went into the deal knowing there was a mandatory tip which would be included with their bill. That mandatory tip was in exchange for, at the minimum, an acceptable level of service.

However, consider this: If you are looking for your second cup of coffee and it simply never arrived; or, if your waitress thinks that the definition of entrée is “food served with a snarl”,……….do YOU feel like tipping?

I’m thinking NO.

Even though I prefer a local diner to, say, Ruth’s Chris, I still expect good service. When the service I receive is outstanding, I’ll happily tip 30% or more. By the same token I feel compelled to leave nothing on those occasions when it’s easier to locate Bigfoot than my waiter.

Restaurant owners have a tough gig: they are dealing with dozens of variables as they attempt to satisfy good clients as well as utter heathens. Reputable eateries deserve admiration and respect.

But the customer  deserves respect, too, and no one should be cowed into paying a gratuity when the only gratitude they feel is for being allowed to leave.


I just stumbled across this, so I guess the incident above is not an isolated occurrence.

Is this in the restaurant-owners’ handbook all of a sudden?

3 responses to “Tipping Point

  1. Not the restaurant OWNERS’ handbook, JTR, but probably part of the contracts between those owners and restaurant workers’ unions. Such as, for example, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE), which (according to Wikipedia) merged in 2004 with the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE) to form UNITE HERE.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    To the point of the post, though, why bother providing great or good or even reasonable service when you’re going to get your tip anyway? Are there any parallels to this kind of behavior among other unionized employees?

    Ehhhh…could be.

    • justturnright

      I hadn’t even thought of the union aspect of this, Buckeye. Good catch!!

      I feel a new post next week forming in my brain……..

  2. Just speculation–as you know, I’m not above that kind of thing. But the lack of service and poor atitude certainly dovetails with a pattern of behavior exhibited by unionized employees in other industries.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s