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Bloviator

Jan 29, 2007, 6:44 AM

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Tipping

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The subject of tipping is very interesting. It becomes even more interesting when one throws in the various tipping customs of the US, Canada, and Mexico.

As a really old person, I remember when it was customary to tip 10%. Somehow, that crept up to 15% and now 20%. The argument for the increase is that the cost of living is constantly going up and servers need the increase. Since the cost of eating at restaurants is constantly going, I always thought that the rise in dining costs should offset the cost of living increase for servers. Still, I do tip well because my daughter spent a good deal of time as a food server and my son a shorter period. My daughter would always add to the tip if I did not provide enough.

I am under the impression that tip, stands for to insure prompt (service). That may or may not be right, but it seems to me that a tip should reflect the quality of service. I have never (to the best of my memory) failed to tip, but have left 10% in recent years if the service was mediocre. I also left a one penny tip at a very nice restaurant in Sausalito, CA when the waiter was arrogant and rude. I wanted him to be sure to understand that I wasn't just forgetting to tip him.

Evidently Canadian tipping customs are quite different than those of the US. While many Canadians are exemplary in their approach to tipping, there seem to be enough authentic tales of Canadian non-tipping and vehement refusal to tip, that I'm really curious where that attitude comes from.

When we came here, I was told that Mexicans don't expect a tip for service. I find that hard to believe. Perhaps Mexican traditions don't include tipping, but waiters Lakeside are not paid enough to survive without tips.

I believe that waiters should receive appropriate tips if they provide good service. I also believe that musicians should be tipped extravagently depending on the quality of the music they provide. A musician spends years perfecting his/her skill. A good waiter if a major part of a good restaurant meal, but the skills can be learned in a much shorter time.

Why do some Canadians believe that tipping is wrong? Do Mexicans tip? Do waiters in restaurants that cater almost exclusively to Mexican not expect to be tipped?

Why did I suggest to some Canadians a couple of nights ago in a restaurant that it would be nice if they tipped the musician? It must have been the tequila. Why did one of them respond that we had all their money in the US and what does that have to do with tipping? I couldn't even understand the comment. Perhaps when the Canadian dollar was at 65 cents to the dollar it was true. Now that it has risen to almost par with the US dollar, it doesn't.The subject of tipping is very interesting. It becomes even more interesting when one throws in the various tipping customs of the US, Canada, and Mexico.


(This post was edited by dlyman6500 on Jan 29, 2007, 6:45 AM)



gringolandia

Jan 29, 2007, 6:55 AM

Post #2 of 44 (4913 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Tipping

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I just traveled with two busloads of US and Canadian residents to Tequila...at a local restaurant a Mariachi band put on a show and then some locals got up to sing...a hat was passed to all the tables, most folks tipped, some very reluctantly...but one man...nationality with-held to prevent the steriotype from getting worse-said..no-I didn't order music and it should be included in the meal.
He was probably right...a full steak dinner with beverage was 100 pesos...I noted he didn't tip the waitor for his "expensive" dinner. Perhaps.....no, I've said enough!!!


yucatandreamer


Jan 29, 2007, 7:46 AM

Post #3 of 44 (4901 views)

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Re: [gringolandia] Tipping

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Canadians do tip. I tip; my daughter lives in Toronto and works in restaurant industry. I worked in the industry in the Vancouver area for 20 years and made good tips. It could have to do with city people versus country folks. Here in the Yucatan I see the locals(Yucatecos) leaving small handfuls of change for the tip while we leave 15 to 20%. What I do see often is that the cheapest sort of foreigners are moving to my area. They couldn't afford to retire in their home country and cannot afford to live as well as they thought they could here. They resent spending any sort of money and are not generous with their donations, they complain about paying for services and brag about bargaining with country people trying to eke out a living on produce. They are both Canadians and Americans. This is not all expats or even a significant minority but there are enough to embarrass the rest of us.

As for music, I really don't like someone in a big hat playing loud music at my dinner table. I go out to eat and to enjoy my companions. I do not want to tip for something I do not want and find intrusive. There are restaurants where the music is the attraction and of course if I go to listen to the performer or ask for a song I would tip.

Anyway, I am sorry you got more than your fair share of cheap Canadians in your area while we seem to be getting more stingy Americans over here. By the way, as a server, we always hated to see the following, Europeans, school teachers and bible belt folks. Loved to see politicians, lawyers, police, American tourists and of course other food service folks!


cdubee

Jan 29, 2007, 8:27 AM

Post #4 of 44 (4887 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Tipping

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In my travels I always try to go with the custom of the country (or area) when tipping. In Mexico, for example, I would try to discover what percentage of the bill does the average Mexican business person tip? I don't like to under-tip but I also don't want to give the impression of a rich American showing off by throwing money around. In other words, I try to blend in as much as possible.
Also, speaking of restaurants, I know that many Mexicans call out to the waiter, "Joven!" when they want the waiter's attention. I think this word translates roughly as "youth!" or "boy!" I have always found it difficult to address a grown man with this term, but I suppose "Senor" seems ridiculous? Any thoughts on a compromise?


arbon

Jan 29, 2007, 8:39 AM

Post #5 of 44 (4882 views)

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Re: [gringolandia] Tipping

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A Mariachi band usually gets paid in advance, by the person who chooses what they want to hear, they don't play on speculation.

But why do Americans think being waited on and getting good service, more important that good food?

It would appear from this and other threads that Americans expect good service, (what ever that is)
even to the extent of not puring there own water from the jug on the table, into their glass.

But Americans do not expect good food, is that too a "Cultural" thing from where they came from?

Because we do hear complaints from Americans when visiting Canada, always about the poor service, but no complaints about the food.

So I guess you get what you pay for.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Rolly


Jan 29, 2007, 9:01 AM

Post #6 of 44 (4873 views)

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Re: [cdubee] Tipping

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I am a generous tipper because I understand the importance of the tip in the life of the waiter and the busboy and bar tender who will share the waiter's tips.

I call a waiter with "¡Mijo!" It is so uncommon that it has a startle factor while also being very friendly. It almost always gets a smile and prompt attention.

Rolly Pirate


gringolandia

Jan 29, 2007, 9:54 AM

Post #7 of 44 (4856 views)

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Re: [arbon] Tipping

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The subject said "tipping"...if you want comments about bad Canadian Food...then you could start a thread on that...I would be happy to contribute. In addition...tipping is an "extra", not meant to pay for the mariachi...which no one suggested was being offered on the "come"....


sfmacaws


Jan 29, 2007, 10:26 AM

Post #8 of 44 (4850 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Tipping

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Quote
I call a waiter with "¡Mijo!"


Heh! They probably think you are a priest Rolly!


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Papirex


Jan 29, 2007, 10:33 AM

Post #9 of 44 (4848 views)

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Re: [cdubee] Tipping

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The standard TIP in Mexico is 10%. Of course if you have received outstanding service a TIP of 15 – 20 or 25% is very much appreciated. No waitperson will ever be insulted by a 10% TIP though, even in the most elegant restaurants.

Tipping customs are very different here than most of us are used to in our own countries. This is a country where you don’t TIP a cab driver just for driving you somewhere, but you do TIP the service station attendant.

Joven also means young man, or young woman. It’s OK to address a young person as joven; it is in no way denigrating. Mijo is a sweet way of saying my son; mija is a sweet way of saying my daughter. It is a common way of addressing a young person that you like. We always call the nice teen-age girls that live next door to us mija.

The common way of addressing a waitress is señorita, regardless of her age or marital status; a waiter is addressed as señor.

I could write a book about tipping a musician. My wife was a professional singer for many years. Anytime someone requests a particular song, they have obligated themselves for a TIP. Singing for an entire evening is a very exhausting job. TIPs are a musician’s main source of income.

Sometimes people would call my wife over to their table and request several songs, then stiff her for the TIP. When that would happen, my wife would tell me about it and say “I will remember their faces, they will never get another song from me.”

If the music bothers a person, they should never go to a restaurant that offers live music. Some people that find the music annoying are too dumb to avoid the places that have live music. We seek them out.

When my wife wants to hear a particular song down here, she will ask the leader how much they charge for a request. He will tell her in advance how much one selection will cost; usually he has a discounted rate for several songs. Half the time, she ends up singing with them.

Rex




"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo


sfmacaws


Jan 29, 2007, 10:51 AM

Post #10 of 44 (4835 views)

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Re: [RexC] Tipping

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OK, a couple questions and additions since I consider you an expert Rex. I never tip the gas jockeys just for pumping gas, I do tip if someone washes the windows or does something else I consider extra.

I think the 10% may be higher in resort areas or it may be that in areas with a lot of tourists the expectations from a gringo are higher.

Mimi and I have this discussion all the time. I think in small, local eateries that 10% is fine and normal. She thinks I'm cheap (and I'm not Canadian) and that 15% would maybe be ok there but that 20% is definite for a slightly higher scale restaurant. If I'm paying, she always looks at my tip and adds more from her pocket. It one of those ongoing things, if we are off in the hinterlands and I leave a 10% tip she rolls her eyes at me but goes along with it. She also sometimes gets a sudden itch on her elbow. Humph!


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Rolly


Jan 29, 2007, 11:15 AM

Post #11 of 44 (4826 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Tipping

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I vote with Mimi.

Rolly Pirate


Brian

Jan 29, 2007, 11:25 AM

Post #12 of 44 (4823 views)

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Re: [arbon] Tipping

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In Reply To
A Mariachi band usually gets paid in advance, by the person who chooses what they want to hear, they don't play on speculation.




MUSICA PAGADA TOCA MAL SON

Mexican "dicho"


saludos
Brian


(This post was edited by Brian on Jan 29, 2007, 11:29 AM)


bfwpdx

Jan 29, 2007, 11:34 AM

Post #13 of 44 (4815 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Tipping

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In many countries it goes beyond "not being customary to tip" as it is considered offensive to tip. Some of the "British ones" are amongst them, although of course change is occuring towards the American model.

In America, wait staff are considered a very low level position, and are put in the very unenviable position of having to impress their customers in order to be paid for their work. In many of the British countries, waiters and other service people are paid professional salaries in accordance with their job skills and do not rely on the customer for payment. This elevates the position much higher than what Americans attach to waiting on tables. It also renders the wait staff a degree of independence from the patron since they are not in their employ.

In Australia and New Zealand tipping used not to be common except for exceptional service. And one had to be very careful how they did it. In Britain one does not tip the barmaid, one offers to buy her a drink.

Tipping is fraught with social meaning, especially in countries with pronounced forms of social hierarchy. When in doubt, do the same as when you were little....."watch and do what the adults do"....in this case "watch and do what the natives do"


yucatandreamer


Jan 29, 2007, 11:37 AM

Post #14 of 44 (4814 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Tipping

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I used to figure it on the lower side too but once time my husband looked at me and said "its only 50 cents". Generally the meals are so inexpensive that even 20% would look small. Since then I just throw my money around like a "rich" American. It is worth the 50 cents to have the waiter smile. I particularly like to "tip big" in the small towns and cocina economicas where I know the people can use that extra 50 cents or so. I have wondered about the gas stations, do those guys get a wage?


Papirex


Jan 29, 2007, 11:55 AM

Post #15 of 44 (4809 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Tipping

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Jonna, I always TIP the gas station attendants when they at least wash the windshield, or offer to check under the hood, check the air pressure in the tires, etc. If the attendant is friendly, I TIP them about half the time just for pumping the gas, not much, maybe 5 Pesos.

I do think that in resort, or especially in tourist areas they are expecting us to behave like we do in our own country and over tip them. Most people do over tip them in those areas, I think. Fortunately, Doris is a Mexican, and for me, I look enough like a Mexican that I never get pressured to overpay. I’m not cheap, but I’m not stupid either.

We all go a little bit goofy once in a while though. I remember once in Acapulco about 10 or 12 years ago, it was our anniversary or something, and we went to dinner at a very elegant restaurant up on the hillside. It had a great view, and I had several martinis. I became very relaxed (that beats getting drunk.) I don’t remember how much I tipped, but after an elegant meal, I still remember the tab including the TIP was US$312 Dollars for two people. At the time, it didn't bother me a bit.

I do think that tipping has gotten out of hand in The US. I am old enough to remember when the standard TIP up there was 10%, and you never tipped a bartender. The only people that have benefited from the high tipping customs up there are the employers.

Bartenders and waiters used to be paid a decent wage up there, not the minimum wages they are generally paid today. I had a friend that was a bartender in the mid 50s, he was paid US$18 Dollars per day. That was a reasonably good paying job in those days, probably the equivalent of $180 - $200 Dollars today.

I have never felt that my ego needed to be satisfied by lavishly over tipping somebody. Sometimes, when we are getting ready to get up from our table in a restaurant after getting really good service from our waiter, Doris will tell me "Give her a good TIP." She's telling me that 10% is not enough.

Rex











"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo


jerezano

Jan 29, 2007, 10:27 PM

Post #16 of 44 (4735 views)

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Re: [RexC] Tipping

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Hello,

Something that nobody has mentioned about restaurants is that the "cuenta" includes a 15% tax. So, do you tip on the tax too? Or do you scale the bill back to the food bill only and tip on that? Think. Most Mexicans I know do.

Also here in the US now no matter where you are (unless maybe New York or San Francisco) the minimum tip for anything even if it is a cup of coffee only is $1 dollar--that is roughly 10 pesos. Does that mean one should tip at least $10 pesos for a burrito that cost $10 pesos here in Mexico? That could be rather foolish. Is the Mexican economy such that American sized tips should be handed out right and left here? Does the average Mexican waiter in a good restaurant have a $50-$100 dollar day in tips?

Look around you. Check the restaurant. Check the food. Check the service. Check the atmosphere. If it is a tourist trap you will be forced to tip higher than you would ordinarily. Think about that 15% tax and cut the tip back a bit. But if the restaurant is all out, the food excellent, the atmosphere relaxing and the waiters prompt, amiable, and happy to serve you and you are CONTENT....Let your conscience be your guide.

If you are in a local taquería doesn't a 10 pesos tip seem a bit much? Particularly when you see your Mexican neighbors leaving the small change from their bill or most of the time nothing at all.

The rule is "How do you feel when you leave that tip?" OK. Ashamed? Like a fool? Then leave the tip you want to leave. If you are dining with local people, in my case they always either suggest adding more or taking back when I make a boo-boo. After a while you get the feel.

And no, I don't tip the gas station attendent unless he/she does my windows etc. And no, I don't tip taxi drivers--but then I'm not in a tourist city. And yes, I do tip tour guides always, and museum attendents when they do something special, and sometimes just because whoever it is has made me happy.

If you are alone, then do what you WANT to do. I've found over the years here in Mexico that a person providing a service is usually happy to get a tip whether it appears meager or generous. And particularly if it is unexpected.

Adiós. jerezano.


Bloviator

Jan 30, 2007, 5:30 AM

Post #17 of 44 (4717 views)

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Re: [RexC] Tipping

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When I started this, I hadn't thought of the other instances of tipping that seem to be prevalent in Mexico.

I have a hard time with tipping the grocery baggers, having spent my college years checking and bagging groceries and being really embarrassed when a customer would offer a tip. After all, I was a journeyman grocery clerk and proud of it. However, I realize the baggers here get nothing for their efforts except for tips. Therefore, I always tip, either the coins that I get in change if it is enough or $10 pesos if I'm buying several bags of groceries. When I get one or two items I have a problem. How much should I tip the kid who hands me the newspaper I just bought?

I have trouble knowing who else to tip. A woman at a vivero was very demanding when I didn't tip her for waiting on me. Considering she had done a horrible job, I still didn't tip her, but I did find out that tipping helpers at a vivero is customary (?) and appreciated (!!). When I go to my favorite vivero, I don't know what to do about tipping the older women who help me. I know that they are all family of the owner and I don't think it is customary to tip owners. At the hardware store, I guess it is appropriate to tip some and not others - depending on their ownership status, which is usually unknown to me.

Plumbers, telephone workers, and others who provide important services also get into the tipping system, though when the plumber charged me over $2,000 pesos for fixing a major leak in my wall, I felt that he was sufficiently compensated without a tip. I always tip the telephone people, hoping that they will remember and actually show up within a week of the time promised when needed in the future. I realize that I'm only kidding myself as there are a lot of workers and the chances of getting the same on again are small.

I really hate tipping the little man who gets in my way as I'm driving out of a parking lot and almost gets run over "helping" me leave the lot. I feel uncomfortable refusing help at Costco - and the propina involved - but I prefer to store my own purchases in the car.

I have no problem tipping if it is customary, if the person's income is dependent on the tip, if the service is good, and if it is a service I need and want. Nevertheless, I find the whole tipping thing in Mexico to be difficult to deal with.

I'm very confused about tipping the gas station attendant. In a previous discussion, it was pointed out that they belong to a union and are very well paid. Others then chimed in and said they work for private contractors and are not well paid. I finally gave up trying to understand the situation and do tip the gas station attendant. It gets really difficult when they actually wash the windows. Then I tip better.

One group I really hate is the people who smear your windshield at stop lights on the city streets. Them I never tip unless for some reason my windshield is very dirty and I motion them over to wash it. I always try to stop the others and indicated that I want no service from them.

No offense to the one who said it, but the argument that one doesn't tip musicians because they go out to eat to have conversation with their companions not to hear the music. DO NOT GO TO RESTAURANTS THAT HAVE MUSIC, Homer. We go to several restaurants because of the music and almost never have a problem with conversation. Sometimes we don't talk during the music out of courtesy if it is a quiet guitarist, but otherwise we find ample opportunities for conversation during the music and between songs and sets.

The Canadian (??) who accused ALL Americans of preferring good service to good food, is probably one of those who resents stereotyping of Canadians. Go figure. Good service is a part of a quality restaurant experience, but only part. Of course, when we go to our favorite restaurant primarily to hear the music, we put up with bad service and mediocre food - except for the great desserts - just to hear the great music. Bad service there is a plus, as we are not finished eating and taking up a seat that the restauranteur would like to have for the next diner. It takes all evening to get served. We tip the musician lavishly and the waiters very poorly.

Of course, often poor service is not the fault of the waiter, but of the kitchen and the poor waiter gets stuck with the blame.


Bubba

Jan 30, 2007, 8:26 AM

Post #18 of 44 (4692 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Tipping

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One group I really hate is the people who smear your windshield at stop lights on the city streets. Them I never tip unless for some reason my windshield is very dirty and I motion them over to wash it. I always try to stop the others and indicated that I want no service from them.

We learned how to handle this from a Guadalajara taxi driver. I have a tendency to turn on my windshield wipers if they persist once I say no. This taxi driver simply let his windshield be cleaned at two separate intersections with no reaction whatsoever and then drove on without even acknowledging the existence of the washer much less proferring a tip. I liked that.

I will give some change at intersections in the city to clearly handicapped people or some of the kids who put on some pretty decent entertainment. Some of these guys are talented.


esperanza

Jan 30, 2007, 10:01 AM

Post #19 of 44 (4667 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Tipping

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I must be in the minority here--I LIKE it that the guys clean my windshield, and 95% of the time they do a good job.

One time, however, at the Glorieta Minerva, a guy started cleaning the windshield without asking first. I shook my finger "NO" (that back and forth shake that usually takes care of it), but he kept on. When he finished, he stuck his hand in the driver's side window. I said, "You didn't ask permission and I didn't ask you to clean it. I told you no. So no tip for you." He said something extremely rude in Spanish--something about an anatomical part that I don't have one of. In Spanish, I said, "Do it to yourself." His face--well, I can't even describe the look. That an old foreign lady would say THAT, and in SPANISH, and to HIM! Like MasterCard says, Priceless.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









smokesilver

Jan 31, 2007, 5:57 PM

Post #20 of 44 (4600 views)

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Re: [RexC] Tipping

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Your comments regarding the tipping of yesteryear & how bartenders & others have 'lost' some measure of their oncomes by whatever 'hook & crook' situation that occurred has entered another phase: just last week the BELLHOPS at American Airlines filled a lawsuit against said company...reason...AA is now charging $2.00 per bag to customers using that service. Result is that the flying public is now tipping the bellhops substantially less than before the new charge. Corporate America continues to take every little coin they can.


Papirex


Jan 31, 2007, 6:12 PM

Post #21 of 44 (4594 views)

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Re: [smokesilver] Tipping

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Why is it not surprising that people in the highest positions, have no trouble in stooping so low?

Rex
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo


Gayla

Feb 1, 2007, 8:30 AM

Post #22 of 44 (4532 views)

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Re: [arbon] Tipping

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But why do Americans think being waited on and getting good service, more important that good food?

Because many Americans do not know what good food is and are willing to settle for mediocre or worse. So if the food isn't very good, the service darn well better be.

So while the last 30 years have brought tremendous growth and awareness in the restaurant industry, it's also seen a continued disconnect in the relationship Americans have with food. There are now fully 2 generations that do not know how to cook let alone where their food comes from or how it gets to market. How can you judge food as being "good" when you have no framework with which to make that judgement.

Your question may have been a little tongue in cheek ;-), but it's one that is frequently (and often hotly) address on the multitude of food forums in the U.S.


Gayla

Feb 1, 2007, 9:03 AM

Post #23 of 44 (4525 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Tipping

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Senor Lyman, please remember that in the <great> State of California members of the waitstaff are not paid minimum wage. They are not guaranteed a salary unless they earn it through tips. Oh, there may be a nominal guarantee by the restaurant of $3 or $4 an hour but as of Jan. 1, 2007 minimum wage is now $7.50/hr. So where does the difference between $7.50 and the $3 or $4 dollars come from? Your tips. You the customer are paying the wages of your server, not the restaurant who employees the server.

And let's not forget, many waiters and waitress are expected to split their tips with back staff and/or busboys, or worse yet, expected to pool their tips to be split evenly among the entire waitstaff regardless of work actually done. Restaurants are required by the IRS to report "estimated" tips and waitstaff is expected to pay income tax on those tips. There was a time when many tips were unreported income but the IRS put a lid on that 5 or 6 years ago. Service staff (and usually kitchen staff as well) generally do not receive health or other benefits that many other people usually do receive from their employer. Although, in the interest of full disclosure I should include that the trend among upscale restaurants (such as Charlie Trotter's in Chicago or the Thomas Keller properties in CA and NYC), is to offer kitchen and service staff full benefit packages. And finally, something no one has mentioned............the toll being on your feet and knees. Years of prolonged standing, walking, lifting, bending, stooping, carrying, etc hasten bodily erosion and when you haven't got health insurance to deal with them adequately, well, that's a problem no matter how big the tip.

It is very true that in many mid-high to high end restaurants in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, LA and probably Miami, Houston, Dallas and New Orleans before Katrina that trained service staff could earn a 6-figure income. But these are the exceptions, not the rule, and, of course, 9/11 killed that when the hospitality industry tanked.

Last month I had the pleasure of dining at the Villa Montaña in Morelia with 2 members of this forum. We had quite a nice dinner, well worth every peso. But while the food was very good, the service was delightful and stellar. I tipped slightly over 10% but really regret not tipping more given the quality of the service, which was warm, attentive, unobstrusive and elegant.


Anonimo

Feb 1, 2007, 10:26 AM

Post #24 of 44 (4505 views)

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Re: [yucatandreamer] Tipping

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A parallel thread is presently running on the lonelyplanet.com Thorn Tree, Mexico Branch.
When I last peeked in this AM, it had over 89 replies. Some were even on topic.



Saludos,
Anonimo


Anonimo

Feb 1, 2007, 10:37 AM

Post #25 of 44 (4500 views)

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Re: [yucatandreamer] Tipping

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I just looked, and the Thorn tree thread on "Cheapskates From Winnipeg" stands at 101 replies.
The debate rages on!



Saludos,
Anonimo
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