Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Service of Miserly Tips

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Washington Post columnist Carolyn Hax reprimanded a couple who complained about their daughter and son-in-law. They meet for a meal once a month at a restaurant halfway between them and their son-in-law embarrassed them when they caught him giving an additional tip to their waiter and apologizing for the table.

The incident resonated when Erica Martell sent me the column because I’ve been there, though I was never caught; I didn’t apologize to the waiter and it didn’t involve my parents. Either my husband or I would slip our waiter extra money to adjust miserly tips left by a generations-old family friend.

Back to the mother who described to Hax her conversation with her daughter the next day: “She told me….[that] our restaurant habits are not very thoughtful. I demanded specifics, and she told me that we split an entree and order water only, so the bill is really low. She also said we are demanding of the wait staff, which is especially bad because we aren’t giving the establishment much money to make up for it.”

The mother said they normally tip 10 percent, 15 if the service is good “maybe 20 percent” [the amount her daughter recommended] “if they washed our car while we were eating or something.” She concluded that she didn’t feel like she was “dining incorrectly,” thought it was rude to “correct our behavior behind our backs” and no longer wanted to meet her kids for dinner.

Hax told the complainants that they were “bad restaurant guests,” noting that a 10 percent tip was decades outdated. “And, hereafter: Always be mindful of the price point and service level of a restaurant before making demands of the staff. You can send back an order that was somehow botched at any level, from Mickey D’s on up, but you don’t fuss over the garnish on a $7.99 entree.”

About the daughter and son-in-law, Hax also suggested that the mother “take a moment to appreciate their sensitivity both to the staff and to your feelings.”

Have you dined with others who leave stingy tips or in other ways embarrass you either by drilling waitstaff or by being far too picky and demanding, making the life of restaurant workers a misery? Do you side with the parents or the adult kids in this instance?

Service of Discomfort to Correct a Situation or Person

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

In a recent “Social Q’s” column in the Sunday Style section of The New York Times, reader D.H. shared a problem with Philip Galanes: She’d given a longtime manicurist a $50 instead of a $20 by mistake. She didn’t “want her to think I want the money back,” D.H. wrote, “But I also don’t want her to think the huge tips will continue (almost twice the cost of the manicure). What should I do?”

Galanes’ advice was sage: “Say: ‘Doris, I realize I gave you a $50 tip last time. I hadn’t intended to, but I’m delighted I did in light of your many years of excellent manicures.’ Otherwise, you will be on pins and needles every time you get your nails done, afraid that your ordinary (but still generous) tip is signifying some unspoken complaint.”

I agree.

This situation is a first cousin to someone calling you by the wrong name and how the situation exacerbates when you let the misnomer continue especially if they introduce you to others. I’ve heard it happen quite often to my husband Homer. Some people call him Horace. And although I don’t recall what name folks have given me, the discomfort in correcting them when what they’ve said is nowhere near Jeanne makes me squirm the longer I let it go.

I find it hard to speak up even when I know that not doing so will make things worse in future. Does correcting people under these circumstances bother you? It’s not like advising a client, which I don’t find nearly as hard to do. How do you push yourself to do the smart thing?

Service of Checking the Bill

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

restaurant tips

According to tripadvisor.com, gratuities of as much as 20 percent are added to restaurant and pub bills in the US these days, especially in high-tourist areas. They mentioned the Grand Canyon. The website advises travelers to check the bill before adding a tip.

I noticed an addition to my restaurant check at the Oyster Bar recently. It related to the tip but wasn’t a charge. The check included all the usual information as well as three potential tip amounts, calculated for three percentages of the total [before tax]. What joy! It took me a second to round off the percentage I wanted and I didn’t need to stop the conversation.

oyster barI asked the waiter about the guide. He said it was fairly new, mentioned that they couldn’t print it on bills before because of the law. [In brief research I couldn’t find anything about such a law or regulation.] He and his colleagues were thrilled as previously so many left without adding a cent. The Oyster Bar, located in Grand Central Station and considered a landmark, sees thousands of tourists who come from countries where service is included, so this wasn’t a surprise. [My husband also reminded me of several wealthy and cheap friends who consistently stiffed restaurant staff.]

restaurant tip 2As the handy calculation was news to me, I asked some friends who eat out often whether they’d noticed these calculations. Here’s what they wrote:

Nancie Steinberg: Yes, very common now but not everywhere.

David Reich: I’ve seen friends use it, but to me — and I’m no brainiac in math — it’s easier to just double the tax and add a little more.

Andy Gerber: I don’t know what law the waiter is talking about, but I have seen those guides on checks now and then.  Mostly, I think they’re innocuous.  I confess I do feel a little offended by the arm-twisting, but it doesn’t really bother me because I’m free to ignore it and I can put up with it if it discourages some people who would otherwise stiff without a good reason. I wonder whether they base the percentages on the net check (proper) or the total including the tax (overreaching)?

Do you find such guides helpful or offensive? Have you noticed them? Do you always study your bill or do you hand the waiter a credit card or slap down a few bills without looking?

Study restaurant bill

Service of Tips III

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Tips3

Dan Ariely, who according to his blog, “does research in behavioral economics,” also writes a Q and A column, “Ask Ariely,” on wsj.com.

Sad waiterIn “Tipping Points: Who Gives the Most?” V, a waiter writing from Waikiki, told Professor Ariely that he tracks his attitude and behavior to gauge which inspire the biggest tips. V found “sad nets the most tips” as do credit card paying customers: Those wielding American Express cards sign off on the biggest gratuities; Discover “by far the worst,” and Visa in the middle.

To test a hypothesis that wealthier, less wealthy and the least affluent people use American Express, Visa and Discover, respectively, Ariely suggested that V should observe how much the customers spend, say on wine.

Wine into a caraffeHe continued, “Another possibility is that credit cards have a priming influence. If a person takes out an American Express card and looks at it, its reputation as a premium card might make the owner feel richer and therefore more generous. These feelings would diminish with a Visa card and be present even less with a Discover card (which generally is of more modest repute).”

What encourages you to give a bigger tip? Does service—not mentioned by either Professor Ariely or waiter V, enter into it? Does the credit card you use influence your generosity? Do you consistently give X percent regardless? If you’re on expense account are you more or less generous? What about if you pay cash or if you were once a waiter/waitress?

 Paying Bill at restaurant

Service of Whistleblowers

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

whistleblower

In “Whistle. Then Worry and Wait.” Edward Wyatt wrote a thorough and engrossing feature in The New York Times‘ Sunday Business Section [October 10], about Arthur F. Schlobohm IV, known as Ty, a Minneapolis resident who gave up his job as a trader at a brokerage firm some 18 months ago to become an FBI informant.

The target was an overtly suspicious Ponzi schemer, fund manager Trever G. Cook. He had been twice suspended by the National Futures Association and fined $25,000 for giving false information to open a trading account. This information about him came up in Schlobohm’s Google Searches. You can read all the other clues that alerted Schlobohm to Cook’s bad intentions in the article. Most were hiding in plain site.

cleanersSchlobohm found one of the most difficult parts of his undercover job was watching so many of his neighbors being taken in–and to the cleaners by–Cook until the Feds felt they had enough against him to put him behind bars. By the time this happened, almost $160 million had gone up in smoke leaving financially devastated people with little if any hope of seeing a cent of their investment.

Whistleblowers are extremely brave and essential to stop and eliminate corrupt businesses and business people. Risks and stress are tremendous and rewards few, although Wyatt noted that this summer, The Dodd-Frank act became law to strengthen whistleblower protections.

Trouble is, instead of being celebrated, some never again work in their specialties because nobody will hire them. And imagine what Schlobohn’s neighbors who got burned by Cook think even though they must have been told that he couldn’t warn them and desperately wanted to. It’s ironic that to bring an evil creep to justice you can’t alert the innocent targets.

At the time Wyatt wrote the article, it wasn’t clear whether Schlobohn, who as a teen ran tickets on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, would win an award from the IRS. [He’s ineligible for benefits from the Dodd-Frank act.] But Schlobohn told Wyatt that he’d probably help fraud victims with it and, “If I were to receive some reward, I think that would be great. But that’s not why I did it.”

I wonder if Scholobohn will get back his or any job as a trader. What do you think of whistleblowers? Would you hire or be one? Do you think you’d get taken in by a Ponzi schemer?

 ponzi

Service of Tips

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

tips

I’ve wanted to touch on the topic of tips since April when Susannah Cahalan wrote about them in The New York Post. In “Tip-jar madness takes city,” she pointed out that tip cups are cropping up all over the place where we’d not before seen them-at hot dog stands at baseball games, in movie theatres by the popcorn, soda and candy counter, even at stores with grocery baggers. Nobody takes bags to a car for customers because most city people don’t have or use cars for grocery shopping. And in the suburbs, people bring their heavy bags to their car in carts.

I began to look for tip cups and notice them now on deli counters all year long. We’d see them only at holiday time before.

Cahalan wrote “New Yorkers are typically more generous than the rest of the nation-paying an average gratuity of 18 percent, versus the nationwide 15 percent.” At the end of the article, she provided an estimate of tips that New Yorkers give a year–$3,333.79. I haven’t totaled mine, but I disagree with some of the figures on which her total is based-which is a demographic issue. I don’t hire a nanny so the $777 allocated doesn’t apply but there is no money listed for a cleaning person.

doormanWe give far more than $30 to our building superintendent and each doorman at holiday time, but we don’t eat out three times a week anymore so I doubt that we give $1,170 to restaurant wait staff. I prefer walking and taking the subway–the fastest way to get around town–so I doubt I tip cab drivers $308.88 in 12 months. And I never go to the hairdresser for a haircut only, so it’s hard to tell what part of the tip I give relates to the $34.23 Cahalan allocated, but this seems on the low side. In fact, the proportion of tips for waiters vs. say, a doorman you see daily appears out of whack and points to another reason the population is becoming increasingly fat.

winecasesThere are times when I enjoy giving a tip. One is when I buy a case or two of wine at Trader Joe on East 14th Street [which is easy to do as you can pay $36 for a dozen pretty amazing bottles]. There are volunteer staffers with hand trucks to walk the cases–cheerfully–to your car even if it’s parked a few blocks away. They won’t even let you load the boxes into the trunk.

Another is when the store has kitty litter only in 50 lb bags, not the usual 20 lb ones I prefer. I’m grateful for help lugging the bag to my car and pleased to thank with more than a smile.

A former boss told me that she left a restaurant near Lincoln Center that had the worst service she’d ever encountered and as she walked up Broadway, the offending waiter raced after her to tell her she’d forgotten to add a tip on her credit card receipt. She was outspoken and you can imagine what her response was.

taxiWhat about cab or ambulette drivers who provide harrowing rides?

 

On the other side of the coin, I was appalled by an overstuffed 20-something brat who complained about the tip rule that’s clearly marked on menus at most restaurants in the city. For parties over six or eight, management automatically adds 15 percent to the bill. His gripe: “I paid $100 for my meal” [and given this was some years ago, make that $150 today]. “Why should I pay any more than that?” Guess this miser thought waiters in expensive restaurants work for free. The rule was made due to such stingy, self-indulgent people.

apartmenthouseMy mother’s next door neighbor was constantly annoyed because the super at their apartment building dragged his feet when she called him to fix something. She noticed that the same man came in a trice when my mom asked for help. Mom told her a million times to give the super a tip when he’d worked at her place and she’d say, “I only tip at Christmas.” No wonder she often had to wait until then to get action.

For a haircut, meal or manicure, what percentage do you tip? Have you noticed tip cups in new places where you work and live? Do you feel intimidated into give tips when you see a cup or even when service is poor?

thumbsupanddown

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