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June 2011 Archives

  • Jennifer from Valley Glenn, CA

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:14 AM

    Q: What do you do for work?

    A: I am a server at an upscale casual restaurant.

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: Tips make up more than 70 percent of my income.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: More than 10 years.

    Q: Do you work in a state where the tipped minimum wage is below the federal minimum wage?

    A: No.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provide?

    A: Eighteen to 20 percent on the total bill (pre-coupons) if service is good.

    Q: Do you receive tips directly, or share in a pool?

    A: I receive tips directly, but then have to “tip out” my hosts, bussers, bar, and food expediter. I have never worked in a tip-pooling restaurant, but think it would encourage more of a team effort, provided that all servers worked equally hard.

    Q: Have you had employers steal your tips?

    A: I have never had my employers steal my tips; however, if a customer accidentally takes his or her signed credit card slip, I do not receive the tip, even if they come back on a later day to return the slip.

    Q: How often do you encounter sexual harassment from management or from customers?

    A: Harassment, in my experience, tends to come more from the customers. Rarely is it explicit — more frequently it comes in the form of subtle suggestive comments. Frequency varies, but it is quite unpleasant when it occurs.

    Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?

    A: Many people don’t realize that if they leave 10 percent or less, their server will actually lose money on their table because some restaurants calculate support staff tip-outs on total sales. If I tip out 11 percent of my sales, I am paying out money I didn’t receive.

    Also, please tip on your pre-coupon/discount total. Your server is doing the same amount of work, if not more, for your meal when you have a coupon. It’s not his or her fault that the company is giving out discounts and making him work harder for smaller checks and tips.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • Anne from Philadelphia, PA

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:12 AM

    Q: What do you do for work?

    A: I’m a bartender.

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: Very.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: For the last 20 years.

    Q: Do you work in a state where the tipped minimum wage is below the federal minimum wage?

    A: Yes.

    Q: Do tips bring your wages in line with the minimum wage?

    A: Most of the time, they are consistent with the minimum wage.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provide?

    A: Twenty percent, or a dollar per drink.

    Q: Do you receive tips directly, or share in a pool?

    A: I usually receive tips directly, although I occasionally pool with others. I prefer getting them directly. If everyone in the pool is working equally as hard, I don’t mind pooling.

    Q: Have you had employers steal your tips?

    A: Not that I am aware of. I have worked in a place where the owner took the tips and gave us a paycheck. Since this person was formerly an investment banker, for good or ill, I believed he knew what he was doing with our money and was paying us fairly.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • Serena from McPherson, KS

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:11 AM

    Q: What do you do for work?

    A: I own a bar and grill.

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: Very.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: Thirty-five years.

    Q: Do you work in a state where the tipped minimum wage is below the federal minimum wage?

    A: Yes.

    Q: Do tips bring earnings in line with the minimum wage?

    A: We value our help and pay them minimum wage, plus tips.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services provided?

    A: Generally 10 to 15 percent.

    Q: Do your workers receive tips directly, or share in a pool?

    A: We pool and share, because there are people who not only tip on service but on the quality of the food and drink. It takes the whole crew to provide that.

    Q: How often do you encounter sexual harassment from management or from customers?

    A: It happens. I tell my girls to not put up with it and to come and get me when it becomes a problem so that the customer can be told to leave. I firmly believe one should not put up with that in the work place. We are a small town of 13,000 and three bars, and ours is known to be a good place with few fights.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • Amanda from Milwaukee, WI

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:10 AM

    Q: What is your occupation?

    A: Server in the food industry.

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: Entirely.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: One year.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provide?

    A: No less than 20 percent or the bill, alcohol included.

    Q: Do you receive tips directly, or share in a pool?

    A: Directly. I do table service for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I tip out bartenders and extra help later. I prefer it this way because I build a small relationship with the customer. I get a sense of their personality, wants, needs and specifications. My work is hard, emotionally and physically, and that is what the costumer doesn’t understand. People in the service industry are treated like tools, not like human beings.

    Q: Have you had employers steal your tips?

    A: For my first serving job, I worked for a woman who owned a cafe and bake shop. This woman would often steal our tips. We had to pool our tips and she divided them at the end of the shifts. She would sometimes take a portion for cleaning supplies or odds and ends for the restaurant. She would also make us pay the tab for lost credit card slips or slips that were not signed. She’d charge us for what has already been charged to the business, making her profit double on those transactions. I was in my freshman and sophomore year of my undergrad and was incredibly poor. I didn’t realize this was wrong, because it was my first job as a server.

    Q: How often do you encounter sexual harassment from management or from customers?

    A: Sexual harassment for women is a daily occurrence. Most of the time it’s subtle and not worth complaining about, but it is constant. I’ve been grabbed many times. People expect me to be submissive to their comments, but most of the time it makes me feel uncomfortable and I react. This, of course, affects how I am tipped.

    Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?

    A: This topic is extremely important to me. I feel no one knows the proper etiquette for service because no one asks us personally. We are human beings and we should be able to negotiate our wages. Our managers should not speak for us because they do not know the things we go through.

    Customers are the hardest people to please and I think we should be shown respect instead of fault. The majority of us are doing our best work because we want to be paid well. I know there are downsides to every job, but I don’t think so much pressure should be put on servers. I feel moods are contagious and servers shouldn’t be tipped badly for someone’s bad mood.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • M.J. from Cincinnati, OH

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:09 AM

    Q: What is your occupation?

    A: Server.

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: Tips comprise over 75 percent of my earnings.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: Thirty years.

    Q: Do you work in a state where the tipped minimum wage is below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour?

    A: Yes.

    Q: If so, do tips bring your wages in line with the minimum wage?

    A: I rarely don’t make minimum — probably twice or three times per year. However, I recently started a job in a slower store in an area where tips are not as generous. I expect that number to rise.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provide?

    A: I expect about 17 to 20 percent, depending on service factors.

    Q: Do you receive tips directly, or share in a pool?

    A: Directly, but I am required to pay a tip out to the pool. I have, in the past, participated in both systems. I like this system best: earning my own tips, but tipping out to a support group that has an effect on my service.

    Q: Have you had employers steal your tips?

    A: I have never been a victim of this kind of theft; however, I have had problems with employers misquoting my tips — over- or-under claiming due to shoddy paperwork — and having to struggle to get that paperwork fixed.

    Q: How often do you encounter sexual harassment from management or from customers?

    A: I don’t put up with much and I guess it shines out of my pores because I have never had problems nipping this in the bud. But I have been witness to lots of things that certainly would make my dander rise.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • Nick from Austin, TX

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:08 AM

    Q: What do you do for work?

    A: I am a pedicabber. For the layman, I give rides to people on the back of a bicycle.

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: Our work is based completely off of tips.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: About 10 months now.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provide?

    A: For me, a fair tip is about $5 per person.

    Q: Do you receive tips directly, or share in a pool? Which would you prefer and why?

    A: Directly. I would prefer to share in a pool, because there are times when I work way too hard for so little money, while another person will do next to nothing and then get a very large one. I feel that if we are treated equally, then it would be completely fair.

    Q: Is there anything you’d like to add? Anyone else we should talk to about this topic?

    A: I have a Master’s degree and the only job I can find is based off of tips and where I have to pay part of my earnings to my boss. Welcome to America.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • Bethany from Bellevue, WA

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:07 AM

    Q: What is your occupation?

    A: Restaurant server.

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: I rely on tips for the majority of my income.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: Several years.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provide?

    A: Fifteen to 20 percent.

    Q: When paying by credit card, if the customer fails to write a number on the TIP line but includes it in the total, does that impact the individual providing service?

    A: It increases the time it takes to input the tip by a few seconds, but I still receive the tip.

    Q: Do you receive tips directly, or share in a pool?

    A: I receive tips directly. I prefer this because it relates to the service I provide. There is more incentive to provide great customer service when the tips are not pooled.

    Q: Have you had employers steal your tips?

    A: I have worked at several restaurants in California where my employer pocketed the majority of my tips. I threatened to talk to a state agency, but never did.

    Q: How often do you encounter sexual harassment from management or from customers?

    A: On several occasions I have been sexually harassed by customers. The majority of the harassment happened when I was working as a cocktail waitress.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • Anne from Richland, MI

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:06 AM

    Q: What do you do for work?

    A: I’m currently a stay-at-home mom, but I was a waitress in college.

    Q: How important were tips for your income?

    A: At that time, it was about 90 percent of my income. Minimum wage for waitstaff was $2.52 per hour.

    Q: How long did you work at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips

    A: One year.

    Q: Did you work in a state where the tipped minimum wage is below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour?

    A: Yes.

    Q: Did tips bring your wages in line with the minimum wage?

    A: Seasonally, it could be a few months in a row where we would get less than minimum wage. When that happened, we were told to lie on our reports so that the restaurant didn’t get in trouble.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provided?

    A: I used to have low tips on low bills. For instance, those getting only coffee or just a slice of pie tipped very little. Now that I’m a customer, I always tip at least $1 or $2 per person, minimum, including children. Taking up a seat, regardless of your total bill, is taking up a seat.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • Nicole from Portland, OR

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:05 AM

    Q: What is your occupation?

    A: Server/bartender.

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: Very.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: Six years.

    Q: Do you work in a state where the tipped minimum wage is below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour?

    A: No.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provide?

    A: Twenty percent.

    Q: When paying by credit card, if the customer fails to write a number on the TIP line but includes it in the total, does this affect the server?

    A: No, it does not affect the server. The total amount is an acceptable form of payment.

    Other problems with people leaving tips with credit cards are that we as servers are taxed heavily on them, and sometimes people accidentally leave with the credit card slip, in which case the server receives no tip at all.

    Q: Do you receive tips directly, or share in a pool?

    A: Directly. That’s preferable because it reflects solely my service, and I like to understand why people tip the way they do.

    Q: How often do you encounter sexual harassment from management or from customers?

    A: It depends on your definition of sexual harassment. I encounter very mild sexual harassment from customers, and only once ever from management.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • Robert from Ruskin, FL

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:04 AM

    Q: What is your occupation?

    A: Server.

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: Tips represent 85 percent of my net pay.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: Sixteen years.

    Q: Do you work in a state where the tipped minimum wage is below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour?

    A: Yes.

    Q: If so, do tips bring your wages in line with the minimum wage?

    A: I always earn more than the minimum wage.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provide?

    A: I am an experienced server with five-plus years at my present job, so 20 percent is my expected rate.

    Q: When paying by credit card, if the customer fails to write a number on the TIP line but includes it in the total, does this affect the server?

    A: Our company allows us to enter the bottom line amount and take the net difference as a tip.

    When guests fail to add correctly, we are to use the bottom line amount when it takes the tip away from us, but we are to correct it in the favor of the guest when the amount has been totaled with an error in our favor.

    Q: Do you receive tips directly, or share in a pool? Which would you prefer?

    A: Direct tips. We pay 3.75 percent of sales (regardless of tips) into a tip share fund for support personnel.

    Q: Have you had employers steal your tips?

    A: I would not allow an employer to take my tips for purposes beyond tipping support personnel. I would quit.

    Q: How often do you encounter sexual harassment from management or from customers?

    A: I am not a woman, but I have witnessed sexual harassment by guests toward female servers. I have also noticed very relaxed attitudes toward sexual jokes and conversations in the workplace. Very unprofessional and inappropriate, but most servers are younger than 25 and they seem to enjoy the carefree atmosphere.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • Araby from Brooklyn, NY

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:03 AM

    Q: What do you do for work?

    A: I am a server in a restaurant

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: Tips make up most of my income.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: Seven years.

    Q: Do you work in a state where the tipped minimum wage is below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour?

    A: Yes.

    Q: Do tips bring your wages in line with the minimum wage?

    A: My tips always bring me above minimum wage. My employer pays me more than the minimum wage for tipped employees in New York (but not more than the federal minimum wage).

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provide?

    A: Twenty percent before tax (or after) is fair and generous. Anything above 15 percent won’t offend me.

    Q: When paying by credit card, if the customer fails to write a number on the TIP line but includes it in the total, does this affect the server?

    A: I’ve heard that people have to accurately write the tip on the line and have correct addition on the credit card slip at some restaurants for the server to be able to claim it.

    As long as I can make out what the customer meant (left the tip off the line but included it in the handwritten total) or if they wrote it on the wrong receipt (the customer copy is often left behind and the customer walks off with the merchant copy), or if they forget to sign it, then I will still get the tip. My employer won’t make a fuss.

    If they did not include a tip at all, and if I added the tip anyway, then I would have a problem.

    Q: Do you receive tips directly, or share in a pool? Which would you prefer and why?

    A: I share in a pool with my coworkers. I prefer this method for the restaurant where I work. Currently I work with three other servers and one busser. We pool our tips each week and tip each other out based on the hours we work. The person who works the most earns the most. We developed this method because there are so few of us, there are demands on all of us and there is no weak link.

    Also, there are really only two guaranteed busy nights a week: Friday and Saturday. Not everyone can work only busy shifts. We all have to do time on slower nights. Business has been so random since the 2008 economic crisis. We have dead nights with few customers as well as very busy nights in the middle of the week. It’s not predictable. I’ve made $20 on a Monday and $200 on another Monday.

    Q: Have you had employers steal your tips? Have you ever sought the help of a state agency or lawyer in order to retrieve tips unrightfully taken by your employer?

    A: Yes, I have lost tips to every restaurant employer or manager I have ever worked for with the exception of my current employer.

    At my first two jobs in NYC I did not receive any hourly wage. At the first job I had to tip out the owner of the bar 10 to 20 percent of my tips at the end of each shift. He said this was to pay taxes for me. At the end of the year he gave me a bogus W-2. At the second job they never had me fill out a W-4, they never knew my last name and they never paid me an hourly wage. They forced us to tip out bussers, runners, servers, bartenders and managers equally, as if we all had the same job and were tipped employees.

    I never prosecuted either employer, but I know other workers who have. Instead, I tell anyone who will listen how badly these restaurants treat their workers.

    Q: How often do you encounter sexual harassment from management or from customers?

    A: I am a female waitress in NYC, and I will say harassment is somewhat frequent. But flirting and the expectation that you will be happy for flirty or sexual male attention is constant.

    Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?

    A: In NYC a lot of people don’t challenge their employers, because they don’t have the security of a green card or citizenship. I think people who have security need to speak out about what they and their non-U.S. friends’ experience to create room for people to come forward from all backgrounds. I was often afraid to expose an employer because a restaurant coming under investigation might ruin my friends’ and coworkers’ lives.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • Jen from Albany, NY

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:02 AM

    Q: What is your occupation?

    A: Waitress.

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: Extremely.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: Ten years.

    Q: Do you work in a state where the tipped minimum wage is below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour?

    A: Yes.

    Q: If so, do tips bring your wages in line with the minimum wage? If not, how regularly are you earning less than minimum wage?

    A: I always earn more than minimum wage.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provide?

    A: 20 percent.

    Q: When paying by credit card, if the customer fails to write a number on the TIP line but includes it in the total, does this affect the server?

    A: it doesn’t affect me. We input the total. The difference is ours, so we get the tip.

    Q: Do you receive tips directly, or share in a pool? Which would you prefer and why?

    A: Directly. And I would never pool! I am a great server and make more than most in my restaurant. That would suck to share my hard-earned cash with someone who doesn’t make as much as me.

    Q: How often do you encounter sexual harassment from management or from customers?

    A: Often, but it doesn’t bother me. I can hold my own and don’t mind joking around. But I will not tolerate racism in the workplace.

    Q: Is there anything you’d like to add? Anyone else we should talk to about this topic?

    A: People are tipping less these days. I don’t believe the average Joe realizes we make less than minimum wage. We bust our asses with smiles on our faces. Tip us appropriately, please. 10 percent is not a good tip. We tip out bartenders, busboys and runners, so a 10 percent tip quickly turns into 5 percent!

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

  • Erik from San Diego, CA

    • Posted by Public Insight Network Source
    • on June 29, 2011 3:01 AM

    Q: What do you do for work?

    A: Waiter/server.

    Q: How important are tips for your income?

    A: Paramount.

    Q: How long have you worked at a job in which your wages were in part dependent on tips?

    A: 17 years.

    Q: Do you work in a state where the tipped minimum wage is below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour?

    A: No.

    Q: What would you say is a fair tip for services you provide?

    A: Twenty percent of pre-tax bill, minimum, (without service errors).

    Q: When paying by credit card, if the customer fails to write a number on the TIP line but includes it in the total, does this affect the server? Are there any other issues with people leaving tips via credit card?

    A: This is, of course, left to management’s judgement. If management is wise, the server should receive the tip included in the total. This has been the case with every place I have worked with one exception. Other issues include: If scenario above has a total that translates to a tip far above normal. If the carbon copy receipt shows a tip but and the total contradicts the tip amount, then the lesser of the two is granted to the server.

    Lastly, on a few occasions I have been granted exorbitant tips for what is usually described as “wow” or “the finest service I ever thought possible.” Despite my fervent protests, (which usually begin at over 40 percent and get more emphatic at 50 percent), a guest has insisted “the customer is always right.” On one occasion an inebriated guest was involved. The next day he claimed he didn’t remember. A significant portion of gratuity was refunded to his card.

    In theory, a charge can be disputed or refuted for any reason. Since this would negate the establishment’s profit as well as the server’s, given the chance, the establishment will usually be obliged to remove any or all portion of the tip regardless of validity of claims.

    Q: Do you receive tips directly, or share in a pool? Which would you prefer and why?

    A: I have participated in both systems. It has been my experience that those whom are accustomed to receiving 19 percent tips from the direct system prefer the direct method. Those that avg. less usually prefer pools. Pools can be drastically unfair in a seniority-based labor system. Consider: I work for two hours and bring in two hundred dollars in tips. You work for six hours and bring in the same amount. We both serve the same number of guests. This can work in my favor if my tip percentage is meager.

    All things being equal, I would prefer to rely on my own skills and talent. The pool system is more appropriate for room service and banquets. Banquets are calculated per person and vary wildly from morning coffee to dinner. Although room service can be arbitrarily apportioned under the direct system, large disparities in sales still occur thus a pool is usually preferable to all.

    In May, we conducted a survey to find out how people in the United States feel about the custom of tipping for services. We asked workers who depend on tips to explain the issues that come with such a system. Here are their responses. For other perspectives, click here to read about how customers rationalize their tipping habits. Also, please visit our interactive map of tipping trends in the U.S.

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