Thursday, November 29, 2007


The other day our family went out for dinner to the local restaurant "Montana's" in Westhills/Signal Hill area. We have been to this restaurant several times before, and the service is hit and miss at best. There are times we get fantastic service, and other times the service sucks big, but the last time it was just abysmal.
I can get into detail about why, but long story short the server we had should not be serving. Horrible. At the end of the dinner I wrote a big fat ZERO where the tip should have been on the credit card receipt. I haven't NOT tipped in a long time, as a matter fact I think the last time I didn't tip was when my mom asked me to pay for a lunch, and when you're eleven years old, you don't have much change in your pocket, so I just didn't have enough money for a tip.
I know that server's wages are calculated with tip in consideration but is this where the problem begins? Or is it just that we tip too much too often forcing the restaurateur to pay his servers less? I'll have some chicken and egg please.
Why do we tip?
We tip because we are supposed to. It's expected of us. 15% - 20% is the expected gratuity on a dinner, and no it's not "double the GST" anymore, that would be considered below the minimum. If you show up with a group at some restaurants "a 20% gratuity will be automatically included in the bill". Really? That tells me something. That tells me that you suck at hosting groups, and as a result of said suckiness you aren't tipped the maximum, so you'll just tip yourself. I'm avoiding these establishments like the bubonic plague.
A few years ago we go for a sushi lunch with a group of six. The service sucked as usual, and we paid as a group and left a small tip. The next time we go with the same group and the lady refused to give us a group bill, she billed us all individually and then said,
"We charge you separate because last time you not tip enough" No kidding? Last time we not tip enough cause you not give service enough. Needless to say, it was the last time we ate there.
Servers expect tips, and we, the unconfrontational mass, just throw money at them, further solidifying the justification to standardize the gratuity structure. I say, enough is enough. I say we redefine the tip. The following is a list of guidelines I will attempt to adhere to throughout the holiday season:

Alex's Tip Guidelines:

1. All tips start at zero. I am going to start making assumptions your boss is paying you for the work you were hired for. If you are working for someone as a server, you should be compensated fairly as a server, and not as 80% of a server. If you are being short changed because you are not receiving a tip, blame your boss.. not me. I'm not being cheap, I'm paying exactly what the menu is asking me to pay for your food, I don't haggle this price, and neither should your boss when it comes to your pay.

2. I'll decide what to tip. Don't tell me what the industry standard is cause guess what, you're not industry standard either. I've been known to tip over 25% if the service is great, but if you are having a bad ass day and decide to take it out on your patrons, guess what, no more tip. And if you hate your job? No tip. Bring me milk instead of cream for my coffee then ask me why I wanted cream and not milk? NO FRIGGEN TIP!

3. Buffet and Pick ups. No tip. If I am serving myself, that kind of makes you a moot point. You will not get a tip for me having to get my own food, and for the love of everything sacred, please don't expect a tip if I am picking up my food from your counter to take home. Pearl Express is a PICK UP ONLY restaurant and yet, when I pick up and pay debit, the debit machine asks me how much I should tip. Hey I know, how about negative 20%? Dumbasses.

4. Service is one thing, food is another. but if either of them suck.. No Tip. If the service is great, but the food sucks, I'm not paying for it. If I tell the server the food sucked and still get charged for it? two words. No tip. Why should we have to pay for food that sucked? This is a no brainer. If you did not like your steak cause it contained too much fat, you should offered a new one or have it removed from the bill. If neither options happen? I will use the gratuity or lack there of to satisfy the differential, aka.. no bloody tip.

We as Calgarians are beginning to accept lower standards in hospitality, and it's all due to the labour shortage forcing the industry to hire bottom-of-the-barrels. All one has to do is go to Vancouver and Lower Mainland area of BC to see the difference, to get a glimpse into the ghost of hospitality past. It's the "Hospitopia" where servers actually like their jobs, try hard to earn the tip, and do a damn good job at it.

I sit over my cold soup, look west, and sigh.



Tan said...

I don't care where you go...soup is always served too cold. Ray has now resorted to asking the server to serve the soup "extra hot" just to get it hot enough! You're tipping rant is understood - I'm a guilty tipper, I admit. I give around 8-10% if the service is terrible (kudos to the big fat zero - wish I had the guts) but I go way up in my percentage if the service rocks. The other day at White Spot, I grabbed the manager and said, "That server was amazing!" She was - and for Calgary, that is simply mind-blowing.

Mattie said...

I tipped Katie almost 80%, she didn't deserve the whole thing...

Okay sorry, about that and I am sure that I am about to get moderated.

Eric said...

Thanks for reminding me never to eat out with you! Well.. okay, I'll admit that I agree with most of what you said. I'm just so non-confrontational.
Around here, service is generally great. Infact I can't remember the last time I had bad service.
I'm not a bleeding heart tipper, I tip 15% most of the time not thinking about what i'm doing, even if the service was so-so. But you're right. Wanna teach them a lesson? Don't tip but also explain why.

luda said...

damm! you must have had some bad experiences brother... although I agree in most part with your tipping 'rules', I can't agree with not tipping at all, under the guise of believing the servers are (or should be) paid a fair wage for their job and that the tip is an extra on top of that fair wage, cause this isn't the case. The industry's pay structure is based on the server getting a tip to make up for their 'shortfall' in wages. Now, it would be nice if this could be universally changed, but until it is, I set my base wage @ 6% (just b/c this is easy to know with the gst right there and all) and I will go up from there based on the quality of their service. Now, with that being said, IF the service is just brutal (and this has happened in the past) I WILL tip nothing and I will let them know why too. But baring that, as I said, my base is 6%. (my problem with tipping is with the other industry's getting in on the act, such as baristas (as you mentioned), etc. - in my humble opinion, these don't warrant tips - if you need to put a tip jar out, chances are you shouldn't be getting a tip!)

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