Hot!Tipping Under Self Serve Situations

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DawnT
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2013/05/31 06:35:01 (permalink)

Tipping Under Self Serve Situations

This past evening a group of us dined at a Chinese Buffet. There really was nothing the waitstaff did after we were seated by the host. Just wrote us up for a buffet and drink each. The plates and cups were at the steam tables and drink dispensers. There was no busing of our table of for that matter any interaction with the waitress until we signaled we were finished. All she did was bring us the check on a tray with some fortune cookies. While there were quite a few waitresses standing around, some actually did serve tables that chose an entree from the regular menu, otherwise they had a few busboys cleaning off the tables after guests left. For the majority of the diners, they come for the buffet and truthfully, the waitress do nothing more then write up your check. I'm sure the composite tip we left was better then 20% and it's one of those things you don't question amongst company. Personally, I don't feel that it's fair to expect patrons to tip a full gratuity when there was absolutely nothing done on their behalf. Had we been waited on,served, drinks brought and refilled, that would be a fair tip.
 
Let me pose another. We've covered tipping pizza delivery before. We order on the web and pick up our own. There's obvious tip jars by the register for the pick ups and gratuity fill-ins on the receipts should you put it on a card. There's no customer service involved beyond paying for your order unless cutting the pizza, boxing, and holding counts as a service. I don't tip the kitchen staff in a regular restaurant or the register operator. So considering the same at a Pizza chain pick up desk, should there be a tip?
 
Just wondering what you all think is proper under such circumstances.
 
 
#1

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    chewingthefat
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/05/31 10:59:01 (permalink)
    IMHO, if you are financially secure, I say tip them, a "Random act of kindness", if things are tight, a buck won't change your way of life, but all the folks you encounter are minimum wage! Even a dollar is much appreciated, I'm sure!
    #2
    fishtaco
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/05/31 12:47:53 (permalink)
    Dawn T, I see you live in SoFla. I am not sure what the wages are at the
    local Chinese buffet, can only imagine. But at say somewhere  like Golden
    Corral, using a buffet as a guide they make about $3.13, so yes a tip should be left. In fact if you know the servers and have taken care of them before they will get you food for you, if you ask. Many states allow the paying of under min. wage in "Tipping" jobs.
    #3
    eruby
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/05/31 14:36:36 (permalink)
    While I appreciate both Chewy and fishtaco's posts, in DawnT's examples, the help did nothing to deserve IMO, especially at the buffet.
     
    When we go to a buffet (which is rare) we do expect plates to be cleared during the meal, more napkins if needed and the like.  If they do nothing but bring the check, I can't see tipping.  And like Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven, over-tipping is my policy.
    #4
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/05/31 19:06:49 (permalink)
    When it's one of those things you don't question amongst company...there's usually a reason for it. People usually go out to enjoy themselves at a meal. It's a few bucks at the most in this situation and so much better to just have a good time without critical analysis that can easily make people forget the good time...good company or meal.
    post edited by CCinNJ - 2013/05/31 19:08:04
    #5
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/05/31 21:31:54 (permalink)
    You can also take into consideration that Buffets don't prep...set-up ...maintain...or break-down by themselves. If it's so important to determine or justify a tip in a setting that all you have to do is take a short stroll...grab a plate and a glass...and from soup to nuts it's ready-to-go....just ask the restaurant.
    #6
    Sonny Funzio
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/01 00:06:21 (permalink)
    At many chinese buffets you get an extraordinary value for the money ... especially if you go for the lunch buffet, but dinner as well.  Of course there are some bad buffets with poor food and lack of selection, but mostly in my area they give a great value and good quality food.  Most also have a sushi section and a "mongolian barbque" type counter as well.
     
    So how do they do it ?? ... giving that value for that price? 
    They have "chinese labor", that's how.
    The servers *might* be making $3 or so bucks ... but I know as a fact that many do not because part of their compensation can be things like passage to the U.S.,  housing and other support ... they were brought over by people associated with the restaurant - they don't speak the language ... and those servers often have little pocket money. 
    They are in a chinese business which is run very differently from an above-board western/American business.
    The restaurant charges comparatively low prices for the food ... they make it up by not paying much to the workers ... the workers (servers at least) get compensated by you.
     
    I know this first hand.  We bought a large chinese restaurant and converted it to a Bistro/Pub a number of years ago and I know just how poor those workers were.  Many were in fact sleeping upstairs at the restaurant  on mats in what would have been a second floor banquet room.  Long story.
    As well, unrelated to the Bistro, my partner's wife's family was in fact chinese and had a separate chinese restaurant of their own. 
    It really is a different culture.
    Like I say, chinese business.
    In any regard, I don't mind tipping a buck ... and I judge the overall value against the overall cost ... still a great deal.
     
    post edited by Sonny Funzio - 2013/06/01 00:12:29
    #7
    pnwchef
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/01 10:19:25 (permalink)
     imho, the reason for tipping was lost when the coffee cup sauce left the diner. The tip was left as a "Thank you" to the waitress. Now a days a party of four, even at a place like OutBack Steak House will come to $125. This new adventure in Chain Food restaurants that happened many years ago, ended the real service that the old time restaurants use to give. The NYC waiter, The San Francisco waiter, had a professional way about them that made you number one in their section. They waited on tables, they just didn't run food. This wasn't only in big cities, the gal at the corner cafe also made us feel this way. A real feeling of "Welcome" in many restaurants is long gone, we tip now because it's expected and in the Servers eyes, Mandatory. I think it's the feeling of "Mandatory" that pisses us off, the feeling if I don't give a good tip, my tires will be slashed in the parting lot. I tip for services rendered, if they don't care, why should I. I have tipped $5 at subway, $5 to a gal at a drive up window at a fast food restaurant. These people are far and few between, service is service, when people take care of me and my family, I take really good care of them.........................If you pay people for nothing, why would they ever want to do more.......................pnwc
    #8
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/01 17:17:01 (permalink)
    Years ago a great percentage of patrons didn't treat eating as if a sport & didn't work that Chinese Buffet like it was a gameshow....to profit...as a way to best the system & win. Then there are those people who lose their mind because they think if the "garbage plate" or whatever they call it is bussed or the 5 or 6 other plates are removed....the staff is rushing them out.

    It's not difficult to make eye contact with a server or call them over to request plates removed if that is what you wish.. They probably go through several battles a day...when it comes to that..

    They deserve a generous tip just for what they encounter daily. At the very least if you feel strongly against tipping a delivery person of serving staff where it's customary to tip....maybe it's best not to use the service or frequent the establishment.
    #9
    mayor al
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/03 03:22:33 (permalink)
    For us a buffet. Oriental, Mexican. or Ryan's/ Gold Corral types all manage to involve some sort of food/beverage toting by a server. Beverages and refills happen, clearing plates, bringing napkins and other add-ons, Little items that make the experience easier on the customer warrant a tip.
    Tipping for a take-out order bagged and picked up at the register does not warrent a tip for us. Bring it out to the truck to save me the task of getting out, limping into the resturant and returning with a load of stuff does get a tip from me....Just as assistance with a load of groceries carried out to my vehicle by a 'box-boy' at the market. "Above and Beyond" means a tip.
    #10
    eruby
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/03 07:17:25 (permalink)
    CCinNJ

    Years ago a great percentage of patrons didn't treat eating as if a sport & didn't work that Chinese Buffet like it was a gameshow....to profit...as a way to best the system & win. Then there are those people who lose their mind because they think if the "garbage plate" or whatever they call it is bussed or the 5 or 6 other plates are removed....the staff is rushing them out.

    It's not difficult to make eye contact with a server or call them over to request plates removed if that is what you wish.. They probably go through several battles a day...when it comes to that..

    They deserve a generous tip just for what they encounter daily. At the very least if you feel strongly against tipping a delivery person of serving staff where it's customary to tip....maybe it's best not to use the service or frequent the establishment.
    We always tip delivery people, and would also ensure plates were removed and drinks refilled at a buffet.  We don't mistreat staff.  Don't think the bold was directed at me, but if so, it does not apply.  If, however, we were at a buffet and got no service (despite our best efforts) other than a check, the tip would either be small or none.

    mayor al

    For us a buffet. Oriental, Mexican. or Ryan's/ Gold Corral types all manage to involve some sort of food/beverage toting by a server. Beverages and refills happen, clearing plates, bringing napkins and other add-ons, Little items that make the experience easier on the customer warrant a tip.
    Tipping for a take-out order bagged and picked up at the register does not warrent a tip for us. Bring it out to the truck to save me the task of getting out, limping into the resturant and returning with a load of stuff does get a tip from me....Just as assistance with a load of groceries carried out to my vehicle by a 'box-boy' at the market. "Above and Beyond" means a tip.
    I approve of this post.  

    #11
    DawnT
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/03 07:44:23 (permalink)
    One aspect of my original post that seems to be lost in the discussion is the relative percentage of the tip. Fair is fair. If you attend a full service restaurant where the waitstaff attends to your needs, delivers the food, makes recommendations and interacts with the kitchen on your behalf among many other services, that standard of service merits the going rates of 18-20-25% depending on the venue.
     
    In a semi-self-serve situation presented as above such as Golden Corral where your waitress tops off your drinks/coffee, busses your table, brings you additional items such as plates, napkins, condiments,and silverware, this doesn't constitute full service in the way a full service restaurant offers. You can't equate the services of both that they should deserve the same compensation.
     
    The fact that the buffet places often force the waitstaff to participate in other activities such as housekeeping and other labor that a typical server in a regular restaurant doesn't do is inconsequential to the service provided to the patron. This isn't charity or labor subsidization despite social pressure to be nice to the server and tip the full rate. If anything, it enables the employer to abuse tip credits with respect to wages. 
     
    So, in your opinion, are you obligated to tip these buffet servers the same amount as their full service counterparts? I'm sorry, the argument of tip credits afford these servers less compensation then a full service worker doesn't make sense, it's just employers taking advantage of the system. The tip is based on the service to me. If I have to get my own food, pay my bill at entry and the only real service I get is a bussed table and drinks refilled certainly doesn't cut it as full service. Whatever other hardships such as the housekeeping and handling many more tables then a full service server, again doesn't have anything to do with service to me.
     
    Polite,social charity aside, no other service sector is afforded this  expectation. Tipping as we've agreed on before is a merit based system. Baseline tipping at rate are the above figures if the server fulfils the basic expectations. If not, less compensation, if exceptional service, then more. Let's face it, we're talking about 1/4 of your dining bill applied to what amounts to a merit service fee. That's not chump change or the remnants of a large broken bill anymore as pwnc mentions. That's a significant figure now that may give pause to someone considering dining out vs. using the same establishment's take-out service which often is accessable from online with coupon or promotional codes to encourage online ordering and payment and further reduce costs.
     
    Consider the historical trajectory of tip percentages. For most of my life (~60 years) it's been 10-15%. In the not too recent past the figure raised to 18% and now typically expected 20-25%. No doubt in a few years time, you'll be seeing 30% creeping into the figure in upper end venues as an expected amount. That's essentially a cost-of-living adjustment between the wage/tip credit and the subsidization by the customer relieving financial labor obligations of the owner. At what point will a customer begin to weigh the service subsidy against dining there?
     
     
     
    #12
    ces1948
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/03 09:55:44 (permalink)
    In our local large Chinese buffet we have a tip jar at the sushi counter, a separate tip jar at the stir fry station and the table waiters who bring your drinks, clear plates etc. I always leave a tip for the waiter but have never left one at either the sushi counter nor the stir fry station  though I frequently get items from both areas.
    #13
    bartl
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/03 21:53:54 (permalink)
    If you're a regular, it works the other way around; regularly leaving a decent tip tends to insure service above and beyond the call of duty.
     
    Bart
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    CCinNJ
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/03 22:15:07 (permalink)
    It's certainly consequential for many when considering that is a big part of the reason why people have or don't have a complaint about their actual dining experience and a big factor that can easily make or break a visit in that type of service.

    As far as focusing on wondering what other people do when they decide to leave a generous tip when the difference is a few bucks at the most...is pretty pointless. That's when you let that dollar detract from an otherwise fine time....and doesn't seem worth the energy to take an inventory about what is in the pockets of other people....outside of your own meal at that restaurant.

    I doubt any server is stressing if any of the patrons leave work at 2pm and are paid for the rest of the day...play words with friends or on the phone with them when they have a big pile of paperwork at the desk. That would be none of their business.
    post edited by CCinNJ - 2013/06/03 22:20:39
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    pnwchef
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/04 10:11:14 (permalink)
     
    DawnT: I think your trying to find logic and reason in a crazy world. I agree with you, tip the amount you feel comfortable with, that equals the amount of service provided. If you are eating with a group, I would follow the group mentality. I have never seen any logic in a set percent for a  tip. The old saying " you get what you pay for" should work in a tipping situation. We should change the phrase to "I'll pay for what I get"........................pnwc
    #16
    ann peeples
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/05 06:19:01 (permalink)
    I have to agree with Al, CC, and pnwchef-all good comments and opinions. I tip what I want, when I want, depending on service. And frankly, unless service is poor, I am generous as I have had to live on tips in another life.
    #17
    MikeS.
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2013/06/11 17:21:18 (permalink)
    Pizza delivery, 2bucks. WH minimum of 2bucks, the same for Golden Corral and Chinese Buffet. 2bucks at these places are usually 20% or better of the bill.

    Sit down and order from a menu, 15% or better depending on service.

    I almost always leave cash.
    #18
    ShineQ
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/25 19:24:03 (permalink)
    Tipping is one common way of expressing gratitude when someone serve you better or you received good service. We usually give a small amount of our cash as a tip. However, we now live in the credit and debit card age and are heading for cellular payments, but one should always make an effort to tip waiters with cash whenever we can. You can pay for your meal with an .
    #19
    alexmor
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/26 08:31:36 (permalink)
    Tipping, believe it or not, is not just a city in China. However, most people today pay with either a debit or credit card while buying essentially everything, so plastic is used for tips. There are a number of reasons why one should with cash at every possible instance.
    #20
    porkbeaks
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/26 09:40:27 (permalink)
    Also, tipping with cash makes it much easier for the waitstaff to avoid those pesky taxes that are pretty much unavoidable when said tips are put on plastic.
    #21
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/26 10:19:15 (permalink)
    I am just curious, but why would you encourage a server not to pay taxes on their earnings?
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    MellowRoast
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/26 11:40:32 (permalink)
    I try to tip well, normally 20% - 35% for full table service. 
     
    Pizza or food delivery at least 25%, never less than $3.00.  Buffets I consider on an individual basis. That said, I disregard fast-food and take-out-only tip jars, unless I experience "beyond the call of duty" service.
     
    I leave cash tips, also, and I encourage them to do anything they want with the money.
    #23
    porkbeaks
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/27 11:01:54 (permalink)
    The Travelin Man

    I am just curious, but why would you encourage a server not to pay taxes on their earnings?


    I was being facetious.
    #24
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/27 12:25:38 (permalink)
    I didn't mean to specifically call you out, though I did miss your use of the sarcasm font. 
     
    This topic does come up every time someone brings up tipping, which is its own dull CNN Crossfire debate. Someone will proudly proclaim that they tip in cash so that the server can "keep what they make" or some such nonsense. My employer won't pay me in cash, and therefore I have to pay taxes on what I earn. I expect that others will pay taxes on what they earn. If not, the hand-wringing over why taxes are so high for those of us that do pay taxes seems moot.
     
    That said, I am not at all trying to make this a political discussion about taxes. It's not. I am just curious why someone would purposely encourage to not pay the taxes that they rightfully owe.
    #25
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/27 12:47:38 (permalink)
    In fact there's a good reason to tip in cash that has nothing to do with taxes. When you tip in cash your server or bartender gets the money immediately. When you add it to the bill you pay with a credit card the server has to wait.
    #26
    harriet1954
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/27 12:50:54 (permalink)
    I concur with Mr. Hoffman. Even if I or my other half pays "with the card", one of us will not only tip in cash, but hand it to the server directly - and that's usually possible, unless they've changed shifts during our meal.
    #27
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/27 14:57:36 (permalink)
    Michael - That is an excellent reason to tip in cash, though it is not the oft-stated reason that others mention. To be clear, ever since the increased data breaches from companies like Target, I have begun to use cash in far more situations than I had previously. It is still hard to use cash at the gas station, because the pay-at-the-pump is so much easier. But, for most other in-person purchases, I have switched to cash, which includes restaurant bills and tips. It is my belief that restaurant employees are responsible for paying their share of taxes, however, and I trust that they will do so.
    #28
    starfire62
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/27 16:19:56 (permalink)
    i always tip in cash as 1 time i tipped and someone changed a $6.00 to $16.00 on a $20 charge at a airport restaurant and i didn't look as i was trying to hurry to my gate .
    #29
    joerogo
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    Re:Tipping Under Self Serve Situations 2014/02/27 17:18:50 (permalink)
    The Travelin Man
    That said, I am not at all trying to make this a political discussion about taxes. It's not. I am just curious why someone would purposely encourage to not pay the taxes that they rightfully owe.

     
    It's the American Way!!!.......Commie...<Made sure I threw enough of these in.
    #30
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