I just saw this NBC News article come across my news feed this morning and it struck a nerve. Living in New York City, I eat out more than I eat at home–and I am not alone. In major cities and small towns across America, going out to eat is no longer a luxury, but a part of everyday life. As a result, we are all more exposed to service experiences of varied quality.
As a hospitality service expert, I am acutely aware of the realities of the American tipping policies and how servers are compensated. Absolutely ingrained in the current program is how millions of US workers are compensated. There isn’t an American adult that has not themselves been paid less than minimum wage or who knows a family member or friend who has labored for less than minimum wage as a server. The tips are essential. Moreover, we know of plenty of instances where server tips suffered because of kitchen problems, poor management, and other things out of their control. Who hasn’t had a meal in the last year where their service wasn’t lousy because the restaurant was understaffed?
I also feel bad for servers because the only area of significant growth in restaurant sales in recent years has been take-out. A big portion of the restaurant’s sales are now being outsourced through the hosting podium or over the bar.
I was once told that ‘tips’ was an acronym for ‘To Insure Prompt Service’. I don’t think that is really true any more. I think in American society today it stands for “To Insure Pay for Servers’.
I suppose that is why, I still tip pretty much the same for a poor or positive service experience.
I ask all you Coyle followers and avid restaurant-goers to comment. What do you think?