Is it fair for a restaurant to add a mandatory tip to the bills of patrons with French accents? No, of course not -- no matter how many restaurant workers in Burlington, Vermont claim to have been stiffed by visitors from Quebec. An additional 18% pour vous!! Now, that said, is it fair for restaurants to add mandatory tips to the bills of all patrons, across the board? Yes, it's fair -- and it would make everybody's lives a lot simpler, too.
Before you start in on a rant about terrible service and why should you have to tip a waiter who forgot the bread basket and blah blah blah, hear me out.
Ever notice that former restaurant workers tend to be generous tippers? That's because if you've ever been a waitress/waiter whatever you want to call it, you how hard that woman/man carrying your tray really works. Which is to say, she/he works hard for the money, so ... you know the rest.
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My brief stint spent waitressing years ago was such a spectacular failure that I've always looked at skilled waitstaff with a mix of admiration, pity, and fear: Wow, I'm incapable of doing what you do/Wow, I never want to try to do what you do again/Wow, if you can do THAT you are one tough individual.
Make no mistake, they earn the hell out of every dime. Now, I'm not implying that terrible waitresses/waiters/bartenders, etc. don't exist. Every profession has its share of bad apples. But taking the guesswork, judgment and potential mean-spiritedness away from the dining-out equation can't hurt.
If you can't afford to leave a decent tip, don't go out to eat in the first place. Simple as that.
Do you think mandatory gratuities would save a lot of frustration on both sides?
Image via Tzuhsun Hsu/Flickr