General Question

susanc's avatar

tip counter people or not?

Asked by susanc (16112points) July 6th, 2007

so, okay, of course when you sit at a table and someone has to run your food over to it, you tip them. what if they stand behind a counter and ring up stuff you go and get off shelves yourself? why are there tip jars in places like that?

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14 Answers

elliottcable's avatar

I don't understand the purpose of tipping absolutely everybody, anyway. I've heard all the arguments, and none of them really convinces me that it's the right thing to do.

ThePeach's avatar

Tipping for me is about rewarding folks who provide a service quality beyond the call of duty, such as a particularly friendly and welcoming manner, are conscientious and display attention to detail.

I suppose the above criteria *could* be fulfilled by someone just serving over a counter, but it's just not the same as good table service in my book.

zerok's avatar

I wouldn't tip them. Normally I only tip when someone was particular _friendly_ and who provide me with a service for more than just a few seconds ;-)

gailcalled's avatar

Often at counters, there is a cup for tips. I always throw my change in it, as do many people. It's not much but I don't think that the staff, usually kids, are paid well..

GD_Kimble's avatar

I'm of this school of thought.. I generally don't tip counter people, except for baristas and the guys at the deli, because they're actually having to make something, as opposed to just reaching into a cooler and handing me something.

nomtastic's avatar

standing behind a counter is *still* hard work, underpaid. i say tip 'em when you can.

susanc's avatar

I agree with nomtastic - why not help out. I'm just puzzled by the
sudden appearance of tip jars in new places.

Evan's avatar

I don't want to be rude, but I have the this overwhelming feeling that nobody here has ever worked in food service. The truth of the matter is that sure, there are places where tip jars show up, where people are just handing you something from a cooler. And yes, this is different in some regard from running around being a server at a restaurant. But when you have to stand on your feet for eight hours getting yelled at by rude customers who think they deserve the world, you'll probably put out a tip jar as well.

Also, as far as "people behind the counter" go.. I think that more often than not people just don't realize the amount of work that goes into what they're doing for you. Whenever you order food from a restaurant to-go, for instance, more likely than not it was that lame-looking college kid at the counter that prep'd it all for you, even though it looks like he's just handing you a box, and a salad. I worked that position once, and the only difference between that, and when i've served tables, is that at tables you get them a drink order.

People just don't understand tipping. It's 1) about making up for the fact that service industry workers are paid crap, and aren't ever unionized. 2) about that fact that someone is serving you, and you should value what they're doing for you. 3) a way of making sure I don't spit, put too much spice, no liquor, or take a shit of load of extra time getting your order to you. Don't get me wrong - people don't all deserve to be tipped the same, but it's the amount that should usually vary, not the action itself. And for all of you still living in 1987: 18% is the new 15%, and 20% is the new 18%.

Just remember, despite what you may think: in the food service the customer is always wrong. Just because we pretend to let you win this time doesn't mean you'll have a pleasant experience ever again at our establishment. The only people that think the customer is truly always right are managers.. and managers aren't the ones cooking your food or bringing it to you..

hossman's avatar

Wow, Evan. Hope I am never one of your customers. I have worked a number of jobs in food service, including waiter, cook, busboy and dishwasher, so I know whereof I speak. Seems to me you shouldn't be in food service with that bad attitude. You blame everyone else but yourself, perhaps it is your own surliness that leads to such a bad experience for everyone. "The customer is always wrong?" Surely that cannot be true in any business. An implied threat that you may deliberately spit in food, delay your service, or intentionally ruin the customer's experience? I hope you put that on your next job application. Apparently, YOU, not the customer, expects the world. Apparently, a food service employee, regardless of their attitude, should be given the compensation and respect of, say, an accountant or neurosurgeon. If you don't like the demands unique to any job or industry, go somewhere else. Or go ahead, unionize, and take union dues out of your already crappy compensation, or if the cost is passed on to your employer, watch them close from an inability to compete. Surprise, many unions are run like businesses and more concerned with dues income than their members. You might have a better work experience with a better attitude, and a change in work environment might help, because right now you sound like a negative to your customers, management and fellow employees.

And as someone who has had to make a living as a waiter, I still have to say there are an increasing number of servers who share your attitude. I am usually a 20-25% tipper, but I know the difference between those things not the server's fault (not enough servers working, kitchen screwups, etc.) and those that are (yeah, I can see you gabbing with the other servers at the drink station rather than picking up my order) and I WILL "stiff" intentionally or negligently incompetent service. But first, I will politely itemize for the server each and every one of their screwups with the manager present before I leave the restaurant, because I want to make sure the server and the management know I'm not one of those scum who don't ever tip, I simply refuse to reward bad attitude or incompetence.

And if we keep expanding who we tip, where do we start? My local oil change place has a tip jar. Maybe we should tip other professions. I can think of a lot of good reasons to tip a proctologist.

nomtastic's avatar

wow, hossman. apparently the question of respecting folks for hard work has turned into an anti-unionization tirade and a comment on who does/doesn't deserve your respect based on their profession.

in what other profession are you paid based on a customer-by-customer jury of how much they think they are owed for their money??

hossman's avatar

I've got no problem with unionization. When I worked for the Illinois Dept. of Corrections I was a union steward. Doesn't change the reality that many unions today are more oriented to income than membership services. Don't believe me? Ask a lot of their membership. Declining union membership isn't just because of big bad corporations. And while so much attention is paid on outrageous CEO compensation, the outrageous compensation for union executives is frequently ignored.

And evidently you missed the portions of my post where I discussed I myself have been a waiter a number of times . It is a very difficult job, and I DO have a big problem with people who don't tip well for good service, as I posted above and in another thread on fluther on tipping. I respect waiters, busboys, etc. My respect for individuals is not based upon their profession. Heck, I saved up for law school working as a "honeydipper," pumping out outhouses and Port-A-Potties. In fact, if you peek at my post again, you will see only respect for food service employees who work at their jobs. My problem is Evan's implied threats he will withhold service, spit in food, etc. dependent upon tipping.

I must also admit having a problem with those who confuse "respect" with "courtesy." You are not entitled to respect, respect must be earned. You are entitled to courtesy. Can you find any respect in Evan's post? Does even a crappy tipper or rude customer deserve to have their food spat in or overspiced?

Both of you also apparently confuse respect with compensation, which says much more about your motivations for employment than the respect of customers. Whether or not you "put out a tip jar" has nothing to do with respect. Although I must say I have been flattered when a few of my law clients offered to tip me (I always thanked them for their offer, but refused, even though there is no ethical prohibition).

I presume you inadvertently misspoke and meant to say "in what other profession are you paid based on a customer-by-customer jury of how much they think YOU are owed for YOUR service." Plenty of occupations are based this way. Any small businessman submitting bids for work is paid based on the customer's "jury" on how much they should be paid. Attorneys are interviewed by clients and selected based on whether the client feels the attorney's proposed fees are worth their services. How about this? Doctors are frequently paid, not based on how much they feel they should be paid, not on how much the prevailing market says they should be paid, not even on how much their patient thinks they should be paid, but how much Medicare or some HMO thinks they should be paid.

As always, if you don't like it, find other employment. You can't realistically expect the public will treat a person working an entry level job in food service in the same manner they would treat an NBA player or clergy.

hossman's avatar

For a better idea how I feel about tipping, see my post to the "Is restaurant tipping of 20% applied to all checks regardless of amount" thread that is listed in the "Sibling" area above.

Evan's avatar

To be frank about it.. i was not trying to imply threat that one should either do this, or i will indeed spit in food, etc. If anything i was referring to "one of those scum who don't ever tip" whom hossman mentioned. As far as a notion of respect, perhaps I'm just not okay with what seems to be an increasingly American perspective that customers always come first, at all cost. At many establishments in France, for instance, the customer's interests don't always take priority over that of the establishment. or their customers. And I don't say this negatively. The idea is just that there is a significant difference between catering to the "scum" so that they'll frequent your business regardless of their attitudes, and respecting one's own employees.

Also I never drew into this discussion any mention of service industry people who aren't doing their job, and I think that's an entirely different discussion. If we're talking about the employees being disrespectful, or irresponsible, then fine: don't tip. But unless you've worked food service, which at least a plurality (if not a majority) of people have not, then you don't really know if they're doing what that should be doing, outside of them being rude to you. Given that fact, I think it makes sense for most people to assume that they're doing their job, unless something is significantly wrong with the service; for all that customer knows, it's the cook's fault, or the manager's. I myself have certainly not tipped people when they're not doing their job, and have spoken to management about it, but that's not what I was discussing or responding to above. As far as the union tirade, sure there are things wrong with it but it's better than not, usually, and either way it was an off-hand comment and responses belong in a separate post.

Certainly I can admit that I was a bit aggressive in my writing, but I think that it was born of frustration with the idea of only tipping based on some extra-ordinary, unexpectedly good level of service.. as if the idea was that if you went to a restaurant, and the service was standard, but not bad.. that tipping wouldn't really be necessary. That is what was being implied in the first string of posts, and that is what I was discussing and responding to. As far as threats of intentional poor service.. I apologize for using a bad writing style - i was only using myself as an example to help make the point more easily - I wasn't in anyway trying to imply that i personally would take holy vengeance upon thee if you don't tip.

Honestly most of the post was really how I don't think people realize how much many so-called "counter people" really do, and that I think people in general don't understand much of what's behind food service, or appreciate the work involved. And as for the rest, I was simply pointing out that people in food service don't respond well to the aforementioned "scum" that you referred to. And if you like, you're more than welcome to call it a disrespectful attitude that I wouldn't be surprised or taken aback by someone doing that to a person's food, but I would have to disagree with you. I think instead that it's just a recognition that customers don't always deserve respect, either. Just as a server wouldn't if they weren't doing their job.

GreatEscape's avatar

I will tip anyone that I feel has went above and beyond what their job called for. For example:

1. A automechanic that told me that he fixed my breaks but it would be cheaper to get my oil changed somewhere else.

2. The exetremly friendly “counter person” that asks what type of food i like and makes suggestions.

3. The deli worker that takes the extra minute to tell me what’s fresh today and gives a little description of the sandwiches.

But thats just me, if no one tipped there would be no motivation for them to be helpful (or deterrent to be pricks)

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