I started working in restaurants when I was fifteen at eighty cents an hour plus tips. As a teenager this was a great part-time job and I really enjoyed the work. I continued working as a server for many years, supporting myself and children on the tips I made. However, over the years the tipping system has been breaking down and it now is at the point where a new system is needed to provide all servers a living wage.
Some servers now abuse the tipping system by not charging certain customers and friends for things like desserts, drinks and other items in exchange for the big tip. Restaurants are aware of this problem and many have installed computers to try to catch this sort of behavior but servers can find ways around the computer and continue this practice. What happens to a restaurant when this happens? First, certain customers are catered to while others who don’t tip as well are often ignored causing the restaurant to lose customers. Second, the prices of meals rise to cover the cost of the food that is not being charged for. Third, this causes much competition among the servers to see which server can make the biggest tips, and the servers compete for the big tippers. Fourth, many good honest servers either leave the business which I did or they become dishonest in order to make a living.
The tipping system definitely needs to be changed and servers deserve to be paid for their labor as any other worker expects to be paid. One way to make things work better and take the competition out of the restaurant business is to charge all customers a flat 15% added to their bill. One small restaurant that I know of puts out a large jar at the cash register for customers to place tips and at the end of the day it is split between the servers. This practice makes it fair for all servers so that none feel the need to give food away to make the extra tip.
Unless servers are really bad, everyone deserves to be tipped at least 10% to 15%. No matter how bad you think a server is, try to remember they came to work, took your order and brought your meal and drink while being paid a whopping $3.00 an hour. I don’t know many people that would want to do the hard physical labor of a server at $3.00 an hour.