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buffet tipping, self-service beverage

buffet tipping, self-service beverage

Old Mar 1, 16, 5:37 am
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buffet tipping, self-service beverage

I've eaten in hundreds of buffets (mainly at Casinos). Generally a wait person brings you drinks (soda, juice, coffee, champagne/mimosas--if its a special brunch) and periodically removes plates. The OLD rule was $1-$2 or 10%.
Some buffets have gone over to self-service drinks [machines dispense these], you NEVER have contact with a wait person. Should ANY tip be left at the end?
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Old Mar 1, 16, 5:54 am
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No.
What exactly would you be tipping for? "Yes I quite enjoyed getting everything myself, here's a reward for making me do the work"
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Old Mar 1, 16, 6:58 am
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Don't overthink these things.

It's all about local custom. There never was a "rule" and it never was "old." If you are talking about the US, most people leave a few dollars on the table in this situation.

If it really worries you, then don't. If you do, the guy bussing the table for minimum wage will appreciate it.
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Old Mar 1, 16, 7:04 am
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Good lord...there are some times I don't miss the USA...
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Old Mar 1, 16, 7:07 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
If you do, the guy bussing the table for minimum wage will appreciate it.
Unless he works in an Indian Casino.
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Old Mar 1, 16, 7:14 am
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Originally Posted by chris19992 View Post
No.
What exactly would you be tipping for? "Yes I quite enjoyed getting everything myself, here's a reward for making me do the work"
Isn't the whole point of tipping in the US about donating money to those you think are poor under the guise of "rewarding good service" (also known as "doing their job")? The fact that you're expected to tip average and bad service certainly implies that to me anyway.

In which case surely you should be tipping the same amount as you would in a similarly priced restaurant?
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Old Mar 1, 16, 7:48 am
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Prior to the (new) self-service beverage system, a wait person besides giving me drinks and refills, cleared plates from the table; but I did have (minimal) personal contact with them.
Now the "gremlins" clear the plates...do "gremlins" expect tips?
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Old Mar 1, 16, 8:30 am
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Originally Posted by callum9999 View Post
Isn't the whole point of tipping in the US about donating money to those you think are poor under the guise of "rewarding good service" (also known as "doing their job")? The fact that you're expected to tip average and bad service certainly implies that to me anyway.

In which case surely you should be tipping the same amount as you would in a similarly priced restaurant?
Well no, not in this case.
If you have no table service then it would indicate no need for underpaid waitstaff, in this situation there is no service to speak of.

I stayed at a hotel a few years ago (name escapes me) breakfast was a buffet style, there was one member of staff at the door with a little register and save for some kitchen staff replenishing food every so often, that was it.
In that situation I didn't leave a tip because there was no service to tip for and the girl on the register didn't even hint at one.
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Old Mar 1, 16, 9:53 am
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buffet tipping, self-service beverage

We tend to do a lot of handwringing over this issue. Customs vary across borders but, in the USA, there are certain waitstaff jobs where there is an expectation of tipping. In those jobs, the wage and hour laws allow the employer to pay a lower hourly wage - meaning below the usual minimum wage. But those employees must still earn at least minimum wage. So, if the tips don't occur as expected, the employer must make up the difference.

Do all employers follow the law - no. Do all employees faithfully report tips - no. Do all employers choose to pay the reduced minimum wage - no.

But if the DOL audits them, employers learn the ropes and, if the tips aren't as expected, the employer's best option is to raise the hourly wage to meet the mimimum and then raise its prices to cover the minimum wage.

At the end if the day, the USA is a capitalist system. So it should not be surprising that some waitstaff at high end restaurants earn six figures while some at low end restaurants live in poverty.
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Old Mar 1, 16, 10:00 am
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I wonder if these jobs are considered "tipped" jobs where there is imputed tip income (and withholding on same) whether or not patrons leave tips.
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Old Mar 1, 16, 11:33 am
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It wouldn't even cross my mind to tip at a self-serve buffet. Perhaps I should tip myself for getting my pizza and coke so efficiently.
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Old Mar 1, 16, 11:35 am
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Originally Posted by chris19992 View Post
Well no, not in this case.
If you have no table service then it would indicate no need for underpaid waitstaff, in this situation there is no service to speak of.

I stayed at a hotel a few years ago (name escapes me) breakfast was a buffet style, there was one member of staff at the door with a little register and save for some kitchen staff replenishing food every so often, that was it.
In that situation I didn't leave a tip because there was no service to tip for and the girl on the register didn't even hint at one.
Someone is doing the cooking. Someone is taking the food from the kitchen to the buffet. Someone is clearing the tables. Someone is taking payment. Someone is cleaning the toilets. I'd wager all but the chef are underpaid (well, depending on your definition of underpaid).

Looking for logic isn't particularly useful in this pathetic system - it's not built on any.
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Old Mar 1, 16, 11:37 am
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Originally Posted by callum9999 View Post
Someone is doing the cooking. Someone is taking the food from the kitchen to the buffet. Someone is clearing the tables. Someone is taking payment. Someone is cleaning the toilets. I'd wager all but the chef are underpaid (well, depending on your definition of underpaid).
Actually, I'd bet the opposite: none of those would be paid the "tipped employee" wage. They'd all get at least the state minimum wage.

I guess I should say...they *should*. Sometimes mentioned casinos and Native American reservations...no idea how that world works.
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Old Mar 1, 16, 1:45 pm
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Originally Posted by callum9999 View Post
Isn't the whole point of tipping in the US about donating money to those you think are poor under the guise of "rewarding good service" (also known as "doing their job")? The fact that you're expected to tip average and bad service certainly implies that to me anyway.

In which case surely you should be tipping the same amount as you would in a similarly priced restaurant?
Hmmm. As a born and bred USAer, I think you are largely wrong.

I do not think that tips are donations and I don't think they have ever been. To me, the modern premise of a tip for many tipped workers is that the employer is underpaying the employee, knowing that tips will supplement the employee's income. The customer is benefiting by the lower wages because the cost of the goods (e.g. food in a restaurant) is lower than if the employer paid a fair wage.

We can argue until we are blue in the face but this is the fact. By stiffing the tipped employee, you are merely exploiting those of us who understand the system and will ensure that the tipped employee gets a living wage. So, for the bad/no tippers, you can thank me any time.

IMO the notion that tipping is only for exceptional service went out the window at least 20 years ago. In 2016, a big tip is for exceptional service; that is the only vestige of the old system.

I do understand that servers in expensive restaurants make a pretty good wage given the barriers to entry. IMO, so be it. If you go to a M3* in the US, be prepared to tip...that's life (unless the service is included...e.g. Per Se). If you do not want to tip, go eat fast food.

I am not defending the system; the system is stupid. I would prefer to live in a tipless society like Japan. However, when you exercise your own proclivities, knowing better, into an entrenched system, you are the dick, not the system.

FWIW, I throw down a few bucks at a buffet, knowing that the staff is not very well paid. That's how I roll.

Last edited by Beven12S; Mar 1, 16 at 1:58 pm
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Old Mar 1, 16, 2:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Beven12S View Post
The customer is benefiting by the lower wages because the cost of the goods (e.g. food in a restaurant) is lower than if the employer paid a fair wage.
I don't disagree with much of what you wrote, but the benefit in our system of tipping flows mainly to the employer, not the customer. The demand curves for a particular restaurant's food, or for a particular area's waitstaff talent, already have our tipping culture fully baked in at this point. It's just that a portion of these curves have been shifted off of the employers books and onto us, the diners. (In terms of the labor curve, it's actually a *big* portion of the costs...well over half.)

This is why the NRA (the other one) is the big national lobbyist for separate (lower) tipped-employee minimum wages. It's not waiters or diners organizing to demand this...

Of course, this doesn't have anything really to do with the OP, which is basically a fast-food experience. The people stocking the buffet or washing the dishes should be paid at least the non-tipped (higher) minimum wage.
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