Tipping waiters and waitresses is a touchy subject.  Many people that work in the industry know just how hard work it is and how those tips can make or break you.  That is not something that I want to write about today.  I have been in the habit of making sure that particularly good servers at restaurants get a good tip from me when I go out to eat.

The problem that I have is with restaurants that increasingly make gratuity mandatory when I am with a larger group.  You'll often see signs that indicate that a tip of 18 to 20 percent, depending on the restaurant, will be automatically added to my bill.  Let it be said that I am well aware of how hard it is to deal with a large group when they enter the restaurant.  I too had to work in a restaurant setting when I was younger.  Large groups are a big challenge for someone waiting tables and those that are assigned to that table get very little done in the meantime.  Restaurants are trying to make sure that they get a tip when they serve a group like that, and I can respect that side of the argument.  But what happens when I don't want to leave a tip of that size?  What happens when the service was horrible?  One group in Houston recently found out what happens when the restaurant was locked and police were called when they refused to pay that part of the bill.

I have a really high tolerance level in a restaurant when things go wrong.  When I see my server making every effort to make things right then that goes a long way with me and they get a tip just like I would normally leave.  But if I am in a group and service is bad, I end up leaving a tip that I didn't want to, because "Well sorry, it's our policy to add the tip into the bill and too bad so sad for you if the service sucked."  I know it can be painful if a large group leaves and stiffs the server and that means that particular hour the server gets paid practically nothing.  Still, I want to be able to leave a tip as I see fit.  If they did a better job than most, I would be likely to leave a more generous tip than the "standard" if I am with a large group.

The larger problem lies with the restaurant business as a whole.  Servers make two bucks and change per hour and there is no problem with that because of the tipping being a part of it.  That needs to change.  I'd like to see a restaurant that says, "Hey, we actually pay our people a wage that is worth earning."  That is not something that is likely to happen, which leads me to one simple question.  Can I please tip those that serve me myself and not have restaurant policy do it for me?