I usually don’t do this…

Posted in Uncategorized by nanshi on March 13, 2008

But I have to blog about this today because it got me THIS pissed.

Tipping in restaurants.

Now, I know there’s a rule of thumb — at least here in America — that one should tip at least 15% (of the bill) per meal.

Here’s the thing though, I grew up in an Asian household and growing up, I only frequented Asian restaurants (mostly Chinese, with a few visits to Korea ones growing up). The American restaurants that I did visit would be buffets, so generally… tipping was not an issue there. Anyways, as I was growing up, my parents would always tip. Now, generally tip is now tacked onto the receipt as an extra fee and then the entire fee is charged to your credit card. OR, if you pay cash, what we used to do was pay the right amount of the bill in cash, and then leave the tip (usually $3) on the table.

Yes, that’s right: it was standard for our family to pay $1 per person. Since generally at the time, there would only be two adults and me and my brother (my sister was born later), it would be $3 because my brother was a bit too young to be counted substantially. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with this practice. One tips based on service. If you receive good service, you give a generous tip. If you do not receive good service, you leave a small tip (or a bad tip, depending on how you look at it). That’s how it was when the “tradition” of tipping began, and I insist on upholding it.

So today, after class, a bunch of my friends and I went out to lunch to a Japanese restaurant (run by Cantonese people) for half-price sushi. No big deal, right? All right, so I only had about $7 on me, which was a bit humiliating, but I had a few friends spot me the cash, so I’ll pay them back later. BUT, because of our “large party,” we ended having a really huge bill of like $67 (this is for, like, six people, mind you). Yes, this is a mildly overpriced restaurant, but most restaurants are overpriced and everyone else was insistent upon getting half-price sushi. I’m not a really huge fan of sushi, so it wasn’t a big deal to me, but I like getting bargains.

Okay, so before I go into the trauma of paying this bill, let me first explain that for SOME REASON, this restaurant did not want extra money!! After we ordered, a few people were finished with one round of sushi, and then the waitress passes by, and they request that they want a couple extra rolls. Two guys, each wanted another sushi. Usually, no big deal, right? AT A NORMAL RESTAURANT!!! I mean, what restaurant doesn’t want a little extra “sen yi” or ..y’know… extra money? The waitress — who could barely speak any English and hardly understood what we were saying to her — stuttered and stumbled her way through their requests before finally saying, “I don’t think we can do that. The kitchen is closed.” Now, I know that this restuarant closes — traditionally — at 2pm in the afternoon, but we were already in the restaurant, and we wanted an extra order! = more money! And they were like, “No, we don’t want your patronage.” WHAT?!?!?!??! Plus, it’s not like they were complicated rolls (one wanted an eel roll and the other wanted a Philly roll… NOT hard rolls to make). Plus, it’s MAKI ROLLS! It’s not like we want you to go in and stir us up some teriyaki!

So then the bill comes around, and everyone’s shuffling around trying to come up with the right amount of cash. One of my friends has a credit card that she wants to put some money on, but she’s reluctant to spend too much on it because of the interest rate. THAT’S FINE. So we finally get enough money to pay for the bill, and they’re we’re all like, “Oh right… there’s tip.” So someone pulls out his cell phone and calculates, and the tip comes out to be like $10.50. Fine, we’ll round down to $10. BUT THAT’S RIDICULOUS. $10 for really really REEEAAAAALLLLLY crappy service like that?

So I was like, no, I never pay that much for tip (I really don’t), and they suck. I refuse to pay that much for tip here. My friend — the one using her credit card — agreed with me. She’s EXACTLY like me; we both tip based on service. Except she starts from $5 and if she receives bad service, she deducts from there. I start from $3 and deduct from there. We both agreed that they did NOT deserve more than the $4 that we were going to give them (heck, I wanted to give them NONE). But we were like, FIIINE. And settled on that.

AND THEN, the bill comes back with our $4 in “change” (which was supposed to be part of their tip…) and my friend’s credit card bill receipt, and they’re all like, “there’s a mandatory 15% gratuity charge.”

WHAT?!??!?!? IN ALL MY LIFE, I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF A MANDATORY TIP. Tipping is supposed to be optional. Yes, we do it as a courtesy, but IT’S STILL SUPPOSED TO BE OPTIONAL. There were too many of us, so we split into two tables, and yes, the other table had the EXACT same problem. “Uh, there’s not enough money here.”
“Yes, there is. We paid the bill.”
“You must pay the 15% tip.”

So my poor friend had to charge an extra $6 to her card that she really didn’t want to (and kinda couldn’t afford to) charge… because of this stupid restaurant and their mandatory tipping fee.

I AM NEVER GOING BACK THERE EVER AGAIN. I’ve only been there two times before today, and so whatever: FINE.

But I refuse to go back there. If any of you live in the Central New Jersey area, please contact me so that I can give you this restaurant’s information and make sure that you never go there.

Not only were they borderline rude, they also had super crappy service, and what restaurant in their RIGHT MIND closes their “kitchen” (and not even that, cause it was a SUSHI BAR to make SUSHI ROLLS) where there’s still PAYING CUSTOMERS in the restaurant?! Do they just NOT WANT customers?! And on top of that, it WASN’T just me and my friends; there were a few other tables of people too…!

I’ll go to Edo instead next time. Not only do they have a bigger menu, they have better food, better service, and they stay open and don’t close at friggin 2pm in the afternoon (they restuarant re-opens at 4pm, but the point is they close for 2hrs).

It’s practices like this that encourage crappy service; because they’ll get their money anyway they please. The other two times I’ve been to this restaurant, I have not run into the “group” (I say group, but I think it was only one or two waitresses in particular) of waitresses that were sooo… horrible. Some people just DO NOT belong in the service industry; but unfortunately, they have “connections,” so they are in the service industry.



3 Responses to 'I usually don’t do this…'

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  1. playmeagain said,

    OMG, I completely know what you MEAN!

    We’ve got mandatory gratuity charges here too, and it REALLY annoys me, because I definitely tip based on service. I think it’s mainly got to do with my asian heritage, but hey man, if I don’t get the service I’m asking for, you’re NOT gonna get the money you’re asking for.

    I mean, yes, I agree it’s difficult if we DON’T SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE, but you’ve got to adapt somehow, especially in an area where the primary language is English .

    My friend went through the same experience, where a waitress was downright rude to her. She’s not planning on boycotting the restaurant anytime soon, because they’ve got excellent sushi and they generally have excellent service. However, she, her boyfriend and their friends had the misfortune of encountering a waitress who: a) was extremely rude to them, b) spoke to the customers next to their table about their quote-on-quote “insulting” behaviour and c) spoke in mandarin to those other customers because she thought my friend and her buddies couldn’t speak mandarin, as they spoke excellent English (in fact, my friend’s from Malaysia, where they DO speak mandarin, thanks very much).

    It really IRKS me that these tips are included in the fee. I mean, COME ON, if we’re forced to pay this 15% tip, at least give us the service we deserve. If the service isn’t up to our standards (because, honestly, no offense to restaurant owners, but it’s the customers who’re calling the shots, as a) they’re paying for your food AND now, your service, b) they’re basically walking advertisements for your restaurant, and c) without them, you’re screwwwwwwwwwwed), then why should the customer be FORCED to pay for shoddy service?

    And it bugs me when the staff can’t speak the same language as you do, especially if you speak the language PRIMARILY used in the area. Yes, being an immigrant is difficult – and before anyone calls me out, my PARENTS are immigrants and understand the hardships of being in an entirely new country with limited skills. Hell, they’re still having difficulties overcoming the various language barriers, but they have worked hard to get where they are, and fully deserve any rewards currently being reaped on them. So, yes, I understand that being an immigrant is difficult. – but you still have to somehow learn the language. Otherwise, you’re not only being unintentionally rude to customers by not being able to communicate with them, it’s TERRIBLE advertising for the restaurant.

    Yes, so rant over. But honestly, eateries are sucking the money out of consumers/customers by sticking in this extra charge, which stems from a choice that the CUSTOMER has the right to make. It’s all about developing an honest relationship with the customer, yes?!

    Then again, I can see from the staff’s point of view, that it’s difficult making money. And regardless of shoddy service, these waitors/waitresses need a source of income, and if this 15% tip is gonna help them with the bills, then why not?! But what I’d like to know is if these mandatory tips are really going towards those waitors/waitresses, or if it’s going towards … who knows what?!

  2. nanshi said,

    Right. Especially since this 15% fee applies towards ALL types of tendered cash, including cash or credit card or check…

    BUT SERIOUSLY! I mean, I’ve been at restaurants before that have driven me INSANE with their lack of English skills, but at least they know the MENU! The way the waitress was treating us was like she had NO IDEA what we were saying (even though they were both clearly just stating EEL ROLL and PHILLY ROLL). That’s what really gets me pissed off. Mostly the fact that we’re PAYING CUSTOMERS, and you don’t want the extra money that two extra orders of sushi would bring in? Okay… WRONG.

    What really pisses me off about a LOT of these Chinese-owned restaurants is that there is an inherent hierarchy/family-system built-in where a lot of the employees/staff are friends/relatives of the owners of the restaurant. So chances are, the money is all going to the same place.

  3. playmeagain said,

    Okay, yes, the fact that they weren’t accepting money from paying customers … that was INCREDIBLY STUPID on the part of the restaurant. I mean, seriously, you’re struggling as a restaurant already, what with your long hours and the hard work required, so WHY WOULDN’T you accept the money?! That’s just odd now. And really, I doubt the kitchens close down that fast, and they MUST have something cooking in there.

    And yes, the hierarchy is SO evident in chinese restaurants – they’re all family businesses, essentially. It’s all networking – if you know the family, you’re in.

    What bugs me though, like you, is the whole language barrier fiasco. Seriously, if you’re working in America and you want to SUCCEED and build your way up, it’s quite necessary for you to learn the language. Or at least, LEARN the menu in English, so English-speaking customers can understand you and vice versa. If you, as a restaurant owner, don’t ensure that you have waitors and waitresses who are ALSO fluent in English, it’s terrible for any sort of efficiency and service you had established in the first place. AND omg, bad publicity for the restaurant, like I’ve mentioned before.

    It’s irritating, because I love chinese food, but as is evident, have major issues speaking the language (I’ve tried! None of the mandarin my parents have been trying to teach me is going in!). Obviously, having grown up in an English-speaking setting, and having FIRST LEARNED English, with some French thrown in, my mandarin-speaking skills are terribly shoddy and not even worth talking about. But, I have serious qualms about going to Chinese restaurants if I don’t have a mandarin-speaker with me, simply because: a) I don’t want to be given poor service because I don’t understand the language, and b) I feel ridiculously stupid. Fact of the matter is, not knowing the language most of these restaurants operate in prevents me from going to them, which is stupid, because I speak perfectly fine English. So, obviously, I’d like to be given good and efficient service in ENGLISH PLEASE, if I ever do visit said restaurants.

    LOL. I think I digressed so much in that last paragraph, it’s completely incoherent. XD Sorry! But anyway, my point is, these chinese restaurants NEED bilingual or English-speaking staff – otherwise, it’s not only irritating for customers impeded by the language barrier, but it just demonstrates terrible service and a preference for customers who speak THEIR language, regardless of money and willingness to pay and whatnot.

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