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British waiters under the gun


Cafe waiters fear the axe over cash tips

Observer probe reveals undercover diners are monitoring credit card payments for gratuities

Sunday, 28 June 2009


Fresh evidence that one of the country’s biggest restaurant chains is using scare tactics to deter waiters from asking for tips in cash has been uncovered by the Observer

Employees of Tragus – which owns Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Strada – have come under pressure to ensure service charges are paid by card, and at least one waitress has told the Observer that they are being threatened with dismissal if they do not generate enough card tips. Some have been told that undercover staff posing as diners will check that gratuities are not being pocketed.

Read the rest of the article here:

Basically, the issue boils down to the fact that British waiters receive around $10 – 12 an hour, paid through credit card service charges automatically imposed on the amount of the bill (usually around 12.5%). Servers get to keep any cash tips or service charges paid in cash by the guest.

The problem arises when the waiter solicits/strongarms a cash tip in lieu of the guest paying the service charge on the credit card.

Some opponents of the tipping system in the US point to the European way of paying most of the waiter’s wage, touting it as preferable to optional tipping and lower hourly wages paid by the restaurant. This points out that the European system of mandatory service charges and only incidental tipping has its drawbacks as well.

british waiter


One response to “British waiters under the gun

  1. AK August 19, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    That’s interesting, I never really thought about that. Do British servers generally make a lot in cash tips each day, or is it a rare nicety?

    I’ve always been very much in favor of lower wages + tips, just because we make between $15-$40/hr which far exceeds any similar job (don’t get me started on retail).
    When people bring up living wages, I usually think it’s a bad idea- but if cash tips are common on top of it, maybe it’s not.

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