The joys of working with the public

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kentimus
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The joys of working with the public

Postby kentimus » Mon 31 May, 2010 10:05 pm

I work at a smog shop in California. (We test cars to make sure they don't pollute too bad.) At least once a week I get the following phone call:

Caller: How much is it for a smog check?
Me: 68 dollars, out the door.
Caller: I have a 10 dollar off coupon. What's the price now?


I'd understand if our service cost $68.32, and our coupon was for $11.87 off, but really, 68 minus 10 should be pretty easy. Yet I get this question several times a month, for the past 7 and a half years I've been there.

Who else has crazy customer (or in Momma Snider's case, crazy parent) stories?

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AdamOndi
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Postby AdamOndi » Tue 01 Jun, 2010 06:47 am

I have a few weird/crazy pizza delivery stories. Here's another of the most recent ones for me:

Every once in a while, I will see a display of shocking laziness when delivering pizza. On Friday, I delivered a pizza to a fairly nice house and was greeted by a 5-year-old girl and her 4-year-old sister. That isn't unusual. Little kids often open the door after which their parent will come and complete the transaction. But in this case, the two little girls just kind of stood there and stared while no adult appeared. I asked them if their mom or dad was there, and they shook their heads. Finally, the older one said, "Our grandma is here." I gave her the credit card slip and the pen, and asked her to go have her grandma sign the slip. She came back a couple of minutes later with the signed slip and the pen. I gave her the pizza, and went back to my car shaking my head. I never saw or heard the grandma. Good thing it was me at the door and not a weirdo.

Side note: of course there was no tip. Someone who can't even be bothered to get up and come to the door to get the pizza is VERY unlikely to include a tip on the credit card slip that her granddaughter had to bring to her.
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Postby Audrey » Tue 01 Jun, 2010 07:25 am

Adam, I'm curious what you feel is the appropriate tip for a pizza delivery. I grew up out in the boonies where pizza being delivered was not an option, so I'm sort of clueless. We occasionally order from Papa John's online and they include a delivery fee of $1.50. Does that go to the delivery person, or is that to cover the cost of gas to drive to my house? Should I tip a certain percentage as I would in a restaurant, or just throw in a couple of bucks and call it good?
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Postby iamroch » Tue 01 Jun, 2010 10:28 am

I've delivered pizza off and on for the last 4 years, so I'll throw in my $0.02.

Before I delivered pizza, my philosophy was if there was a delivery charge, then I didn't tip. Now I have totally changed my tune.

The place I worked for charges a delivery fee. When I started it was $1.00 and all of that went to the driver. Then they upped it to $1.50 and now $2.00. But the drivers still get only $1.00. Thw owner of the local franchises is notoriously cheap and hates the drivers, he thinks they are overpaid. In WA, min wage is $8.55 (I think) and all employees must be paid that.

For my car, that $1.00 covered my gas only (not wear and tear) for a 7 mile round trip. A lot of our business was in an area that was 7 miles away, so if I didn't get at least a $1 tip, I lost money on the gas. If we could group orders together (which I was always trying to do for all the drivers) then you could make a little more, but about 75-80% were single deliveries.

I tracked all my mileage and tips (for taxes) and I usually made about $11-$13/hour. When I had another job and was able to take only busy shifts, I made about $16-$20/hour. It was good money, but I worked very hard. Drivers at our place didn't only drive, we washed dishes, bussed and helped the kitchen and front counter.

Since I started working there, I tip $5.00. I always felt good and appreciated when I got $5.00, so that's what I do now. I also tipped my cooks about 20-30% of what I made. I was able to do it easier because it was an extra job, but the cooks loved me for it.

So it depends on your area and the restaurant, but I encourage people to tip.
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Postby WiseNLucky » Tue 01 Jun, 2010 02:27 pm

So you are an advocate of a fixed tip, regardless of the dollar amount of the order? I guess that makes sense, since you don't take any more time or gas to deliver 5 pizzas than 1.
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AdamOndi
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Postby AdamOndi » Tue 01 Jun, 2010 05:03 pm

It looks like iamroch had similar experiences to me, but I will add my perspective.

The Papa John's I work for now charges a $2.50 delivery fee. Of that, only $1.00 goes to the driver, unless the deliver is really far away, in which case the driver gets an extra $0.75. So no matter what, the driver does not get the full delivery fee. Also, my current store has a ridiculously large delivery area. We have areas to which we deliver which are 12 miles away from the store. So that $1.75 covers the gas for the trip out there, but not the trip back. Also, at my store, when we take an order out, our hourly wage drops from the minimum wage to a "tip wage" that is $2.00 less per hour. So when I get a $2.00 tip, I am pretty much breaking even.

Pizza drivers are expected to maintain their own vehicle and pay for their own insurance, all out our own expense. Even if the store DID give us the whole $2.50 delivery fee, it would not cover the insurance cost or the wear and tear on the car.

Just like iamroch, we do much more than drive. We take orders, make pizzas, wash dishes, sweep, mop, and all the rest of it.

In regards to the percentage question, I advocate a flat tip of at least $3 rather than a percentage. Although, if you have a really big pizza order, or you get really fast service, or you live really far away from the store, bump up the tip a buck or two.

Also, better tips will often mean much quicker delivery service in the future. After all, we get to choose which order gets delivered first. I make a special point to go to good tippers' houses first. I have found that people tip far better down here in San Antonio than they did up near Seattle.
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Postby SDR » Tue 01 Jun, 2010 10:42 pm

AdamOndi wrote:I have found that people tip far better down here in San Antonio than they did up near Seattle.


That's because Texans are awesome. Big D is better than San Antonio, but it's still Texas, so it's still awesome. :)

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Postby AdamOndi » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 06:30 am

I think it has a lot to do with the whole "Southern Hospitality" thing. I've noticed evidence of better manners down here in general. Even though people make less, on average, than up in the Seattle area, they seem to be a little more generous. I wonder if there are more people here who remember what it was like to work a cruddy service-industry job hoping for tips.
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Postby Audrey » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 09:03 am

Thanks, guys. That's good to know and I will tip accordingly in the future for pizza delivery. It's worth a couple extra bucks to me that I don't have to put on shoes and go pick up the pizza myself!

I got into a conversation recently with someone about tipping, and I really did not realize how many people's wages depend on tips. I think much of the general public is uninformed about appropriate tips. I mean, most people know that servers in a restaurant make less than minimum wage before tips, and as a rule I tip 20% unless the service was really awful or really excellent. But until I had a roommate whose full-time job was serving at Chili's, I did not know that the tips don't go entirely to the server. They are required to split those tips with the bus people and often the prep crew as well, so they really don't stretch that far.

I also did not know that you should leave a tip when you order takeout. I always figured, nobody is seating me, refilling my drink or cleaning my table, so why tip? But they ARE packing up my meal and I never thought about the fact that often regular servers are manning the takeout area on their regular wage, so they do depend on those tips.

I always thought tipping my hair stylist or pedicure girl was just a nice gesture, but a lot of people in that field get paid minimum wage without tips too -- because so much of the cost of the service goes to the products used, the "booth rental fee" that a salon charges its stylists, and so forth.

As a customer, I'm assuming that the person is getting paid by their employer, but I see the ubiquitous "tip jar" and then I wonder. I think it's kind of creepy of employers to assume that customers will tip and make up the difference when the customers don't know they are supposed to. Is this a new thing? What about the rest of you guys -- who do you tip, and how much? Do any of you have a job where you should be tipped but feel like customers don't know that?
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Postby Momma Snider » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 09:36 am

Tipping can be tricky. I don't get out much to know anything about it. In fact, when I hired a cleaning company last year, I asked the owner if I was expected to tip, and she said "Absolutely NOT." She said they make a good wage, and while it would be okay for a special occasion, it was not expected. That surprised me. I wonder if that would be the same for carpet cleaners, etc.?

The etiquette people always say you don't tip your hairdresser if he or she is the owner of the company. Apparently in some circles that would be consider offensive. But my hair guy had never heard of such a thing, and sounded like he'd be seriously offended if he didn't get a tip.

Rocky recently took a bunch of kids from the ward for pizza, and he added a $20 tip...and then noticed that a 20% tip had already been added to the bill. That's the second time he's done that.

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Postby robcan2 » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 09:45 am

Some of you might want to blast me for these comments, but I really disagree with the philosophy of tipping. I have never worked for tips, so my perspective could very well be lacking. I try to be an average tipper. I don't want to be a cheapskate, but I'm not an overly generous tipper unless the service was really good and I can tell that they made some extra effort, because I know that the server depends on it. Most of the time when I have received poor service, it's not the fault of the server. But I really think that the employers in the food industry should pay their employees a fair wage along with merit increases and bonuses for top performers. This would drive up the menu prices, of course, but it should pretty well balance out if the tipping requirement was removed.

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Postby Eric's Fat Brother » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 10:17 am

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Utah County!
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Postby robcan2 » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 11:17 am

Perhaps my comments align with general Utah County cheapness, but for me it's less a question of cost than of principle. Shouldn't employers make sure that their employees are taken care of, rather than leaving it to the judgment of their customers, who may or may not make a fair assessment of what they should receive? Where have I gone wrong?

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Postby Momma Snider » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 11:34 am

I agree that you're right that employers should pay a decent wage, but in fact they don't, so the tip has to just be considered part of the cost of the meal, or pedicure, or whatever.

Hmmm...I wonder about a place like Hometown Buffet (or Homestead Barnyard, as we call it) where the ONLY thing the server does is keep the clean plates coming? And you pay when you first come in, so there's no pretense that a tip is for good service. Has anyone ever worked there?

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Postby robcan2 » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 11:56 am

Momma Snider wrote:I agree that you're right that employers should pay a decent wage, but in fact they don't, so the tip has to just be considered part of the cost of the meal, or pedicure, or whatever.


True, and I don't harbor any illusions that this will ever change. So I will continue to work within the system, even though I think it is less effective than it could be. If I ever open a restaurant, I'll use my own philosophy. And I'll likely go out of business :)

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Postby Lady Celtic » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 12:01 pm

I think my kids should pay me a tip whenever I cook for them. My 4-year-old's effusive "Mom, you're the best cook EVER!" just doesn't cut it some nights.


Also, we tend to pay 20% for restaurant service, I generally frequent hairdressers who do the cutting in their own home, and we just pick up the Little Caesar's special since the shop is around the corner from our apartment.

Sometimes I think maintenance workers at apartment complexes should be tipped.
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Postby SDR » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 12:13 pm

I'm with robcan2. I do work within the system, though my system is the 'standard' 15%. It was good enough through the 1980's, it's good enough today.

The Wikipedia article on tipping is interesting reading...

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ImAdhis
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Postby ImAdhis » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 01:04 pm

Audrey wrote:But until I had a roommate whose full-time job was serving at Chili's, I did not know that the tips don't go entirely to the server. They are required to split those tips with the bus people and often the prep crew as well, so they really don't stretch that far.


I find this ridiculous considering that the size of the tip (when one is left) is often solely dependent on the server. So, the cooks and the bussers are totally at the mercy of his performance? That seems "off" to me.

I ALWAYS tip at restaurants, I MOST OF THE TIME tip at hair salons, and I SOMETIMES tip hotel personnel. Other than those services, NEVER.

I've noticed the expect-a-tip population gradually growing over the years, and I'm tired of it.
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KMD
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Postby KMD » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 03:31 pm

I tip 20% in restaurants, unless the experience was lousy, and I understand they have to share that tip with the others. Really, if the service was great, but the steak was burned to a crisp, or raw, or whatever, you aren't happy, and you aren't going to tip as well. Or if seating is moving slowly because the busboys haven't gotten the tables cleared away, it's going to start off your meal off on the wrong foot, right from the get-go. So, I can see them sharing the tip. I was actually a little glad when the "average" tip went from 17% to 20%, it made the mental math easier.

I tend to tip $5 at the hair salon, especially if they cut my son's hair, because, yeah, $5 is like practically a 50% tip, but they had to put up with A LOT, they earned that money. :D And $5 to cabbies, which I rarely use, so when I do, I'm very glad of their service. And usually $4 to $5 for pizza, unless they were incredibly late, like 2 hours. I don't generally tip at hotels. But that's because usually at a hotel, I carry my own bags, get them myself from the car, and take myself to my own room, what exactly would I be tipping whom for?
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Postby ImAdhis » Wed 02 Jun, 2010 04:09 pm

I'm not sure if I already mentioned this.

The last time I got my hair cut at a salon (I was in mid-pregnancy, so please ignore my shag now as I type this), I was thinking in percentages when I went to tip, since that's how I think of tipping at restaurants.

The stylist asked, "Would you like to leave a tip?" and I said, "Yeah, may I leave 10?" and the chick next to him snapped her head in my direction in surprise. Well, I was the one who left surprised when he rung up $10 as a tip for an OK hair cut.

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