Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

‘No Madame, Don’t Tip, Management Takes the Tips’

From today’s Gulf Times

When I was new to Qatar, and thrilled to find my hometown Starbucks going great guns here, I asked “Where is the tip jar?”

Every Starbucks has a tip jar. Everywhere. Baristas don’t get paid that much; you always tip. Often they are young people stretching to pay the rent while they go to school, or trying to raise a child as a single parent. A tip is a way to allow God to redistribute income in the world; you let it go freely and He sends it where it should go.

The barista reached down and pulled out a jar, but did not look encouraging.

“Why is it down there?” I asked, naively.

“We don’t get these monies,” the barista said. “The Management takes everything.”

So I started asking at every Starbucks, and the answer was always the same. The workers don’t get the tips. Management takes everything.

Jesus said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for rich people to get into heaven. When I hear stories about the workers not getting the tips, or workers being exploited, being treated as a resource or commodity rather than as partners in operations, I fear for the people who would take these monies out of their own greed. I fear for them in the afterlife. If we are not open handed, using our wealth to help others, maybe it will be our burden in the next life, and we will regret having to carry it around. Maybe it will be a barrier, and we can just peek over to see the life of the spirit we might have had. I fear for people who cannot overcome their greed, and share the wealth.

‘Hidden charges’ at restaurants slammed
By Sarmad Qazi

Irked by having to pay what they call “hidden charges”, some customers have expressed their displeasure at the increasing practice in restaurants of adding “service charges” to their final tab.

Patrons say they do not mind paying the extra so long as any additional charge is written visibly on the menus and the money actually goes to who it is originally charged for – the staff.

“The fact that my bill had a 10% service charge came as a surprise. The font size used on the menu to announce the charge was smaller than a bank’s fine print,” a customer of a fine dining restaurant said.

Debate on the subject is raging across the region. Just last week, the UAE outlawed the practice and warned restaurants and cafés to do away with the practice by February 1 or face fines ranging between Dh5,000 to Dh100,000. Exempted from the rule are restaurants located in hotels.

Service charge, often added to the final bill at dine-in and table-service restaurants (not applies on take-outs, home delivery), usually ranges from 5% to 20% depending upon the quality of the outlet. The practice is allowed at restaurants inside hotels but has caught up outside too.

Restaurants, however, yesterday defended the service charge and maintained the money went towards staff waiting tables and inside the kitchen.

“Various establishments use it for different purposes. We use it as a motivational factor for our staff,” said a senior official at a food and beverage company which manages some of the leading franchised restaurants in Qatar.

But customers also accused restaurants of pocketing the extra money rather than giving 100% to employees.

“If all of the service charge is not passed down to staff then restaurant use the money to cover breakages (glass, cutlery etc) by employees rather than managements increasing the cost of products (on the menu),” a general manager of an American franchised chain of restaurant said.

The practice is not restricted to branded restaurants only as some local fine dining restaurants in Qatar also take service charges. Most officials Gulf Times spoke to were not sure whether a prior Baladiya or Ministry of Business & Trade permission was taken before the charge was introduced.

Industry officials also dismissed suggestions that instead of a separate service charge they should increase the price of products as “impossible”.

“This can’t be done. Increase in prices will make the customer move to a competitor,” a restaurant official said.

“We do however waive the service charge if a customer insists or if they do not feel like they received the level of service they expected,” he added.

January 6, 2010 - Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Charity, Community, Customer Service, Doha, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Interconnected, Lies, Living Conditions, Values, Work Related Issues

7 Comments »

  1. Is there a labor law that sets the minimum hourly wage in Kuwait and Qatar?

    Yes, tips will increase the service level.

    Comment by Polar Panda | January 7, 2010 | Reply

  2. When we came to Canada as poor students, I worked as a house keeper in a motel and my husband was a waiter. We really appreciated people who were generous and gave tips to us. Tips can make people feel their service is recognized and appreciated, and they are equal humans as the customers. One of the most generous people we’ve ever seen was a black lady living in a shabby apartment in Calgary, and she gave my husband a fair amount of tip when he delivered pizza to her on a snowy Christmas night. We still talked about her now. Yes, it is hard for rich people to go to heaven. God has given some people gifts to earn lots of money, but it is our choice on how to spend it. Giving to the poor is more pleasant than taking.

    Comment by Polar Panda | January 7, 2010 | Reply

  3. Most people I know check the tab for the Service charge.. if its there they don’t tip.. although its known that management pockets it..

    i think this ban on service charge was recently implemented in kuwait as well.

    Comment by Enigma | January 7, 2010 | Reply

  4. Polar Panda, I am a big believer in tipping. Has God ever sent unexpected blessings into your life? He has in mine, and by his grace, we always have enough, and more, enough to share. We pray together every morning that God will lead us where our money should go, and tipping is a way to allow money to flow to those who need it desperately. And isn’t it funny, you are still blessing that wonderful woman who tipped for pizza, in your hearts, and as they say, from your heart to God’s ear! 🙂

    Enigma, I think it was. I think it is a management way to get more money without visibly increasing prices. It is dishonest, in my opinion. People who see a “service” charge added won’t tip the servers.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 7, 2010 | Reply

  5. Intlxpatr :

    Once i stated what i think of this price gouging , energy waisting coffee company from your home town . Now they are robbing the tips from their workers . what a bunch of scourges . i suggest to go to another coffee shop.

    Comment by daggero | January 7, 2010 | Reply

  6. Yeh, Daggero, you know I have a blind spot and a soft spot for the home team. It’s not just the management of Starbucks – I think a lot of the American franchises have picked up this despicable habit.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 7, 2010 | Reply

  7. […] original post here: 'No Madame, Don't Tip, Management Takes the Tips' « Here There and … Share and […]

    Pingback by 'No Madame, Don't Tip, Management Takes the Tips' « Here There and … | Drakz Free Online Service | January 22, 2010 | Reply


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