free wifi and tipping

Tipping And Free WiFi: More Thoughts On The Subject

Two recent advancements in technology and changes and social situations have continued to be in question for the modern restauranteur: with more and more people opposed to the concept of tipping being vocal about the dislike for the practice, there’s been no clear consensus and social change on that front. In recent years, the proliferation of WiFi connected devices ranging from e-readers and video games to traditional laptops and more futuristic tablet devices all encourage customers to be mobile with their media consumption.

We’ve covered both worlds in the past, with a recent guide on how to install WiFi in your restaurant, the debate on “internet squatters”, the concept of tip jars, thoughts about surcharges on bills, or even if you should allow tipping in your restaurant at all.

New York Times writer Pete Wells has brought his thoughts to the masses on how to encourage better service at restaurants.

1. Become very famous;

2. Spend $1,000 or more on wine every time you go out;

3. Keep going to the same restaurant until you get V.I.P. treatment; if that doesn’t work, pick another place.

Wells argues that tipping (or tipping better than normal) is not guaranteed to to increase the quality of service. In his argument, the case against tipping is

it is irrational, outdated, ineffective, confusing, prone to abuse and sometimes discriminatory. The people who take care of us in restaurants deserve a better system, and so do we.

To make up for this cost, there’s a few variations. Some restaurants include the money that would go to the servers in the cost of the items, others include it as a listed surcharge. Ideally, higher pay rates would cancel the concept of tipping and still have the staff receive the same (if not better) hourly wage. Unlike Amy’s Baking Company, it’s never advised to allow tips and not let them go to the staff.

The argument for tipping has seemed to be valid in the past.

Americans have stuck with tipping for years because all parties thought it worked in their favor. Servers, especially in restaurants from the mid- to high-priced, made good money, much of it in cash, and much of that unreported on tax returns. Owners saved on labor costs and taxes. And customers generally believed that tips brought better service.

There may be an income disparity between the front and back of the house when it comes to tipping. In a coffee bar, tipping may be 1:1 in ratio; the money you tip your barista goes to all parties involved in the creation of your drink, because they’re making it. If the waitstaff is just bringing a burger out (with a chef and sous chef actually producing it), you may love the burger and want to compliment the creator, but lack the designation of where the funds go.

Tipping may cause some unease with consumers, but “Free WiFI” should allow for a more fun eating experience, right?

Wired.com has come up with a list of suggestions for consumers, guidelines on how to use and not abuse the WiFi.

Their suggestions are simple; buy a drink (and not the cheapest drink) per hour you plan to stay, and if you’re expecting to be in there for a long length of time, get snacks or a meal. Only use the power outlet when you need to charge (it’s not a bad idea to let your laptop and more to burn through some energy every once in a while and actually be “portables”). Be a space saver, and put items below your seat, not spread out on multiple tables. Lastly, keep the noise pollution down to a minimum; use headphones if you’re listening to music or watching a video, and take phone calls outside.

These are two avenues of discussion that the everyday restauranteur runs into, and while there might not be an easy answer or consensus to be made, more talk might spur thought on how to improve the culture of your cuisine.