I Hate Our Tip System

August 7, 2009

In a previous post, I detailed the workings of our tip system. In particular, the fact that we have to add the tip before we run the credit card. For some reason, despite this, the machine still prints out an empty line where a customer could, hypothetically, add a tip after the fact. This line causes a lot of confusion, and today it cost me money.

Today, I got a really stupid order. It was 15 chicken fingers–not chicken finger dinners, mind you, just 15 chicken fingers–five orders of fries, two cups of honey french dressing, three milkshakes, a coke, and a cheeseburger (guess someone doesn’t like chicken). The total was $44.75. I almost never get orders this big or this dumb.

The rather distressed-looking lady drove up to the window to pay. With a credit card. Great, no tip, is what I’m thinking. I run the card and bring the reciept over for her to sign.

As she hands it back to me, she says “I put a $5 tip on there for you.” Oh you did, did you?

“Uh…I’m sorry,” I stammer. “I can’t add the tip after I run the card.”

“What do you mean, you can’t?” she snaps. “Then why’s the line there?” Good fucking question.

“I know, it’s just our machine, it’s really stupid. I appreciate the gesture, though…” I’d appreciate it more if I could actually get the money.

She rolls her eyes and drives off.

This is the third time I’ve missed out on a tip because of this stupid system. It’s the fourth if I count the time someone gave me some cash when they found out. I’m done with this. From now on, I’m asking if people want to add a tip if they use their credit card on a big or stupid order. If they’re offended, too bad. I ask for everyone else, and I’m tired of losing money.

In other pissy news, my brother took the memory card to our PS2 over to a friend’s house, so now I can’t even play Psychonauts to cheer myself up. Fuck!

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Something to Ponder

July 28, 2009

If a family comes in, sits down, and orders, but then decides at the last minute to change their entire meal into a carryout order, moving all the work from the waitress to me, who should get the tip? The only thing the waitress did was write the ticket and give them some water.

As I am not a jerk, and recognize that the waitresses make less per hour than I do, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. Nor do I mean to, now. I’m just curious as to what other people think. Also, it was really dead tonight, so I honestly have nothing else to write about.

I’m Not a Bank!

July 25, 2009

So, good sir, why did you give me $7 in change? Initially I thought maybe it was all right because it was all silver, but I returned to my senses when I realized I now had enough quarters to win Pac-Man about 30 fucking times.

I also have something to say to our hearing-impaired friends in the audience–if you are half-deaf, do not get pissed when I’m forced to raise my voice so you can hear me. Furthermore, do not get pissy when I ask you to repeat yourself because you are whispering on the phone. Do not hang up on me before I can confirm your order and then bitch when it’s not exactly right. In fact, just go away and leave me alone.

Continuing with the stupid shit, tonight we had a solicitor. Has this happened to anyone else? Some guy came in and tried to sell us boxes of candy to ostensibly benefit a program for children. I was so stunned by the audacity of the situation that I stood there, slack-jawed. Sister A, however, was quick to throw him out on his ass.

It’s not that I mind donating to charity–that’s fine. But coming in and pulling a hard sell in a restaurant? Bothering employees and making customers uncomfortable? Why on earth would you think that that’s an okay thing to do? Due to his complete lack of professionalism or tact, I’m inclined to believe he was not actually gathering money for charity and instead was a con artist trying to scam a bunch of hard-working foodservice employees. I really can’t believe the organization he claimed to be working for, one I am well-acquainted with, would encourage its volunteers to behave in such a way. Then again, we have the Shriners, who create traffic hazards by standing in the street to guilt motorists into buying a newspaper they’re never going to read. So I could be wrong.

Final, happy note: I actually made about $9 in tips last night, which is damn good considering over the past month I’ve made about $3. Remember, this is carryout–tipping isn’t mandatory. It was like getting paid for an extra hour of work, which is great because we closed 15 minutes early.

That’s all for today, tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion!

I believe I’ve mentioned several times that The Restaurant is in a slump. When I first started working there about a year and a half ago, slow nights were the exception rather than the rule, and there was no such thing as a dead night. Waitresses made money, carryout girls could regularly expect to make anywhere from $3-$10 on top of their normal salary from keeping the change, and the back dining room was always open.

Then gas prices jumped to over $4 a gallon, and people started freaking out. Food costs and minimum wage went up and by winter, so did our menu prices. Only by 5 to 20 cents per item, but the Social Security Brigade still bitched endlessly about it. Once the Powers That Were finally decided to inform the American public that we were, in fact, in a recession, things got even worse. People stopped tipping carryout, and even worse than that, people stopped tipping waitresses. Worst of all was that fewer and fewer people come in.

Now slow nights and dead nights are the rule. All the good, experienced people are leaving and being replaced by teenagers who don’t care about their job. Morale is down. I started bringing a book or doing a crossword puzzle simply because I had so little to do most nights (I’ve since stopped as carryout at least has picked up a bit). The back room stays closed most nights I host, except for the occasional annoying group of two who want me to open it just for them and then sit at a table for six, or the occasional teenybopper cheerleader convention.

Owner, in a cost-cutting measure, frequently short-staffs the kitchen, leaving the night manager to fill in wherever. Service suffers overall because of this, as the normal job of the night manager is to fill in where people need help. The top two places this occurs are either helping the counter/back room waitress fill orders when she gets slammed, or grabbing the register so the carryout girl actually gets a chance to get her orders put together and her milkshakes made.

I’ve been doing this long enough, and worked enough Saturday afternoons alone (we’re near a park, so think 12 orders of chicken strips and fries and 12 milkshakes to go with that for a Little League team), that I’m generally okay without managerial assistance. Sometimes people have to wait a bit at the window or the register, but I’m pretty good at multitasking. But I watch these new carryout girls struggle and drown when they can’t get help, even though busy for carryout these days is nothing like what it used to be. None were trained during a time when it really was busy, and most of them freak out if they have more than two orders and one person is at the register.

I hope things get better, I really do. I fear if business doesn’t pick up soon, Owner may sell The Restaurant. And as much as I bitch about it, The Restaurant is a piece of history. It’s older than my parents and largely unchanged. It’s probably the only truly “authentic” ‘50s dining experience you can get in this area—Johnny Rockets doesn’t count, and their service is terrible anyway.

Are other people feeling the strain of the economy? Any of you servers seeing fewer customers and lower tips? Managers having to find a way to cut costs? Hell, have any of you customers noticed restaurants being less and less crowded? Please share if you are!