What do waiters in the US think of certain restaurants eliminating the tipping system and instead raising prices?
It's interesting as my other waiter/restaurant friends and I have discussed this and we're a bit torn. On one hand $14-$15 dollars an hour is not bad pay for the type of restaurant that is doing this (mid-level eateries like Joe's Crab Shack) because in Oklahoma (where I'm currently living) the waiters make $2.01 an hour plus tips and get paid minimum wage only if their tips don't bring the $2.01 up to that rate- but they always do. It's also good because in this part of the country people are not big tippers and (not to be sexist but...) if it's a table of all women who always want separate checks and I guess just assume one of the other ladies will be leaving a proper tip but none do or (God forbid) they have a Groupon which already brings out the cheapees who never tip on what the cost would have been before the Groupon only on the final amount (idiots) you are basically workin for free so to not have to deal with all that and just get a decent wage is a plus.
On the downside waiters have always been able to pad their income as well be not claiming all their cash tips so they aren't taxed on them. They shouldn't do this but it happens. With a flat rate of pay they will be paying full taxes on everything which could really eat into their hourly rate bringing final take home down considerably. For people like me who usually wait tables in higher end establishments I always make WAY more than $15 an hour (usually more like $25-$45 an hour) so it will be a HUGE undercut to that level of server and that's why I don't like it. As a manager I'm also concerned about the quality of service. When you know your pay depends on giving good service as well as up selling liquor and appetizers and desserts to get the final bill amount up so your 15-18% tip amount goes up waiters work to ensure the customer is satisfied and the restaurant is selling more product. With a flat pay rate I'm afraid service levels will plummet because the server isnt dependent on the customers satisfaction to get paid and they don't need to try and upsell anything because the final bill amount doesn't effect their pay either. I'm afraid service levels will drop to those of a fast food place where they just robotically take your order and hopefully get it ordered correctly but we all know how often our orders come to us wrong because the employee just doesn't care- they're getting paid whether it's right or not. Lastly to compensate for the restaurant paying a higher hourly wage (the money has to come from somewhere) menu items are going to be raised by around 25%. This too can cause those folks who already felt the place a bit pricey but treated themselves occasionally to stay away all together and those that normally come and often do get an app or dessert to stop ordering those to compensate for the higher cost of the entrees and to stay within budget.
So overall I think it's not a good idea as the customer, server and restaurant can all possibly suffer by eliminating the process of tipping your server.