What should we do with these odd complaints?

Wow. Test. You.

Scroll through our vast complaints database — more than 2,000 of them this year — and you’ll see a lot of familiar names under the “company” category. And some you would not expect.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance. Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

My favorite? Wow.

Wow, what?

WOW Air, as it turns out. “Do you have an email address for an executive?” asked reader Martin Taxson.

Of course we did.

We have a lot of strange complaint categories. And just to be clear, these complaints are supposed to be last-ditch efforts to get a company to do the right thing. My volunteers and I field many more questions through our forums or email. The form-submitted cases are supposed to be the hardest of the hard-luck cases.

Well, usually.

Here’s a row of “complaints” we received a few weeks ago.

Test.
Test.
Test.
Test.

All of the files were empty. I’m not really sure what our readers were testing, but whatever it was, I wish them the best of luck with finding it.

And then there’s “yours” for the complaint category — as in your site.

Just last month, we received half a dozen of those. Most were hate mail.

Sara De Jong, a restaurant server from Orange City, Iowa, read my recent story about the relentless spread of tipping, and wanted to complain.

To me.

“I had a customer come in and before they finished paying, they told me about an article they read: yours,” she says. “They also said they no longer need to tip, and if enough people do the same, our wage will change, so no need to be upset.”

She’s upset about that.

“I want a public apology,” she says. “And maybe tell people that they should be tipping!”

She adds, “I do not make minimum wage without tips. How is it OK for you to tell people to not tip us? Believe it or not but you don’t need to tip, but if we do change things, prices for going out to eat are going to go up drastically!”

De Jong also wants me to pay her $100.

What a strange request.

First of all, I don’t believe her story. Sure, the story ran in a few newspapers, but I don’t believe anyone told her that they didn’t have to tip her because of something they read.

Let’s scroll to the bottom of the article to read what I actually wrote:

Service employees with below-minimum-wage jobs really need the gratuities to make ends meet. Travelers are pressured to pay more than the sticker price on everything from coffee to Korean barbecue — and made to feel guilty if they don’t.

Maybe we’ve reached a tipping point. And maybe it’s time for businesses to pay their employees a living wage and to eliminate the system of not-so-voluntary gratuities. Many travelers feel guilt tipping crosses a line. If you’re not one of them, just take a trip and experience these aggressive solicitations for yourself.

You’ll see.

I’m not sure where I said, “Don’t tip” in there. Can you find it?

I think De Jong didn’t bother to read the article. Instead, she relied on what a mob of angry waiters on Facebook had to say about the story. They called me every name in the book. Really made them look like professionals, that did.

Like I said, “yours” is a strange category, and hers is an even stranger demand.

Needless to say, I’m not paying her $100.

31 thoughts on “What should we do with these odd complaints?

  1. “I don’t believe anyone told her that they didn’t have to tip her because of something they read.”

    I would totally believe it. There are a lot of selfish jerks out there. There are people that don’t tip because they think leaving a bible tract under the receipt is a worthy substitute. There are people that don’t tip because they are upset at the amount of taxes charged. There are people that don’t tip because they assume their server is an illegal immigrant. Etc.

  2. “She adds, “I do not make minimum wage without tips.” That is not true. Employers must make up the difference for servers whose tips don’t equate to minimum wage. I’m a pretty generous tipper, but servers who think tips are an entitlement irritate me, when it shows in the level of service provided.

    1. Yes, in theory employers must make up the difference between minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage if tips are insufficient. They also, in theory, are not allowed to charge the employee for the loss for a dine ‘n dash, again, if it would reduce their wages below the full minimum.

      In practice, this adjustment is virtually never made. You can, in theory, ask for said payments, and the most likely outcome is that a check will be grudgingly cut and shortly afterwards either your hours will be cut, or you will simply be fired because the fact your tips are so low and/or you ‘let’ somebody leave without paying is an example of what a terrible employee you are.

        1. The IRS doesn’t force employers to levy imputed tips. Technically, employers are supposed to collect tip reports from employees and tax accordingly. However, few restaurants actually did this, so the IRS simply said: Fine, whatever, we simply won’t believe any number you submit under 8% (unless you apply for a lower number and can back up the fact that your customers are a bunch of tightwads.)

          So, to avoid real reporting requirements, restaurants simply use the 8% number, and the IRS agrees not to look to closely to see if it’s higher.

      1. I have to agree, many servers have rights they can’t really apply. Sure you can get that check for the difference, but you’re going to lose hours, or be terminated.

      2. My first job for several years during and after HS was as a server and my brother has been a bartender for 15+ years. Maybe we work(ed) for more legitimate, less douchey employers, because we weren’t punished when we didn’t get tipped enough and we also weren’t held responsible for making that determination. It seems rather a huge generalization to assume that all server industry employers are that big of jerks. We reported our cash tips each night and they were logged, and of course credit card tips were already in the daily reports, and they handled the minimum wage or not computations. I didn’t go to them and say “Hey, you need to give me X more dollars cuz I didn’t make enough tips.” Putting the onus on a server to do that is a system ripe for playing “hide the dollars.” Our busboys and hostesses didn’t get tipped; they got an hourly wage and we tipped out the bartenders 10% of all bar checks but the amount we tipped them out wasn’t included in OUR wages, just our net.

  3. When I was working, I would tip usually 15% for good service. Now that I am retired, I tip 12%, for good service. My gripe is, mandatory tipping for smaller groups ( under 8 people ), cruises & tours.

      1. in Oregon there isn’t anything called ‘server min wage’ it’s all ‘min wage’ — meaning the waiters in the nice restaurants are making min wage *and* earning tips. So no, I don’t tip so much anymore here.

      2. I don’t understand……………..am I tipping too much!
        Is yours a comment or a complaint ? & because you seem to be confused…………this is not 1980

          1. What sirwired has said is EXACTLY what I was trying to imply. 12% is woefully inadequate (and it was in 1980, too, for that matter)!

          2. My son outearned me by working as a bartender. He made $25,000 in salary & another $25,000 in tips ( where only a % is declared income) This was in 1992, when I worked on commission in a customer sales/service profession. I was happy for him, but if you want to tip, it should be within your budget.

          3. Sorry to say, my wallet trumps AARP guide, may have something to do with having to live on a gov’t pension……….due to different experiences than you, no doubt.

  4. Here in Oregon — everyone — yes, everyone — makes minimum wage, there is no ‘server’ minimum wage. So when you go to dinner at some fancy place and think you have to leave 20%? well, most people do because they don’t know any better. I don’t anymore, once I found out.
    AND min wage is going up to $15 an hour soon enough. So wait staff would be able to earn that *and* believe they deserve so much money in tips? I think not.

    1. I thought the Portland minimum wage would not get to $15 until 2022 — or something like that? Seattle also raised the minimum wage but I think tipped employees may make a little less. Some restaurants went to no tips but I have not eaten in a restaurant in Seattle proper in ages.

      1. I live in Seattle and The Ram and Ivars on North Lake Union both went “no tip” and we love it! We’ve always had good service at both.

  5. I agree with you, it seems everyone wants a tip if they have any contact with customer service. I’ve seen the “Good Karma” jars in everything from retail clothing to construction supply stores (no Lowes I am not leaving the cashier a tip).

    I now leave tips only in food service businesses (and i stopped tipping at Starbucks, because they make at least minimum wage).

  6. If minimum wage goes to $15 hourly, I’ll never tip again. I feel like your wage should be enough. Sad because I’m sure with tips they can average so much more—-

  7. It looks like some readers think that servers should not make more than minimum wage, and do their best to ensure that by the amount they tip or not. (I am not a server btw)

    1. Go to Europe and one can see that folks in many places do not tip like they do here in the USA because the wait staff make a liveable wage. They still round up for a tip if they choose and some actually do leave larger tips.
      I believe what some here are getting at is that if the minimum wage is raised to $15 from what it is now, that is a pretty good jump, right? Why should the wait staff then expect to still get 15-20% tips? There are lots of people working in jobs throughout the country that receive minimum wage and do not get “tipped”.
      If I am going ot have to pay more in restaurants after the minimum wage goes up to say $15, then the prices of the items ordered will go up to allow the owner to have the money to meet the mew pay scale. That said, I feel I am paying more to dine to support the minimum wage. So, if I pay 15% more for what I order, why should I leave another 15-20% for a tip? I might leave a bit of a tip but not as much as I have been over these past years.

      1. Why do you assume you would pay 15% more?

        Seattle has a $13 minimum wage since January 1, 2016. Studies have “found little or no evidence of price increases in Seattle relative to the surrounding area

        http://www.seattlepi.com/local/politics/article/Early-UW-study-of-15-wage-law-Seattle-has-not-7255658.php

        Critics could argue the higher wage floor hurts business owners. Or they could argue it reduces hours/benefits/opportunities for workers (haven’t seen a study either refuting or confirming that). But the concerns over price increases have been greatly exaggerated.

        1. So, who is paying for the amount the business owners now have to pay for the increased minimum wage? THE CUSTOMERS! The business owners cannot keep their prices the same when the minimum wages go up – if they are paying their help the minimum wage. However, if they already factored the new minimum wage in, then I can see the prices they charge not changing much, if any. Still, the fact is that when wages go up so do prices. Owners cannot make money come out of thin air.

          1. The business owners cannot keep their prices the same when the minimum wages go up

            Why not? The studies prove that this is exactly what most are doing so far.

            The additional costs (which do not represent anywhere close to an increase of 15% because min wage labor is only one of many costs) are apparently coming mainly out of their margins; probably because the market is too competitive to pass along price increases.

            It’s possible they are offsetting some of the margin loss by attracting better, more efficient workers (at the higher wage) or by reducing benefits or by cutting back less-productive hours or by automating more functions.

  8. Then they are those that DO tip by adding the tip to the charge card slip and the management keeps the tip and does not pass it back to the employee. I’ve seen this in SF bay area Asian eateries. Very prevalent so I always tip in cash in these places and make sure the waitperson gets it in hand before I leave.

    1. That should be illegal. Many businesses in London, UK now add an “optional” 12.5% service charge to the bill. But the employees don’t seem to usually know how to remove it and it doesn’t all go to the employees.

  9. tipping in USA is out of control. Everyone wants a tip, but Australians & Japanese don’t tip at all. Wages in Australia are much higher than in USA, even taking into account the exchange rate. Hell you sit on your butt & do nothing in Australia & get AUD$50k a year if you have a few kids + lots of other benefits, like totally free medical.
    (AUD$50k = USD$38.5k at todays exchange rate)
    I would never ever tip more than 10% & only if got exceptional service. For just doing your job, you don’t deserve ANY tip.

  10. Ah, yes. Read it on the internet—that fount of misinformation. It’s really sad that so many people believe anything they read.

  11. There are a lot of costs that business owners need to factor in to their prices To assume that “everything but server’s wages” can be factored in, but if you factor in server’s wages, the prices will “go up dramatically” is absurd. People who live from tips are at every end of the scale, from those who barely (or don’t scrape by) to those who make a killing. I am surprised that there is not more written about how unequal this is. A person working in a cheap eatery where the tips are not much would do not much different work than someone who worked in a top end place where the tips are enormous.

    People like to use the scare tactics of putting the prices up if there is no tipping. The price should not go up 20%. This reminds me of coffee places that would put up the price of coffee a lot when the wholesale cost of beans would go up $1.00 a pound. Considering how many cups of coffee come from a pound of beans, a penny or two a cup would have covered that cost, but the “increase” was much much more.

    I would surely like to see an end to tipping, and all of the complaining that comes with it. Employers need to pay a fair wage, employees need to do a fair job for them.

    Should we tip the Apple employee 20% if we buy a 256 gig iphone 7 Plus? What if they did a “really really good job”? This is the kind of bafflegab we get in tipping discussions, enough of that.

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