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yet another thread on tipping in the diner


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#21 PVD

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 09:41 AM

The premise is that the government gets to collect money upfront that it would otherwise wait for, or not get at all. That is not a function of what the person pay out at meal time, it is a function of what they are reasonably assumed to tip. (it gets complicated with pooling, allocations, and whether or not a service charge is a gratuity) It is a bit like "witholding tax or estimated tax)



#22 jis

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 10:09 AM

OTOH, the value of the free refills does not get transferred in accounting to the food revenue account in any restaurant that I am aware of. Unlike that, in Amtrak Diners, the actual list price of the food consumed is transferred from the ticket revenue account to the F&B account. So in that since comparing that with free refills and twofer offers in restaurants is at best an apples and oranges comparison.


Edited by jis, 04 December 2017 - 11:14 AM.


#23 willem

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 10:33 AM

I have tipped on the full price of a meal that I used a coupon for. I figured the staff was doing the same duties for the discounted meal as s/he would have done if I paid full price.
Now, if the restaurant is offering two for one or free refill, I tip on the cost shown on my bill.

 
I don't follow the logic. If you get two meals on a two-for-one, is the staff doing the work of one meal or two? You said you tipped on the full price of a discounted meal, then said you tipped on half price for a steeply discounted meal. It seems inconsistent. (I'm not saying you're wrong, or even that you are inconsistent. I'm saying your explanation appears inconsistent to me.)



#24 willem

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 10:57 AM

Shouldn't the actual price payed be what counts?
[...]
I think what the business actually receives is the price that counts, not some fictive numbers printed onto the menu card to create the impression that somebody is getting something for nothing.

 
That appears to make some sense, although AmtrakBlue has another way of looking at it.
 

I have tipped on the full price of a meal that I used a coupon for. I figured the staff was doing the same duties for the discounted meal as s/he would have done if I paid full price.

 
But the question was how does Amtrak value the meals for the purposes of complying with IRS regulations, and jis provided an answer.
 

OTOH, the value of the free refills does not get transferred in accounting to the food revenue account in any restaurant that I am aware of. Unlike that, in Amtrak Diners, the actual list price of the food consumed is transferred from the ticket revenue account to the F&B account. So in that since comparing that with free refills and twofer offers in restaurants is at best and apples and oranges comparison.

 
It would appear that the servers are assumed to have received 8% of the menu price in tips, and to the extent that I tip less than that, I am wiping out other customers' tips.
 
I have not seen any rebuttal of the report that the 8% rule would not apply to Amtrak employees, although my reading of the IRS publication and form did not reveal any evidence of such an exception.
 

I can’t speak for Amtrak, but my experience in running restaurants for Hilton and other hotels for over 30 years was that the 8% rule only applied to employees making less that the minimum wage (currently 7.25) or tipped employees making the tip minimum wage (currently 2.13).



#25 willem

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 11:17 AM

I hear you Cirdan, but the dining car meals aren't free, they are priced into the sleeper accommodation price.

[...]

It isn't just the money, it is the perceived lack of courtesy. [...] Don't stiff a tipped employee unless they did a poor job.

Even when things go wrong that are out of the control of the wait staff, you should still tip something if they tried. 

Sorry for the sermon. But this means something to me.

 
(While I agree with your points, they are not relevant to the question of how much taxable income Amtrak adds to a server's wages. But since we're digressing and you brought it up, let's talk about the tip.)

 

Where do you draw the lines between a good tip, a so-so tip, a tip that says "I appreciate your effort even though you have room for improvement", and a tip that says "I'm only tipping your lousy service so that you know that I didn't forget to tip"? If you can fit "You did a fine job but were hampered by circumstances beyond your control" in there, I'd appreciate it.



#26 Lonestar648

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 11:29 AM

Amtrak does calculate the selections made in the Sleeper into the revenue of the Dining Car, so the meals are not "free", they are included.  Look at the difference between the SS and the SM when they took the DC off the SS.  



#27 Ziv

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 12:04 PM

Willem, I am like a dog that chases whatever squirrel is nearest, so sometimes I stray from the primary thread. How much taxable income Amtrak adds to a server's wages is too esoteric for me, trying to tip well is more interesting.

Tipping is a "gut" thing. It isn't like there is a way to precisely quantify the spectrum of tipping percentages, but it is usually better to round up, than down. I will rarely stiff a server. I start at 10% for bad service with some server attempts to remedy the negatives. 20% is my baseline for decent service. I tip more than that if the server goes over and above the normal level of service. I get back a lot more in friendly service and freebies than the amount of tips I give at places where I am a regular. The thing I try to remember is that the difference between an ok tip and a fairly good tip (15% vs. 20%)  is just $2.50 more on a $50 meal.

Tipping an Amtrak Dining Car attendant if you are a sleeper customer is a grey area, I will admit. I can see the argument that 10% of the menu price is enough because of the relatively high salary that a Dining Car attendant gets vs. a typical diner waitress. So I am hesitant to come out and just say, "You should tip at least 15% in the Dining Car." And my opinion is worth no more than anyone else's. But I think that tipping a few dollars more than 10% makes little difference to me and it makes the attendants day a bit more pleasant. If it encourages good attendants to keep their jobs as attendants, then it is worth it.  YMMV.

 

 

 

I hear you Cirdan, but the dining car meals aren't free, they are priced into the sleeper accommodation price.

[...]

It isn't just the money, it is the perceived lack of courtesy. [...] Don't stiff a tipped employee unless they did a poor job.

Even when things go wrong that are out of the control of the wait staff, you should still tip something if they tried. 

Sorry for the sermon. But this means something to me.

 
(While I agree with your points, they are not relevant to the question of how much taxable income Amtrak adds to a server's wages. But since we're digressing and you brought it up, let's talk about the tip.)

 

Where do you draw the lines between a good tip, a so-so tip, a tip that says "I appreciate your effort even though you have room for improvement", and a tip that says "I'm only tipping your lousy service so that you know that I didn't forget to tip"? If you can fit "You did a fine job but were hampered by circumstances beyond your control" in there, I'd appreciate it.

 



#28 willem

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 12:39 PM

Willem, I am like a dog that chases whatever squirrel is nearest, so sometimes I stray from the primary thread. How much taxable income Amtrak adds to a server's wages is too esoteric for me, trying to tip well is more interesting.
Tipping is a "gut" thing. It isn't like there is a way to precisely quantify the spectrum of tipping percentages, but it is usually better to round up, than down. I will rarely stiff a server. I start at 10% for bad service with some server attempts to remedy the negatives. 20% is my baseline for decent service. I tip more than that if the server goes over and above the normal level of service. I get back a lot more in friendly service and freebies than the amount of tips I give at places where I am a regular. The thing I try to remember is that the difference between an ok tip and a fairly good tip (15% vs. 20%)  is just $2.50 more on a $50 meal.
Tipping an Amtrak Dining Car attendant if you are a sleeper customer is a grey area, I will admit. I can see the argument that 10% of the menu price is enough because of the relatively high salary that a Dining Car attendant gets vs. a typical diner waitress. So I am hesitant to come out and just say, "You should tip at least 15% in the Dining Car." And my opinion is worth no more than anyone else's. But I think that tipping a few dollars more than 10% makes little difference to me and it makes the attendants day a bit more pleasant. If it encourages good attendants to keep their jobs as attendants, then it is worth it.  YMMV.
 

Where do you draw the lines between a good tip, a so-so tip, a tip that says "I appreciate your effort even though you have room for improvement", and a tip that says "I'm only tipping your lousy service so that you know that I didn't forget to tip"? If you can fit "You did a fine job but were hampered by circumstances beyond your control" in there, I'd appreciate it.

 

 
I understand completely, and I like the dog and squirrel simile.

 

My questions were more general than Amtrak-specific, and I appreciate the thoughts you shared.

 

I do not understand why percentages should go up as time passes. This applies to property taxes, sales taxes, realtor commissions, tips, and probably most other percentage-based amounts. If the base price goes up (property value, purchased item, house price, menu price), then the paid amount automatically goes up. Perhaps government is providing more services than before, but are realtors and wait staff? Not as far as I can see.

 

Unfortunately for me, I don't set the societal norms, and that's why I asked about the gradations of tips. I recognize there isn't a clear line. I do wish there was some way for me to tip an amount that I believe says "Thank you for your yeoman service" with no possibility of it being interpreted as "You didn't try hard enough, deadbeat" by the recipient.

 

And now I apologize to myself and other readers for participating in the derailment of this thread.



#29 cirdan

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 01:08 PM

 

I hear you Cirdan, but the dining car meals aren't free, they are priced into the sleeper accommodation price. But even if you consider them to be "free", you should still tip as if they weren't.  Say you take your girl out for a couple glasses of wine. $8 each and you both have two and are ready to roll out but the waitress comps a couple glasses so that you can try this great Chilean white. You should tip like you paid for 6 glasses, not 4. So your math with regards to the tip isn't 20% of $32 for $6.50 tip, it is 20% of $48 for a $9.60 tip even though the bill is for $32 and tax. You don't pay for the comp'ed glasses but you do tip for them. I guarantee that you will get a lot more comp'ed glasses of wine if you follow this rule, and you will feel better about the waitress and she remembers the thought.

 


 

 

Don't worry Ziv. Actually I do tip on Amtrak. I just see it as being nice rather than as something I fully need to do, as would be the case in some other restaurant where food is the primary business objective.

 

But as i said, I do it to be nice. I' not sure whether the staff even connect me with the tip as they often don't collect the tips until cleaning the table which is after I have left. Frequently all our money ends up in a heap in the middle of the table anyway. I doubt that  they will remember that i was at the table that tipped that much, and even less so appreciate my individual contribution. I have yet to ever feel that I was particularly well treated, but not badly treated either at subsequent meals on the same trip, but not badly either.

 

This is in contrats to SCA's some of who have given me real VIP treatments, and this before even seeing my tip (and mind you, if I do get treatment like that, I try to honor it with an appropriately big tip).


Edited by cirdan, 04 December 2017 - 01:11 PM.


#30 Ryan

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 01:36 PM

Amtrak does calculate the selections made in the Sleeper into the revenue of the Dining Car, so the meals are not "free", they are included.  Look at the difference between the SS and the SM when they took the DC off the SS.  


My memory is foggy on this, but I believe this to be untrue. I recall from reading somewhere that the amount of revenue recorded for the Diners is based on ticket sales and not actual selections in the diner (i.e. I can get a sleeper ticket and skip all meals, or eat everything I am entitled to at every meal and the accounting on the backend stays the same).
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#31 Bob Dylan

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 01:54 PM

Waiting on an Amtrak LSA or SCA to post how the Amtrak tipping reporting actually works????
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#32 jis

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 02:13 PM

 

Amtrak does calculate the selections made in the Sleeper into the revenue of the Dining Car, so the meals are not "free", they are included.  Look at the difference between the SS and the SM when they took the DC off the SS.  


My memory is foggy on this, but I believe this to be untrue. I recall from reading somewhere that the amount of revenue recorded for the Diners is based on ticket sales and not actual selections in the diner (i.e. I can get a sleeper ticket and skip all meals, or eat everything I am entitled to at every meal and the accounting on the backend stays the same).

 

I do not believe that to be true. But I am happy to be convinced either way. ;) No dog in the race.



#33 the_traveler

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 02:24 PM

... the meals are not "free", they are included.  Look at the difference between the SS and the SM when they took the DC off the SS.

Exactly!

Why is the fare for the SS roomette $200 but a roomette costs $275 on the SM?:huh: Oh yeah, the SM has a Dining Car (meals included) and the SS does not (no meals included). So you think they are still free?
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#34 caravanman

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 02:26 PM

It may not be relevant here, but when I was in SLO, I got into conversation with a guy who delivered "fast food". He had no other income, and said he "expected" a 20% tip on each delivery. He seemed an intelligent well dressed bloke, so I guess he was earning a decent wage.

 

Ed.



#35 Bob Dylan

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 03:22 PM

I've noticed that lots of the Credit Card Readers in Service Type Places are now offering you a choice of %s to Tip.

For example at the Fine Dining Dennys, the range is from None to 25%.

I pick None and tip in Cash what I feel is appropriate.

When using your AGR Card in Amtrak Diners and Cafes, some passengers include the Tip to get AGR Points but I still tip with Cash. YMWV
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Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#36 jis

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 03:25 PM

I tip on the a Credit Card if I am otherwise using it to pay for something, e.g. wine. If I am not otherwise using a CC I tip in cash in the Diner.



#37 anumberone

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 04:07 AM

Just from my observation at dinner in the diner where a meal for two is probably in the $55/60 range, I rarely see anything but a few Washingtons thrown on the opposite side of the table.

#38 cirdan

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 04:36 AM

Just from my observation at dinner in the diner where a meal for two is probably in the $55/60 range, I rarely see anything but a few Washingtons thrown on the opposite side of the table.

 

Me too.

 

When comparing to folks on this forum, I feel like a miserly tipper.

 

When I see the people around me on the train, i feel I'm being generous beyond all reason.



#39 jis

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 07:30 AM

I just follow a flat formula of $5 - $3 - $2 for Dinner - Lunch - Breakfast irrespective of what I eat in the Diner. :)

 

Of course if I do not partake in a meal, which happens sometimes since full three meals is a bit too much for me, then there is no tip for the meal not taken.


Edited by jis, 05 December 2017 - 10:07 AM.


#40 willem

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 09:11 AM

Waiting on an Amtrak LSA or SCA to post how the Amtrak tipping reporting actually works????

 
Thank you for addressing the original question.
 

 

Just from my observation at dinner in the diner where a meal for two is probably in the $55/60 range, I rarely see anything but a few Washingtons thrown on the opposite side of the table.

 
Me too.
 
When comparing to folks on this forum, I feel like a miserly tipper.
 
When I see the people around me on the train, i feel I'm being generous beyond all reason.

 

 
You and me both.
 
And to derail the thread in yet another direction, what anumberone said was extra true during my recent trip on the Canadian, where it appeared that the majority of people left no tip at all, and the majority of those who did tip left C$2 or less. (On the other hand, there are no prices on the menus on the Canadian.)






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