An American waitress on $3 an hour has explained that it can cost her money to serve a table with a poor tip – with the admission shocking Australians.
Tennessee woman Savanah Pierce made a video on TikTok sharing how “it is possible for servers to lose money on a table” because they are allowed to be paid below minimum wage due to the expectation they will receive tips.
Some even hand over a proportion of their sales just to work in the restaurant.
Ms Pierce, who said she earned $US2.13 an hour, made the video after an earlier TikTok of her experience not receiving a tip got three million views.
“Off of my gross sales, I have to pay six per cent of that to the host, bartenders, kitchen staff, other support staff, food runners, like people in the restaurant that are helping to make the restaurant happen, I pay them,” Ms Pierce explained.
“Why the restaurant doesn’t pay them? Why restaurants don’t pay all of their staff appropriately? I don’t have the answer to that.”
She went on to explain if she sold $100 worth of food and drink on a table, she had to pay $6 to other staff in the restaurant.
“So hopefully on that $100 bill I get a $20 tip – that’s 20 per cent – and then I would actually only make $14 because the $6 goes towards the rest of the team.”
The amount expected to paid to the restaurant staff supporting her is six per cent of the bill, not the tip she receives.
“If I had a table that I served and their cheque was $100 and they do not tip me at all … I have to reach into my own pocket, money that I’ve already made that day or money that I have yet to make, and still give it back to the restaurant to pay the rest of the staff,” Ms Pierce said.
She said the price on the menu was for the meal, not the service.
“When you eat in, you are paying the server to serve you. That is what the tip is,” she said.
Ms Pierce said she understood giving a lower tip for a bad experience, but not tipping at all was “wrong”.
“If you can’t tip, if truly financially you are not in a place to tip, get take out, eat at home. It is not fair to someone who is working hard, serving you in a restaurant to make them pay to serve you. That is wrong,” she said.
Many foreign viewers, including Australians, were in disbelief at the US tipping system.
One British woman described it as “absolutely wild”.
“It’s not wrong to not tip, it’s wrong for restaurants not to pay their staff and to make staff pay staff,” she said.
An Aussie added: “Pay proper wages like we do in Australia. Tips should be a bonus and not part of your living wage.”
One Australian who said they had never heard the US tipping system explained that way, said it was the US government that was to blame.
“So glad that in Australia a tip is a BONUS for great service not an expectation [because] of a messed up system,” she wrote.
Ms Pierce agreed. She replied: “So many people telling me to blame my boss, I get that, but he’s just following the laws here!”
Some states have different laws, but Americans warned one Aussie in the comments that if they were visiting, they should assume this is how it is wherever they eat.
One person explained that if a server failed to make the state’s minimum wage by the end of the week through tips, the employer had to pay the difference.
Ms Pierce confirmed this but said the minimum wage was only $US7.25.
“As an Aussie I will never understand American wage system. It’s crazy,” one Australian wrote.
“One of my sons owns a bar, the other a cafe. On average they pay their staff $25 to $35 per hour. Yay for Australia,” said another.
“I live in Australia and work hospitality and our minimum wage is $27 and we don’t have a tipping culture, however if you get great service you tip the sever️,” explained a third.
It wasn’t only Australians who expressed their outrage.
“That’s criminal you having to do that … your government should put this on businesses to pay right. Here in NZ we don’t tip. Servers get a guaranteed wage,” wrote one Kiwi.
“I can’t believe this is real. How do restaurants have employees??” asked someone from the Netherlands.
“As a French person hearing this I feel like I’d boycott the places not paying their staff fair wages. That’s insane,” wrote one woman.
“In the UK there is a minimum wage that employers must pay, I am flabbergasted at what I’ve just heard,” said a Brit.