Black People : Study shows blacks tip less -- but they may have good reason

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by dustyelbow, Mar 24, 2006.

  1. dustyelbow

    dustyelbow Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 25, 2005
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    African American diners asked about the disparity cited economics, upbringing and expectations.
    March 26 2006

    "THAT waitress sized us up in two seconds. We're black, and black people don't tip," says Anthony, a character complaining about restaurant service in a scene from "Crash," winner of this year's best-picture Oscar.

    That's not just Hollywood talking, a Cornell University associate professor says: Research indicates that African Americans, on average, leave smaller tips for servers than whites do and that they're more likely to leave nothing.

    Professor Michael Lynn's latest report on this topic, "Race Differences in Tipping: Questions and Answers for the Restaurant Industry," issued in January, cites more than 12 studies by himself and others, most of them done since 2002.

    Discriminatory service may be a factor, but there appear to be many others.

    Poor tips, Lynn says, may contribute to black diners getting poorer service and to companies' reluctance to open restaurants in predominantly black communities, not to mention angering servers and customers alike. And it fuels yet another debate about tipping, always a hot-button topic for travelers.

    Lynn doesn't discount the role of anti-black bias in any of these problems. But he mainly sees this cycle at work:

    Expecting skimpy gratuities, waiters resist serving African Americans, or they provide poorer service, which discourages blacks from patronizing table-service restaurants. Low tips also make it hard for restaurants in black neighborhoods to attract and retain staff, causing turnover and decreasing profits.

    Six years after Lynn, a respected expert on tipping at Cornell's Center for Hospitality Research in Ithaca, N.Y., began to study the racial gap in gratuities, the topic remains taboo, he says.

    "It's a problem the industry knows about," says Lynn, who is white. "But the big players with money are afraid to address the issue. They're afraid of being labeled racist."

    In an e-mail response, the National Restaurant Assn., an industry trade group in Washington, D.C., issued a statement saying it "commends" Cornell "for addressing disparities in consumer tipping behavior," but it did not specifically address the question of race.

    Sue Hensley, spokeswoman for the restaurant association, said the group hadn't researched this issue.

    But she said it offers cards to restaurants, for distribution to customers, that calculate 15% and 20% tips for bills of various sizes. When that range became customary is not clear, but it was recommended by travel magazines as early as the 1950s, according to the association.

    Gerry Fernandez, president of the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, a nonprofit group in Providence, R.I., that promotes diversity, finds merit in Lynn's findings.

    "There absolutely is a perception that certain groups, African Americans in particular, do not tip as well as whites," says Fernandez, an African American whose grandparents hailed from Cape Verde, an island republic off Africa.

    Why black people may tip less is not clear.

    Income disparities and discriminatory service may play roles, Lynn says.

    But even when black and white customers are in the same socioeconomic class or rate the quality of service equally, he says, several studies by himself and others found that they tip differently. Black diners average 10.9% to 14.7% of the bill, and white diners average 16.6% to 19.4%, depending on the study. The server's race didn't matter.

    Black subjects are also more likely than whites to say they never tip servers (6% versus 2%, in one study) and to leave tips as flat-dollar amounts instead of percentages of the bill (50.7% versus 19.4%, in one study).

    Lynn thinks the main reason that African Americans tip servers less is that most aren't aware that the usual guideline is 15% to 20% of the bill. In one study, 35.9% of African Americans identified that range as the norm, versus 72.4% of whites.

    Research data don't show why African Americans may be less aware of the 15% to 20% guideline, Lynn added. But Fernandez and several black and mixed-raced diners I spoke with recently had no shortage of thoughts on this topic. They often cited economics.

    Median household income for blacks in 2004 was 61% of that for non-Hispanic whites, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And nearly a quarter of blacks lived in poverty in 2004, compared with 8.6% of non-Hispanic whites.

    If you grow up poor, Fernandez said, you don't eat out at fancy places — or at all. Fernandez, one of six children raised by a widowed mother in Hanson, Mass., said he didn't set foot in a restaurant where gratuities were expected until he went to college.

    "If you're not exposed, how do you know [the tip rules]?" Kacey Towe, an image consultant of Creole descent, said between bites of peach cobbler at Harold & Belle's in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles.

    She and her black dining companion tipped their waiter — an acquaintance of Towe's — $20 on their $80 dinner bill, 25%, at the upscale Creole restaurant.

    Not far away, in the Ladera Heights area, Stephaney Bell, dining with her son Steven, 14, at T.G.I. Fridays, echoed the sentiments of several diners when she said, "A lot of black people can't afford to tip as well."

    She also sounded another common theme: Some African Americans base gratuities strictly on how they're treated.

    "Our expectations of service may be higher," she said.

    Bell, who travels and eats out frequently as sales auditor for an auto manufacturer, later tipped less than 15% because she was unhappy with the service.

    A few tables away, Reneé Davis, a black graphic designer, said, "A lot of white guys try to impress the table [with a big tip]. I'm not interested in impressing the table."

    Contending that restaurateurs should pay more so servers don't rely on gratuities, she said, "I have problems with 20% for a tip. I'm doing 15%."

    Fernandez sees other factors affecting tips too.

    Some African Americans may be "extremely sensitive" about service glitches, he said, such as getting their food late, after other tables are served, or being seated in the back. Such actions, whatever their intent, may be perceived as racial slights.

    "Remember the back of the bus?" he said.

    In addition, poor service motivated by bigotry may occur "way more than anybody wants to admit," Fernandez said.

    Not everyone, of course, agrees that African Americans tip less. Several black diners I interviewed, in my unscientific sampling, said they thought they tipped the same as or sometimes more than whites.

    Rip Rahman, service manager at T.G.I. Fridays, who is of Bangladeshi descent, dismissed race as factor in gratuities, saying, "As far as I can tell, it's all about the service.


    Jane Engle welcomes comments but can't respond individually. E-mail [email protected].
  2. Tantrum

    Tantrum Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 26, 2005
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    Pos Technical Support
    Windy City
    I dont think it has
    To due with race at all
    I think its service
    And some peopel in general
    Are cheap as hell-LOL
    Yet I dont think this is a race related issue
  3. Blaklioness

    Blaklioness Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 30, 2005
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    I tip ....usually about 10 to 15 percent of the bill's total....more if the service was good. I suppose it depends on who's buying!
  4. pfa1451usa

    pfa1451usa Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jan 23, 2006
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    ...continue to vote with your dollars. Good service, 15%.

    If Denny's has to compensate Black-American FBI agents for not seating them appropriately, then why a tip should be considered compulsorily is beyond my comprehension.

    The most powerful tool we all have today is the dollars in our pockets. America understands that, don't we?
  5. PurpleMoons

    PurpleMoons Administrator STAFF

    United States
    Apr 22, 2003
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    Many people leave generous tips when they can afford to do so. Some people can't afford dinning out in the first place, but choose to treat themselves to something nice from time to time. Alot of times if a person does'nt leave a tip, its simply because they can't afford too.
  6. oldiesman

    oldiesman Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Feb 9, 2006
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    study shows...

    tip???i'm lucky if i can afford to eat at mickey d's once a i can't afford to eat in places where a tip is required.
  7. kente417mojo

    kente417mojo Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jan 22, 2004
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    I tip when service is good...period. If the service sucks, you obviously can live off of your hourly wage, since you're not trying that hard to please. If service is good, I have no problem leaving a nice tip. But I never feel pressured to tip someone. There might be something to that study though, seeing as waiters/ waitresses in general probably show white patrons a lot more respect and prompt service than they do blacks. So don't be surprised if black people notice the discrepancy and tip you accordingly...because I know I've done that before.
  8. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jun 8, 2004
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    SERVICE, SERVICE, SERVICE! If you want a tip just 'cause ya served me, and because they don't pay you enough, then you need to get another job... If you are going to treat me like doo-doo just because YOU ARE RACIST and PREJUDICED, and expect me to pay for it, then you don't need no tips, you need a Psychiatrist...

    Other than that, very interesting article...

  9. Therious

    Therious Banned MEMBER

    United States
    Feb 22, 2004
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    Dont Belive the Hype take it front a restaraunt VEt!!!!

    i posted a similar thread a while back.

    One trade I currently practice is bartending. i have been a bartender/waiter for over 5 years. I get good and bad tips from all people. I get good and bad tips from all people. However in the bar business you survive from regular clientele and my best regulars are all black.

    The biggest problem ive found is that a lot of folk are just ignorant. They dont understand the restaraunt business and the way servers are compensated some i layed out some info I think all customers should Know.

    I treat all patrons with respect, ive learned in this biz if u pre-judge you will feel stupid in the end. Every time I see some white teed up,hood type cats and Im like awe ***** here we go these gehtto fools aint got no bread, they end up hook me up with a phat tip and I feel stupid. then ill get some white people acting like they rich ,ordering expensive wine in their suits and telling me how great I am (the kiss of death) and then they will ***** on me.

    Then jonny red neck come s in wearing his nascar hat with like five kids and an over weight wife drinking bloody marys and budweiser its like oh god help me, but red neck hooks me up phat again, then college degree good job brother man comes in im like yeah my peoples gone look out 4 a brother, and they leave me ive learned not to pre-judge

    What you should know about restaraunts..

    a. waiters make $2.13 an hour (bartenders $4.50/hr) in most states they live on there tips

    b. good service doesnt mean you ask for 5 baskets of extra bread, 3 sides of dressing, and this and that every time the server returns thats class less. if you have special requests you should tip for the extra service. servering/bartending is a stressful job where every second counts. Bad service also doesnt mean just cuz your food took a long time they are forgetting about you. if they treat you kindly then tip them, mistakes happen, kitchens get backed up ect..

    c. If you are rude your waiter will probably reciprocate, waiters expect to treated nicely just like customers.

    d. probably most important...a standard tip is 15% not 10% a good tip is 20%
    10% some seem to think its okay, its not! again waiters pay their bills with tips, they also pay sales tax and share their tips with bus boys, and bartenders so every little bit counts. dont make your server jump through hoops, degrade them, or easte their time, thats not getting service thats classless.

    E. try to order the entree the way its prepared. If you must make substitutions thats fine, but to many is silly thats a sign of no class (it also slows down the service and may lead to errors). like yo can i get this mozzerella chick with the side from this dish, and some amnerican cheese, and fried not baked, its like just go to the store man..

    f. if you are broke then dont go to a restaraunt that requires tips, go to the store or taco bell (yuk).

    .........NEWS FLASH.....................
    Most white servers (sadly many blacks) think blacks will not tip them, so if they treat you badly dont give them jack, they deserve it. But if they smile treat you good, then hook em up. also becareful request black servers if possible, whites are nasty they touch food they should not with out washing ive watched them for years trust!! they are nasty beings. They eat food off of the same silverware, they are just gross.

    okay thats my 75 cents

    Im sure ive missed many things, but take it from a restaraunt vet, our peoples do tip and many embarss us and act a d"mn fool. whites who have money dont tip sometimes and act a d"mn fool at times., vice versa it comes down to the individual.

    N. E. questions let mw know id love to answer them.


    dont be rude to those who handle thy food.

    just might find a fat wad of phlem or worse in your dinner (ive never done this but have witnessed it..its not a pretty sight)/