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View Full Version : Do bartenders really hate making Long Island Iced Teas? (and other bar questions)


kushiel
11-10-2010, 01:59 PM
This article (http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2010/11/09/55-alie-ward-and-georgia-hardstark/?hpt=Sbin) on CNN mentions something I've heard many times: bartenders hate making Long Island Iced Teas because they are labor-intensive and cheap. Is this true?

I've never ordered one because I find them cheap, I order them because I like the taste. What's something like it that won't make the bartender hate me?

Tipping: What about bars with waitresses where you run up a tab? I don't carry cash, so when I'm done for the night and pay the tab I add the tip onto the total of the bill and pay by credit or debit card. Since it's not an immediate cash payoff, how does the 'tip good or get screwed over' thing work?

(Mods, this might be a mix of IMHO and GQ, so move if necessary. But since it's harder than just leaving the thread in GQ, does that mean you'll hate doing it unless I leave a huge tip?)

villa
11-10-2010, 02:02 PM
It isn't that they are cheap or that they are labor intensive - hey aren't really either.

I didn't like making them because they seemed to me to scream "give me a drink that will get me drunk as quickly as possible." That means you may well be a pain in the ass later on.

Now, ordering a strawberry dacquiri (in a bar not really set up for them) or any blended drink = labor intensive. And those who order them tend not to tip. It was a crying shame how often my blender was broken. They just don't make the motors like they used to. That or they aren't designed to have blend held down while I hold a knife inside them.

kushiel
11-10-2010, 02:05 PM
It isn't that they are cheap or that they are labor intensive - hey aren't really either.

I didn't like making them because they seemed to me to scream "give me a drink that will get me drunk as quickly as possible." That means you may well be a pain in the ass later on.

Now, ordering a strawberry dacquiri (in a bar not really set up for them) or any blended drink = labor intensive. And those who order them tend not to tip. It was a crying shame how often my blender was broken. They just don't make the motors like they used to. That or they aren't designed to have blend held down while I hold a knife inside them.

Ah, okay. I'm the other type that bars usually hate: the timid social drinker. I only have 2-3 drinks on the rare times I go out, so really, I'm not the one puking, I'm the chick looking for the one stall that hasn't been puked in yet.

Colophon
11-10-2010, 02:20 PM
Wow. Reading that article (and especially the comments) makes me very glad that bar staff in Britain don't expect tips.

villa
11-10-2010, 02:22 PM
Ah, okay. I'm the other type that bars usually hate: the timid social drinker. I only have 2-3 drinks on the rare times I go out, so really, I'm not the one puking, I'm the chick looking for the one stall that hasn't been puked in yet.

Bars may not be wild about a person only having 2 or 3 drinks, but bartenders don't have a problem with that. Or I never did anyway. And bars like women coming in. For some reason it attracts men too.

If you aren't going into the bar regularly, the bartender or waitron is going to form a snap opinion of you. It's inevitable. It isn't that you'll get bad service, but if you aren't seen as a "tipper" you probably won't get a share of the limited comp tab. If you are having 2-3 drinks, that probably won't worry you, as you wouldn't get one anyway (especially drinking LIIT's).

I don't know where that article gets the idea from - its one of the easiest drinks to make (other than the really standard ones). Ice, 5 liquors, sour mix, pour into shaker, shake, pour back into glass, splash of coke, lime wedge, straw, thanks...

Colibri
11-10-2010, 02:43 PM
Since this is about drinks, it's better suited for Cafe Society than GQ.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

Dangerosa
11-10-2010, 02:49 PM
Now, ordering a strawberry dacquiri (in a bar not really set up for them) or any blended drink = labor intensive. And those who order them tend not to tip. It was a crying shame how often my blender was broken. They just don't make the motors like they used to. That or they aren't designed to have blend held down while I hold a knife inside them.

I had a conversation with a bartender regarding frou frou 'martini's' and then then current trend for the 'appletini' 'chocolatetini' 'lemondrop' etc. (now, I believe replaced in the trendy world with the mojito in flavors unknown to the original). He said "I don't mind, I just hope blender drinks never come back into fashion."

BrainGlutton
11-10-2010, 03:06 PM
If I were a bartender, I would make sure to have a pre-made pitcher in the fridge of any drink that is both popular and labor-intensive. (Of course, with a Long Island iced tea, I would leave out the cola, and add some to each glass just before serving; otherwise it would go flat.)

AutumnLeaves
11-10-2010, 03:07 PM
From a former bartender:

Long Island Ice Teas are a pain in the ass because they involve five different alcohols, as pointed out in the article. So compared to an order for a Jack and coke, say, they're more annoying. Now, some bars have Long Island mix, which helps, and most bartenders know you could put anywhere from two to five alcohols in there and few customers would notice. They also have the stigma of being an unhip drink that the sort of customers who tip poorly would order.

My point of view (again, from someone who used to do this for a living)? Any bartender who's so put out by making a drink - a.k.a. their job - should find a new career. If you're totally in the weeds, use just tequila and white rum. The customer is probably not watching you mix the drink and if for some reason they do see, just say one of the bottles has Long Island mix. They're drinking LIIT, they probably don't have the most distinguished taste buds.

As for "something like it that won't make the bartender hate" you, pick anyone of the alcohols in the drink, and ask for it with coke and a splash of lime. Pretty much the same drink. Your choices are vodka, white rum, tequila, gin and triple sec. I wouldn't suggest triple sec, but hey, your drink, your call.

My two cents about the article? Unless you were puking, or hitting on me, you were not annoying me. Puking ON me if of course even worse. In fact, someone saying "When you have a minute..." is one of the best things I would hear all night, signifying that they notice I'm busy and aren't demanding. Your concerns about running a tab and tipping all at the end would have been unfounded with me - I'd rather cater to a polite table who treated me like a human being and tipped decently than a table of cash-waving idiots who thought that throwing a ten dollar bill at me for everything round (ten whole dollars! wow!) meant I'd ignore everyone else to make their Jagerbombs.

But all bartenders are different so your mileage may vary. My advice? If you end up being served by people like those in the article, go to a different bar.

villa
11-10-2010, 03:12 PM
If I were a bartender, I would make sure to have a pre-made pitcher in the fridge of any drink that is both popular and labor-intensive. (Of course, with a Long Island iced tea, I would leave out the cola, and add some to each glass just before serving; otherwise it would go flat.)

Not a chance. Customer's aren't going to stand for that. People will put up with it with bloodies, because they don't mind the bloody mix pre-concocted. But they want to see the vodka get poured. And with Ice Teas, after you pour the spirits, there are only two things to add, both from a gun.

Mr. Excellent
11-10-2010, 03:13 PM
If I were a bartender, I would make sure to have a pre-made pitcher in the fridge of any drink that is both popular and labor-intensive. (Of course, with a Long Island iced tea, I would leave out the cola, and add some to each glass just before serving; otherwise it would go flat.)

That's very hard to do with blended drinks, though.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 03:16 PM
That list is pretty accurate. Long Island Iced Teas, as noted, aren't difficult to make and they generally aren't cheap. They are usually priced as a double making them one of the more expensive options. The issue with them is that only a particular type of customer orders them and they usually are unpleasant. It's either the new drinker who has no idea what they want and only want something that tastes good or that they have heard of on TV. These people don't tip well and get sloppy drunk. It could be the broke ass person trying to a good of a buzz as possible for as cheap as possible, which has the same issues as the first. These twits almost always say "make it extra strong!". Yeah, right, I'll get right on that. And the last category is the ghetto crowd out for a big night in the classy part of town. They are a combination of the first two, amateurs who are also in over their head price wise and looking to get over on the bar. Basically the LIIT screams problem and no tips until proven otherwise.

villa
11-10-2010, 03:18 PM
As for "something like it that won't make the bartender hate" you, pick anyone of the alcohols in the drink, and ask for it with coke and a splash of lime. Pretty much the same drink.


We made ice teas very differently then. Ask for a vodka with coke and a spalsh of lime you are going to get a highball glass with ice, vodka, fill it up with coke, and a couple of lime wedges squeezed in (or Rose's Lime cordial). But it's a coke drink. Ask for an ice tea, you'll usually get a bigger class, with the predominate mixer beign sour mix, and coke just splashed in enough to slightly change the color. It's a citrus drink not a coke drink.

SpartanDC
11-10-2010, 03:31 PM
Now, ordering a strawberry dacquiri (in a bar not really set up for them) or any blended drink = labor intensive. And those who order them tend not to tip.

Emphasis added.

This is getting into a touchy area, villa, but are you by chance alluding to the stereotypes about a)black people enjoying "tropical" drinks and b) those same people not being the best tippers?

I only ask because my wife, who's as liberal as they come, said both of these things were universally true in the many years she spent as a bartender/waitress.

I'm not trying to derail the thread, so I'll ask no further about this, regardless of the reply.

Wheelz
11-10-2010, 03:33 PM
Ordering blender drinks from a busy bartender will also make the other customers hate you. Okay, you got here first, fair enough. But now I have to stand here and watch the bartender spend five minutes on your stupid sissy drink before he can twist the cap off my next bottle of beer? Screw that.

I'd rather cater to a polite table who treated me like a human being and tipped decently than a table of cash-waving idiots who thought that throwing a ten dollar bill at me for everything round (ten whole dollars! wow!) meant I'd ignore everyone else to make their Jagerbombs.Ten dollars a round sounds like a pretty decent tip to me (though I suppose it depends on the size of the group) -- or am I a cheapskate and didn't know it? Your wording here is a little odd so maybe I didn't get your meaning.

villa
11-10-2010, 03:36 PM
Emphasis added.

This is getting into a touchy area, villa, but are you by chance alluding to the stereotypes about a)black people enjoying "tropical" drinks and b) those same people not being the best tippers?

I only ask because my wife, who's as liberal as they come, said both of these things were universally true in the many years she spent as a bartender/waitress.

I'm not trying to derail the thread, so I'll ask no further about this, regardless of the reply.

Absolutely 100% not. I have never, in any of the bars I have worked in, associated African American people and "tropical drinks." I have, on the other hand, associated bachelorette parties and "tropical drinks," as well as, at times, bachelorette parties and hideously bad tips.

villa
11-10-2010, 03:37 PM
Ten dollars a round sounds like a pretty decent tip to me -- or am I a cheapskate and didn't know it? Your wording here is a little odd so maybe I didn't get your meaning.

It's not that it isn't a decent tip - it's the idea that giving me a decent tip buys you the right to be an obnoxious asshole. I'm the same way - treat me as a human being. That goes a hell of a lot further than tipping. Good and bad tips will balance out over the evening. That $10 I can live without, and would rather not get if it gives you the idea I am your personal slave.

Wheelz
11-10-2010, 03:39 PM
It's not that it isn't a decent tip - it's the idea that giving me a decent tip buys you the right to be an obnoxious asshole. I'm the same way - treat me as a human being. That goes a hell of a lot further than tipping. Good and bad tips will balance out over the evening. That $10 I can live without, and would rather not get if it gives you the idea I am your personal slave.Ah, gotcha.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 03:39 PM
Regarding tabs. Tipping on a card versus cash is irrelevant. Some corporate joints hold credit card tips and pay them less taxes on their pay check, but this is generally rare. Unless you are at a TGIFridays tipping more is more important that tipping in cash.

Credit Cards are an absolute scourge on the bar industry. They take 10 times as long to process as cash and people tend to tip poorly on them. It's far too easy to write the same $2 tip on a receipt regardless of if you've just ordered 2 beers or a round of 12 shots and 6 cocktails. Couple rules off thumb if you want a happy bartender who'll comp you some shots. Pay in cash exclusively, hit the ATM before you arrive. When you want a drink have the cash in hand and ready. If you are holding a $20 bill in your hand you are always the next person I'm serving under all circumstances. If you must use a credit card open up a tab and spend at least $50 on it. Make an arrangement with your friends and buy rounds, don't make me open 5 tabs for the 5 people in your group and don't you dare ask me to close your tab for one $8 round. Tip 20% or $1 per drink regardless of how expensive the tab is. If you just spent $150 on your tab you definitely got your $30 worth of service, don't pretend the only interaction we had what the last round where I closed that tab. I didn't give you the first 6 rounds out of the goodness of my heart even though you never went into your wallet.

Also, if it's a busy bar saying "when you get a chance" or "can i be next" or "hey bartender" will piss me off and make me ignore you until I've served everyone else first. I'm a bartender. I know who's waiting and what order they were in. You'll get served when it's your turn. Also, pushy self-centered people who bark out like that tend to not tip worth a shit. I know what I'm doing and I'll get you your drinks as quickly as possible. Have your money out and ready and know what your are ordering. Waving a credit card at me or ordering drinks and making me wait for 5 minutes while you take up a collection from your friends or dig into your wallet are going to increase your wait time exponentially. I'm very busy as you should be able to see. Be patient, polite an do everything in your power to not slow me down and you'll be my favorite customer all night.

AutumnLeaves
11-10-2010, 03:41 PM
Ordering blender drinks from a busy bartender will also make the other customers hate you. Okay, you got here first, fair enough. But now I have to stand here and watch the bartender spend five minutes on your stupid sissy drink before he can twist the cap off my next bottle of beer? Screw that.

Ten dollars a round sounds like a pretty decent tip to me (though I suppose it depends on the size of the group) -- or am I a cheapskate and didn't know it? Your wording here is a little odd so maybe I didn't get your meaning.

Yeah my wording was bad there - I'm saying that people who tip just ok but are pleasant are preferable to those who throw money about, like ten bucks a round, but are douchebags.

Skald the Rhymer
11-10-2010, 03:43 PM
It isn't that they are cheap or that they are labor intensive - hey aren't really either.

I didn't like making them because they seemed to me to scream "give me a drink that will get me drunk as quickly as possible." That means you may well be a pain in the ass later on.


The first time I got drunk, I was nearly 30. As that might imply I didn't and don't drink much, and so foolishly thought that a Long Island Iced Tea was a tea drink with a little alcohol in it. Thus I drank two large ones on an empty stomach. I've always assumed the bartender was relieved when I left minutes later, as the hurling was massive and embarrassing :)

AutumnLeaves
11-10-2010, 03:44 PM
It's not that it isn't a decent tip - it's the idea that giving me a decent tip buys you the right to be an obnoxious asshole. I'm the same way - treat me as a human being. That goes a hell of a lot further than tipping. Good and bad tips will balance out over the evening. That $10 I can live without, and would rather not get if it gives you the idea I am your personal slave.

That's exactly what I meant to say. $10 is barely a dent in my night, don't act like you're some high roller. From some customers I'd gratefully accept it as a nice gesture, from others it's nowhere near enough to make up for their jackassery.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 03:47 PM
Emphasis added.

This is getting into a touchy area, villa, but are you by chance alluding to the stereotypes about a)black people enjoying "tropical" drinks and b) those same people not being the best tippers?

I only ask because my wife, who's as liberal as they come, said both of these things were universally true in the many years she spent as a bartender/waitress.

I'm not trying to derail the thread, so I'll ask no further about this, regardless of the reply.

Yes, it's universally true. Though it has less to do with blacks than it does with class. If you are at a bar in a upscale yuppie neighborhood and dressed like a person from the neighborhood skin color doesn't matter. If you're obviously from the poorer part of town and dressed like Lil Wayne or Eminem, regardless of skin color, you're going to be a shitty tipper and you''re gonna be ordering sweet, fruity, high alcohol drinks and stiffing me all night. Not to mention being pushy and assuming I'm not serving you the 3rd time because your black. Actually, I'm not serving you because you just stiffed me on 2 rounds, you could be Brad Pitt and get the same treatment.

That said all things being equal, poor Whites and Mexicans tip better than poor Blacks. None tip well as a rule unsurprisingly.

Also, men tip better than women universally too. This said as a fairly decent looking guy.

villa
11-10-2010, 03:48 PM
Wow - totally different experience to Omniscient here.

The bar I now frequent is probably about 85% credit/debit cards, 15% cash. It tends to be the sort of bar people come for an extended period, and has lots of regulars - there aren't many other bars in the neighborhood so we don't get a bar hopping crowd. Bartenders there have to pay a dollar per charge card slip for the tips (outrageous) so I make sure I add that in.

I found people tipped better on tabs, though that could be because they tended to be regulars more. I know I do - I do tend to tip high because I bartended for the longest time. Lets say a round is 4 $4 drinks - $16. If I am paying in cash, I'll leave the $4 change from the $20 (silly personal rule - I almost never use $1 or $5 bills). If I buy two rounds, the bar tender has gotten $8. If I had run that on a tab, I'd usually make the $32 up to $45.

I never got bothered with the "when you get a chance" lines - I'd just smile and say I'd be back as soon as possible. On the other hand I hated people waving a $20 bill at me. My internal monologue would be saying "I've seen one before. I've even owned a couple in my life. Trust me, I'll get to you in turn, though maybe after the hot red head who is sitting politely at the end of the bar, even though she came to the bar a minute after you."

I guess we all have different experiences and preferences. The key thing we all agree on, I think, is be polite, and treat your bartender as a human being, not a vending machine.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 04:19 PM
There's difference between waiving a $20 bill rudely at you and having one in hand to show that you are ready and will be a quick serve. That said, a rudely waived $20 is still a 30 second transaction compared to a $3 minute credit card transaction from a rudely waived card. Both are faster than a 5 minute transaction because the drunken fool needs to shuffle though all their things to locate their debit card and ask their friends what they want after I take their order.

In short, be ready and be quick, I've got 50 people waiting. Cash is quick and it communicates that you aren't living on credit and spending money you don't have, which sometimes leads to a poor tip and an argument about drink prices. Service industry workers tend to have cash as well. Everything about cash is better.

Incidentally, few bars penalize staff for credit cards. If one did they'd have no staff. Even fewer customers would know about this and the few that did only a proportion would account for it in their tipping. I suspect that people like you are the vast minority in that bar.

villa
11-10-2010, 04:35 PM
You see, you are talking in absolutes in a situation which doesn't have absolutes. It honestly depends on the bar and the clientele. Where I am, the overwhelming majority of business is done on tabs, and paid by credit/debit.

To claim cash is quicker is looking at a single transaction. But if a tab is being run, it has multiple transactions on it. So you have to add up each time the person comes to the bar, telling them the cost of each round, taking their money, ringing it in, calling the manager sometimes for extra change, or rooting around in your tip jar to get $10 worth of quarters, with taking their card at the beginning of the night, punching each drink into the computer, and swiping it once at the end, handing it back to them with the sign sheet.

Is the credit/debit way always quicker? No, but it often is. Are tips always better when cash? No, though they may well often be - a number which is heavily skewed by the population that uses cash in bars most often being service industry workers.

Cash in bars is dying. I don't like to carry lots of cash (a Friday or Saturday night I will tend to spend anywhere from $50 up to $200). I will make sure I have cash for a cab home, and maybe $40-60 extra in case of cover charges (rare for me), needing smokes (less rare), tipping doormen/waitresses/bands etc. But I hate handing over cash for each round - first I realize what I am spending, which I hate, and second I just gets wads of dirty notes in my pocket at the end of the night, which will often end up in the laundry.

I guess we worked/drink in different kind of places. As I said earlier - each to their own. There are no absolute truths other than people who put Rush on the juke box haven't had sex in 3 years minimum.

Bosstone
11-10-2010, 04:38 PM
Speaking as a customer, I'm actually likely to tip worse with cash than debit. Debit, I can write in whatever's appropriate. Cash, you're limited to what I have on me, and I might not have much on me and will also want to conserve it. Byproduct of paying mostly on card and wanting to reserve cash for where it's necessary.

Pandoranoid
11-10-2010, 04:39 PM
I cannot stand it when customers assume I give a damn about their method of payment, or why their credit card didn't go through, or even what kind of tip they are leaving. I'm good at my job and if you don't take care of me, I know the next guy will. Just have your money/card/whatever ready, I don't have time to waste.

And re tipping strereotypes: one thing I have learned from working in all sorts of bars and restaurants across the country: no rule of thumb applies everywhere. Maybe in one college town bar I worked at in georgia, women tended to tip better than men, and white and black folks were about equal, except for redneck white kids who stiffed more often than not. Move to an upscale martini joint in Philly and there's a whole new set of rules of thumb--maybe in this joint old white dudes in three pieces treat me best (the kind of customer that spelled tip death in the first place). It all varies, and it's easy to get attached to stereotypes if you don't travel much. Once you become a truly grizzled vet, you will just bang out your drinks as fast as possible and count your tips when you get home. And they will be really freaking good tips, for the most part.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 04:45 PM
Cash in bars is dying. In my bar the split is like 80/20 too. Having cash sets you apart. You are the rare select few and you get treated like gold. That is an absolute truth.

Running a large ongoing tab has upside and can be faster than cash eventually, but it's negligibly so. You need to ring each round as you go, or at least you should, so ringing on a tab or cash is a wash. Making change is the only penalty and it's pretty trivial compared to the time it takes for the machine to dial up the bank and print the receipt and then to wait for them to sign it. Plus people forget to close tabs, which means a zero tip and occasionally a loss for the bar. People that have one tab for 4 or 5 people and order a lot are great. They are what tabs and credit cards were invented for. They are old school tab users. They account for maybe 1 of every 20 credit card users though.

Are there dive bars with the same 50 customers who have adjusted and taken advice from the staff, sure. They are the minority though. Here in Chicago, land of a million bars, my assessment is accurate and consistent.

villa
11-10-2010, 04:47 PM
OK - you're right. You have the absolute truth to bartendering.

AutumnLeaves
11-10-2010, 04:52 PM
OK - you're right. You have the absolute truth to bartendering.

We must be able to come up with one absolute truth between us, right? How about: packs of women who come into the bar dressed like the women from Sex and the City, and order cosmos, and utter phrases likes "You're such a Samantha!" are always terrible tippers. Always, always.

filling_pages
11-10-2010, 04:53 PM
Plus people forget to close tabs, which means a zero tip and occasionally a loss for the bar. People that have one tab for 4 or 5 people and order a lot are great. They are what tabs and credit cards were invented for. They are old school tab users. They account for maybe 1 of every 20 credit card users though.


That sounds like a problem with your bar's policy. All the bars I go to make it very clear that if you run a tab and don't bother to settle up at the end of the night, your card will be run to cover it and a tip (15 - 20%, depending on the bar) will be added into the total.

villa
11-10-2010, 04:54 PM
We must be able to come up with one absolute truth between us, right? How about: packs of women who come into the bar dressed like the women from Sex and the City, and order cosmos, and utter phrases likes "You're such a Samantha!" are always terrible tippers. Always, always.

I already did.

There are no absolute truths other than people who put Rush on the juke box haven't had sex in 3 years minimum.

:)

How about - guys tip better if you give them the check when their date is sat there, rather than giving it to them when the date is in the rest room?

StusBlues
11-10-2010, 04:56 PM
We must be able to come up with one absolute truth between us, right? How about: packs of women who come into the bar dressed like the women from Sex and the City, and order cosmos, and utter phrases likes "You're such a Samantha!" are always terrible tippers. Always, always.

Are they actually worse than old women? I've always heard that elderly women are the worst, laying aside the types who are likely to stiff you outright.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 05:00 PM
That sounds like a problem with your bar's policy. All the bars I go to make it very clear that if you run a tab and don't bother to settle up at the end of the night, your card will be run to cover it and a tip (15 - 20%, depending on the bar) will be added into the total.

Well, except that this is credit card fraud. Would be nice, we've asked for it, but it's pretty clearly illegal.

villa
11-10-2010, 05:00 PM
Are they actually worse than old women? I've always heard that elderly women are the worst, laying aside the types who are likely to stiff you outright.

I don't know - I found old women to often be the type to use a tip calculator set at 12%. Not the bets but not the worst.

The worst is reserved for you, Rudi, you asswipe. Grumpy old sod who thought he was funny, I wasn't allowed to flag him, used to fall asleep at the bar, drink mugs of Old Style till around 9 p.m. every night then leave, pay cash for each drink, and never leave a tip.

Pandoranoid
11-10-2010, 05:02 PM
I already did.



:)

How about - guys tip better if you give them the check when their date is sat there, rather than giving it to them when the date is in the rest room?

Yes. That one's a winner.

As for the Sex in the City girls--I have gotten decent tips from ladies like this, albeit not often. More importantly, they can not possibly tip enough to make their shrill presence tolerable. Plus if anyone is going to puke in the bathroom and bolt without making any attempt to clean up or alert the staff, it is quite likely to be the Samantha chick.

aceplace57
11-10-2010, 05:03 PM
Pina Colada Song made that drink cool for awhile. I've heard it's time consuming to make.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVdhZwK7cS8

filling_pages
11-10-2010, 05:03 PM
Well, except that this is credit card fraud. Would be nice, we've asked for it, but it's pretty clearly illegal.

Really? Having a sign at the bar saying that a 15% fee will be added to the bill of anyone who does not close their tab out at the end of the night is credit card fraud? Do you have a cite on that? Because it's just how things are done in this neck of the woods.

Pandoranoid
11-10-2010, 05:07 PM
Well, except that this is credit card fraud. Would be nice, we've asked for it, but it's pretty clearly illegal.

Every place I've ever worked does that.

villa
11-10-2010, 05:08 PM
Really? Having a sign at the bar saying that a 15% fee will be added to the bill of anyone who does not close their tab out at the end of the night is credit card fraud? Do you have a cite on that? Because it's just how things are done in this neck of the woods.

I agree - I think it likely you could challenge the tip and get it reversed, but if it is posted, I highly doubt it is fraudulent to add the service charge.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 05:11 PM
Really? Having a sign at the bar saying that a 15% fee will be added to the bill of anyone who does not close their tab out at the end of the night is credit card fraud? Do you have a cite on that? Because it's just how things are done in this neck of the woods.

Charging people for things they do not purchase is credit card fraud. It's outright theft. Does that really need a cite? It's the exact same thing as a bartender altering a receipt to increase their tip.

It's certainly done in some places. Some cities have chosen not to enforce complaints. Some customers have become trained to tolerate it. It's still illegal in addition to being a violation of the businesses contract with Visa/MC.

When you run a business that takes credit cards you sign a contract with Visa that stipulates that you will not treat credit differently than cash. The prices must be the same, you cannot have minimums and you cannot add a surcharge. Doing so is grounds to dispute a charge. Repeated offenses can get your credit card privileges revoked and a fee charged for terminating the contract.

kushiel
11-10-2010, 05:17 PM
It's either the new drinker who has no idea what they want and only want something that tastes good or that they have heard of on TV. These people don't tip well and get sloppy drunk.

:o

In my defense, I do find out what I want before so no one is waiting, and I play by the $1 a drink tip rule. And I've had more booze spilled on me by waitresses than I've spilled myself (ie., the waitress spilled once and I haven't spilled at all).

I just feel so lame going to bars. There's this whole etiquette I have no idea about. I try to avoid actual bars to instead go to restaurants with lounges and drink menus and there's a waitress and I never actually go to the bartender myself.

Pandoranoid
11-10-2010, 05:18 PM
Charging people for things they do not purchase is credit card fraud. It's outright theft. Does that really need a cite? It's the exact same thing as a bartender altering a receipt to increase their tip.

It's certainly done in some places. Some cities have chosen not to enforce complaints. Some customers have become trained to tolerate it. It's still illegal in addition to being a violation of the businesses contract with Visa/MC.

When you run a business that takes credit cards you sign a contract with Visa that stipulates that you will not treat credit differently than cash. The prices must be the same, you cannot have minimums and you cannot add a surcharge. Doing so is grounds to dispute a charge. Repeated offenses can get your credit card privileges revoked and a fee charged for terminating the contract.

The price must be the same as what, EXACTLY? What is the exact wording of the fine print here? This is why yes, you kinda do need a cite. I dunno, maybe posting a sign stipulating the procedure for open tabs somehow satisfies these requirements? I find it hard to believe that this is a lawsuit just waiting to be won, considering that most bars do this.
Anyway, you wanna try and fight it, good luck to you. You'll probably get mighty thirsty the next time you're waiting to get served at that local watering hole is all I'm saying.

villa
11-10-2010, 05:26 PM
Charging people for things they do not purchase is credit card fraud. It's outright theft. Does that really need a cite? It's the exact same thing as a bartender altering a receipt to increase their tip.

It's certainly done in some places. Some cities have chosen not to enforce complaints. Some customers have become trained to tolerate it. It's still illegal in addition to being a violation of the businesses contract with Visa/MC.

When you run a business that takes credit cards you sign a contract with Visa that stipulates that you will not treat credit differently than cash. The prices must be the same, you cannot have minimums and you cannot add a surcharge. Doing so is grounds to dispute a charge. Repeated offenses can get your credit card privileges revoked and a fee charged for terminating the contract.

Except it isn't charging people for something they didn't purchase, any more than mistakenly leaving the bar without paying you check makes you immediately prosecutable for theft.

Are you claiming it would be fraud to charge their card for the drinks they had? I presume not. If you then have a sign saying "unpaid tabs will be assessed a 15% service fee" nobody is being overcharged. As I mentioned, you can challenge it, and presumably have it reversed. Just like when the menu says "a party of 6 will incur a 15% service charge" you can refuse to pay it. However, if you don't say anything (which is what you are doing by leaving without paying), you are accepting the policy, until you later have a chance to reverse it.

It's not treating people any differently than if they paid (or failed to pay) cash. If they walked out on a cash tab (unlikely because no one will run them one), but if they did, when they returned to pay, they would find 15% service charge added. They could then refuse to pay that - just like in the current situation.

I'm going to need more than you word and user name that this is fraud. Even if you do possess the ultimate truths to bartending.

villa
11-10-2010, 05:27 PM
I just feel so lame going to bars. There's this whole etiquette I have no idea about. I try to avoid actual bars to instead go to restaurants with lounges and drink menus and there's a waitress and I never actually go to the bartender myself.

You shouldn't feel lame. Be yourself. You come across as a really nice person, and if the bartender doesn't see that, well, find somewhere with a better class of bartender.

There are no rules (other than the one about Rush) whatever anyone tells you. Well, except for be nice. And you seem to be.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 05:34 PM
I understand the stress. My bar issues a $25 minimum on credit card purchases. We do it to avoid people attempting to issue a separate credit transaction for every single round they order. Doing that would slow service to a crawl. This is a clear violation of our contract.

Very occasionally a customer will call their bank and complain, Visa/MC typically reverses the charge and the bar loses the money. At this point it doesn't happen often enough to be a major problem and Visa doesn't have much motivation to enforce the contract considering the amount of fees we generate. The rule is intended to prevent large corporations from doing this systemically.

There is a distinction between having a minimum and charging people for things they don't purchase. We can refuse service to anyone, and we refuse service to people who don't want to abide by the minimum. Charging people for things they don't purchase escalates the issue beyond a contract dispute to a criminal and civil violation. Again, there's little motivation for the city to enforce this but there's no justification for it being acceptable.

I don't know if Visa has their contract available online, I'm not going to search to hard for it. I suppose you'll have to take my word for it. I've read my bar's contract personally.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 05:40 PM
Except it isn't charging people for something they didn't purchase, any more than mistakenly leaving the bar without paying you check makes you immediately prosecutable for theft.

Are you claiming it would be fraud to charge their card for the drinks they had? I presume not. If you then have a sign saying "unpaid tabs will be assessed a 15% service fee" nobody is being overcharged. As I mentioned, you can challenge it, and presumably have it reversed. Just like when the menu says "a party of 6 will incur a 15% service charge" you can refuse to pay it. However, if you don't say anything (which is what you are doing by leaving without paying), you are accepting the policy, until you later have a chance to reverse it.

It's not treating people any differently than if they paid (or failed to pay) cash. If they walked out on a cash tab (unlikely because no one will run them one), but if they did, when they returned to pay, they would find 15% service charge added. They could then refuse to pay that - just like in the current situation.

I'm going to need more than you word and user name that this is fraud. Even if you do possess the ultimate truths to bartending.

This policy has been spelled out to us by the CPD and Alderman. Violating this could result in dings on our license and any publicity would kill business considering the amount of competition. I suspect it has never been tried in court, and there is no specific statute considering that it involves less than $20 usually. Perhaps a class action lawsuit has been tried somewhere. Doesn't matter, we have our license at the pleasure of the city and this is how they interpret it.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 05:42 PM
Here's the first search result I found.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11697094/

AutumnLeaves
11-10-2010, 05:43 PM
There are no absolute truths other than people who put Rush on the juke box haven't had sex in 3 years minimum.

Oh see, in Canada, we just called those "Canadians". :p They're getting laid alright. Probably while listening to Rush. Try not to picture it. Try really hard.

sqweels
11-10-2010, 05:43 PM
There are no absolute truths other than people who put Rush on the juke box haven't had sex in 3 years minimum.
That one's not true either, dude. :p

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 05:46 PM
Here' a more detailed cite:

http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/merchants-who-violate-credit-card-terms-1275.php

kushiel
11-10-2010, 06:04 PM
I understand the stress. My bar issues a $25 minimum on credit card purchases. We do it to avoid people attempting to issue a separate credit transaction for every single round they order. Doing that would slow service to a crawl. This is a clear violation of our contract.

Very occasionally a customer will call their bank and complain, Visa/MC typically reverses the charge and the bar loses the money. At this point it doesn't happen often enough to be a major problem and Visa doesn't have much motivation to enforce the contract considering the amount of fees we generate. The rule is intended to prevent large corporations from doing this systemically.

There is a distinction between having a minimum and charging people for things they don't purchase. We can refuse service to anyone, and we refuse service to people who don't want to abide by the minimum. Charging people for things they don't purchase escalates the issue beyond a contract dispute to a criminal and civil violation. Again, there's little motivation for the city to enforce this but there's no justification for it being acceptable.

I don't know if Visa has their contract available online, I'm not going to search to hard for it. I suppose you'll have to take my word for it. I've read my bar's contract personally.

Whoa, wait, we're talking a transaction by each drink? If I had to pay every time I got a drink, I sure would track down an ATM. I've always just paid the entire bill when I leave. But again, I'm not exactly in the rowdy college group who might slip out without paying. I'm in the 'white collar coworkers going to bitch about work' group or the 'we're actually here for the nachos' crowd.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 06:13 PM
You got it backwards. It's not bar policy. That's just what young college aged customers do these days. It's a busy bar and they are afraid they'll get drunk and forget their card or they don't have any money in their account and are drinking on debt. They think it's acceptable to buy a $6 cocktail and close their tab immediately because they either can't get cash or are too lazy to. They'd rather try and stick the bar with the transaction fee instead of paying the ATM fee. Nevermind that they'll be forcing everyone else who might be ordering big rounds to wait for them.

Pork Rind
11-10-2010, 06:34 PM
Here's the first search result I found.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11697094/

It looks to me like the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (http://www.bankrate.com/financing/credit-cards/what-the-dodd-frank-act-means-for-you/), credit card companies can no longer block merchant from setting minimum purchase amounts any longer.

The bill also says that payment networks can't block merchants from setting minimum and maximum transaction amounts for the acceptance of payment cards, as long as the transaction restrictions apply to all issuers and payment networks.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 06:45 PM
Interesting, I can't find anything in the Wiki article that discusses those effects but it would be welcome.

Pork Rind
11-10-2010, 06:52 PM
Interesting, I can't find anything in the Wiki article that discusses those effects but it would be welcome.

I can't find it in the Wikipedia article, but here's The Consumerists (http://consumerist.com/2010/09/amex-visa-mastercard-all-give-thumbs-up-to-10-credit-card-minimums.html)take on the issue.

ETA: ...And here's the text from the Act (http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h4173enr.txt.pdf):

‘‘(3) LIMITATION ON RESTRICTIONS ON SETTING TRANSACTION
MINIMUMS OR MAXIMUMS.—
‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—A payment card network shall not,
directly or through any agent, processor, or licensed
member of the network, by contract, requirement, condition,
penalty, or otherwise, inhibit the ability—
‘‘(i) of any person to set a minimum dollar value
for the acceptance by that person of credit cards, to
the extent that —
‘‘(I) such minimum dollar value does not differentiate
between issuers or between payment
card networks; and
‘‘(II) such minimum dollar value does not
exceed $10.00; or
‘‘(ii) of any Federal agency or institution of higher
education to set a maximum dollar value for the acceptance
by that Federal agency or institution of higher
education of credit cards, to the extent that such maximum
dollar value does not differentiate between
issuers or between payment card networks.

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 07:08 PM
Well, a $10 minimum helps 7-Eleven. Doesn't do shit for bars where the transaction fee is less of an issue than the imposition of actually physically processing a card and signing a receipt.

amanset
11-10-2010, 07:58 PM
Back in the 90s I live in London and a good place for my age range was a bar called "long island Iced Tea" where said drink was drunk by 90% of the people in there.

Does anyone know if it still exists? IIRC it was just east of Leicester Square station.

Sampiro
11-10-2010, 10:12 PM
Quick question: weekend night, busy bar, what would you tip for

1- A Coke if the bartender charges for it
2- A Coke if the bartender doesn't charge for it
3- A $3 to $6 bottle of beer

Omniscient
11-10-2010, 10:31 PM
1) $1
2) $1
3) $1

Dollar a drink. For the free Coke you could toss in an extra buck if that's all you've been drinking, but if you're just taking a break from booze or want something with some food the bartender is going to be content with a dollar. Free Cokes are sometimes the same thing as a glass of water for people that have been drinking all night. And yes, you ought to throw a buck for a glass of water too if that's all you're ordering.

Yookeroo
11-10-2010, 11:07 PM
Quick question: weekend night, busy bar, what would you tip for

1- A Coke if the bartender charges for it
2- A Coke if the bartender doesn't charge for it
3- A $3 to $6 bottle of beer

A buck for all three.

I'll drink in villa's bar. I'm avoiding Omniscient's.

BigT
11-10-2010, 11:59 PM
How could it be illegal to add a gratuity, when restaurants do it all the time? It's right on the menu.

villa
11-11-2010, 10:52 AM
Here's the first search result I found.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11697094/

Great cite to minimums being illegal on credit and debit cards. Not sure how that applies to mandatory service charges on people who don't sign, but I am sure the font of all truth as to bars can tell us.

villa
11-11-2010, 10:56 AM
I'll drink in villa's bar. I'm avoiding Omniscient's.

Now I am blushing.

Unfortunately, I am out of that business, and now practicing law. My experience these days is consuming rather than providing, though I do the odd guest appearance. I was rather good at it in the past.

However, I think the difference between Omniscient's view and mine comes from the kind of places worked at. I worked at and now drink predominately in neighborhood kind of joints. It seems he works at a college kid dominated place. I'd rather avoid that scene on either side of the bar. However, I'm going to pains to try to make clear my observances aren't universal by any means.

villa
11-11-2010, 10:57 AM
That one's not true either, dude. :p

It doesn't count unless it is someone else's hand, dude. :D

Purd Werfect
11-11-2010, 11:59 AM
Interesting. The bars I frequent in my town, generally working class, are all cash only, and they have ATMs to accommodate. My regular place has a blender that's permanently broken. $1 tip per drink no matter if it's water or top shelf is the general patron practice. As for the "when you get a moment" technique, I use that just to get in line, as one of my fave bartenders has tunnel vision sometimes and forgets to look at glasses.

maladroit
11-11-2010, 01:47 PM
It isn't that they are cheap or that they are labor intensive - hey aren't really either.

I didn't like making them because they seemed to me to scream "give me a drink that will get me drunk as quickly as possible." That means you may well be a pain in the ass later on.

Now, ordering a strawberry dacquiri (in a bar not really set up for them) or any blended drink = labor intensive. And those who order them tend not to tip. It was a crying shame how often my blender was broken. They just don't make the motors like they used to. That or they aren't designed to have blend held down while I hold a knife inside them.

Logged in to second this. Long Island drinkers are more likely to need to be cut off, more likely to puke, and also more likely to be cheap fux.

Omniscient
11-11-2010, 02:05 PM
How could it be illegal to add a gratuity, when restaurants do it all the time? It's right on the menu.

Try as hard as they might to imply otherwise, that's not a requirement. Most have a disclaimer indicating "for your convenience" or thereabouts. If you don't want to pay it or to reduce it you just need to inform your server. That's not really at issue though since the customer is there and able to consent and sign. Doing so on a abandoned card without a signature is a whole different kettle of fish.

I did some Googling and couldn't find any specific cites. There's quite a bit discussing the 18% gratuity on restaurant tabs and there seems to be little legal merit debated and more discussion of what etiquette is. I found one cite from a proposed ordinance in Michigan that dictated that in order for a business to automatically add a gratuity of service charge it had to be posted in clear view at the register, on the menu AND printed on the receipt. No idea if that was passed or if other states have similar laws.

Trom
11-11-2010, 03:25 PM
I have nothing to contribute except one tidbit.

The bar I frequent most is a popular "beer" bar in Chicago. They recently stopped accepting debit/credit cards and went strictly to cash. They said cards slowed them down too much.

Yookeroo
11-11-2010, 11:01 PM
However, I think the difference between Omniscient's view and mine comes from the kind of places worked at. I worked at and now drink predominately in neighborhood kind of joints. It seems he works at a college kid dominated place. I'd rather avoid that scene on either side of the bar.

Maybe. But I'll take the bartender that doesn't get pissed off over "when you get the chance...".

jackdavinci
11-12-2010, 02:49 AM
I think the OP has been moderately answered satisfactorily. So new questions generated from the answers in this thread:

1) Why don't bars just charge more $ for harder-to-make drinks? They already charge an amazingly large mark up on every single drink. And they also differentiate in price between top and bottom shelf. Why the hell not charge extra for a blended drink?

2) For Brits: really no tips for bartenders? Interesting. I kind of agree that tipping should be, you know, a tip - something EXTRA - for better than normal service (I've gotten tips working at a bookstore - if that's hard to imagine - there should be a similar threshold for other services). OTOH It's for some bizarre reason legal here to give certain workers a much lower hourly salary/commission/whatever compensation because of the expectation that they will get a lot of tips due to social custom. And therefore, well, with the knowledge that *not* giving a tip actually pragmatically results in an *anti-tip* for my waiter, how can I stiff them? I'm not sure how to reset social and legal inertia, but restaurants should really just pay waiters the normal minimum wage (or better) and tips should remain an under the table reward for better-than-normal service.

Or else - well I guess in some countries, everything is expected to be bartersville. But I'd rather just have a one listed price for one specific item/service and any extra goings on can be negotiated on a separate basis, or be considered a gift by both parties.

fjs1fs
11-12-2010, 09:53 AM
Charging people for things they do not purchase is credit card fraud. It's outright theft. Does that really need a cite? It's the exact same thing as a bartender altering a receipt to increase their tip.

It's certainly done in some places. Some cities have chosen not to enforce complaints. Some customers have become trained to tolerate it. It's still illegal in addition to being a violation of the businesses contract with Visa/MC.

When you run a business that takes credit cards you sign a contract with Visa that stipulates that you will not treat credit differently than cash. The prices must be the same, you cannot have minimums and you cannot add a surcharge. Doing so is grounds to dispute a charge. Repeated offenses can get your credit card privileges revoked and a fee charged for terminating the contract.

And yet almost EVERY gas station charges more for CC than for cash.

fjs1fs
11-12-2010, 09:54 AM
I have nothing to contribute except one tidbit.

The bar I frequent most is a popular "beer" bar in Chicago. They recently stopped accepting debit/credit cards and went strictly to cash. They said cards slowed them down too much.

And they'd rather pay less taxes too, so cash is always better.

villa
11-12-2010, 10:12 AM
Try as hard as they might to imply otherwise, that's not a requirement. Most have a disclaimer indicating "for your convenience" or thereabouts. If you don't want to pay it or to reduce it you just need to inform your server. That's not really at issue though since the customer is there and able to consent and sign. Doing so on a abandoned card without a signature is a whole different kettle of fish.

I did some Googling and couldn't find any specific cites. There's quite a bit discussing the 18% gratuity on restaurant tabs and there seems to be little legal merit debated and more discussion of what etiquette is. I found one cite from a proposed ordinance in Michigan that dictated that in order for a business to automatically add a gratuity of service charge it had to be posted in clear view at the register, on the menu AND printed on the receipt. No idea if that was passed or if other states have similar laws.

It's odd you can't find a cite anywhere, given that (a) this happens all the time and (b) you were absolutely certain it is not only not permissible, but also constituted fraud. Given the seriousness of that crime, I find it absolutely impossible to believe it hasn't been prosecuted.

The situation actually runs as follows:


By handing your credit card to the bartender you agree to pay for all items purchased
Sign posted in the bar informs you that if you neglect to close your tab at the end of the evening, a 15% gratuity will be added
You are, by opening the tab, consenting to this, much as if you ate at a place that automatically adds 15% gratuity to the check
You still have the option not to pay - if you call and dispute the charge, I would imagine it is encumbent on the bar to remove the gratuity aspect, just as, if you refuse to pay the 15% gratuity listed on the menu, you don't have to pay it
It is harder in this situation because of something you have done, not the bar. You left without paying, and therefore cannot challenge it at that time.


Now, it is possible this practice may be illegal, and may also be fraud. I don't think it is, however, though I don't do a lot (or indeed any) fraud work. But it is going to take a little more than your say so for me to believe it.

Martini Enfield
11-14-2010, 06:43 AM
I'm interested to know: What's the average wage for a bartender in the US? Because in pretty much every bar in Australia that I've ever worked at or drunk at, if the barstaff were getting $1 per drink served they'd be making something in the region of $50/hr or so on decent night, before they even got paid.

Having worked in bars here (where tipping isn't done, fortunately) I can say I really didn't find it especially annoying when someone wanted to order a multi-drink cocktail, unless it was something "Weird".

Most places I know had a "Menu" of cocktails and basically said "If what you want isn't on here, you're not getting it." I don't think I ever had anyone ask for a Long Island Ice Tea, but I did make a few daiquiris (mostly from a slushy machine, to be fair) and "Tropical" cocktails in big glasses with lots of garnish and umbrellas in them. In those cases I enjoyed making them, just for a change of pace from the usual pour a glass of beer/mix bourbon & cola stuff that we usually did.

FWIW, I really don't think there's $1 worth of effort involved in opening a bottle of beer (or just pouring one) or mixing spirits and post-mix in a glass etc. Probably just as well I don't drink at bars when I'm in the US, from the sounds of it...

pulykamell
11-14-2010, 07:05 AM
And yet almost EVERY gas station charges more for CC than for cash.

That must be regional, because I don't see that much around here. (In fact, I'm not even sure I've seen cash discounts in Chicago proper--only occasionally in the suburbs). But I do know what you're talking about, and I believe the way around is that the credit vendor agreement doesn't allow credit card surcharges, but cash discounts are okay.

Bambi Hassenpfeffer
11-14-2010, 11:14 PM
That must be regional, because I don't see that much around here. (In fact, I'm not even sure I've seen cash discounts in Chicago proper--only occasionally in the suburbs). But I do know what you're talking about, and I believe the way around is that the credit vendor agreement doesn't allow credit card surcharges, but cash discounts are okay.
Yes. Merchants can offer a discount for cash and cash only, but may not charge more for credit card purchases than they do for other tenders (checks and debit cards, basically).

Citation (http://usa.visa.com/personal/using_visa/checkout_fees/index.html), from Visa's article on checkout fees.

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