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Meals in the room?

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spinnaker

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I am not up to speed about whether tips are taxed the same as wages or not. I assume the way some hotels add a massive "resort fee" to a low hotel rate means that the "resort fee" is not taxed?
Ed.

Of course tips are taxed. In fact some states force servers to pay taxes on 15% of their receipts, if they get a tip or not.

Kind of unfair but I guess it also discourages cheating.
 
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A few years ago I walked into a consignment shop in Charleston, SC and they had a tip jar on the counter. Why would a consignment shop have a tip jar? Tip jars/tipping has gotten out of hand so I can sort of understand why many people are turned off by it. When I stay at a hotel, I tip the housekeeper. They get about 20-25 bucks per hour but they work hard. I will probably never be in a position to be on roomette in an Amtrak but if I were then I would probably feel pressured to tip.
 

Bob Dylan

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A few years ago I walked into a consignment shop in Charleston, SC and they had a tip jar on the counter. Why would a consignment shop have a tip jar? Tip jars/tipping has gotten out of hand so I can sort of understand why many people are turned off by it. When I stay at a hotel, I tip the housekeeper. They get about 20-25 bucks per hour but they work hard. I will probably never be in a position to be on roomette in an Amtrak but if I were then I would probably feel pressured to tip.
Where in the US do Hotel Housekeepers get $20-$25 an Hour? We all need to have a job there if Wages are that good!

Mostly Housekeepers make Minimim Wage or Less in most places, and I've always tipped them also!
 

ehbowen

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Where in the US do Hotel Housekeepers get $20-$25 an Hour? We all need to have a job there if Wages are that good!

Mostly Housekeepers make Minimim Wage or Less in most places, and I've always tipped them also!
I work in a hotel as a licensed stationary engineer (boiler/HVAC systems operator), which is one of the higher paid non-management positions, and I don't even make $25 an hour!
 

Devil's Advocate

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I just wonder why it is a surcharge? It is not an optional item, one is obliged to pay a resort fee when booking certain hotels, there must be some advantage to the hotel to split the fee in this way? Maybe not for income tax, but maybe for some other room tax advantage to themselves?
As mentioned resort fees allow hotels to advertise lower prices at booking before collecting higher prices at check-out, although this is by no means limited to aggregate sales sites. Resort fees can also be to used to claw back lost revenue on reward stays and as leverage when dealing with disputes. Waiving a supplementary resort fee gives hotels the flexibility to appear contrite without giving back the room rate. A reference to resort fees is supposed to be mentioned during the booking process but in my experience that's not always the case. Even when the fee is mentioned it's often handled in vague terms with small text that is likely to be missed unless you take the time to go looking for it.
 
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anumberone

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OP here. Thank you everyone for your responses.

I ended up just eating in the dining car and tipping the wait staff there. I actually had no interaction at all with my sleeping car attendant. Frankly, I was put off by not knowing how to tip so I didn't ask for anything. Then, I saw a coach attendant getting ice and drinks for their passengers without receiving any tips. Ha, go figure.

I will say that I always tip at restaurants and that interaction makes sense to me. Also, I've ridden coach all my life and this was my first sleeper/Roomette trip. I loved it, and will be a repeat customer. The trip has been incredibly comfortable and pleasant.
And a good time was had by all!
 

ehbowen

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I last worked as a waiter twenty years ago, in 1999. I was paid $2.20 an hour, and I had to pay the restaurant 3.5% of my gross sales which they used to pay busboys, cooks, and bartenders. They called it "tip pooling"; basically, it meant that they didn't have to pay anyone. Essentially I was working for tips alone and the restaurant was supposed to make up the difference if I didn't make minimum wage...but I got stiffed more than once and they never did.
 

seat38a

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I last worked as a waiter twenty years ago, in 1999. I was paid $2.20 an hour, and I had to pay the restaurant 3.5% of my gross sales which they used to pay busboys, cooks, and bartenders. They called it "tip pooling"; basically, it meant that they didn't have to pay anyone. Essentially I was working for tips alone and the restaurant was supposed to make up the difference if I didn't make minimum wage...but I got stiffed more than once and they never did.
Ah yes, the good ole getting stiffed. My friends and I who worked in the industry used to despise summers since thats when foreign tourists would flock into town culturally ignorant to our customs. Due to this same issue, pretty much anywhere in South Florida was automatically slapping tips onto the check last time I was there.

Couple years ago, when I was eating in San Francisco Chinatown, the owner's wife, who was also the server had no qualms about chasing down a group of French Tourists and sternly explaining, "We tip in this country!" The owner of the restaurant that I was working at wasn't that bold. :D
 

Devil's Advocate

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My friends and I who worked in the industry used to despise summers since thats when foreign tourists would flock into town culturally ignorant to our customs.
The cultural custom of blaming customers for punitive employment rules?

Couple years ago, when I was eating in San Francisco Chinatown, the owner's wife, who was also the server had no qualms about chasing down a group of French Tourists and sternly explaining, "We tip in this country!" The owner of the restaurant that I was working at wasn't that bold.
So she was bold enough to run after people demanding a gratuity but not bold enough to simply raise prices to fair market value?
 
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Qapla

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The interesting thing is, in the US, since tipping is "permitted" to be included as part of a persons "pay rate" towards "minimum wage"- most businesses will do that when setting servers pay rate. The thing is, there is nothing that says tips "have" to be part of the minimum you can pay your servers. If a place of business paid their servers a "professional wage" the servers would not need to "rely" on tips as part of their wage ... it would truly be "extra money" as it is supposed to be.
 

AG1

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The OP asked about Amtrak meals in room and tipping. The OP finished his trip and reported back to the forum.
Why are people going off track and continuing on irrelevant low wage restaurant tipping ?
Moderators ?
 

Devil's Advocate

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The interesting thing is, in the US, since tipping is "permitted" to be included as part of a persons "pay rate" towards "minimum wage"- most businesses will do that when setting servers pay rate. The thing is, there is nothing that says tips "have" to be part of the minimum you can pay your servers. If a place of business paid their servers a "professional wage" the servers would not need to "rely" on tips as part of their wage ... it would truly be "extra money" as it is supposed to be.
That's the way I would like it to work, but under the current rules an employer who agrees to a base wage at minimum wage level can also choose to simply confiscate all tips since the employer's wage obligations are already met. The rules and particulars vary by state but so long as these terms are included in the hiring process and so long as a written advisory is located in a customer facing area it's perfectly legal to simply seize all service related gratuities provided to front line staff. That was one of the complaints lodged against the infamous Amy's Baking Company featured on Kitchen Nightmares.
 
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flitcraft

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Of course tips are taxed. In fact some states force servers to pay taxes on 15% of their receipts, if they get a tip or not.
Actually, this is true nationally. The IRS has implemented specific rules for those businesses where tips are expected. (Note that casinos have their own IRS rules--these just apply to non-gambling industries where tips often occur like restaurants, beauty salons, hotels, cabs, etc. )

Employers in these industries have two options--a Tip Rate Determination Agreement, where the IRS and the employer work out an imputed tip rate for their employees based on employer past experience with tipping in that industry. Employees where there is a TRDA must report that rate on their income taxes, or a higher amount if that is what they receive. Of course, this has implications for the employer as well, since they are assessed Social Security and Medicare taxes on the imputed rate as a base rate, and a higher rate if it turns out the the TRDA under-estimates actual tips.

The second option is that the employer can develop a Tip Reporting Alternative Commitment, whereby the employer must develop a procedure to accurately determine employee tips and must train employees about their obligation to accurately report them as income.

While small mom-and-pop outfits may fly below the IRS radar, I can't imagine that Amtrak doesn't have either a TRDA or a TRAC. My guess would be the former, since it is the easiest for the employer. So, while individuals at any establishment can choose to tip or not without a risk that they'll be chased down for non-payment, it is not accurate to say that the employee who has not received a tip doesn't get penalized at tax time.
 

Qapla

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The fact remains ... just because the employer and the employee agrees to work under a system that includes tips as part of the employees wage does NOT put the customer under "compulsion" to tip when they have paid the actual bill in full.

Now, if you eat at or use the services of a business that states clearly they add a "gratuity" to the bill - by using that service you have agreed to pay the additional fee (tip). There is not anything in your ticket agreement that "requires" you to tip an Amtrak employee. If you want to tip one, that should be your choice - not something you need to do to get the service they are supposed to give based on their wage ... think about it, how many people head to the train engine to tip the engineer for getting you to your stop - especially when they get you there safely and on-time?
 

Devil's Advocate

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If you eat at or use the services of a business that states clearly they add a "gratuity" to the bill - by using that service you have agreed to pay the additional fee (tip).
So far as I am aware, the customer is never obligated to pay a gratuity. Even in a situation where an establishment chooses to assign a gratuity ahead of time, and prints this policy as a warning on the menu, the gratuity itself must remain reversible if the customer insists. That being said, in the context of a social contract I would agree a customer who orders off such a menu has accepted an expectation to pay.

How many people head to the train engine to tip the engineer for getting you to your stop - especially when they get you there safely and on-time?
I did try to tip an Amtrak conductor once, mainly as thanks for something he had done to resolve a problem, but he refused. At first I was surprised but then I remembered that I'd feel pretty weird if someone tried to tip me at work. Even in jobs where tipping is customary it's still an odd dynamic. One time I was at a bar watching a game and the customer next to me left a tip of $100 on $40 worth of cocktails. It looked they probably wanted something more than another drink but the bartender simply smiled and took the money before pouring the next one like it was any other day.
 
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ehbowen

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Couple years ago, when I was eating in San Francisco Chinatown, the owner's wife, who was also the server had no qualms about chasing down a group of French Tourists and sternly explaining, "We tip in this country!" The owner of the restaurant that I was working at wasn't that bold. :D
I would never do something like that. I believe in being professional, even when customers are taking advantage of you. Not saying that I like it, but I do it.

True story: The first time I worked as a waiter was back in 1981, in the days where you paid at the register and if there wasn't a tip on the table, then there wasn't a tip. I was hosting a large birthday party for several children, with hot dogs and ice cream sundaes and all the trimmings. When the party left to pay, there was no tip left behind. One of the other servers suggested that I go up to the father before he left and make an insulting remark. I wouldn't do it. It was only later that I found out that, since it was a large party, he had made arrangements in advance to pay by personal check and had included a very generous tip in the total amount. If I had followed my co-worker's suggestion and said something cutting I would have insulted the customer and put myself in a lot of trouble. It may not be easy to be professional...but it's always the right thing to do.
 
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Do you tip your flight attendants? They are low income union workers too. As someone with decades in customer service/hospitality/airlines industries in several countries, I used to be great console-tipper. However, after my experiences on Amtrak ... only if someone goes above the expectations of their job will I tip. I feel a little bad, but I am not going to reward poor service. 🤔 Who agrees?
 

crescent-zephyr

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In the past, I have tipped in Amtrak Dining Cars for poor service in hopes of receiving better service on future meals. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Now it doesn't matter of course (and no I will not tip an LSA for handing me a yogurt at breakfast.)
 

MARC Rider

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Yes, It was customary in the 1930-60s during the golden age of railroads with low paid mostly minorities as service employees.
However, today we have (reportedly) high paid union employees with great benefits that exceed the median income of the country.
After the Wagner Act of the 1930's, the low paid mostly minority service workers on the railroads rapidly unionized and got collective bargaining agreements, so by the 1960s, they were probably being paid more. And back then, even ununionized food service employees were being paid enough to live on, yet it was still customary to tip them. Tips were an expression of appreciation for the service, not a way to have the customer subsidize a living wage that the employer should be providing in the first place.

As far as Amtrak employee compensation, according to Glassdoor, Average wage of an Amtrak service attendant is $22/hr, or about $44,000 annualized (assuming they have full-time hours). While this is above the median individual income of the country, it's not that much above it, and I'd hate to have to live on a $44,000 annual salary, even with the other employment benefits. Maybe if I was in my 20s, and I knew that there was a career ladder that would have me earning a lot more than that...
 

pennyk

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MODERATOR NOTE: Please keep in mind that this thread was started in July 2019 with a question about the Texas Eagle, which train was serving traditional dining meals at that time. Now, in September 2020, meals are very different.
 
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