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October 22, 2009



One of the reasons bars in New York (and SF) have a 'shakey attitude to calculation' is that the people working there are paid below the minimum wage, and need tips to make up the difference. I wouldn't romanticise it too much.

I'm also not sure how messy the West Coast likes the social bit to be. Going out with people here, everyone seems to use the same basic rule of thumb - leave $1 per round and take the drink. Oh, and restaurants give receipts with tips at 10, 15 and 20 percent worked out for you. Perhaps I just haven't found the SF equivalent of 'Cheers' yet ...

Paul Johnson

You don't need a lot of abstract philosophy to understand the receipt business: its a straighforward strategy to cut employee theft. If customers get used to not getting receipts then it becomes much easier for employees to pocket the money instead of putting it in the till. Give your customers an incentive to check that the receipt exists, and you rope them in to helping you police the system at almost no added cost.


In Italy, it's a criminal offence not to give a receipt with purchases, mainly I understand as a anti-tax evasion measure. Yet no-one would think that the experience of buying a beer or a coffee in an Italian bar had had all of its externalities stripped out of it; the surliness can be a thing of wonder.

Will Davies

Paul: I do wonder above whether "it is explicable in terms of management surveillance and distrust of staff: it becomes impossible to keep an order out of the till, if the customer is demanding a receipt."

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