Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, September 26, 2016

"Canadians split on tipping"

Jul. 14, 2016  "Canadians split on no tipping idea: poll": I found this article by Amanda Stephenson in the Edmonton Journal today:

Earls restaurants will have to tread carefully with its new no-tipping pilot project but the general concept does have a lot of support, suggests a new poll released Wednesday by the Angus Reid Institute.

The poll — conducted this spring, before Earls announced its new Calgary location on Stephen Avenue would eliminate tipping in favour of a 16 per cent “hospitality surcharge” — found Canadians are split over preferred compensation models for restaurant staff.

Forty-six per cent said they prefer the current system, where tipping is standard practice when dining out, while 40 per cent said they would like to switch to a “service included” model with higher base wages for restaurant employees. Thirteen per cent of those polled said they had no preference.

Angus Reid Institute executive director Shachi Kurl said the results seem to indicate there is some ground for Earls to build support and acceptance for a new system. Fully three in five of those polled agreed with the statement, “Tipping is no longer about showing appreciation for a job well done” while 71 per cent agreed that “Tips just allow employers to underpay their employees.”

Still, Kurl said Earls will have to work hard to communicate its reasons for making the switch, as many Canadians appear to remain unconvinced.
“It’s not that you’re seeing overwhelming opposition to this, but you are seeing a great deal of reticence. People are not exactly running to embrace this new model,” she said.

Earls said this week that its new Stephen Avenue location will be a “prototype concept” where new ideas for the chain — including ditching tipping — will be tested. It said the 16 per cent hospitality charge will be divided among all hourly staff in what will amount to a higher consistent wage.

The move places Earls among a number of restaurants in North America that have been experimenting with new compensation models in recent years, with varying results. The U.S. casual dining chain Joe’s Crab Shack, for example, recently reintroduced tipping at most of its locations after losing customers as a result of its service-included dining model.

The Angus Reid poll also showed Canadians don’t tend to deviate far from their standard tip because of the quality of service. Only nine per cent of respondents said they did so “often,” with the vast majority of respondents saying they tip on average between 10 and 20 per cent. Wealthier Canadians tend to tip more than lower-income Canadians.

“The level of tipping that we see from these results is much more closely tied to the ability to pay than it is tied to the quality of service,” Kurl said. “We have past the point in this country of accepting that tipping is merely a thank you for a job well done. It has become a very ingrained and customary practice in the minds of Canadians.”

My opinion: We'll see how this works out.

I was talking about this with my co-worker A at my second restaurant job.  She says: "Why should the customers pay for the 16% charge, when the restaurant should be paying the workers more?"

While I'm at it, I was talking to my co-worker Je at my first restaurant job.  He told me one table said to him: "We're not tipping you, because we're on a budget." 

Je: Like why did they tell me this?  They shouldn't have told me this at all.
Tracy: Maybe they told you because then you won't be like "Why didn't they tip me?"  This reminds me when I read a letter in the Edmonton Journal, that if you can't afford to tip, then maybe you shouldn't be eating out at all.

Je agrees. 

Jul. 16, 2016 "Change to tipping system is inevitable, but servers want to keep it": I found this article in the Globe and Mail today:

Michael von Massow is an associate professor at the University at Guelph who researches animal welfare and consumer perceptions.

Earls Restaurants brought gratuities back into the public’s consciousness this week by launching a no-tipping restaurant in Calgary. The Angus Reid Institute further fuelled the discussion by releasing a poll suggesting that a plurality of Canadians prefer the existing system over one where higher prices are charged and service is included.

The Earls model is to add an automatic “hospitality charge” of 16 per cent to the bill, which was not one of the options provided in the Angus Reid survey. Disagreements continue within the restaurant industry on whether an “all-in” price or a service charge is the best approach, but it’s notable that 40 per cent of people surveyed said they preferred the new approach. It suggests that there is appetite for change among a significant portion of the dining public, independent of the benefits to restaurants, which are well documented.

Some sort of change is inevitable, as the current business model is unsustainable. There are a wide range of operational reasons, but the main driver is a desire to divide the benefits of tips more equitably among restaurant staff. Kitchens are chronically and significantly underpaid, and research suggests that while tips are not strongly correlated to service quality, that service quality is affected by the expected tip given a server’s assessment of the customer. Removing the opportunity for such subjectivity could generate a more consistent customer experience and is clearly in the best interest of both customers and restaurant managers.

Another potential driver of change that has received much less attention is related to taxation. Relevant to the restaurant industry was a recent Canada Revenue Agency announcement about a four-year audit of pharmacists, which looked at unreported income from rebates paid by generic drug companies. The CRA found $58-million hidden by approximately 1,000 pharmacists across the country, an average of $58,000 per individual.

For servers, the connection between tips and taxes is an elephant in the room. It’s estimated that customers leave at least $4-billion a year in tips in Canada. It’s not clear what proportion of that money is declared, but it’s definitely not all of it.

Tracking tips would be easy. More than 90 per cent of restaurant transactions are paid with a credit card, where the tip is highlighted and separated. In California, restaurants are required to report tips so the U.S. Internal Revenue Service can track reporting when servers file their tax returns. Even without required reporting, targeted audits of a few restaurant companies would very easily identify whether there are gaps in reporting.

This would be unpopular with servers. It would also be problematic for many, as tips are usually paid out in cash. The savings rate on daily cash is likely much lower than it is on a direct-deposit payroll cheque. On the other hand, requiring servers to pay the tax owing on the income would close the gap between cash tips and a higher wage.

For restaurants, reporting would be onerous but manageable. A bigger issue would arise if the CRA insisted that restaurants withhold tax from credit card tips. That would mean the tip money was considered income and the restaurant would also have to pay payroll taxes on the tip money. In a low-margin business, this would be tough for most and fatal for some without a new business model.

There are many reasons to develop alternatives to tipping and change is probably inevitable. But the industry is still coming to grips with what that future may look like.

 "The tipping point": I found this article by Liane Faulder in the Edmonton Journal today.

My week:

Sept. 11, 2016 TV and real life: I wanted to add to the "my week" part in the "From the Ashes" (Sept. 11) post.  I want fun and excitement in my life, and I go to Meetups.

I know my life will not be as crazy, fun, and exciting as a Blindspot episode where FBI goes into fights, shootouts, and car chases.  I don't want my life to be like that.  If I did, I would have went into law enforcement.  Instead, I'll watch it on TV.

Escape Rooms: If I want my life to be like TV, I'll go to those "Escape Rooms" places.  It's where you and at least one other person solve a puzzle to break out of a room.  I have seen lots of situations like these in TV and movies.

Sept. 13, 2016 Blindspot: This show is coming on tomorrow.  I looked up "blindspot bloopers" on YouTube, but got this instead:
This is a funny interview where Stapleton shows that he got a bruise on the back of his leg.  He takes off his pants, but it's not really sexual.  It's at the 2 min. 47 sec mark.

Sept. 15, 2016: I woke up early this morning to watch the season 2 premiere.  I liked it.  I got answers to who Jane Doe was.  If you watch the show and don't want to be spoiled, skip to the next paragraph.

There is a bigger enemy like a terrorist organization called Sandstorm that the FBI have to take down.  There is also a mole in the FBI and we don't know who it is.

I'm going through my desk drawer and want to write a few things before I give them to my co-worker S.

Pebblechild: I was shopping at Whyte Ave before my Filmmakers Meetup.  I went into a store and it sold these kind of things:

Provide employment

Hathay Bunano provides fairly paid, good quality, flexible and local employment for rural women who are poor and often disadvantaged.

FAVA: I haven't visited this site in awhile.  There are lots of classes and workshops like producing and screenwriting.  It seems the fall producing class is cancelled.

The Saga of the Jack of Spades: This is from one of the people in my Filmmakers Meetup.

"The land, once unified under a single banner, has been divided into four territories, each territory ruled by a family. The Diamonds, wealthy and corrupt; the Clubs, strong and resourceful; the Hearts, ambitious, though loyal to a fault; and the Spades, hard and merciless, and all of whom desire power above all things.

Centuries of bloodshed have won a tenuous peace between the families. To prevent another war, the Four of a Kind, an order of wise and holy men, have been entrusted to keep the peace at any cost. Each King is watched closely by a member of this conclave, though, like all things, corruption has, too, spread through their ranks. The land, yet again, finds itself poised on the edge of a sword."

Sept. 19, 2016 Weather: I want say the week of Sept. 11-Sept. 17, 2016 was warm enough so that I can read the newspaper on my lawn chair in my backyard.  Now this week, it's cold again.

Sept. 20, 2016 Mary Brown's burger: On Sat. Sept. 17, 2016 I went to Mary Brown's to get a free chicken sandwich.  They had put a flier in my mail box.  I went to one in the morning at 11am as my breakfast.  There were 6 people in line.  I ate it and went home for an hr.

Then I went to another location to get another free burger for my lunch.

I'm sure some of you guys are laughing at this part.

The Simpsons: It reminds me of the episode where Lisa joins a spelling bee.  The subplot was Homer becomes obsessed with the ribwich sandwich at Krusty Burger and went on tour with it.

BBQ: On Sun. Sept. 18, 2016, I then went to my work's BBQ and had a burger and a hotdog without a bun.  I also got 2 burgers and a hotdog for home.

Sept. 25, 2016 Fall 2016 TV season: This is the Cole's notes version of it.  From Sept. 19, 2016-Sept. 24, 2016, I was watching all these new TV shows that debuted.  Most of them I recorded it and watched it the next morning at 7am before I had to go to work:

1. The Good Place
2. Kevin Can Wait
3. This is Us
4. Bull
5. Designated Survivor
6. Lethal Weapon
7. Notorious
8. Pitch
9. The Exorcist
10. MacGyver

I would say all the shows are average.  I like This is Us and Designated Survivor, but after I saw the pilots, I wasn't like: "I have to watch every episode."  I want to watch a couple more episodes each to make a decision if I want to continue.

I saw The Exorcist last night and was undecided.  I have never seen the movie.  Then I thought about it some more and thought I should record all the episodes and watch it one week in Oct.  You know, to get into the Halloween mood.  I'm sure some of you guys are laughing at this part.


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