Chris, you just took it out of my mouth, as I also notice the very unique way to mispell the "dollor" since I made some jokes about it on the other board. Neitherless the value of one currency against the other has nothing to do with "tipping". Also you explaination is pretty clear and I only can corroborate.
I beleive I explained the subject regarding the french side on my webpages which link was posted by Denicco.
On the dutch side in some establishment a 15% service charge is added to the bill. Some of the establishment doesn't have the appropriate computer program on their cash register to label it properly and it is the reason why the line where it is added stipulate " Tax".
Except being a computer programer and be able to "break into the program system" to change the label, this line will remain as a sales tax line and there are no many way to do.
This is the case at Captain Oliver's. The service charge is added on the bill. However our program does not allow us to label it as a "service charge" on that line since the addition to the total are "pre-programed" with the US system of taxation... (yes, it is an american programed cash register), so the line where we add the 15% service charges says "sales tax", we basically don't have the choice.
However, since I became quickly tired to explain this to our guests, about 100 time a day, just below the final total, the program allow us to write a little line. Some restaurants write "thanks for visiting" we at Captain Oliver's we wrote :" the "sales tax" line is in fact 15% SERVICE CHARGE added to your bill". This reduce considerably the number of time I have to explain what the "sale tax" line is...
Now where goes this 15% service charge? It's used to pay part of the fix salary of the waitstaff. I cannot speak for all restaurant on the dutch side, but most of the time the waitstaff is not paid on an hourly basis.
It has a monthly fix salary, doesn't matter how many hours they work. Most of the time this fix salary is calculated on the minimum wage, which is about $800 a month. This is also why most of the restaurant can afford to have a lot of waitstaff.
This $800 are taken out of the 15% SC to be paid to the employee, each of them. If, when after all the fix salaries are paid, there is a remaining amount on the so called 15%SC, then this amount is redistribute to the staff, and the distribution is based on "point" given regarding position and sometime seniority.
Per example, if at the end of the month the restaurantor collected $9000 of service charge (for a gross turnover of $69000, which is not bad, beleive me, when a restaurant make that kinda money montly in sxm....) and this restaurant has 10 employees to be paid on the minimum wages requirement of $800, after paying each of them it will be left $1000 to redistribute.
In the case there is no points based on position seniority taken in consideration and the distribution is based on equal part, each employee would get $100 on the top of their $800 which will make it to $900...
I let you judge then, if it is necessary to tip or not!...
And this was when no point or seniority is involved. Imagine that the "Chef de Rang" take 10 points, the waiters 5 points each and the bussboy 1 point each, some of them got only pennies on the top of $800.
Also this example of calculation is based on a fairly important turnover, and the amount collected in service charge is considerable. Sometime it happen that there is not enought money on the "Service Charge" account to pay all the fix salary of the waitstaff and the restaurantor supplies the funds (That's when in general the restaurantor decide to lay of some employee... because it's "low season"!!!...)
Hope this help to clarify some point, and help to understand that St Maarten/St Martin is neither the USA or Europe and the the fix salaries are not comparable with other places.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/19/2008 08:42AM by Tabba Khady.