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Much a-Buzz about nothing

You can find some real doozies on social media, but few warrant a wider airing as does the ongoing rant over Buzz and its newly unveiled 3 per cent voluntary gratuity.

The management of the fast-food franchise got more than a handful in the online community worked up over a fee that they are asked to pay only if they wish to.

The explanation provided by Take Five Ltd, the parent company, is that Buzz staff members should be treated no differently than employees in full-service restaurants, where gratuities are enforced whether or not the customer service and meal are of top standard — or bog standard.

Whether it is takeout or eat-in with all the amenities that establishments such as the Fairmont Southampton, Hamilton Princess & Beach Club and the Loren can provide, fast food is fast food — and nothing is as good or healthy as what Momma cooks at home!

The edited release the company made on social media yesterday to get this started read as such:

Take Five Ltd has announced, that effective September 25, a 3 per cent voluntary gratuity will be introduced at all Buzz locations. Holger Eiselt, founder of the company said: “We want to recognise the hard work of our Buzz team members and believe they deserve equal opportunity to earn a gratuity for their excellent service like full-service restaurants.”

Instead of raising prices, we would like our customers to have an option and be transparent about changes that we make.

The 3 per cent gratuity will be at the customers' discretion. It will be divided proportionally among all Buzz employees as an added gratuity. No portion of this gratuity will go towards Take Five Ltd management wages or company investments. The gratuity is purely for Buzz staff members.

Mr Eiselt said: “We are committed to creating a fair environment with equal opportunities for all.”

The message was headlined as “Our goal is excellent customer service” and adorned by a smiling woman wearing a bindi. Which does not necessarily make her Indian, but probably in hindsight was the strategically wrong move by Take Five when attempting to win over a community that already has issues with “foreigners doing jobs that Bermudians can do”.

Noted with a mischievous nod towards the belatedly public town hall on comprehensive immigration reform that national security minister Wayne Caines hosted at the Berkeley Institute last night.

As long as Holger Eiselt is true to his word and the gratuities indeed go towards the staff, we say “good on them”.

There are 14 Buzz or Take Five-related operations on island, but speaking specifically for the staff at the Richmond Road operation, commonly known as the 24/7 and that which traffics the most business, you would have to walk miles between meals to find a more polite and courteous group.

It is fairly certain that they do not receive hazard pay, but this mix of Bermudian and foreign-born labour generally have to grin and bear it when all manner of customer stops by — from the well-mannered and patient, to downright drunk, loud and disorderly, to those unrefined souls with selective blindness who believe surely that boldly displayed “no helmets” signs are meant for everyone besides them.

They bite their bottom lips in the face of “customer is always right” edicts, with few expectations other than the hope that a satisfied customer might deign to leave a tip in either of the jars positioned at the cashier's desk or at the point where the food is collected.

For this to cause such a commotion, the thinking has to be that Bermudians are being taxed out of their skins already and are not about to take it any more — even for a tax as small as three cents out of every dollar.

But here's the rub. Unlike the aforementioned hotel and restaurant gratuities, unlike the sugar tax, unlike payroll tax, unlike land tax, this “tax” is optional. You can say no!

Decent stodge for a grown adult — nutritionists, GPs and fitness trainers, please look away now — is two sloppy quarter-pounders and an order of chips. That will run you in the region of $24.00, we argue more than the average payout at a Buzz till.

The voluntary gratuity on that is 72 cents.

If a customer cannot afford to drop down as much as 72 cents extra, they should not be buying takeout food in the first place, but rather practising austerity and making or having more meals made at home.

For those who can, this new policy represents a pittance of appreciation for earnest workers who not only have to put on their best face 24/7 but also must repeat from an apparently prepared script the option the customer has before accepting this dent into their wallet.

Call it an audition, if you will.

Provided the workers receive the extra money as advertised, there is nothing really to see here apart from the disgruntled within the community who have long broken the mould on complaining for complaining's sake.

But should Take Five see this as a test case with a view to dropping something more significant on the consumer down the road, then it would be open season on them with hardly a case to be made in their defence.

Sign of the times: Buzz is inviting customers to tip staff 3 per cent

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Published September 27, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated September 27, 2019 at 8:53 am)

Much a-Buzz about nothing

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