To tip or not to tip – THAT is the question. Or maybe how much to tip is the question. Or dare I say that maybe employers should just pay their employees and we get rid of tipping altogether? I know in my short blog I will not be able to hit all the nuances but after reading comment after comment on a Youtube video about Doordash and tipping, I had to get on my soapbox too. Come for the ride or don’t – that is the beauty of the Internet! =)
In Korea in the late 60s and early 70s no one tipped. You could BRIBE or give a little extra money to get something that people normally do not get but it was not called tipping and it was not expected. According to my “research” (which really means Googling LOL) the practice of tipping began in Tudor England. There now we know who to blame. Bloody British! LOL
Tips and the amount you tip depends on social customs or etiquettes of the country or region you are in. The setting makes a difference as well. For example you might not tip the dude who hands you the beer in a baseball stadium but you do in a sit down restaurant just around the corner of the stadium.
Sometimes tipping is illegal if you are dealing with US government workers and police officers – that is considered to be bribery. I know Harris Teeter and Publix also explicitly ask that you not tip as well. I personally do not like our system of tipping as it seems unfair to the server and to the customer.
From an economic point of view tips can cause a some stress and confusion for everyone involved. The server never knows how much he/she will make in a night and customers are not sure why 15% of the bill dictates good service. I personally think that if you are an employer you should just pay your people a fair wage and get rid of tipping all together. I like it when the tipping is either purely voluntary – based on if you DO feel that someone went above and beyond. For example, we were on a family cruise when I discovered my little one could not process cow milk protein. One of the servers, without being asked, ran across the entire ship to get my soy milk for my kiddo. OF COURSE HE GOT A HUGE TIP. After that he knew who we were and always had the soy milk handy for us. THAT is great customer service. And yes, I know those employees are paid little to nothing but that is for another blog.
Waiters and waitresses should be paid a living wage PERIOD. They should not depend on tips. If the restaurant insists on using tips then call it a service charge and add the 15% on for every single transaction and let the customers know ahead of time so they know if they want to use your establishment or not. Don’t make the customer have to decide on their own. The one big draw of fast food places is that no tip is required – you know exactly how much change to dig out of the cup of coins in the car. Although if I could I would tip Chick-Fil-A employees because they CRUSH at customer service.
I’m not stingy – far from it. But I don’t think mandatory tipping makes servers better. I really do not know how much the USMC paid my mom as a waitress but I know we lived better because of tips. It was not mandatory in Korea and still is not and it was definitely not mandatory on base – US GOVT – remember? However, the soldier would still toss a coin to the Witcher. . erhm to the waitress if she was “cute” or was quick on her feet. Those American coins really added up. I remember helping Mama roll up all the coins and how much they added up. The tip did not make or break her shift – it was always just icing on the cake luckily.
My sister was a waitress in the US for a hot minute while she was starting college and she was nonplussed with how hard she had to work for tips. It was so arbitrary and no one followed the same “rules” it was frustrating for her. Some nights she made a really good amount of money and she didn’t feel she did anything special. Other nights she would work her arse off and get not even a thanks for it.
Then there is the actual effort that goes into certain jobs. Most modern baristas (I’m looking at you Starbucks!) work in highly automated places that are “push button” driven. Even if your order is a little complicated – half skinny, soy latte with sugar free caramel and just a dash of nutmeg – it is not rocket science. Do you tip them at all or the same as the Hibachi chef making your shrimp dance on the grill while cooking right in front of you?
Here is my stance: wait staff should NOT be making less than living wage. Tips should NOT make up the bulk of the wage. If you are a small retail business and you can not handle paying your employees a living wage then maybe your business model needs an overhaul or you can ask your family to work for less than minimum wage. I, as a customer, do not appreciate having to pay 15% more for the food just because you can’t pay your employees. All restaurants, like hotels, should have to state on their menus that a “service charge” will be added to orders if tips are expected. If not, then there should also be a note indicating tips are not required.
I simply feel that it is time for tipping to end. Wage laws must change and they must stop penalizing servers and diners. Until the day comes with tips are no longer the norm, the power play between workers, employees and consumers will continue and eating out will not be fun. One of the silver linings of the pandemic for the consumer is that you are no longer sitting down in a restaurant so other than a service charge for the takeout a tip is not necessary or expected. I know the pandemic is KILLING the service industry but I’m strictly speaking as a consumer.