Discuss: Gratuities Encouraged

Jul 12, 2013

“How much do you tip?” is a question that never ceases to spark a lively debate.  But today’s post isn’t about how much you tip…it’s about whether tipping should exist at all.

In a recent Slate article, Brian Palmer argues that tipping and the morass of laws and regulations surrounding it have created a system that neither rewards quality service, nor pays restaurant employees a fair wage.  You see, most states allow restaurants and other establishments to pay tipped employees as little as $2.13 per hour, assuming that gratuities will make up the difference.  This is called “tip credit.”  But in some cases, the employees, particularly busboys and hostesses, aren’t making enough to reach minimum wage.

The author argues that we should abolish “tip credit” at the state and federal levels and require these employees to be paid at least minimum wage.  This way our tips will once again be gratuities, and not simply our duty as “co-employers” of the people who serve our food.

I found the article very interesting, especially in light of a conversation I recently had with my friend and former co-worker Virginia.  V’s new hair salon doesn’t allow employees to accept tips from customers, and she loves that she doesn’t have to worry about all the mental aggravation that comes with tipping.

Personally, I think a world without tipping wouldn’t be so bad.  It seems like everyone from tour bus drivers, to the person who delivers my Seamless orders, to the man who repairs my shoes expects a tip these days.  It doesn’t matter whether the service is good, mediocre or subpar, I’m expected to tip, and tip a “fair” amount, to avoid social stigma and keep the employees whose businesses I patronize happy.

In fact, two weeks ago, I went to a dry cleaner and noticed a brand new tip jar sitting on the counter.  And even though this isn’t an industry where tipping is the norm, the customers in front of me were dropping their change and their small bills into the jar.

So what do you ladies think: Would you prefer a world without tipping, where everyone from your hairdresser to your bartender makes an hourly or salaried wage sans gratuity?  Do you think there are some professions that should have tipping, and others that should not?  Or do you see tipping as a reward for good customer service?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.


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  1. Mags says:

    I hate tipping, with a passion. I rarely eat out or go out because of the expectation that I leave a tip with everything. (Admittedly being 24 and nearly broke makes it an easy decision)
    But I believe that when I’m paying $200 for my hair or $25 for a pedicure, the person providing the service is either setting their own price (hair) or getting paid at least minimum wage and usually more(nails)
    With restaurants it makes me even nuttier because I don’t think I should be responsible for tipping to make up for the fact that the restaurant doesn’t want to pay a living wage. I understand that they don’t but the European model of having the “tip” included makes so much more sense to me, a tip should be a reward for services above and beyond, not an expectation of someone already patronizing a business.

  2. Lady Lawyer says:

    I worked as a waitress all throughout college, and I can say firmly that if state and federal government did away with the “tip credit” and actually paid minimum wage, it would be a good thing.

    I think the idea of tipping is nice, but in practice, it’s become a hassle. I tip my servers well at restaurants (if they give good service) because I’ve been there. But for other services? I don’t always know what is appropriate or just skip it.

    It’s also not really the incentive for good service that it should be because it is simply expected.

  3. IRMcK says:

    I wait tables on the weekends. I have to say, even though I would make way, way less money if tipping were eliminated, it should be eliminated. I am benefiting from an extremely unfair system.

    I think giving money as an actual gratuity because someone did something really awesome or went the extra mile to help you has meaning, but I think otherwise, the tipping credit lets employers pass more labor costs to customers. I don’t actually make enough per hour to pay all the taxes on my tips (I claim all my tips). So, when you come into the restaurant, the price you pay for food and booze doesn’t actually pay me at all (until I bought a house, I owed the government money at the end of every year). So if you don’t tip, or you tip poorly, I’m working for you for free. It’s a terrible system… that currently provides a quarter of my income.

  4. MissK says:

    I echo the sentiment that a tip is a gratuity. I used to feel obligated to leave a tip everywhere that asked for one, and I’ve moved away from that in recent years. As someone who waited tables part time for several years, I had to work really hard to earn good tips; Keyword being earn. I try to apply the logic of hard work and high quality of service to tipping situations I encounter.

    I don’t feel like I should have to leave a 15% tip for someone who just went through the motions of their job, whatever that might be.

  5. Liz F says:

    There was a great Freakonomics podcast done on the idea of banning tips that I found fascinating:

  6. Christina says:

    Enough with all the tips! I am a very generous restaurant tipper, but outside of that, I wish people would stop expecting to get more money just for doing their job. I have no problem tipping when people go above and beyond, but I’m getting a little tired of the expected tip for mediocre service.

  7. Ashley says:

    I would prefer a world without tipping because, if for nothing else, the rules for tipping are always changing (i.e. who do I tip? how much do I tip?)

    I think tipping has become second nature to customers – we tip regardless if the customer service was good or not.

    • Ashley says:

      And I don’t think restaurants should be able to automatically add on the tip just because I have a large party!

      • Crystal says:

        Generally, I disagree. If you have terrible service, you can always speak with the manager and, almost always, the automatic gratuity will be removed.

        For those of us who’ve waited tables, the automatic gratuity–often 15% or 18%–is frequently lower than we would make with slightly generous guests. On the other hand, especially with larger parties (12+), I’ve also seen the table leave *one dollar* tip to cover the entire check. So with a presumably larger bill, the automatic gratuity helps ensure that the server, or servers, don’t get left with an unfairly low tip.

        For larger parties, especially those in the 20+ range, servers often put it in a lot of effort that you don’t recognize, from setting up and tearing down the space to laying out your drinks beforehand and preparing, at times, dozens and dozens of individual checks (and change/credit card slips!). The servers are also potentially coordinating dozens of meals with the back-of-the-house, in an attempt to have every appetizer/salad/entree/dessert come out hot and perfectly timed, all while keeping everyone’s drinks full and taking care of whatever whims the customers may have. Having worked and co-worked 40-person parties, it can be a nightmare. And remember, all that setup and tear-down time, not to mention the time it took to empty and keep clear the adjacent tables (or sometimes an entire room), is time the server is making $2.13 an hour, no tips. And, as others have mentioned, the servers are likely tipping out to the bar and bussers, and sometimes even the hostesses, regardless of how much tip is given (automatic or otherwise).

        So again, if servers made at least minimum wage and larger parties paid a room reservation/cleanup fee? No problem, skip the automatic gratuity. We’d all probably be happier. But as things stand, no, automatically paying 15-20% shouldn’t be such a burden, and if it is, take it up with the manager.

        • G says:

          But (assuming for a moment everyone is paid the min wage because not doing so in supposedly developed country is a despicable premise) if my party of 20 comes to a restaurant that’s 20 guaranteed customers. I don’t expect to be charged more for the privilege of providing a large group of customers.

          In the same way If I called a number of boutique shops and enquirer about bringing a large group of customers I wouldn’t expect the cost to rise 20% to cover the cost of service. That’s a business cost the company should cover regardless of my (and the group) presence.

  8. Liz says:

    I hate tipping – though I typically leave 15-20% at restaurants – I get that. I pay for my food, I tip for the service of them bringing it to me and keeping everything neat and tidy. I have a big problem with tipping my hairdresses though in particular. Love him, have gone to him for years, but if what you charge me for the cut isn’t enough to cover your (minimal) overhead and still profit, raise your prices!

  9. JP says:

    Couldn’t agree more! Do away with tipping. I am especially frustrated by the additional expectations…and I think it only feeds into the this paralyzing attitude from society these days: people come to EXPECT things without having to EARN things. Ugh!

    • Kate says:

      I don’t think it’s necessarily the wait staff that expects things they don’t earn, though. If they work an hour, they should legally be paid at lease minimum wage. They earned that. The problem is with restaurants who expect customers to subsidize their employee’s pay. I’d rather pay more for my meal and know that waitstaff are being fairly paid, rather than restaurants shirking their duty to do that.

  10. Clementine says:

    Having waitressed previously, I definitely made way above minimum wage overall. I do believe that the minimum wage for tipped employees should be higher although I will stop short of saying it must be the same as the standard minimum wage.

    Regarding the obsessive tipping nature that now seems to come with so many other things- am I the only one getting an overwhelming case of tipping anxiety? I have a system where it comes to tipping the ‘standard’ categories (restaurants, bars, salons, spa services, etc.), but every so often I find out that there’s someone I’m supposed to be tipping who I’m not. I’m at the point where I just go with my gut.

    Christmas/Holiday tips are the absolute hardest to figure out- I tend to give out a combination of cash and small gift cards to a coffee place.

  11. Katie says:

    I’m from Las Vegas, which is a city where you tip pretty much everyone, so I’m used to it. I think my problem is that I very rarely have cash on me, and in states like Virginia where you can’t add a tip to a credit card at hair and nail salons, tipping has really become a pain in the ass. What’s up with that law?

    • Jenn L. says:

      That isn’t exclusively VA – that is the merchant or business owner not wanting to pay more for that ability.

      • AJB says:

        I also think it has something to do with not having to “declare” cash tips for tax purposes. A salon, business, etc. has no choice but to declare tips via debit/credit card, but cash tips provide a tax “loophole”, if you will.

  12. Lauren S says:

    I currently work as a waitress part time and have so for the past 10 years. I work hard to give great service and earn a good tip. I don’t appreciate having to reward subpar service when I am out spending my hard earned money.

    One thing most people don’t realize is when you don’t tip me it actually just cost me to wait on you. I only make 2.13 per hour (which doesn’t cover my taxes) and I have to tip out the bar/bus/expo whether you tip me well or not. I’m not talking about instances of me giving horrible service. I’m talking about high school kids/lower class people talking to each other about not having enough to pay the bill as I’m walking away.

    If tipping were to be done away with menu prices would increase to cover the cost of paying the employees higher wages. I think there would be a significant backlash from consumers.

    • Ginger R. says:

      That’s what I think makes tipping a farce. If I’m unhappy with the waitress, say my water never came, is it because she didn’t do it, or did one of the half a dozen helpers was checking their texts instead of doing water? If I don’t tip generously I feel like I short the entire group, but maybe it was just one person.
      If my stylist brings a helper to blow dry my hair because she’s got someone else waiting for color, why should I have to tip the blowout girl? The stylist is double booking.

      • Julie says:

        I definitely agree with the hair salon thing. Once at a salon that was already charging me $65 for a basic haircut tried to charge me a $15 fee for the extra blowout girl that was “needed” because my hair was so long even though I had asked that they not blow dry my hair because I didn’t have time. (They also asked if I wanted to leave an additional tip for the hairdresser). Ridiculous

  13. Jenn L. says:

    I’ve waited tables. My mom waited tables damn near my whole life, and supported us on that when dad was out of work. I think that servers should make at least minimum wage + tips. I haven’t heard of hostesses or busboys who make the “tip credit” wage of 2.13/hr. I still think tipping can be a thing for them, but a legitimate gratuity – when you are free from the stress of, “Oh god am I going to make enough this evening to cover bills,” you are a happier person, and you give your customers better service, etc. That said, since we all know that’s how serving works, tip accordingly. The server serves you, not the restaurant (helloooo, take out). Also, because of my experience and my mom’s experience, I tip accordingly. If you do a shitty job and are ignoring me, your tip sucks (and yes – you can tell the difference between simply stretched too thin and negligence).

    And I do tip food delivery drivers because they face the same shit as servers – not AS low as 2.13 usually, but still. But I don’t top 20% on those – sorry, not many opportunities to go above and beyond.

    That said, I don’t always know where else to tip. I do know that tip jars popping up in places like dry cleaners, Subway, Brusters, etc. are absolutely obnoxious and rude – and I will not tip them. I’ll tip at a coffee shop if the barista takes care of me, but Subway? Really? That doesn’t require skill, and I haven’t been to one that went above and beyond. Next you’ll see tip jars at McDonald’s or on retail counters. Pardon my french, but fuck that.

  14. Nancy says:

    Fed and state tipping credits should be eliminated… and other businesses should remove tip jars.
    Even as someone who waitressed her way through through college (and based on my tips, earned more than a minimum wage), I would still do away with them. Tipping should be To Insure Prompt Service and optional on the part of the tipper. If a server (and the busboys) earn at least gov’t mandated minimum wage, then tipping will truly become reflective of excellent performance.
    For those customer service jobs where workers are already paying at least minimim wage there should be no tip jars. You are being paid to provide customer service. If the employee needs to be ‘encouraged’ to perform his job by the incentive of potential tips – this is not an employee I think an employer should keep.

  15. Cynthia W says:

    I wish that they’d do away with tipping all around – I’d rather that they just raised prices a corresponding amount and paid their employees.

    My stepmom waited tables and I always tip well for waitstaff, hairdresser, nail salon, etc. But all these tip jars are just crazy – as far as I know, Starbucks pays above minimum wage and they have decent benefits – why should I have to tip on top of that?

  16. Laura says:

    I was recently in Europe and tipping was much less common (although creeping in thanks to tourists) and it was really refreshing. I feel for US food service workers who have to deal with the whole ‘below minimum wage because you get tipped’ nonsense – when was the last time you didn’t tip at a restaurant? It’s not exactly an optional gratuity anymore. Just charge a bit more and pay your workers decently. Places like the hair salon or the coffee shop – please, just charge what you need to charge to make a decent profit and pay your employees well, and either I will go there or I won’t. Don’t make me have to do all these mental gyrations and keep cash around just so I can tip appropriately (the salons that insist on cash-only tips really get on my nerves, not just because it’s inconvenient, but because the only reason they insist on it is so that it’s easier for them not to report tips accurately on their taxes).

    • cbon says:

      Actually it is because often the salons (and even restaurant owners) deduct the swipe fees from the credit card transaction from the tips. Since those fees can be up to 4%. That gives to a bank a significant chunk out of what you intended to tip your service provider.

      • Cynthia W says:

        The salon that I go to charges my stylist 5% to process credit card transactions – for awhile, she and the other stylists (who are independent contractors at the salon) were using their iPhone and the Square gadget to process charges, because they were only charged 2.5%.

        Then the salon told them they HAD to use their service, so I try to pay my stylist by check or cash now – but I hate it because I miss out on my credit card points, so I end up just tipping heavier to make up for the shortfall.

  17. M says:

    In Central America tipping is not the custom. While I lived there it took me a while to get used to not tipping my cab drivers, waiters, hair dressers, literally you tip no one. Since I’m from the States sometimes the taxi drivers would be surprised I didn’t give the extra tip, but were never offended – so something to keep in mind if you head to Central America – the wages include the tips for them. If you have EXCEPTIONAL service, you tip.

    The no tip culture was totally fine in some countries in Central America (Costa Rica) and service was fine. However, in Panama I would regularly have problems with waiters messing up my orders and then informing me it was MY fault and not wanting to correct the problem.

    I don’t have a huge opinion on this matter, but I do think that tipping does encourage better service. That being said, tipping our dry cleaners???? There must be a line.

  18. Anna says:

    I have no problem tipping wait staff, since I know they get paid very little and their income depends on the quality of their service (not that I like this system). What I can’t stand though is paying for already costly services. Why should I tip on a $75 haircut? And are the 15 mins spent on a bikini wax really worth more than the $50 I just paid. Ultimately, I tip because it’s expected and I don’t want them to remember me as the non-tipper next time I visit.

  19. Alex says:

    After living in London for the past year, I’m fully in favor of tipping and was thrilled to come back to the US and go to an American restaurant with *real* service. In the UK, they rarely, if ever, tip, and it is not expected. Staff are slow and never check to see if you want or need anything while you wait or eat. It’s awful. Although like your dry cleaners example, there are certainly some industries in the US (those who aren’t paid below minimum wage) who do not need to be tipped, I greatly appreciate and enjoy restaurants and bars much more after returning to the US from abroad.I normally tip 20%+ for good service, and 15% for mediocre or below.

    • Anon says:

      Really? A WHOLE year? I am so sorry that you had to put up with that – but not as sorry as I am that London had to put up with you. Your comment is factually incorrect and without even the mitigation of “in my experience” (“they” do tip – but it is not mandatory regardless of service, as in the US; and “they” have the same mix of good and bad service as anywhere else); and it is downright offiensive. In my experience, there are many delightful, courteous Americans – but some are just rude, arrogant jerks.

  20. Virginia says:

    Just a note that the no-tipping salon is Casals De Spa and Salon in Clarendon. (Their website is underwhelming, use their yelp site for reviews and contact info.) I have been very happy with the service I’ve received there and everyone is really friendly.

  21. Katie says:

    I think it’s hilarious that people are simultaneously complaining about being obligated to tip at restaurants because they want to only tip for good service and then in the same breath complaining about tip jars at Starbucks.

    The tip jar at Starbucks is not a requirement. It’s a reward for good service. You know, the same system you want everyone else to enact.

    Also, I am totally for doing away with restaurant minimum wage and expected tipping. However, I find it disturbing that people think that raising everyone to $7.25 takes care of everything. Minimum wage is not a living wage. If you’re going to talk about the way employees are compensated, let’s make sure employees are able to live off of their compensation.

  22. SQC says:

    Just want to comment on why it’s important to tip hairstylists and spa workers, since I’ve seen some people questioning that. The money you pay for the service largely goes to the salon/spa. Hairstylists often make less than minimum wage, just like waiters. Sometimes they do make minimum wage, but they are skilled professionals who have gone to school for and developed their craft–they should make more than minimum wage. Their tips are the bulk of their income.

    I’m not sure if it’s necessary to tip a waxer or hairstylist who is self-employed. For them I do wonder if it’s necessary to tip or if they build the tip into the price of the service.

    • Anna says:

      But then it’s kind of messed up that you have to know how someone’s compensated in order to figure out whether to tip, rather than a tip just going to “above and beyond” service.

    • Cynthia W says:

      Well, I get my waxing done at a salon, so she isn’t self-employed. I’m not sure what I would do if the waxer was self-employed – I don’t even know how that would work. They’d own their own waxing salon.

      I have to say that I probably tip her even heavier than a food server or hair stylist just because of what she’s doing and where she’s doing it. Plus, she does a great job.

      • melissa says:

        the way that many salons work is that the stylist pays a fee to have their booth/section/what have you on the premises, but they often are actually self-employed.

        • Cynthia W says:

          I know that’s the case with my hair salon, but the waxer works at a waxing chain – do they work the same way? I guess that I have no idea, but I tip her, just like I tip my stylist and my manicurist.

          • melissa says:

            if it’s a chain, you’re probably right that she’s an employee of the store, and not self-employed. and i feel like as such, she probably deserves a tip more than a hairstylist, since the stylist has the freedom to set her own prices. this gal is probably not making all that much before tips.

  23. Rachel says:

    Do away with the tip credit AND minimum wage AND the culture of mandatory tipping. If the hourly wage isn’t high enough for you, decline the job. If it’s too low, the business will have no employees and will have to offer higher wages.

    Mandatory minimum wages just increase inflation or causes businesses to cut back on hiring. Let the market set the price of an hour’s work. This is basic economics.

    What is a living wage anyway – who decides the living standard? A waitress won’t and shouldn’t make the same amount of money as someone who is working 9-5 in the corporate world, regardless of how many “fairness” controls the government tries to mandate.

    I live in Las Vegas and I swear the inanimate litter on the sidewalk expects a tip out here. It’s insanity.

    • Anna says:

      A living wage isn’t arbitrarily calculated. It’s generally based on how much it costs to maintain the minimum standard of living (put a roof over your head and eat). I found this helpful: https://livingwage.mit.edu/

    • Julie says:

      You’re basing this on the premise that people can afford to turn down a minimum wage job to find a better paying one. People who work in the customer service industry are typically there because they need the money, or they will starve/be homeless. There will always be someone willing to work for whatever they can get.

    • Nancy says:

      Many people can’t afford to turn down a minimum wage job. If everyone turned down these jobs, we’d have no service employees, and it would impact everyone’s lives, including yours. Watch Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days Minimum wage episode. It will totally change your opinion on minimum wage jobs. Minimum wage is too low as it is.

  24. Emily Jo says:

    I have never worked in a job where tipping was the norm. I remember being constantly frustrated when I worked the front desk of a hotel and seeing every single other part of the hotel flaunting their tips, while I was the one who worked the hardest of all of them! (And yes, I started out as a maid and worked my way up the ladder.) Working a front desk at a busy hotel is NOT an easy job.

    I typically won’t tip well (or if the service is atrotious I won’t tip at all) unless I am impressed and the more I go along the less impressed I am with service.

    I work very hard for my living (two jobs, over 60 hours a week) and I am barely surviving at minimum wage! I would love if I could put a tip jar out, but that won’t solve the issue.

    In service industries, employers should have to pay minimum wage. Either that or their standards should be raised. Even then, some people either don’t tip, or don’t tip well.

    It’s a conundrum. One I’m not sure if I know how to fix, but something must be done.

    If I can’t buy groceries on minimuim wage, how are servers able to do so on 2.18 an hour?

    That said, every one of my friends who are servers make at least twice as much money as I do.

    Location, location, location!

  25. Jess says:

    I waited tables in college and can definitely appreciate the plight of those who work for tips. I worry that the only way people are encouraged to tip is because it is now mostly well known that servers don’t make minimum wage. I worry that if the minimum wage were increased then tipping would cease altogether and the over all wage for servers would decrease. Waiting tables, while hard work, is one of the few ways to earn a decent wage with a flexible schedule and is absolutely essential to many people especially students.

    On the other hand, I am very irritated about all the establishments (such as nail and hair salons) who expect a tip and don’t allow you to tip on a credit card. I rarely have cash and think it is pretty ridiculous that I should have to make a special trip to the ATM just so I can tip you.

  26. I’ve waited tables too, and what everyone seems to miss is that if someone doesn’t make minimum wage with their tips while waiting tables, the restaurant is required to bring their wages up to the minimum wage to be in compliance with the law–at least, that was the law in my state.

  27. Pancakes says:

    I hate the mandatory tipping culture. I feel obligated to tip at least 15% if the person did a mediocre, base-line job. Tips should be to reward great service, not someone who goes through the motions and is adequate.

  28. SC says:

    I’m very biased against mandatory tipping, though I admit this is because I was raised in eastern Asia where tipping traditionally is considered an insult to service/seen as a bribe. I do think all people should receive minimum wage for their work, and I’m angry at how the US food service industry is set up, not at the servers who may or may not make enough money.

    That being said, I try to always at least pay 15% tip, but 20% is stretching it for me at times. I don’t make much more than an entry-level staffer (I work in the private sector in a low paying field also in the DMV) and yes, occasionally I like to eat out. I save for this, and yes, sometimes an additional $5 on top of my meal and tip is too much to ask. I tip on the subtotal before tax – only recently have I seen places ask that you tip ON the tax included total. What the heck. That’s bilking me out of my money, which you may or may not “deserve.”

    There is one recent time where I paid 0% tip – if we’re going by “rewarding service.” I was at a TGIF with my younger sister, and our waitress introduced herself 30 minutes after we were seated, took us another 30 minutes to flag someone else down to even just get water, and then another 20 minutes for the waitress to show up again and take our orders. The best part? The place wasn’t even full.

  29. Shanycole says:

    Why do or should we tip our hair stylist and nail techs?

  30. Frank Robles says:

    Not taxing tips will not will not cause the financial collapse of our country. Wall Street and the Federal Government already have a monoply on that.

  31. Nancy says:

    I personally think tipping (besides at restaurants or valet) is extremely awkward. I never know when it’s appropriate or inappropriate to tip and how much is right. Even today, I went to a sushi restaurant with my friend. She got a lunch special, so her meal was about $15. I only got a California Roll, so the total bill was only $4.50. 20%, which is considered the appropriate/generous tip for a waiter, would only come out to 90 cents. I felt awkward tipping only 90 cents, but it is the standard 20% tip.

    So that leaves me to ask, should you always tip the standard 15-20%??

    • Cynthia W says:

      I think that it depends – in the case of table-service, I would always at least round up to the $1.00, but would probably tip $2. I’m guessing that they at least also brought you water, even if you didn’t order another drink.

      Plus, if it’s somewhere that I go frequently, I’m going to overtip on a small bill, so that they remember me as a good tipper.

  32. Karin says:

    I worked as a waitress in high school and all through college, so I am very familiar with the low/unpredictable wages that are associated with such jobs. That said, now I live in Belgium where tipping is uncommon. Service charges are included in the price of a meal — which makes eating out a bit more expensive, but alleviates the need to stress over how much to leave for a tip. I find this system much better for everyone involved — waiters are guaranteed to leave at the end of the day knowing how much they made and patrons know exactly how much the evening will cost.

    The only problem is that service suffers a bit. Even the best restaurants have waiters who seem a bit aloof, or act as if they’re doing you a favor to take your order or fulfill any special requests. There are also places with great service, of course, but sometimes it seems that they are few and far between.

    I’m not sure when tipping became mandatory for nearly every service position, but I think the problem lays in the underlying practice of not paying living wages. In Belgium the minimum wage is nearly $11/hour (for those over 21), coupled with social benefits like healthcare and public transport costs. Tipping in the US feels mandatory because you know the waitress depends on the tips to earn a living and not tipping is socially unacceptable because it’s seen as a tacit form of stealing. Take that away and most people will stop tipping because they won’t have to — period.

  33. Amy Marie says:

    I’m totally on board with tipping being a gratuity–I don’t leave my normally overly-generous tip when the service is crappy. I can’t remember the last time I declined to leave a tip–my tolerance for BS is pretty high, I guess–but I still view it as a reward for great service. I also agree with the commenter above who mentioned that tipping *feels* mandatory. Someone please explain to me the tip jars at the local Subway. (I know, I know, Subway is DISGUSTING. We all have our vices, and this one is mine.)

    My wonderful stylist works in a salon where tipping is anonymous, and cash- or check-only. Each stylist has envelopes and a little drop box where you can put your tip. I love this system. Not only do I not get stared down when I sign the credit slip, I can truly make it a gratuity without having to worry about anyone seeing what I’ve chosen to give.

  34. Charleigh says:

    I’ve worked in the service industry s having all that tip money coming in is nice, but I prefer the European method where the salary is built in and patrons only leave a Euro or a pound on the table as a gesture if they liked the service. When I was traveling, when wait staff were especially nice to me, gave me advice on where to go/stay or were on top of their game, I left a pound or Euro on the table. Here, it doesn’t matter how fast, slow, indifferent they are, you have to tip and you feel incredibly guilty if you don’t. Across the pond, being a waiter can be a career, not just something poor college students do because it pays the bills but they’ll move on as soon as they find something better. The standard it is now just perpetuates inequality.

  35. Kit says:

    In Australia, tipping simply isn’t part of our culture. It was always assumed when I worked in retail that we would give good service because we wanted the business to be successful and competitive, not because we were trying to earn a tip. At restaurants, we usually round up the bill by a few dollars if we’ve enjoyed the food and the service has been good, but no-one expects the tip.

  36. Rebecca says:

    I have to say, when I lived in Canada and visited the States, in general the customer service was miles ahead of what you get in NZ and Australia. Waitstaff at places as basic and humble as Dennys gave exemplary customer service, and shop workers were smiley, friendly, welcoming and attentive… compared to NZ and Australia where you are lucky to get a glance letalone a ‘let me know if you need anything’. I never minded tipping because I was definitely getting the service and the price of the food/drink/etc was lower. Coming home to NZ the service most places is neglectful and minimal, yet prices are high (eg paying $18 for a cocktail or $9 for a standard tap beer, $24 for a breakfast or $35 for a main meal at an average-priced restaurant). In some ways I wish we did have a tipping culture so at least we could go out and be treated to a nice occasion! I think there should be a reasonable minimum wage in the US though, its shocking to think they only get $2-3 an hour before tips.

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