Very few people in the US are going to admire a principled stance you take against tipping. The moral of the opening breakfast scene in Reservoir Dogs was not that Steve Buscemi was a smart and principled dude. Harvey Keitel was the one you were expected to admire in that scene.
A very easy, relatively pleasant way to get through life in the US if you're well-off enough that you routinely buy coffee in expensive coffee shops: just always tip. Anywhere there's a tip line. You never have to figure anything out, and sometimes people really appreciate it.
The entire burden of compensating them is on me either way, isn't it? The employer doesn't pay the employee out of his own money. He pays it out of the money that comes from customers.
The question is simply the route. Either I pay $4 for a muffin, and all of it goes to the employer before any reaches the employee, or I pay $3 for the muffin to the employer, some of which gets passed on to the employee, and $1 directly to the employee.
Tipping complicates things. That's why I don't like it. Not only does it reintroduce math, but it also introduces complexity in my relationships with every server of every kind. Did I tip enough? Did I tip enough in his opinion? Did I need to tip that guy that did that little thing? Do they hate me now? Will they do something to my food? Will they slack off next time, out of resentment? These are not things I need to be thinking about after every transaction.
Down with all tipping! And daylight savings time! I don't know why, but in my heart they are connected. And maybe I'm finally ready to adopt the metric system.
And then people that should be tipped, aren't. I'm thinking about a helpful secretary at work that moves calendar entries around to get you a meeting with a high level manager, or a nurse working a double shift in the emergency room easing the pain of your kid's broken arm.
Sell a $4 muffin without tips, and you might lose business for being seen as "too expensive". Even if everyone always spent $4 anyway when you consider tips.
My favorite brand of fish fillets no longer come with packets of tartar sauce, because $8 for a box of breaded fish was seen as too expensive and they didn't sell well. So now the box is $6.25 and they have a display of little tartar sauce bottles for $1.75 next to the freezer. Sales more than tripled, or so claims my grocer.
I agree with you overall, and I don't think the psychological trick of dividing up the cost is a good reason to keep tipping going. Just mentioning it as a reason that seems to exist.
First, it allows businesses to advertise lower prices than consumers will need to bear. It's similar to the American habit of adding sales tax at the point of sale instead of including it in the posted price that way. And because, as a species, we're prone to anchoring effects that causes us to systematically underestimate what the final total will be. That's pretty good for proprietors of service sector businesses, but probably slightly bad for the economy as a whole.
Second, it allows those proprietors to price discriminate a little bit (because price sensitive customers will sometimes buy the service but not tip) while pushing the downside risk off onto their employees.
And that's not even touching the way tips allow customers to de facto discriminate against staff (conventionally attractive people get more tips), or staff against customers ("black people don't tip"), in ways that would be anywhere from suspicious to downright scandalous if they were implemented more formally.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't tip well. You absolutely should, as service workers depend on tips to be fairly compensated for their labor. But tips are a bad idea and there's plenty of reasons beyond social awkwardness to wish they would go away.
That sounds true in principle, but your ignoring the commision aspect of the service. In the tipping model, a very efficient server could, say, serve 100 miffins/hr and be tipped 20% each accordingly. A fast, but rude server could serve 100 muffins, but perhaps get 0-10% tip each sale. A slow, but polite server may only serve 50 muffins, but garner 20% tip each.
If you simply jack the muffin price up and distribute equally among all servers, as you suggest, then there is no incentive to perform above average - no lesson learned for lackluster performance.
Personally, I tip anywhere between 15 - 30%, understanding that this is part of the servers anticipated income. If service is bad enough for me to want to tip 0%, then I either leave before I place an order, or I tip 15% then don't go back then write a negative Yelp review to warn others.
And the idea that eliminating tips would be "jacking up" prices is exactly the line of faulty reasoning that tips are designed to exploit. The muffin already costs 20% more than the number on the little plaque in front of it claims. Without tips the same amount of money would leave the customer's pocket and the employer and employee would still ultimately split the proceeds from that sale the same way. No prices actually change, but the numbers become a lot more honest and simpler for all parties to reason about.
The truth is vendors don't want prices to be simple to reason about because when they're difficult to reason about the other actors in the system will, on average, tend to make mistakes of reasoning in the vendor's favor.
Well, sure, in some world where tipping actually reflects service and politeness alone, rather than being significantly determined by gender, race, and attractiveness.
> If you simply jack the muffin price up and distribute equally among all servers, as you suggest, then there is no incentive to perform above average - no lesson learned for lackluster performance.
Sure there is, employers can monitor performance and use pay incentives (and punitive disincentives, including termination.)
Employers of workers in customer service jobs in industries that aren't typically tipped do this (and even in tipped industries, they do some monitoring and at least the negative incentives.)
This seems like a weird argument. Do the customers get no say in whether or not they want muffins?
You seem to be implying that a person behind a counter selling muffins is able to alter dramatically the demand for muffins by being efficient.
Most cafes or stores that I see are basically waiting for customers or have only a couple of customers, nowhere near reaching the limits of how fast a worker can throw muffins at them.
I realize you're only using muffins as an example but it's the same with most food places I see.
How is it then that non-tipped employees have incentive to perform above average, or learn lessons from lackluster performance?
No matter - do away with tips. I will continue to tip voluntarily and I garuntee I will recieve superior service from appreciative staff.
Tipping voluntarily as you say is just building up a relationship with money. Neither unique nor special, but it's not exactly what's being discussed here.
This echoes the sentiment that 'if you can't afford to pay a X% tip, you can't afford to buy the product'. Problem is that it seems to keep going up. It use to be 10, then 15, now it is closing in on 20 and in some areas 22 seems to be the expected. How far does this logic extend? If you can't afford to tip 50% then you can't afford it?
My preferred reaction has been to begin avoiding places where tipping is an option.
As far as I can tell most servers like tips because it lets them earn much more money than minimum wage.
Also, nowadays it's quite easy to get a message out to a huge audience. I'd certainly boycott any place that were so horribly mistreating its employees.
The almost daily litany of posts of "my employer is doing (list of highly illegal things involving wages), what should I do" will be a pretty big wakeup call for you. And if you think "well they can just sue" is an easy answer, remember employees who are identifiable as the source of wage complaints are at risk of being fired. That's illegal, too, but do you really think an employer who's already breaking labor laws will be scrupulous about not retaliating?
Also, these folks will really open your eyes (click through to the full report linked at the bottom):
Their data (2012) showed that the amount recovered from wage claims against US employers was three times the dollar value of all robberies in the US combined. Just the amount recovered; the amount actually owed but not paid is likely to be larger.
Then get ready to boycott 80% of restaurants in North America. It's a hugely abusive industry
Expected tip is definitely going up.
Restaurant owners NEVER say "Oh look, expectation for tipping in the general public is up 5% this year, let's cut down our menu prices to balance this out."
I don't know what logic is behind your statement - could you please elaborate?
> Restaurant owners NEVER say "Oh look, expectation for tipping in the general public is up 5% this year, let's cut down our menu prices to balance this out."
What they do is take advantage of their ability to cut server pay instead of increasing menu prices, when that is possible. And higher tips make more of that possible.
Are you saying that restaurant owners are charging the same amount that they would if tips were 10% lower? Because I'm pretty sure margins are low enough to make that impossible.
The BLS stats have it at $10/hour or $20k per year:
There are some people who are well paid but they’re generally in expensive areas and there aren’t very many of them. It’s like looking at Waymo engineers and making a general statement about software developer income country-wide.
The other problem is that where you say “can’t” is often “shouldn’t but do anyway”. It’s not hard to find people complaining about owners illegally taking some portion tip income, shifting expenses to workers, or otherwise lowering the effective income for what is already not an easy job.
I usually trust the BLS numbers, but in this instance I think they might be off. They collects numbers from corporations, who can usually just report salary. But with heavily tipped positions they don't know how much the waiters earn except how much they declare for tax purposes as the end of their shift. And all my waiter friends who were making 15-20/hr were reporting $10/hr.(Almost all credit card tips).
This is similar to being a delivery driver, everyone was making $20/hr but the ledgers all said we were making 10.
They know that their customers judge the night based on total cost, which includes tips and taxes. That's why restaurant owners tend to be so militant about local meals taxes.
Restaurant owners do not ignore tips when setting prices, or when setting wages. It's kind of nuts to think that they would.
I'd actually say it wasn't complicated, until technology like this made the experience awful. Before this tech existed, I don't ever recall being verbally asked for a tip, and if I had I would have thought it to be the height of rudeness. I certainly don't ever recall being asked for a tip while the machine then broadcasts your tipped amount to everyone else in line behind you.
I get your overall point that tipping is a way to make extremely low-wage jobs slightly more bearable, but I'm fine with people pointing out how this technology is ridiculous and not a good thing.
Don't even get me started on the fact that the purpose of tipping is to reward service after you have received it.
What about haircuts, yard work, and any other often-tipped service profession? "How much would you like me to charge your card?" is, and always was in my experience, super common in those areas--and that's the same thing as asking for a tip.
Hell, if you pay cash at a restaurant, "do you want change for that?" is similar.
I think it has always been more or less that way, and that's fine. A button on a screen or a coded question aren't much different if you're paying attention, and not having to do the annoying indirect-etiquette game probably makes life easier/less awkward for people receiving tips.
I've paid cash at plenty of sit down restaurants and never had that question. Almost invariably, when the cash presented exceeds the bill when the server picks it up (instead of leaving a tip separately after paying the bill), the server will say something like “I’ll be right back with your change” in exactly the same way they’ll say “I'll be right back with your drinks” when you've ordered them. Now, this certainly provides an opportunity to decline (or to make specific requests for how the change should be provided, as may be necessary to leave the exact tip you want), but it's not asking that.
However it frustrates me to no end, that customers are expected to do compensation sharing with the employer. The nefarious thing about this is that the employer has put the negotiating for fair wages between the customer and employees instead of between the employees and the employer.
End of the day its manageable as you say, just price in the tip - however I prefer places that have it priced in (same goes for tax).
Either way, tipping is not an elaborate conspiracy. It might have been long ago, but today, it's just the way service work in the US is organized. If you want to crusade against the injustice of it, that's fine! But make sure your crusade is orthogonal to whether or not you actually tip. :)
Neither good nor bad.
> In a tipping system, when things are going well, everyone tips; if things aren't going so well, not so much. There's some wiggle room between the list price and the actual price, which might offset price stickiness.
That's terrible! Instead of the burden being spread around, the restaurant still makes money and the employee doesn't!
The market is efficient... eventually.
Is this not true with every company in every industry? Pay is a major reason why people leave a job for another. If an employer is struggling to find labor at a low ball price, they will raise their offer.
That assertion comes out of nowhere...
A debate, perhaps worth having. Meanwhile your server makes less than minimum wage because tips are expected to fill in the gap. A while back it was $2.13 an hour. Not giving him a tip is only going to ruin his day, not start a revolution. As of right now, the chicken dish cost $16 plus an unofficial but expected 15-20% tip. Do you have the roughly $20? if not, grab a few slices of pizza.
Edit: I don't tip 20% when I grab a coffee at Dunkin. Oh no. Maybe leave them the loose change.
Why not? Not a critique, just curious about your rationale when you note that "tips are expected to fill in the gap".
However in regards to Dunkin Donuts, I'm not sure the employees can even accept or keep any tips themselves. Maybe a Dunkin Donuts regular can comment whether they can accept tips; many franchise restaurants have a no tipping policy.
At least at some Dunkins, employees split tips among everyone working, but it stays with the employees.
McDonalds and certainly Subway are more effort to the staff than passing over a pre-packed muffin in a coffee shop.
It's not a "tip". It's an expected (and the expectation is in law, as evidenced by the lower minimum wage) part of the employee's salary.
This is a really bad system, (as David MItchell would say, it's a tax on conscience), but it's the system the US has. It's very different from almost all of the rest of the world where a tip really is a tip intended to reward good service.
In practice this is unlikely, but it’s still the legal requirement.
A tip, in the classical sense, is expected to be something that the person you're tipping gets to keep in addition to their wage.
A minimum wage isn't supposed to guarantee a minimum level of welfare (that's what direct-transfer welfare programs are for); it's supposed to guarantee a minimum proportion between labor-in and compensation-out.
In fact, think of the alternative case: it would piss most people off to realize that giving $20 to a person on welfare, means that—if the recipient is honest—the government will subtract that same amount from their welfare check for that month.
That's the way that system is supposed to work, and people still find it unjust. So why don't they find it unjust when it's a system (minimum wage) that's not supposed to keep people "at level", but rather to increase their compensation as they provide more labor?
One of my biggest hesitations with tipping in places where it is unexpected, like a muffin shop in the OP, is whether the tip goes straight to the employee whose performance I tipped for, split among all staff indiscriminately, or more sinister straight to the employer.
By that logic, tipping is not an expectation since the law says that if the tips do not equal enough to bring the worker's earning up to the minimum wage limit, then the employer has to pay them the actual minimum wage and not the tipping minimum wage.
Many employers will not follow the law, but the solution to that is to punish the employers and empower and incentive the employees to seek out enforcement of the law.
Well, one could argue that this is effectively NOT making you feel better, quite the opposite. Empathy is what makes people feel better. So to counter-argue your point, tipping someone despite the fact you may have negative feelings about their service or judge incompetent, is empathy.
As a native French/European person, I've always thought of tipping as counter-intuitive, i.e. "why is the tip not included?". But after a few years in the U.S., I realized that this is actually a small gesture of appreciation that -- even if insignificant because so normalized -- will make the person serving you feel a little better about their job and themselves.
For that reason, I am now on the "always tip" camp.
What is it that makes restaurant and bar staff special?
But practically, certain customers end up paying a larger share of the service worker's take home pay. Dynamic pricing based on customer's willingness/ability to pay is an interesting pricing model, but in this case the risk is entirely on the service worker who hopes enough people pay sufficient tips.
Well, unless you are the next person in line who hadn't planned on leaving a tip and now feels guilty/obligated because the person in front of them put down a large tip right in front of the cashier.
My hope is that there will be sufficient political and societal will to expect employers to pay their employees a comfortable wage, and for everyone irrespective of whether or not they are an employer, employee, or self-employed to pay 100% of the taxes they owe without resorting to de jure or de facto loopholes or having an unreasonably high tax burden.
350 comments and heated discussions, embarrassing anecdotes about tipping (or not tipping) in the US, claims of tips creep from 10% to 20% and from full seated meals to coffee on the go, complaints of moral blackmail and peer pressure. Aren't all these already strong enough indications that the tipping system is bad and doesn't work? Isn't the fact that it doesn't exist almost anywhere else a proof that it's completely unnecessary?
Well, it's been too complicated for me because the comments in this thread show I've been doing it wrong.
For example, I sometimes picked up "to go" orders from Chili's restaurant. In my mind, if I sat down to eat, I tipped the server. On the other hand, if I phoned in an order and picked it up, I didn't tip. Yes, I noticed that for pickup orders, the credit-card slip had an extra line to write in a "tip" but I just ignored it because my programming brain just assumed that tipping line is printed by the point-of-sale software regardless of sit down or take out service. (The POS programmer didn't bother to code the conditional IF(ORDER_TYPE==DINE_IN) PRINT "tip: ___")
A few decades ago when I worked in a restaurant and manned the cash register for take out orders, I did not expect tips when handing a customer a bag of food. That is the experience and decision tree I used when I myself became a customer for pick up orders. Therefore, the logical tip amount for takeout orders was $0.00.
However, this thread says I've been "stiffing" workers. I think times have changed!
EDIT ADD: The replies that further refined this specific restaurant example and I appreciate that but that's not really what I was trying to discuss. Let me try state my conundrum another way: I was exploring the generalized philosophical point about where the genesis of a particular tipping expectation comes from. The question is... do _new_ valid tipping scenarios legitimately come from software programmers modifying point-of-sale software to add a line that says "TIP:____"?
To make up an example, today when we go to get eyeglasses, the optician (or salesperson) will help pick out different frames, adjust and bend the frame for fit, clean it with a cloth, etc. Basically a bunch of "service" type of actions for the customer. Today, we do not tip this worker. However, if the POS software at Pearle Vision or Eyemasters starts printing out "TIP:___" on the credit-card receipts, does this, in itself, begin a new social more that compels us tip opticians? Would we then be debating in 5 years that we're "stiffing" opticians if we don't tip them even if some of us grew up without ever tipping opticians? Those are genuine questions and I don't know the answer.
I didn't tip the takeout cashier because I thought life experience with proper tipping etiquette was the proper guide and therefore, it's not dictated by the "TIP:___" text on a credit-card receipt. Many in this thread say that's wrong so I to re-evaluate this.
It's next to impossible to get enough small bills to cover all the tipping you need to do on a vacation, between hotels and taxis, and other incidentals. ATMs typically spit out the local equivalent of USD$20s if you're lucky; US$100s if you're not. Who's going to make change for that?
At home this is less of a problem because (a) I don't have as many things to tip for, and (b) I have had time to save up small bills for tipping. But when first thrust into a foreign country you need to be PREPARED.
I've spent about six months in the USA, mostly on family holidays and business travel, and never knew it was expected to tip housekeeping.
Pay the staff a decent wage, or at least a fair wage, then charge me accordingly.
How do I put a tip on my work expenses?
EDIT: I was wrong
Being UKian I didn't even know that this was a concept.
The hotel advertises a per-night fee, I pay it on departure.
Still felt bad when I checked out and still didn't have anything to leave.
That’s not any different than pizza delivery drivers, waiters, or car wash employees.
In any case, yeah, tipping your housekeeper is a common thing. Maybe not as common as I thought.
That is making a lot of mistaken assumptions about how restaurant service works. I can only speak for myself and former colleagues, but very often increases in takeout orders correlated with fewer in-house patrons. Whether that was because Foodler was running a promotion, people who came in to sit down got discouraged by the sight of all the takeout business or what, I don't know.
Even if that correlation is invalid, it's not like restaurant workers are able to go and get tips from a thronging mass of people when you pick up takeout--we might be sitting on our hands earning nothing while we wait for tables to turn up. We're definitely not making the money "back" in some other way when you order takeout.
The front of the house should be staffed appropriately based on the dine-in load, and the back of house should be staffed appropriately for the full cooking load. I don’t tip the front of house to hand me a bag. The hostess probably isn’t sharing the tips at most places anyway!
If your manager is running a take-out only promo that bombs the dine-in business, they should be running dine-in only promos to balance it out. I think your gripe is with the manager not the customers!
The explanation made sense to me though: The same waiter that waits tables has to package your food for you. Obviously it doesn't take as much of their time as people who sit down to eat so you tip less, but you're still using their time that would otherwise have been spent on people sitting at the restaurant.
Of course I wish we could just get rid of tipping by increasing the costs of the goods and paying them higher.
Ehmm, yeah it is. Other than the very well established rules for dinning in a restaurant, where one is expected to leave a tip of around 20%, all other situations are fuzzy.
Look at the replies in this thread. Everybody has their own rules about when, where and how much to tip.
I get your point, and agree, that it not really about rewarding exceptional service, but this doesn't make it less complicated.
And not many years ago that was 15%, and very recently it had settled around 18%, but, yeah, people are starting to throw around 20% as the baseline now. So, to call the rules even there “well-established” is...less than accurate.
Now it seems like 15% is what you give for truly bad service.
I think this thread (and similar threads every time the topic comes up) kid of puts that claim to sleep.
It'd just be so much easier if it was already included in the price.
It depends what your principles are. Only in very rare cases do I tip less than 20% in traditional tip settings (restaurants and bars). But this iPad tipping is young enough that 1) you're not a jerk for not doing it and 2) we as a society have a very reasonable chance of winning this war.
This is not to justify abstaining from tipping in the seven "full-minimum-wage" states. This is merely to provide some quantitative clarification of "being asked to share with a service worker's employer some of the burden of compensating them".
To me, these tip requests deserve as much respect as the old inner city window washer routines. They are insulting and show a complete lack of respect for the customer who chose your shop to spend their time and money.
 Edit: or any aggressive panhandling.
Or were you just intending a pre-emptive general critique of the three people who might use this story to advocate tipping 0% for table service? I think that might merit waiting for the one thread it happens in.
(20% on a muffin is like 80 cents, by the way).
First, they make the experience more closely resemble tipping at a restaurant. Since etiquette fundamentally relies on on implications and expectations, that’s a lot more significant than it would be in other contexts. It creates a real suggestion that you should consider 15-20% mandatory, just as in restaurants.
Second, they force you to make an explicit choice: if you don’t want to tip, you have to actively press a “No Tip” button. This makes it feel more like an active disservice to the worker, rather than just doing the normal thing – to you, and to anyone watching you. Consider if, hypothetically, the worker themselves asked you if you wanted to tip: it’d be very hard to say no to their face! Having a screen prompt you (while the worker may or may not look away) is much less extreme, but it’s still a shift in that direction, compared to an inert tip jar.
Personally, it just feels awkward to me. I don’t mind tipping in restaurants because there’s a clear protocol. I just have to imagine the prices are 20% higher than what’s printed on the menu. But asking for a tip in situations where no tip was previously expected seems almost… passive-aggressive, I guess? If you want to bump prices by 20%, go ahead, I won’t mind, probably won’t even notice. But don’t do what amounts to an optional 20% price increase, creating unnecessary decision and emotional fatigue for me when I’m just trying to make a simple purchase. That is: If I choose not to tip, I’ll feel guilty. If I choose to tip, I’ll feel worried that I overpaid. Both feelings will fade quickly, because the amount is small enough that it’s not really a big deal; but they still damage what should be a simple pleasant experience.
The countervailing force the iPad is addressing is the fact that customers aren't carrying cash anymore. Without the prompt, counter workers aren't going to get tipped at all.
For the reason I already gave: you can't seriously expect everyone to accede to every demand for paying 20% more. That's not an actual, practical decision theory.
"I can afford 80 cents" isn't responsive.
Then they came for the 20% at Ruth's Chris, and I did not speak out, for I had gotten tipsy on cabernet.
Then they came for the 20% at Olive Garden, and I did not speak out, for I thought the server was attractive.
Then they came for the 20% at Intelligentsia, and I did not speak out, for the creeping norm of paying 20% had been established.
They they came for 20% of my internal organs --- and there was nobody left to speak for me.
The point is that your purported, self-glorifying norm asks one to pay the default PoS tip of everyone who demands or might demand it in the future, to say "yes" to all of them. Counter purchases, grocery stores, fast food, whatever.
Could you maybe consider that there might be better and more practical heuristics?
I feel like tipping is perpetuating the asshole behavior of owners underpaying employees. I actually feel like I'm making the world a slightly worse place when I tip out of guilt or fear of judgment from those around me. But I clearly know I'm in the small minority with this view.
(Purely in the circumstances discussed here. For traditional full service settings, I'd call myself a generous tipper.)
I would argue you're making the world a slightly better place! Your decision to tip (or not) is vaaaaaastly more impactful to the employee on the receiving end than to tipping laws and culture in general.
Yes, the tipped minimum wage enables massive wage theft, etc, but your aggregate decisions about whether or not to tip have approximately zero effect on that.
My sister in law works at Starbucks. She’s a manager so she gets zero share of the tips, but for a busy Starbucks in an affluent area, tips work out to about $100 per week for someone working 35 hours.
Holidays are much higher. Some people will tip for the whole year effectively, putting $20 in the jar.
A lot of rough guesses in the math but $100/week looks like it would work out to 5% at most. Their store is definitely above average for daily revenue.
Most people are definitely not tipping 15% on that muffin.
Starbucks did add tipping to app orders, but it’s a bit more subtle. It’s not right there on the checkout screen before you even receive your items, for example.
"Just give money in every transaction that labels it a tip at PoS. What's the problem? Why do you have to think about whether the demand is merited? I can afford it, and I find it worthwhile to know I didn't break any rules."
Edit: I would say it is indeed unreasonable to expect people to increase payment on any good by 20% merely on the chance that they might be expected to -- few people can afford 20% slack on every purchase. Also, I only brought up VS because I'd seen you question the utility of the concept and this seemed illustrative.
Goods do fluctuate in price day-to-day, but in an uncorrelated fashion; that kind of fluctuation doesn't have the same effect since some are up and others down.
We can recycle that old campaign and put it to good use.
Edit: Also delivery although that is questionable with businesses that charge delivery fees whether or not they go to the driver.
I'd add that if you make 6x or more than the average barista that you need to stop complaining about tips. I'll listen to anyone making barista-level wages complain about tipping other people, but I don't want to hear about it from other software developers with 6 figure incomes.
About the expectations, the good thing is they change fast. France had the same path, where tipping was strongly expected in cafes. In particular, as it was smallish amounts, people usually paid cash (or the cafe would just refuse credit cards below some fair amount) and it was easier to leave something on the table.
In a few years contactless became widely available, laws on obligation to take payments also became pervasive, and people paying a 2E coffee by card is not unusual anymore.
Numbers of tips have crashed  and the cafe owners are coming to terms with it. Anecdotaly amost places I saw baked the tip into final ticket as a “service fee”.
I think the same kind of mechanics will come at play most places. Why ask the customer for some random amount on a screen when everyone will be less awkward to just have it as a fixed line item in the receipt ?
Even if I go to the same coffee shop and use the same Square every morning, unless I'm holding a grudge it's de facto back to front end tipping rather than upon services rendered.
The tip at purchase time paradigm is in many cases an artifact of integrating credit card workflows with cash businesses with established pay up front and tip after workflows (fast casual dining, etc.) If you are against it and not against tipping, just bring cash for tipping and tip on the back end.
Not really worth it. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but the calculus is so bad that it's extremely rare to happen at scale. Especially if there's a digital trail run by a third party...
I can understand why you might think it never happens if you are completely ignorant of the facts on the ground but nevertheless familiar with the criminal and civil sanctions involved. It's about lack of enforcement.
Obviously, none of these are scientific studies but I don't know if there are any done in the industry.
What I'm trying to point out is: Wage theft of all types happens all the time and I've known people too poor to risk losing their job who suffered under this issue.
I'm sure it doesn't happen often -at scale-, in chain restaurants with big corporate backing but in an industry where most close after their first year and the workers are frequently undocumented or transient. It happens.
However, pretty quickly us workers discovered the math wasn't adding up. We would pool $300 of tips for the night and only have $200 equally distributed to us. When we asked the owner, he would say something like "you must have added wrong" or "the receipts only show $200", which was bullshit. After that happened, us workers made it a point to always make up an excuse to the customers why we couldn't handle electronic tips, and then immediately pocket the cash tips and split them ourselves.
Fortunately, most of us left before the owner caught on to the point of becoming confrontational (it was a short job before university). Moral of the story is some guy in his mid-40s, who made enough money to drive a BMW, felt that he could deceive some young kids because he had the chance. In hindsight, now I know more about things like labor laws and enforcement hotlines, but at the time most of us were also being paid under the table (which we didn't even understand because this was our first real job) and were scared of having to face the IRS and lose the money we made.
Because they almost always do and it's illegal for the owners to keep it?
What bothers me is the ACH networks still get their cut of the tip (assuming they get a percentage of sale and not a flat rate). No visa, you don't need 5% of the waitress hard work.
The reason that vendors accept credit cards is because it's usually worth the additional costs. If you don't think your credit card processor is worth the cost, try dropping them and seeing how it affects your sales. In some instances, vendors have dropped processors entirely (like Amex and Discover) without noticeably impacting their bottom line.
I don't understand why people (buyers) are so thin-skinned about this. Leave a tip or don't. Whatever.
If you get good service, will good tip ensure a good experience the next time around? If someone gave you bad service, do you make it known? I think most would prefer not to say anything.
I'm old enough to remember a time that giving extra money to someone for handing you a cup of coffee would be thought absurd. Sit down eatery? No problem, there's prior art before I was born, disagree though I might. But this recent bullshit of "tip, because my employer doesn't pay me enough", whether its Starbucks, McDonalds, or your fave local coffee shop: yeah, fuck that. McDonalds doesn't need my subsidy.
No, but the person to makes and hands over your coffee does.
> I'm old enough to remember a time that giving extra money to someone for handing you a cup of coffee would be thought absurd.
Then you're probably also old enough to remember when wage increases tracked with productivity increases, or when minimum wage kept up with inflation and the cost of living.
The place where I first noticed the "tip your cashier" thing happening was the Panera at my university. Why in the hell would I tip someone who's job is literally to take my order, and maybe hand me a pastry? These people aren't making minimum wage either, I had some friends there and the job paid significantly more.
Buying a muffin at a coffee shop and not paying a premium on top of the asking price is not sadistic. It's a normal commercial transaction. Based on your logic, why don't we tip fast-food workers, grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, etc...
No, that isn’t for the tip, that is literally the job they are paid to do by their employer. Choosing to tip should only be if they have gone above and beyond what you would expect. I’m from the UK and find the US tipping culture bizzare and stressful - I had truly terrible service in a restaurant in New York once and they literally chased me to the door when they realised I hadn’t tipped and threatened to call the police if I didn’t tip him at least 10%.
They were bullying you by threatening to call the police. The cops would have been annoyed to show up for that, and nothing about what you did is illegal.
- I was 12 the first time we visited the US. My dad was at first confused, since the hotel porter was hanging around, then he was embarrassed, as he didn't have any small cash.
- In New Orleans on a business trip, I kept forgetting to tip the barmaid. Other people at the bar were throwing her dollar bills on my behalf.
- Most recently, chip cards were fairly new — although I've had one for 14 years. I don't want to tip by card, it complicates my expenses, but navigating the dark-pattern UI on the payment machines was often confusing. Several waiters assumed I was stuck with the "new" chip card.
I'm not well-versed in the history of coffee shops, but it seems to me that it is not a well-established norm -- as compared to bars and restaurants, for example. But I'm happy to be corrected if I'm mistaken about this.
>If wages and tips do not equal the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour during any week, the employer is required to increase cash wages to compensate
For example, do you make a point of tipping the cashier at McDonalds? I'd bet that if you tried to and a manager saw you they would refuse it because the company doesn't want others to feel compelled to tip because they want to retain their image of a low-cost restaurant. Coffee shops selling $5 cups of coffee don't have that concern because people who frequent those places probably are a lot less price sensitive than those who eat at fast food restaurants.
15% used to be the norm across the board and adjusted from there based on the level of service. Now 20% is expected regardless of the level of service. In restaurants where a 20% gratuity is included in the bill I've noticed a significant drop-off in the level of service, even to the point where I would tip less than 20% if given the option, and I say that as someone who worked as a waiter at one point.
I'm highlighting this part because it's one of the main contributing factors to dining out less and less, for me, and that includes coffee shops. I always tip well when going out; ergo, I don't go out as often.
Going off of the "I'm not very unique" rule of thumb, businesses are losing some amount of money because of tipping culture.
Only in the most trivial sense that people know that, between sales tax and tipping, they're going to be paying a price that's 25-30% more than what's printed on the menu. And most people have some degree of price elasticity.
But I honestly can't imagine it matters much whether those adders are folded into the price up-front or you just know that you're going to be paying more than the printed price when you get the bill.
In the first place, I tip well partly because of information asymmetry: I don't know how well the staff are paid from one place to the next. This means that one place may pay their staff pretty well, and I'm still adding 20% to the cost of my ticket, and another place may pay their staff pretty poorly. This is placing the two businesses on an uneven competitive footing, and encouraging more businesses to pay their staff as poorly as they can get away with. This may be business-as-usual in the current American business culture, but the end result is that I'm subsidizing bad business practices.
I'm also subsidizing poor tippers. I know there are people out there who, for whatever reason they justify to themselves, don't tip, and I know that there are some businesses that don't pay a living wage (probably most, today), so I try to cover an extra portion of that cost.
It's also removing much of the incentive for food service businesses to seek out untapped efficiencies. I'm pretty sure labor costs are the largest expense category for any food service business, yet they continue to pile on more staff because people like me are helping them get away with it. I can order a Starbucks from an app on my phone, right? So why is there someone at a cash register who punches my order in to a machine when they've already got the software that would let me do it myself?
If tipping were banished and these businesses had to pay all of their staff a fair wage, it's likely that my total bill would go down.
At what point do we begin to consider that choice stiffing the waiters you would've tipped if you did go out?
P.S. I also avoid going to coffee shops where tipping is expected.
And quite frankly, it's disgusting that the person who spends may 30 seconds providing service gets X% of the bill when 99% of the work is done in the kitchen by guys who don't get paid anything extra.
Yikes,wait till you find out how much the ACH and CC networks get for providing a fully automated service.
A guy bringing me a plate someone else cooked has not earned 20% of the bill.
Do you also tip at McDonalds?
Corporate taxes don't factor in either because they are only on profit over and above all expenses. Increasing wages of an employee and shifting payment from tips to w2 income merely ensures the employee pays the taxes they should've be paying in the first place and will not increase corporate taxes.
If wait staff shifted to higher wages, the employer would increase prices and could note on the menu that tipping is not necessary, but appreciated. If that was the case, I would still tip, but only for above average service.
It constitutes a HUGE part of your take home pay for two reasons:
- If you are a waiter, tips will be multiples of your hourly pay.
- Tips will be under the table, saving you another ~25% easily.
So if you make a tipped hourly wage in Ohio:
- $4.15/hr * 7 hour shift (5pm open to 12pm close): 29.05
- Wait 6 tables, each with 3 seated parties, that tip you each $10: $60 * 3 = $120
Tips represent 4x of your salary. If your job gave you an untaxed 400% bonus at the end of every day, would you vote against it?
My son was a waiter and did very well for himself while in school. Far better than working in my fast food restaurant when he was younger and I paid more than minimum wage.
Given the choice, I had several staff quit on me because they got a waitressing job and getting tips to make more money was the reason. I had several waitresses tell me that was the reason they would not work for me.
My son always tips 20% or more, no matter the service, because he was a waiter once. I tell him he's foolish as I tip 15% for good service and adjust up/down accordingly.
I'd be rather more worried about getting caught by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.
If the IRS went on a crusade against underreported tips, there would be an absolute bloodbath in the poorer parts of this country, as tips easily represent more of their income than wages. Fortunately untaxed tips have dropped dramatically now that fewer and fewer people are using cash for transactions, so the IRS has had to take no such corrective actions.
Shouldn't you compare to the minimum wage at least? Or you could compare to a standard wage similar to what would be paid in other countries.
Not in the state of Ohio, apparently. In many states, waitstaff can be paid below minimum wage, because tips!
Wait staff love tips because it gets them paid significantly more than if they worked a retail job.
After visiting Europe, tips are necessary for good service. The rudeness and lack of service was culture shock.
There is a stereotype that blacks are worse tippers than whites. As https://www.ebony.com/news-views/are-black-people-really-bad... comments, it might be because blacks have "Insufficient education about tipping", or "a loop of circular behavior where Blacks have been traditionally discriminated against, Blacks expect to be treated poorly and treat servers with disdain, servers treat Black patrons with less care because they “know” Blacks tip poorly, and Blacks continue to tip poorly because they continue to get substandard service." (there are a couple of other proposed reasons).
See for example http://www.tippingresearch.com/uploads/JFSBR_race_revision_a... which includes the quote “I will not take Black tables unless I have no other option; call me racist, but I also walk out with more money than the people who end up with them.”
Yes, if you are a black American, you might get rudeness and lack of service in service in your own country - because wait staff think you won't tip well.
Over here, more than a single interruption ("is everything OK?") is intrusive. Fake smiles and fake enthusiasm aren't desirable either.
All Europe was like this?
In most of the EU you tip for good service. IE; only if your food came in a timely fashion, was not mis-prepared or incorrect and if the wait-staff are generally being polite, kind, courteous.
The idea is that you’re rewarding good service, not that your bound by social convention to give a percentage extra on top of what was agreed upon when you read the menu.
While we’re on the subject, the idea of excluding tax on good until you reach checkout is absolutely insane to me.
I was also a waiter in the restaurant. I hated the stress, but could find no jobs with comparable schedule flexibility/required qualifications that paid as well.
But when pushing, it's worth it to be mindful of where you exert your force. The causal flow (from not tipping to wages being raised to the point where tipping is not necessary) is indirect enough that it is uncertain to effect the desired change. Might there be other paths to achieving this goal?
There are articles on the internet. Just type in "tipping slavery" in google. The Time magazine's article should come up on the first page.
These are different.
Tipping was something that the patricians/bourgie upper class did to help uplift the waiters/service staff in Europe. It caught on in the USA in the late 1800s and fell out of favor from that upper class in Europe by then.
Largely, USA coopted a "noble gesture" from wealthy Europeans and it has persisted ever since for like a century.
Anyways, I hate tipping as well.
That's another wrinkle that many people don’t know about, right? Tipping in the United States actually dates back to slavery.
The origin of tipping is really the feudal system, it’s this idea of noblesse oblige. But when tipping came to the United States, it had a real racial tinge to it, because, originally, the workers who earned tips were almost exclusively black workers—they were newly freed slaves.
There was this massive anti-tipping movement to protest the practice, a resounding populist movement that actually got anti-tipping bills passed in six states across the country, including Washington state and many southern states. What’s interesting is that that movement, the anti-tipping populist one, ending up spreading to Europe and succeeding, because the labor movement picked it up and said ‘we are professionals, and we shouldn’t have to live on tips, because we should be paid by our employers.’ That’s why you see so little tipping in Europe. What we started here spread there and actually killed it at the origin in Europe.
We, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction in the states. The restaurant industry, which was hiring newly freed slaves as tipped workers, really wanted the right to hire these workers but pay them next to nothing. So they put forth this idea that they were valueless and really shouldn’t have to be paid by their employers. They essentially made the argument that newly freed slaves should get a zero dollar wage.