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Where does a tip to an Amazon driver go? Sometimes, toward the driver's base pay (latimes.com)
182 points by anonymfus 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 130 comments





I can't wait for tipping culture to end - it's just a way for service workers to be abused in a multitude of ways.

I only wish more workers would realize that it will be better for them collectively to get upset at their employers for not paying them fairly instead of the last customer who stiffed them on the tip.


Tipping culture should die, and 7 states thus far have banned the mistreatment of servers via reducing their wage due to earned tips. Amazon knew this practice was against the spirit of the law in its home state, and it likely would result in penalties if Working Washington or similar chooses to take them to court over this fraudulent practice.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipped_wage_in_the_United_Stat...


I got sad by those numbers. Looking at them I wonder how the workers are able to live at all.

What happened to the "tip is for good service" and the base being covered by the employer for services rendered (e.g. the bottom line of the company)?


There was a never a 'golden age' of tipping where everyone was getting paid fairly. Make no mistake, tipping was and is usually used as a way of justifying lower wages.

This is how tips work in virtually every country other than the US though. Tips are still a thing, but they're optional because minimum wage is the same for serving staff as it is for everyone else.

> because minimum wage is the same

That would help but still not be enough, with the US minimum wage.


They still have the effect of depressing wages with a component that is uncertain, volatile and liable to theft.

> I can't wait for tipping culture to end - it's just a way for service workers to be abused in a multitude of ways.

I agree that tips as a substitute for wages should end, and that expectations of non-zero baseline tips should end.

However, I feel that tips as incentives for good service should absolutely continue. (Either that, or real-time rating systems visible to the employer, but I'm not sure that outcome would be preferable.)


Why shouldn't the whole thing be a package deal? The management needs to ensure every step from buying ingredients to putting it on a plate is done well, why is the act of delivering it to your table singled out? You vote with your feet by going back.

Lots of other industries need face-to-face contact. It would not be a better world if we had to tip the dentist's receptionist, the office building's security guy, the plumber's apprentice who does comes back to finish the job... although it's still important that all of these behave well.


Not tipping sounds great until you order food in Europe.

That said, I've heard good things about Japan's food service, and they don't require tipping.

EDIT spelling


The service you get in the US isn't "good service" it's people kissing your ass because they can't afford not to. It's all fake.

In Europe, you get seen when it's your turn and the staff work at a reasonable pace without killing themselves because they have a decent base pay. They don't degrade themselves for tips (I've seen this a lot with waitresses in the US flirting horribly with customers).


Yes to this.

There are also significant regional variations in how people interact. And it is more common to stand up & pay on the way out, which solves the frequent American complaint of having to wait forever for the check.


Not sure why you're being downvoted. Having spent 8 months in Europe in the last decade and the rest in the US, one of the first things I notice back home is how nice it is to get decent service at eating establishments.

> That said, I've heard good things about Japan's food service, and they don't require tipping.

Japanese services (in Japan) in general are truly something to behold.

Even as foreigners we've had entire crews of airline and hotel staff getting involved in resolving minor issues, taxi drivers guiding us to destinations on foot, search parties scrambled to find lost items, and government bureaucrats doing things for us way beyond their job descriptions. It's insane.

The food service is similarly attentive.

And no, I'm not a diplomat, celebrity or anybody special.

We tipped none of them but they all deserved it.


Robots don’t work for money.

Jk... somewhat. Robot served food is actually becoming a thing.


You're not going to have servers who are making $20-30/hour get upset and demand they get paid a stable 12$/hour.

Larger wages will be put ultimately on consumer.

Now you have two Amazon's. There is absolutely no difference between them. Goods are ten percent pricier in second one, but employees are paid more (they appreciate tips anyway).

Which company would you buy from? Which company would you invest in?


That’s why one of the Amazons is made illegal — so that individuals don’t have to make this choice. That’s what regulation is for.

And poverty level wages plus tips are also passed onto the consumer in the form of increased social welfare program costs, which require more taxes. An increase of taxes tends to have a disproportionately larger impact on those with less money to begin with.

On the one hand you have society paying for this externality, and on the other you force employers to accurately reflect the market conditions and price that externality in.


> An increase of taxes tends to have a disproportionately larger impact on those with less money to begin with.

Not generally, but probably common in the current political attitude of “reducing the taxes of the rich and taxing the poor.”


> Not generally,

It depends on the tax. If the tax is a fixed percentage of wage/income/property, then, at least in general, they affect everyone equally.

However, taxes such as VAT or sales tax, affect the population with less money harder because they make everything, even the basic necessities, more expensive. People that have a substantial chunk of income that they invest/save are hit substantially less by those taxes since they don't intend to spend the investment in the first place.


If the tax is a fixed percentage, it still hits people with less money harder in that cost-of-living is /not/ a percentage.

If your fixed expenses (food, rent, utilities) are 80% of your monthly pay, and the tax reduces everyone's monthly pay by 5%, you're going to have to cut something (cheaper food, small luxuries, or just no longer saving money for emergencies). If you make enough that your cost-of-living is only 50% of your monthly pay, it might dip your savings a little but you'll get through it just fine.


Exactly. That's why the tax should not be fixed percentage, but should have the "starting point" under which you don't tax somebody at all, and it should have "protect the poorest taxpayers" area which also can be different from the "it's effectively equal" area.

But somehow in the US people are trained not to think in that direction. It's more common to be aware of such possibilities in Europe, or to expect from the system not to completely ruin the life of the poorest.


True in general, but the effect of a consumption tax is substantially more pronounced. A VAT hike of 2% hits people that spend their entire income with the full 2%. But people that spend only 50% of their income in the first place effectively only have a 1% hike.

For the last few years I've been avoiding Amazon where possible even if it costs me a few quid or I have to wait a day extra for delivery (though most places offer next day delivery for a price which I'm happy to pay).

This is for a combination of reasons:

* The working conditions of Amazon employees (the pickers, the packers, the drivers etc...) is abhorrent IMHO

* The huge (legal but scummy) tax dodges they get away with

* The amount of fake products on Amazon is completely ridiculous

* In relation to the above, the epidemic of fake/paid reviews

* Their packing of some products is laughable, I received a £600 HDD in the same packet they send softback books in. It went Cardboard > Antistatic bag > HDD. Fuck that, I sent it back for a refund without even testing it.

I built a new PC a couple of months back, it was ~£50 cheaper through Amazon than the retailer I ended up buying it from but I'll choose the smaller (yet still known to me) simply because they offer a better service and don't treat their staff abhorrently.

Amazon used to excel at service and quality, now they have most of the market that is gone IMHO.

(Shout out to https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/ for being an awesome tool for PC builders!)


Depends. If the company that pays more gets a more talented stable workforce and a more reliable customer experience then perhaps that one. Ever heard of Costco?

There is certainly nothing preventing a restaurant from implementing this: offer wait staff a higher salary but tell them they're forbidden from accepting tips.

Do you expect such a restaurant will attract the best talent? I do not.


I forget the names but various high-profile restaurants in the US have tried this, and abandoned it. I don't know whether the problem was with attracting capable waiters, or the price scaring off customers, or just change making people uncomfortable.

But there seem to be two equilibria. Opening a restaurant in Paris and telling diners they should tip 20% because you aren't paying the waiters (oh and we left VAT off the menu, another 20%)... even if this were legal, I think you'd have great trouble attracting either customers or waiters.


In Paris the waiters would not have prior experience telling them it's possible to succeed financially under such a scheme in that market. Without the eagerness of waiters to adopt such a scheme, there would be no public support for it from the customers.

I think maybe that's the part of the picture into the American tipping situation that Europeans and 1% Silicon Valley workers alike are missing. Most Americans who support tipping do so because they personally know a waiter who knows they make out like a bandit from the scheme. Europeans are less likely to be personally acquainted with an American waiter than your average American, as are wealthy tech workers on the spectrum.


I ate at such a restaurant recently, it was fantastic.

Seems like they’re quite busy: https://www.manhattarestaurant.com/


Restaurants that try it generally have two characteristics. They're trendy for being politically novel, and they flame out. Let's see how they're doing in five years and if other restaurants are forced to adopt their model to compete for talent.

Which company should you buy from? Which company should you invest in?

Everyone is responsible here. Problem is, more expensive doesn't necessarily translate to "more ethical".


Assuming there is an ethical choice available?

Exactly. I read @hamilyon2's comment that majority would not pick the ethical choice, my point was that even if "ethical consumption" becomes widespread enough, it would eventually get abused and end up not much more ethical in the end. Just like organic-labeled products which are not always more organic than non-organic ones.

People sometimes need causal work, forcing companies to treat everyone as a regular 'employee' diminishes choice of where that work comes from.

Rather than everyone becoming a happy, well-paid employee what you actually get is people working via rent-seeking agencies and middle-men - each taking their cut from the same pie.

I am not saying the current system is perfect but legislation needs to allow for some flexibility in the modern workplace.


Tipping serves a purpose. It's a clear, precise and immediate communication channel about customer satisfaction. If you get bad service, just don't leave a tip - it doesn't have any social friction of calling the manager or anything like that. You, as a customer, feel that you're in control.

Why would you want to get rid of that?


If I give my delivery driver $5 and his employer drops his pay by $5 as if I'd tipped $0, the communication channel is muted.

Maybe I'm deceived into thinking I'm rewarding good performance, but the truth is I'm a chump making a voluntary donation to some billionaire CEO's pay packet.

Why would anyone volunteer to be taken for a fool like that?


I completely agree with you, but your point is not about tipping, it's about this particular scam. Why are you replying as if I'm defending it? There's no argument to be had about this.

Have you considered what article you're posting on?

Also tipping culture enables companies to do things like this.


Credit card culture enables this. When you tip with cash, you cut out the corporate middle man.

The same thing could happen with cash if the system was set up a little bit differently.

No not really. Hand the cash to the person you're tipping, nobody else.

because it makes reading prices more difficult. Oh that steak costs 20bucks, add a tip of about 20% so thats about 24 bucks. Which is a lot more mental work than just reading 24bucks. Its also a psychiological trick, since the 20bucks is obviously cheaper than the 24, just hoping you'd forget to calculate the tip when looking at the menu.

If I need to pay more than the menu indicates, or I am an asshole... yeah, I wanna get rid of that.

Its not neccessary to forbid tipping, but it absolutely should not be part of their regular pay. It should be extra. A tip. Not "oh yeah, you did your job as expected"


> Oh that steak costs 20bucks, add a tip of about 20% so thats about 24 bucks.

If I find myself in a situation where the difference between $20 and $24 for a steak matters for me, I don't go to a restoraunt altogether - or choose a place with a different price range. I think it's more or less assumed that if you've gone to a place (like a bar or a restoraunt) and have glanced through the menu to get it overall price range, then you're comfortable with a ballpark price for a meal, right?

> but it absolutely should not be part of their regular pay. It should be extra. A tip.

That would make it much worse as a signal. (Discussed in another sub-thread).


> I think it's more or less assumed that if you've gone to a place (like a bar or a restoraunt) and have glanced through the menu to get it overall price range, then you're comfortable with a ballpark price for a meal, right?

Now that is a priveleged statement. This certainly isn't the case for people who make less money, like say waiting staff for example.


No I wouldn't got that far, for most of us there are places we can and cannot afford.

But this is how you have to regard US menu prices: you add 1/3 or so and have a ballpark figure for what it's going to cost you. Whereas ordering the "menu €15.50" is something you can safely do after checking that you have 15.50 in your pocket.


The point wasnt that it costs 4 bucks more, its that they are hiding part of the price. You are pretty much obligated to tip in the US.

Yeah it might be worse as a signal. I've seen a lot of these satisfaction meters lately, where you can press some smileyfaces when you leave the restaurant. If you add the ability to enter a table number you can kinda review your server, after you paid, in private (or at least not with the server giving you a stink eye because you didnt tip)


America is really weird that way. It’s not just tips. Even tax may not be calculated until you go to the cashier.

Tips are stupid because everyone deserves to have at least a minimum wage. If they do a job they should get paid. They shouldn’t be held hostage to people who think they didn’t do their job to the standard of some random person.


In practice a waiter who's taking home less than minimum wage will quit before they even get fired. Think about this critically. If waiters were in practice making less than $25 for an 8 hour day as those $2.xx/hr figures would suggest, why would they keep the job? Why is it that in America being a waiter is considered a MUCH better job than bagging groceries? Why is it that pretty people wait tables and ugly people sweep floors? Its because regardless of what you think of the system, they're taking home considerably more than the minimum wage. Obviously.

I agree that it's a great feedback system.

However, I disagree that it should be a negative feedback loop. Tipping should be an optional extra that indicates I was extremely happy with my service, not some mechanism for me to extract my revenge on a server who was probably dealing with issues that weren't their fault.


But customers and businesses don't really care about communicating these rare cases. What we care is maintaining the minimum sane level of service, and we assume that in 95% of cases it will be. Which makes negative feedback loop much more fitting.

It's far from clear, though.

How much to tip? And to what businesses? If someone leaves out a tip jar at a taco bell, does that mean you have to tip them, and should the amount be different? By how much?

Also, if you don't leave a tip, it doesn't explain what part of the service was unsatisfactory. Was the food bad? The dishes dirty? Did the waitress not refill your coffee quick enough? Or maybe the customer was bigoted against the servers, or just forgot.


it's actually not that complicated, at least for restaurants. you're obligated to tip if and only if you're at a sit-down place with table service.

that said, I always tip at my favorite takeout places, but not necessarily 20%.


But why? Why not just increase the prices 20% and increase the servers wage?

because it's been this way for a while and people don't all agree that it should change. for example, I worked at a cheap restaurant in college where, after tips, I would make 25-50% more than minimum wage in a typical pay period. I don't know for sure, but I strongly suspect that if tipping were not the norm and the management were required to pay minimum wage, they would have just paid the minimum or fifty cents more, making me significantly less money. many other servers I have talked to agree. many others think that they would make about the same money the other way. some agree that they would make less money but don't like tipping anyway (weird imo). if you can't even get all the servers on the same page, it's pretty hard to change an entrenched cultural norm.

I understand the evidence indicates that in restaurants, it most strongly rewards being an attractive female who touches people.

You can just do what Uber do -- always ask the passenger for rating after the trip.

Again I am puzzled how this does not count as fraud - a felony with a jail term measured in years.

And no, re-defining 'tip' to mean whatever Amazon wants it to mean somewhere in the Terms of Service fine print does not absolve them.


In the food service industry, for example, your tips almost always reduce base pay until a federal, legal minimum different from the better known minimum wage.

I’m not saying that’s just. Companies abuse service workers, and use some legalistic convention to do so.

Would you go suing basically every restaurant for fraud though? Justice here really means legislating the wages and tips laws to be more generous to workers.


Basically it means that the minimum wage can be lower. But few industries (none outside food service?) work this way.

Certainly this isn’t the expectation of consumers of these delivery apps that it might work that way. It even says in pretty much all of them “100% of the tip goes to the driver,” further setting up the expectation that this is in addition to base pay... not subsidizing it.

Either we need cultural and policy acceptance of the Instacart/Amazon model of subsidizing pay, or they need to change their behavior (which feels far more fair given the employer size). It’s not like the majority of delivery apps are mom & pop — they’re billion-dollar corporations or multi-million dollar startups backed by big VC money. Cutting costs on the backs of your dynamic and more economically vulnerable labor force feels cheap and immoral.


> But few industries (none outside food service?) work this way.

I guess apparently Amazon, DoorDash, and Instacart do!

> 100% of the tip goes to the driver.

That's verbatim what happened! They just omitted the additional fact that they would decrease the base pay, like in the food industry.

> Cutting costs on the backs of your dynamic and more economically vulnerable labor force feels cheap and immoral.

Sure is! But restaurants do that too!

The difference is, a rich, single, 35+ year old male programmer can be righteous about Instacart. I mean, they don't cook for themselves, they don't tip their Amazon drivers (they didn't know you can do that!), they eat out, so who cares if the tips are taken away.

But virtue taking away your right to pay $50 for a dinner-for-one at Burma Love? Fuck that, they say. They're hungry.


> That's verbatim what happened!

I call BS. Money is fungible, so "of the $10 we gave the driver, $5 was from you and $5 was from us" doesn't mean anything outside of the stories we tell. All that happened in terms of bank transactions was that you gave Amazon $5, and Amazon gave the driver $10.

That said, there is a good way to tell whether they're getting your tip or not. Ask how much more money the specific driver you tipped received than if you hadn't tipped. That's right, $0.

(On the other hand, I bet if you tipped more than the base pay, the driver would get that much. So big enough tips probably make a difference.)

Though what really matters is what the courts say :-).


That's not how it works. They get a base pay without considering tips. If they get tips they get more. They don't get a base pay that gets eaten away by tips until the tips exceed their pay, otherwise why would anyone bother to work harder for the tips if they just get the same amount?

That's exactly how it works. For example in West Virginia, you get paid either 8.50 or 2.62 plus your tips, whichever is more.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipped_wage


A few successful waitresses I've known earned 2-4x minimum wage with tips and fought hard against proposed local laws that would cancel that "tips count towards minimum wage" concept on the grounds that restaurants couldn't afford it.

Yet restaurants do quite well in the seven states that ban this shady practice: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipped_wage_in_the_United_Stat...

> They don't get a base pay that gets eaten away by tips until the tips exceed their pay, otherwise why would anyone bother to work harder for the tips if they just get the same amount?

Yes, they do get a base pay that gets eaten away by tips until the tips exceed the base pay. It's structured like so:

1. The state minimum wage is, say, $8.

2. The state minimum wage for tipped workers is much lower, say $2.

3. But the minimum wage for tipped workers doesn't exempt you, the employer, from paying the overall minimum wage. If someone is so terrible at their job that they only make $1 / hour in tips, then you have to pay them $7 / hour so they end up making minimum wage.

But you can describe the exact same pay schedule differently:

1. The minimum wage is $8 / hour, and that's what waiters make.

2. But for tipped workers, up to $6 / hour of tips can be garnished by the employer.

As you can see, your first $6 / hour of tips do nothing but reduce your base pay. Whatever you get tipped above that amount is yours to keep.


As you can see, your first $6 / hour of tips do nothing but reduce your base pay. Whatever you get tipped above that amount is yours to keep.

You had it right the first time, but the first $6/hour of tips do not reduce your base pay, and are not considered garnishments since you are guaranteed a minimum no matter what. (And "garnish" does have a legal meaning in this context so that's definitely the wrong word to use here.)

It should be contextualized another way: the first $6/hour of tips offset the make-good wages the restaurant would have to pay if you hadn't earned those tips.


What do you mean "the first time"? The amount of money you get is the same. The two scenarios are worded differently without being different.

Except for the joy of financial engineering, there is no difference between "you make $8 / hour, and the first $6 / hour of your tips go to me instead of you" and "you make $8 / hour, and whatever tips you get are yours to keep, but the first $6 / hour of your tips lower your base wage by an equal amount".

But you must conceive of it as either garnishing tips or eating into the base pay, because if you work one hour and get tipped $20, you only earn $22. If your tips weren't being garnished and also didn't reduce your base pay, you'd earn $28.


Ah you're basically misunderstanding what's going on.

Tipped workers have a lower minimum wage. The standard minimum wage is relevant only if they don't reach that with tips. It's a fallback that was added to the law to protect the rare servers who don't make at least minimum wage from their tipped income. It's the exception, not the norm.


>Tipped workers have a lower minimum wage

Do they really though? The employer must guarantee that they earn the standard minimum wage, regardless of what happens with tips, so effectively their minimum wage is the same as everyone else's and all this stuff about "base pay" is a wordplay shell game.

Either way, what's effectively happening is the customer is subsidizing somebody who their employer would otherwise have to pay, so it all amounts to the same thing: your tips up to a certain level are going to the employer, not the employee.


They really do. The legal tipped minimum wage is different from the standard minimum wage. The requirement that tipped workers make at least standard minimum wage is a backstop protection intended to apply to the (extremely rare) situation that a tipped worker does not actually make more than standard minimum wage.

Going to repeat this again, for emphasis: tipped workers have always had lower base wages than non-tipped workers. The make-good requirement is a late addition to labor law that very rarely applies. The make-good requirement applies so rarely that a server who doesn't make at least standard minimum wage after tips will likely be let go for basic incompetence.


Try the following:

- Make up a scenario.

- See who gets how much money.

- Ask yourself what I would predict.

- Then, and only then, tell me I'm misunderstanding something. And then tell me what it is.


What you're missing is "It's the exception, not the norm."

Very few wait staff are in the range where the tips affect how much their employer pays, and they're definitely not supposed to be in that range. The base pay is not $8, because almost nobody has to be brought up to that. The base pay is $2, and none of that gets removed.

That's not the case with most of these delivery companies. They have smaller numbers of tips and they're not a tip-based income. The base pay really is the bigger number, and the companies are subtracting from it.

Or in short: You have the math right but your definition of "base pay" is wonky.


These stories with Amazon, Postmates, etc are getting traction because they're tech companies. At least now more people are realizing that this practice is in addition to existing abuses against service workers.

They are also a better target for action than a single restaurant or small service business because of the vastly larger number of workers.

It depends on the state. Lots and lots of states have tipped wage laws that allow an employer to count tips toward base pay. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipped_wage

This is exactly how it works. You get minimum wage. If you get tips, your wage can be reduced to the tipped employee minimum wage of some $2 per hour. Usually $2 plus your tips put you over minimum wage, but not always.

You’re wrong! That’s how it works! Service workers get a Lowe minimum wage with the expectation it’ll be made up for with tips. If it doesn’t, the employer must top them up.

Only in states that explicitly permit tip theft (by having a ludicriously low minimum wage for tipped staff).

In other states/countries, this practice is highly illegal.


I think it boils down to "how does the company advertise pay to the employee?"

Those restaurants are not advertising minimum wage + tips, or even just minimum wage. They're advertising $4 + tips. Amazon should similarly advertise whatever it's guaranteed to pay itself + tips. Then it's transparent and there's no confusion.


Wouldn't there be public support for laws simply saying "minimum wage is the minimum base pay and tips can never be 'deducted' to lessen the wages an employer has to pay to a service worker"?

I love when stories like this come in and you see everyone defending the company because they redefined terms that obviously mean a certain thing. Part of the reason tech giants are so big is they do all these things that would be illegal for me and you, but they get a pass.

In the long run, without any wage theft, you should expect any increase in tips lead to a reduction in base pay since employees only really care about their total comp, not whether it comes from tips of salary.

So while this practice is scummy, it's basically just speeding up what would happen normally.


Another good reason to abolish tipping entirely.

I think the problem here is that in some lines of work, it's generally understood that the worker only makes tips (waiters, bartenders -- any base pay is negligible), in other lines of work it's generally understood that the tip is a nice but non-required "extra" that nobody should be depending on (barista, Uber driver), and in yet further cases it's a "required" extra (taxi driver, hairdresser, massage therapist).

And while pre-Internet delivery was previously understood to be only tips (e.g. in NYC, the person delivering your Chinese food is paid solely by your tips, not by the restaurant, effectively just like a waiter)...

...we haven't societally established what the right expectation is for dot-com delivery people. Because it's such a new thing, most consumers probably assume they're paid a fair wage and tips are either a non-required bonus (like Uber) or a required bonus (like hairdressers). Yet the companies seem to be treating tips as the entire salary (like waiters, bartenders, and restaurant deliveries).

Of course there's zero logic to any of this, only custom. And the insane confusion around it is just another argument for getting rid of the damned practice of tipping in the first place, everywhere.


as a consumer I don’t think I should have to maintain the cognitive load of making sure people get fair pay. That’s between 2 parties, the worker and the service. So I tip nothing if it’s through an app. If everyone did the same it might actually work.

Simple: they shouldn’t be able to use the word tip. That word has meaning and expectations.

Call it “wage subsidy” and see how many people leave anything.


A very apt suggestion, given how strictly corporations like to define the meaning of words when it's to their advantage: https://www.polygon.com/2018/8/11/17661254/bethesda-sell-use...

... Does it?

I mean, "mandatory"-ish tips have been legal "wage subsidies" for a very, very long time yet are still called "tips."

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-pe...

>The origins of tipping go back more than a century, to the days when only well-heeled Americans dined out and waitstaff constituted a tiny fraction of the nation's labor force. Government left the custom alone, even though — or perhaps because — it reinforced the hierarchy between mostly white, male restaurant customers and their servers, often women and minorities. Even New Deal-era minimum wage laws exempted tipped workers until 1966. By then, tipping was so culturally embedded that Congress took it for granted that certain workers "customarily and regularly" received tips, while others did not. It created the "tip credit" system, whereby restaurants could pay customarily and regularly tipped personnel a much smaller minimum wage than others received, as long as tips offset the difference.... The June 19 ballot initiative in Washington would gradually replace the "tip credit" with a system under which all local restaurant employees would get the statutory minimum wage — soon to be $15 per hour — and servers could still receive tips on top of that. Similar laws prevail in seven states, mostly on the West Coast. However, servers wouldn't necessarily get to keep all of the tips, because the law Congress just passed lets restaurants that pay servers the statutory minimum and don't use the "tip credit" redistribute tips to their back-of-the-house employees.

Sounds not so straightforward to me.

(That's before we get into tip pooling, which is an extremely common practice.)


> reinforced the hierarchy between mostly white, male restaurant customers and their servers, often women and minorities

Sounds weird. It used to be a big faux pas to have non-male non-white waiters and still is sometimes in some kind of restaurants.


Indeed. I think it goes back much further too.

Restaurants are basically a 200 year-old technology, but rich people dining well when visiting each others' country houses goes back a lot further. And I believe it was the custom that, on departing, a visitor would tip the host's servants. It's my impression that this is where the custom came from (but not an expert opinion).


Can we take this opportunity to get rid of institutionalized tipping entirely? It is beyond me why this is even accepted, let alone expected behavior for companies to specifically ask for tips on behalf of workers. I traveled to several (developed) countries recently recently and was pleasantly surprised and relieved to not have to worry about tipping for each and every service.

Now think how non-Americans feel when they travel to America.

Tipping culture (alongside mass homelessness in some places) feels very awkward to me when I'm in America - I never know who I'm meant to tip, and a few times when I havn't offered one people have been really aggressive about it.


I can tolerate it but I don't understand why 20% is now regarded as "normal" for a basic level of service.

I have known plenty of smart, capable people who worked hard in the service industry and, frankly, deserve it.

I don't like the idea of people working for my benefit earning starvation wages.


We're not questioning whether they deserve to be fairly compensated for their labor, we're arguing whether that compensation should come from fair salaries provided by the employer or whether that compensation should be haphazardly dispersed in the form of tips.

So the restaurant should increase their base salary?

I understand why the kitchen staff deserves tips, they're the ones doing all the real work. I can't understand why the server who spends at most 2-3 minutes an hour taking the order and carrying it from the kitchen to the table deserves 20% of the bill.

(In my area servers and kitchen staff now make the same standard minimum wage before tips, so it's especially obscene to demand 20% on top of the $12-$15/hour the server is already making for almost no work.)


In many healthy restaurants tip culture goes beyond the frontline staff - servers and hosts will tip out the kitchen, bussers, etc at the end of the night.

Friends I had in high school would make 2-3x minimum wage as bussers on busy nights. $2-3 per server per shift was pro forma, even on a quiet night.


Which makes the whole thing very, very, very silly:

People say you're supposed to tip based on "quality of service" (whatever that means?) and tips are an incentive to provide "good service"[1] (because obviously everyone who isn't tipped doesn't do their job?????)

However, in practice if your server is an asshole and you don't tip you also stiff the host and bussers and bartenders. That's obviously profoundly unfair.

Not to mention if you get bad service it's unlikely that it's your server's personal fault, restaurant service is a team effort and the quality of service is mostly a function of quality of management.

[1] I don't see a functional difference between this and bribery.


I'd challenge you actually try to get to know some people working as waitresses and reevaluate your position about tipping on top of minimum wage being "obscene".

I actually know quite a few waitresses and others in the restaurant industry.

I think you should actually try to get to know some of the people who do far more valuable work than taking orders and occasionally delivering plates to a table and who make less than waitresses, like social workers, janitors, and bus drivers. If you know enough of those people, you begin to question the entire moral justification for tipping waitresses or serving staff in the first place.


People want the resturants to be run like they do in other parts of the world.

In practice that means most items will costs 20% more than today, salaries for the waiters/waitresses are 20% higher than today, and customers are not expected to tip.


It’s not, unless you want to signal how much money you’re willing to throw around.

This is disgusting. Tips are meant for the driver and not for the company. I am truly surprised that so many HN readers have their fundamentals of terms so corrupted that they are choosing to argue about this.

Amazon should be upfront - clearly declare that the minimal wage is taken from your tips. Declare this right in the employment contract and call it a wage subsidy. The fact that they are hiding this and not responding to enquiries shows that they are operating in a malicious and dishonest manner. This is injustice to the driver and Amazon should be prosecuted.


I've always been skeptical of where my digital tips are going. Even in local restaurants if I have the cash, I'll write "cash" on the tip line for the credit card receipt and tip in cash.

I lost a summer of credit card tips thanks to the cashier at the restaurant stealing them. You've got a good policy.

Why do you write anything?

Management might consider $0, a -, or blank to be an indicator of poor performance, whereas "cash" clearly indicates "I tipped, just not via my card".

> Why do you write anything?

Should be obvious: So that unscrupulous places don't fill in their own tip amount.


Not obvious to me, but OK. I guess writing the total would also serve that purpose and you could save time by not writing anything in the tip area.

What does it matter what they write on paper - I only authorise the amount I intend to when I put my PIN in and no paper will change that.

Payment at restaurants in the United States is very different than you might be imagining. The process goes like this:

* Server brings bill, disappears to go serve others

* Patron places credit card in the sleeve thing the bill came in, leaves it on the table, waits. (Maybe is still finishing a drink or dessert at this point.)

* Server picks it up at some point, takes it to a register, swipes it (not in view of the patron). There is no entering of a PIN, because U.S. credit cards do not require a PIN.

* Server brings receipt back to patron. There are at least two copies: "Merchant copy" and "customer copy". Each has two blank lines: One that says "Tip", and one that says "Total". Often a range of "suggested" tips is provided below. The "Merchant copy" also has a line for a signature.

* Patron fills out "Merchant copy" with their desired tip, and does the math to fill out the total. Signs the signature line. Takes "Customer copy" with them, leaves "Merchant copy" in the sleeve, and exits the restaurant.

* Server takes "Merchant copy" and puts it in the stack designated for such things.

* At some point that day, a restaurant employee goes through the stack of "Merchant copy" receipts and enters the tip amounts for each one into the register.

It's an insane system that beggars belief for people who aren't aware of it. But this is how it works at probably more than 95% of "sit-down restaurants" I've eaten at in the U.S.


That is not how payment at restaurants in the United States works.

I don't mind tipping as an appreciation of above average service. I do mind having to pretend to appreciate bad service because certain countries basically just can't be bothered to implement minimum wage, which is what this boils down to. I try not to be a jerk about it and just generally tip on the principle that I don't want to cheat people out of some income they probably need. But it's not exactly a great system.

My main problem with this is that all the hard work is typically done by people you don't interact with, which in a restaurant would be the people cleaning the place, cooking the food, doing the dishes, etc. Basically, people working double/triple jobs because of the before mentioned minimum wage issues. So, I tip and I hope some of that trickles down to those people as well. But I would not be surprised to learn that most of that money never ends up where it belongs.

In the US, basically you get your ass kissed in a blatantly indifferent and disingenuous way by eager waiters desperate to ensure you tip generously for the service of delivering food from the kitchen to your table. It makes the whole experience of being in a restaurant a lot less pleasant. There's also this pressure to basically leave ASAP so the waiter can start harassing the next customer. So they say, "is everything alright" but what they mean is "hurry up so I can maximize my tip/hour ratio". There's just something deeply unpleasant about that.


Since when are people expected to tip package delivery drivers? I didn’t even know this was an option in the Amazon app.

I think it's only for their Amazon Fresh / Amazon Prime Now deliveries, not the general "we're replacing USPS / UPS" ones.

Doing the same thing a day faster probably shouldn't be the decider between tipped/untipped.

Tipping is bad for everyone, but Americans love it.

What's not to love? It makes you feel rich and generous for a moment: "Look at me as I'm sharing my riches to save this pleb waiter from certain starvation."



It's the first time I hear about tipping an Amazon driver.

Is this an American thing? (part of this 'strange' American tipping culture)


> Is this an American thing? (part of this 'strange' American tipping culture)

Definitely not, I've never heard of it. The closest I've ever heard of this is writing a christmas card for your mailman once a year.


It's sad. At some point Amazon decided that's how they would handle tips. They do it because they can.

Rule of thumb: If you're not tipping cash, you're not tipping.

Most relevant comment here.

We can argue all day long about whether this 'culture' should exist or not, the fact is it does exist and there are many situations where the most ethical choice is offer some kind of tip (and cash is most certainly appreciated by those in the know). Yeah, it's archaic and overcomplicated and regressive, much like just about everything else involving human interaction.

If you don't like it, abolish the practice in businesses where you can influence such policies. Feel free to withhold tips if you want, in lots of cases the workers you interact will hardly notice because plenty of others do the same. Just know that if you ask a low-wage worker to put up with extra hassle for you and don't offer extra compensation in return, in many cases you will be viewed as clueless and/or selfish. That's just how it is, respond to the reality as you see fit.


This is wage theft.

I wonder if The Washington Post will report on this. :-)



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