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Tipping Prompts Are Suddenly Everywhere (wsj.com)
27 points by lxm 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 60 comments

Tipping only exists because of racism. (Look it up). It was a way for employers to pay far less than a livable wage—if any wage at all—and get away with it after the 13th Amendment was passed. Then it became institutionalized where anyone in the service industry could be grossly underpaid as long as their employees can collect tips.

And as usual most folks are pissed at the audacity of people, making far less than could ever afford a home and paying more than half their wages to rent, asking for just a little more.

Y'all are angry at the wrong people.

Don't like all the tipping jars popping up? Act like almost EVERY OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD and abolish tipping. Make the employers—ALL EMPLOYERS—pay their workers a full wage instead of passing the buck to the good will of individual patrons. Then Americans wouldn't get the side eye whenever we try to tip when visiting a civilized country.

"Service est compris."

After all, we already do it for "parties of six or more." Just reduce that number to one, raise the prices 15% in those sectors, and pay for the damn labor.

My gut feeling is to agree with you - abolish tipping.

But I can see another side. When you run a service business, you should be overstaffed sometimes in order to be ready for busier periods. During those slow periods, there's not enough to keep staff busy and neither is there much revenue coming in. But during busy periods, tips raise staff compensation to match staff effort expended.

So maybe institutionalize the tips? Just add them to the bill? Or... here's a radical idea... just incorporate them into prices AND then ban tipping ? Just make sure they actually go to staff, or else the owner spends a few nights in jail.

> Or... here's a radical idea...

Your radical idea is to restate what I just said?

> Make the employers—ALL EMPLOYERS—pay their workers a full wage

Not in my version.

> After all, we already do it for "parties of six or more." Just reduce that number to one, raise the prices 15% in those sectors, and pay for the damn labor.

You forgot the part where it has to guaranteed go to the workers. There have been big lawsuits about just this issue.

I did not forget that. Our tax code and wage laws have tiers for tip wage workers and non-tip wage workers. It was presumed that if you remove that carve out by abolishing tips, the part you mention would follow.

As for wage theft by employers, that is indeed a major issue already for both tip and non-tip workers. Why would anyone assume that problem would go away regardless of the existence of tipping?

I'm all for punishing wage theft aggressively, though that is a separate issue entirely.

I wouldn't assume that wage theft would go away. It's just that the issue is a lot more severe when the base pay is sub-minimum.

> Tipping only exists because of racism.

What? Many countries have tipping, including ones that have never had any sort of racial caste system.

Canada (for example) got it through proximity to US, which did have a racial caste system. (Not to say that Canada doesn't have its own mixed history with racial issues, but that's another conversation.)

You seem to believe that having one party or the other party to a transaction “pay” changes the overall cost to provide the good or service. It does not.

Would you further wish to make it illegal (pay a fine or go to jail) to pay “more” for services you like?

I only tip in cash even if the order were done online.

AND, and I only tip AFTER I RECEIVE the order, but NOT BEFORE.

I absolutely detest tipping in advance. Strikes me utterly wrong.

Why should someone deliver your order if they don't know if you're going to tip them? Perhaps they absolutely detest delivering in advance of pay? Perhaps it strikes them as utterly wrong?

If you're suggesting we should all be okay with the idea of tipping before the service is ever completed just to ensure that the service even happens, well... That seems more like a bribe than a tip.

I'm not sure that's something we should be supporting.

Yes, it seems based on the downvotes that the idea of flipping the power dynamic is an unpopular one.

I'll admit that my actual radical idea is this - businesses should charge customers what it costs to deliver services and then pay their employees to do so.

Where’s the incentive to give good service if you’ve already received the tip?

A tip is supposed to be a monetary reward for going above doing the bare minimum job, and therefore I agree with OP, the tip should come after the service, not before it.

The tipping system exists so an employer can pay next to nothing and pretend the system is meritocratic. It was an end run around the fact that you couldn't underpay slaves anymore in the US.

The solution is to abolish tips in the tax code/minimum wage laws and have employers pay the full wage directly. No more tip jars anywhere, just like in every other developed nation in the world.

"Service est compris."

Humans usually, unless incredible entitled, feel obligated to work for the person with enough humility to tip them first instead of leaving them wondering if their hard work will even pay off. I don’t want to abuse them by making them spend time in the latter camp.

Many humans are incredibly entitled. Just the fact that people have come to expect a tip for doing their basic job is an entitled attitude.

It’s not abusing a service worker by not paying them extra money for doing their literal job with bare minimal effort.

> Just the fact that people have come to expect a tip for doing their basic job is an entitled attitude.

I understand the point you’re trying to make here, but it’s not this simple in the US. From the department of labor [0]:

> An employer of a tipped employee is only required to pay $2.13 per hour in direct wages if that amount combined with the tips received at least equals the federal minimum wage

It is both true that the service worker depends on those tips because base pay is allowed to be unreasonably low and it is unreasonable to expect a good tip for poor service.

Given the structure of the system as it currently exists, I’d argue it approaches a moral obligation either to factor tipping into your plans if those plans involve service workers or to intentionally avoid establishments that force workers to depend on tips.

For me, this means: doing the bare minimum gets you a middle of the road tip. I’ll tip well for going above and beyond, and only tip poorly if the service was truly terrible. And if a place has a no tipping policy, I’ll give them my business over others.

While I’ve encountered workers who had unreasonable expectations, that’s pretty rare. The true “entitlement” here comes from establishments that continue to force their workers to depend on tips. Another form of entitlement would be eating at such establishments while refusing to tip.

- [0] https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/wages/wagestips

I’m not understanding the point you’re trying to make here. An employee will receive minimum wage from their employer if they don’t receive enough tips to exceed it. This is required by law.

The point is that not tipping is implicitly endorsing minimum wage as acceptable for the role, since the only possible way for these employees to make a living is through tips.

The fact that the employer is required to pick up the slack is of little consolation, and certainly not a reason to assume that not tipping is ok. This rule would be more meaningful if minimum wage was a meaningful number.

Put more simply: until there are broader changes to tipping culture, it is perfectly understandable that people expect a tip.

That is not to say that entitlement doesn’t exist, and I’ve had a server or two get upset for a middling tip after mediocre service. But it would be similarly entitled to assume that the minimum wage fallback somehow makes not tipping acceptable.

(None of this should be construed as an endorsement of tipping culture).

Do you receive tips from your customers? And does the answer to that question determine the quality of your work?

I’m salaried and would not accept tips even if offered.

However when I eat at a sit down restaurant, the size of the tip I pay is very much determined by the quality of the service I receive. If you frown the entire time, don’t come back to refill our drinks at all, screw up half of the orders at the table, and make me wait a ridiculous time after we’ve finished our meals for the check, you don’t deserve a good tip.

> I’m salaried and would not accept tips even if offered.

Then you would not accept the payment model that you desire for restaurant workers?

No I wouldn't, but that's ok because I found a job that compensates me on terms I find acceptable. Nobody is forcing anyone to work a service job for tips in this country.

Tips are supposed to be a aww thanks, you thought I did a good job. I'm fine with tipping being an option, just don't expect it, particularly if you just give me mediocre or less service.

I'd say the matter of coercion is not so simple, but the subject of this post is that more and more places seem to be asking for tips, so it would seem like more workers are being asked to accept this model of compensation.

> flipping the power dynamic

Kind of an absurd notion to throw onto someone paying to have someone else deliver something. There shouldn't be a power dynamic here at all. If that means getting rid of tipping entirely, then I support that.

> There shouldn't be a power dynamic here at all.

I agree, but when you leave a blank box determining the pay of the person providing a service, then I don't see how you avoid it.

The same reason the FedEx driver should deliver my order even though there is no tip expected.

In one case the firm charging a substantial service fee for delivery isn’t paying the delivery driver adequately? Well, yeah, that should change.

Because that’s the agreement they chose to enter.

I've begun prompting back -- I ask cashiers if they'd like to round down to the nearest dollar in order to donate to make a charitable donation to me.

they are going to start prompting for tips at the self service gas station pumps, along with the ads that you have to click through before you can pay for gas

I was prompted for a tip when I bought a premade sandwich from a self-checkout at Newark Airport. I laughed so hard. Made my day.

the machine spitted some machine oil onto your sandwich when you didn't tip

Looking forward to the day some retailer's POS gets hacked and public lists of tippers vs not tippers is leaked and moral shaming begins. Or maybe it will affect your social credit score, surely that's coming soon to the West.

The moral shaming needs to be directed to the employers who refuse to pay a living wage and shift the burden onto the customers.

I think the point of the original article is that tip prompts are expanding well beyond foodservice to stores and retailers where tipping was never previously part of the compensation structure. These companies did, and still do, pay well above "a living wage" but the additional money is still highly tempting.

Or both? We are in a system that requires tips for people to survive. You can begrudgingly pay tips while being against them in principle and trying to change the system.

Full-service waiters get paid below minimum wage and that justified tipping (to an extent). The rest of the "system" does not "require tips to survive." Certainly not bridal shops, online travel companies, and locksmiths, some of the examples in the article.

I mean, if the idea is that you can shift the cost of paying your employees onto the moral whims of your customers, then that does sound like a pretty effective way to do it.


We need to normalize tipping a flat rate.

Forget percentages and tip $2 (or whatever) per hour per diner no matter where you are.

> We need to normalize tipping a flat rate.

You¹ need to normalise paying people a living wage and eliminating tips altogether. It is absurd that businesses rake in profits and on top of that pressure customers to directly cover employee costs, who have to live with the permanent anxiety of not knowing it they’ll make enough to live that month. It’s more bonkers than listing all prices without tax, but not as crazy as all the tax breaks given to rich people. The USA has an insane and unhealthy relationship with money.

¹ Forgive the “you” but “we” doesn’t apply universally in this context. Where I live (not the USA) people acquire goods and services by paying the establishment which in turn pays its employees.

We also need to normalize not tipping in most situations (outside of restaurants) and instead force employers to pay a reasonable wage to their employees. I, as a customer, should not have to take on the mental or emotional burden of deciding an employee's compensation every time I buy something.

We should normalize employees seeking a different job if their current employer doesn’t adequately compensate them.

Retail and service industry jobs were never intended to be a long term career that you support a family with. They were meant to be summer jobs for children or a way to get side money for college students.

I don’t see the difference between a service industry job and a job for a college graduate. If you work, you get paid adequately to live. I think it’s pretty simple. Colleges pump out a bunch of useless graduates that can’t find work so I don’t think you model works anymore. These service jobs for better or worse are what most college graduates are finding and there is nothing they did wrong. We shouldn’t punish people for macro conditions.

Paid to live where? Does this financial support only apply to me or also to my kids? Rather than have students research and understand employment potential in a given field before investing in that field, you would instead encourage them to ignore that and depend on an alternate career in the service industry to pay for living expenses?

It’s about investment in your education. Service industry jobs take a couple hours at most to learn, which makes you very replaceable.

Higher paying jobs usually involve something that makes you harder to replace.

For jobs that require college education, that’s several years of school in a high demand field. Most of the college students getting service jobs chose their major poorly.

For other high paying jobs there’s a willingness to do work that is hazardous or very unpleasant.

No, they were intended for non-white folks back in the day and were 100% considered long term. Tipping culture was a direct response of the 13th Amendment. Over time, especially when communities were racially exclusionary, that cheap labor came from the young instead of people of color.

"Retail and service jobs were never intended to be a long term career that you support your family with" only became the predominant thought AFTER young white college students started joint their ranks, which is fairly recent—post World War 2 with the Baby Boomer generation.

I’m curious to read more factual information about this. Can you point me to a reliable source on the topic?

Tipping: An American Social History of Gratuities


literally leaving money on the table if you don't have a tipping prompt for your service

You're also literally making every single customer uncomfortable, for what it's worth. Maybe the product you offer is so valuable or unique you can withstand that, maybe not.

I know some people who avoid places doing this so you’re also losing customers. Maybe the people shamed into tipping make up for this, but the business will never know.

Yes of course, that's the natural consequence of making people uncomfortable, that's what I meant by "maybe you can withstand this, maybe not"

Ironic, tipping used to be literally leaving money on the table.

in short term.

Yeah I’ve gotten real comfortable with the “skip” button or typing in my own idea of a realistic tip. The preprogrammed ones have gotten a bit much. I didn’t used to sweat this very often. But if this is how it is, this is how it’s gonna be.

Yeah, if anyone feels guilty about tipping you should work on ignoring the old school mentality and social pressures. It's the only way for it to change, and honestly most service workers I know have said that they don't even care what you press. So really the only judgement is coming from corporate.

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