The Tipping Point – I Hate Tips!

by Mike Holman

I hate tipping of any sort and I wish the practice didn’t exist. Don’t get me wrong, I tip at restaurants and bars like everyone else, but I don’t like it.

I’ve heard that tipping is a way to make up for a lack of a decent wage for waiters, delivery persons etc who have to work hard. My question is why can’t they get paid a market rate like everyone else? What is different about restaurants and bars?

Another reason I’ve heard is that you should tip for good service. My question is, if the person is just doing their job then why do you have to pay extra?

Most workers get compensated for doing a good or exceptional job by raises, promotions, bonuses which comes from the employer. I realize this compensation gets passed back to the consumer and I’m fine with that. I’d rather that food prices in restaurants go up 10% to pay for a better wage for workers (if the wages are too low). I also haven’t noticed any correlation between tipping and service – it appears that most waiters expect a tip and their performance is based on other factors.

There are some odd occupations that can get tips, baggage handlers at the airport? Shouldn’t you get arrested for that?.  One of the things that bugs me the most about tipping is why some workers get tips and most don’t?

It seems that waiters and bartenders, delivery workers are the biggest recipients of tips. But if you tip a bartender for grabbing a beer and removing the cap for you, why don’t you tip the person who works at the beer store who has to go into the back and grab the beer? What about gas stations attendants? What about the postman? Do you give them a tip for making it to your house that day?

How about if you get great customer service on the phone? Do you offer to paypal a tip to them? And what about the ten year old in Asia who spent part of his 12 hour work day on your new running shoes, did anyone tip him? I just can’t understand why some people get tips and others don’t.

In Australia, there are no tips in restaurants and when I was there a few years ago, I didn’t notice the service was any worse than it normally is here in Toronto. The other great thing about Oz is that both tips and  taxes are included in the menu price so whatever the menu price is, that’s what you pay.

When you go to the dentist/doctor – do you give them a tip? What about their receptionist? If they do a great job why not reward them a little extra. What about your bus/street car driver? What about your co-workers? If one of them gives you a little extra help do you give them a tip?

And what about social situations where you have a group bill and different people want to tip different amounts? I personally think that generally 10% of the gross bill is sufficient, but many times I’ve been in the situation where I’m out with friends and the bill might be $100 – I think we should leave $10 tip, $15 max (we’re talking very average service here), but some guys want to leave $20, and some guys want to leave $30 or $35?

Never mind the fact that the amount they put in doesn’t always correspond to the amount of tip they think we should be leaving. Do I have to put in extra money to make up for the fact that someone else wants to overtip? Do they have to put in extra to make up for my lessor tip?

I read a great story a while ago (can’t remember where unfortunately) where the person went out to lunch with some co-workers, they had individual bills, and one of her co-workers thought she gave too much tip and proceeded to take some of the tip and put it in her own pocket (I call this stealing).

Am I out of line here? Does it not make more sense if tipping didn’t exist and let the work/wage equation sort itself out?

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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

51 Mr. Cheap

jim: I used to work at McD’s (in high school) and we were forbidden to take tips (that’s what the donation jars are for I guess). If a customer insisted, we were supposed to give it to a manager (who I suspect would have put it in their own pocket).

I never worked counter, so I didn’t get a tip, but unless the policy has changed they won’t accept tips.

52 Gates VP

OK guys;

I brought up the McTip in my post (thanks for the link FP), it’s not allowed.

I personally agree with the “flat rate” for waitresses, but we’re definitely missing something here as evidenced by Sewiv‘s comments about the postman. Here, in Canada, all mail carriers are government employees as Canada Post is a crown corporation. You don’t tip government employees b/c (a) you’re already paying them and (b) it’s not really legal, when dealing with government representatives, everything errs on being a bribe.

However waitressing in the US vs. Canada is also a completely different story (again mentioned in the post). In the US, in many states wait staff make half minimum wage (i.e. $2.31 /hour), in Canada, wait staff make minimum wage (i.e. $7-9/hour based on province).

The completely “tips” the scale (:)). I personally feel wait staff should be making about $15/hour for what they do, and honestly feel that cooking staff should be making much more (say $17-20) based on training requirements. So I’m going to tip commensurate with that belief.

Obviously, the huge disparity in base wages means that these percentages will be wildly different between the US & Canada. It’s also worth noting that food costs tend to be significantly higher here in Canada as are taxes (many provinces charge 7 or 8% tax + a federal 6%).

So to put that into perspective for our southern fellows. A $10 plate (average cost of a meat & potatoes dish @ Denny’s, Perkin’s chain-style restaurant), we’re already paying $11.30. Add in a US-style 20% tip and you’re now at $13.30. Take out a family for dinner and your $60 menu orders become a $78 final tab and you’ve just paid your waitress $12 ($9 after tip out) or the equivalent of $18 (assuming a 1 long meal) to take your order, carry your food and refill your drinks!

And that’s just for your table!

Your waitress probably tackled 4-5 tables that hour! Now you see why I don’t mind just leaving them $6, especially if I wasn’t causing any trouble.

Again, these rules are completely different in US, so it’s definitely not worth comparing. Each of your plates probably cost $1 or $2 less b/c they aren’t paying the waitress anywhere near as much.

53 CG

It’s interesting that everyone is complaining about tipping in North America without realizing that in Europe, Australia, and other countries that gratity (tip) is already in the price of the meal. If you notice when European’s travel in North America they don’t give tips and they can get some pretty nasty remarks from the staff. It’s because they think the tip is already in the cost of the meal. Only the knowledgeable traveller knows that tipping is expected in North America. So bottom line is you pay a tip whether directly or indirectly in most restaurants. In addition, the kitchen staff in many European restaurants receive a share as part of the tipping-out process the dining staff have to do.

54 LB

I was a server for 6 years our wages were 2.13 an hour. My checks came out to zero dollars every week for the taxes that were taken out based on your sales not on how much the cheap guy actually left on his 100 dollar tap when he should’ve have left 15% and that is what is being claimed on my check. People don’t have to tip dramatically but servers do get many tables who don’t tip at all or very poorly. I personally didn’t like working for free and gave great service everytime some people appreciated it while other figured I got a paycheck. Just think it could be your son, daughter, wife, husband working. How would you feel if you worked a full day and only received a portion of the pay for the hours you worked. There are no bonuses, no raises, and seldomly promotions unless you are trying to make a carreer out of the restrauant business. Most servers must be available for all shifts as well as work holidays without getting holiday pay. If you had gotten at least minimum wage it wouldn’t be so bad if you gave good service and didn’t receive a tip or not the proper gratuity. However when it comes to paying bills and working for your money daily as you know a check will not be compensating what you do not make in tips due to the customers ignorance on tipping in the US or simply thinking you don’t deserv the money or because you were just doing your job and do not need a tip for what expected becomes a very sad hurtful action. If you don’t have the money to tip then don’t eat out or try being the least demanding of your wait staff so they can focus on getting better tips from those who well.

55 Aryka

I’m with you on this. If a server is polite, brings my meal/drinks in a timely fashion without spilling, makes sure there are no bugs in the food or omissions from the order, they have done the job they were paid to do. A tip, I thought, is means of rewarding excellent service. For example, knowing your favourite drink and having it ready by the time you sit down or recommending new menu items that you’ll probably like based on previous experience is based on a history; there’s a relationship between a server and regulars. For new customers, being able to recommend a wine pairing or knowing the source of the food shows me that a server has done work beyond what was expected of them.

Minimum wage is standard across the board in Canada now, based on my experience as a server and as kitchen staff – if a restaurant’s policy is that it docks individual pay for skipped cheques/tabs, go work at another restaurant. I don’t know of any facility that doesn’t demand a credit card to even start a tab; it’s just silly to trust that someone who has been drinking essentially for free all night will even remember to pay as he stumbles out the door, or that the bartender will remember anything and everything on that tab. I know of many places that don’t share tips with the kitchen staff, who have the much more difficult job in my opinion; do they not deserve it too, what with dietary requests/substitutions and the like?

…random question, if a tip is “included in the price of the meal,” isn’t that just going to wages? Or, is it a commission to recognize how hard one has worked that night?

In any case, at the vast majority of facilities in Canada, it’s a minimum wage job that requires no education or skill aside from basic coordination and respect, and is paid as such. Tips are to be earned, not expected.

56 Amber

You wanna know what I hate?? Here’s what I hate : pompous a-holes that write blogs about money. You really need to get yourself a diary, man. I accidently read the one about real estate agents being one myself then clicked the link for another (not that I was impressed with the first one but you how when theres a crash on the highway and you cant look away? Its was kind of like that). You are the most idiotic person I have ever reas anything by. And you have a book about money?? A person from Canada telling Americans hows to spend money. Do you guys realize that Americans already think you Canadians are wussy little vanillas? Well FYI we do…You’re all just plain weird. I mean state health-care? Come ON!! Anyway, dont think I wasted too much time sending you this ( I type really fast) but seriously lets get you a diary and you can save the world your little rants about tips. Hows the book sales going? Not self published are you….haha thought so. Want to know why? YOU SUCK!!!!!!

57 Meghan

Being half American I sincerely apologize for the moron above me.

58 anna

I personally do not believe in tipping its optional and i will NOT tip! Sorry its not my job to pay you, thats your employers job, i come for the food and pay for the food which is already expensive enough!

Its funny how canadians and americans feel over intitled to other peoples money! I`m not going to stay home as many of you say because you want a tip, I`m a paying customer i`m putting money in your company so it can pay you! The only person that should get a tip are the chef`s or cooks…after all they are the ones that cook the food, all the servers do is bring it to me! Guess what the person that works in Zellers does more for me then you! No one tips her! If you don`t tip a mcdonalds worker that runs out to your car and hands you your bag of food, then why the Fip would you tip some waiter at pizza hut?

I don`t care what your arguements are, when you were hired it was told to most of you that tips are not manditory, the reason you people choose not to be unionized is because you like it this way..if you in canada make 7-9 dollars an hour minimum is 10 dollars…you will have about 3 or 4 customers on average and alot of them love to throw money at you…they spend 30 on their meal and give you 10! now lets say 3 out of 4 tip you your 8 dollar underwage becomes around 20 dollars an hour – your making more then an office worker! So why the F should i pay you! You most times make more then me…i don`t feel sorry for you!

Oh my boyfriend spend a 100 dollar meal at a restaurant he tipped her 35 dollars…i was disgusted here he can`t even make his visa payments on time but he has money to throw at some server…so now she`s at 40 dollars an hour with 2 more tables…by the end of the hour she would be at say 60/hr

If there was a standard wage say 10 to 14 dollars an hour most of these servers wouldn;t not be happy because they would say they were making more money when they were only paid 2 or 5 dollars an hour…also most of them dont`even declare their tips on taxes…yes i know what you are all about! I WILL NOT TIP! I WILL GO TO TREAT MYSELF AND PAY THE EXPENSIVE PRICE FOR FOOD AS A TREAT TO MYSELF BUT I WILL NOT TIP! ITS MY RIGHT!

59 Crystal

Anna, don’t you sound like a little bag of joy? Wow, lighten up. Is it so important to you to be bitter and angry that you would never like to make someone’s day a little better by throwing them a tip?
And by the way, don’t even try to calculate a server’s hourly wage including tips unless you’ve been one. You have no concept of set-up times, side work, etc. You should probably just stop going to restaurants I the United States, I’ll bet your blood pressure would go down and you’d find yourself a lot less wound up. Take a breath.

60 katie

Sounds like Anna is a little jealous. And really , how do you know what someone is and is not claiming in tips? Are you breathing down their neck as they clock out each night? You’re a joke and I hope for the continued sanity of anyone who ever has to wait on you.

61 walrus

I hate tipping. I’ve read 10 of these articles just now and they all take on the same pattern. Some people will observe that no one else gets paid extra just for doing their job. Some other people will get very angry, call those people all kinds of names, and evidence that they somehow feel their social class has been elevated by foolishly paying more than X costs. And then, there’s the “I used to wait tables” person who is not satisfied with their life choices or paycheck. If any of you are feeling really, really classy, let me know, and I will give you an email address to which you can send as much money as you like. After all, I’m not satisfied with what I’m currently making, and this seems easier than going back to school….

62 Ryan

Wow, Anna, you sound like a moron. Tipping is a part of American culture, get over it. I work at a busy restaurant that is cash only and most people tip 15-20%. There are definitely people that tip bad (yes, most stereotypes are true), but the sh*tty tippers, like Anna, are outweighed by the good ones. ALSO, us servers have to tip out 5% of sales. SO, let’s say Anna decides to not eat Pizza Hut and goes to my restaurant and racks up a $200.00 bill and leaves no tip. 5% of 200 is $10. That means I had to PAY $10 for Anna to eat. People like Anna die horrible deaths and are typically fat.

63 Brittany

I absolutely agree with this article. It may just be my Australian roots talking, but after living in Canada for five years, I find the whole concept and expectation of tipping absolutely absurd. Why should someone who earns $2 an hour more than a waitress not receive a tip, yet because waitresses earn minimum wage (which isn’t the only job that receives minimum wage) they receive tips that sometimes accumulate to mind-blowing totals. I’ve heard of several waitresses and bartenders making superfluous tips resulting in an hourly wage that is higher than most office workers, most of whom have degrees, which (and I hate to generalize) most waitresses do not.

After recently visiting Australia for the first time after five years, I found the service at restaurants to be far more superb than the service I receive at most Canadian venues. Not to mention, every time I am in a “fancy” restaurant in Canada, I feel like I am in a strip club. How is the message “show your breasts and bum to get more money” a healthy one to send in society? People often tell me that the girls don’t like wearing those outfits, and that they are forced. This notion seems dubious to me after seeing several of the outfits waitresses wear, but if that was indeed the case, they should get a job at Booster Juice where there is a modest uniform, and there is still a tipping jar and the obligatory tip option every time I pay by card.

Overall, I do think that restaurants should increase their menu prices by 10% and remove the obligation of tipping. I resent every time I give in and drink the cultural Kool-Aid that insists we have to tip. People should receive compensation from their employer, not the general public who mostly have to also work and do not receive tips.

64 G

You actually do typically get paid extra for doing a great job. Maybe walrus has never gotten a bonus or raise and therefore the concept is foreign to him/her. Never got high in enough in rank to understand greasing wheels. You should probably just stay home. Alone. Which is probably NOT a foreign concept. Good luck.

65 Riley

I do find tipping awkward living in the states! I work at Victoria’s secret and Express and have worked other retail stores for college… while comparing retail to restaurant will not work/be fair I DO find some things a little funky.

1) I race around the store all my shift helping customers with outfits, bra measurements (like… thats super intimate) and ring on register, etc. While I KNOW servers get paid way less (I only make minimum wage), WHY don’t I deserve a tip???! I’m running around too and providing customer service to more than 5+ people at once who are NOT staying there for more than 20 minutes max and not to mention I saw way too many boobs.. Why couldn’t I get tipped for such an intimate service?

2) I do more duties than a server. While balancing a tray and refilling drinks sucks and is hard (I’ve worked as one before), I find myself working harder as a retail worker PLUS I usually have to make goal or a green segment..

66 taylor

do you have any idea how easy being a waitress or waiter is? They stand there, possibly wipe a table, but usually not even that. They walk to people table ask what they want and write it down. NOTHING else just a lot of standing talking and walking nothing else. I agree they get paid shitty by the resturant but most I know well make up for it in tips and make more than people who have mpre difficult jobs. Plus the whole expecting it thing and getting angry or dare saying something if i dont? How do you know I dont need that money for myself or my child??? DONT work there if you dont like the wage idiot its not my fault you make poor choices

67 jimmy

I an an Australian and have been living in canada for 3 years. Travelled the states a bunch of times too. I don’t have a problem with tipping but it’s the sheer lack of understanding and reasoning for tipping that bugs me. No body can really give a good reason as to why we tip in Canada. The lowest possible wage in British Columbia is $9 to be a server. The minimum wage at every other industry is $10.25. With this being said if we tip out of pity for the servers wage then a server having one table per hour leaving $1.25 should compensate the the gap between wages. I believe that a tip is in order when you enjoy the meal and service, but it’s the pretence that regardless of either of these things, you’re an asshole if you don’t leave a tip. You can have a mediocre meal with worse service but it’s still considered rude not to tip. I have worked in the industry in Aus and in Canada, don’t get me wrong it’s hard work, but it’s an awesome industry to work in as well. So if you drag your ass to work hating every minute and expect everyone else to pay for you, hospitality Is not for you. As for Cabbies and delivery drivers, why tip them and not bus drivers and mail men? If you answer with “their wage is better” then you’re contradicting the idea of “good service deserves a gratuity.”. Which gets back to my initial point. As I said. I have no issue with tipping, but I have an issue with it being a social standard and no body being able to give valid reasoning as to why without major flaws in it.

68 Lara

I hate tipping. Last week I was at a restaurant with a friend, when the waitress came by our table she always addressed my friend (Can I get you a refill? How does your food taste?) while ignoring me. The bill for both of us was $29.52. I paid with a $30 gift card, told the waitress to keep the change, and added that we would figure out the rest of the tip later. There was no “rest of the tip.” I didn’t leave one on the table. Wish I had kept the 48 cents change too, but at least I saved myself around $5 by not tipping more. 😀

69 Jeremy

I think this was a great post! Tipping has always been something that bothers me. I used to work a job many years ago as a tree trimmer/landscaper. At the time the current minimum wage was $5/hour. We worked incredibly hard, very hot, or very cold (depending on the time of year) days. I actually loved the job because it kept me in good shape and I got to be outside but it’s not like I was getting paid a ton of money. I really didn’t have a problem with the wage. It’s what I agreed to. At the same time, I remember my cousin (same age as me…also a college kid at the time) working as a waitress in a local restaurant and coming home and dumping her tips out on the couch one night as she counted them up. I remember thinking…”oh my goodness…she just made in one night what I make in a week…” lol. The bad thing was…I remember her saying…”oh…it was a slow night…I only had about 8 tables all night. I was really bored.” I thought “holy mackerel!” lol. “I just worked 9 hours in the blazing sun. I’m covered in dirt from head to toe and I feel like if I fell asleep right night I might not wake up until next week sometime…and you just crushed my pay and this was a slow night?”

That being said…there are a million reasons you can’t take that story as justification that waiters get too much. I know that there are other cases like this and many that are far from it in both directions. Not every situation is the same. My point is this…there are several things that drive me crazy about tipping…some of them have been said…

1) Who decides who gets tipped? I worked tree trimming/landscaping for 3 years. My biggest tip was a glass of lemonade one time. I am maddened every time I hear someone say “but waiters/waitresses work REALLY hard…” Ok…I get that…and I would say that just like any other job…some do and some don’t. My cousin made great tips. She would probably tell you that she didn’t work all that incredibly hard. On the other hand…I know that some restaurants are CRAZY busy and the servers literally never stop moving. My argument is…neither did I. I wore work boots, jeans, and a tshirt in 95+ degree weather for 8+ hours a day cutting wood, chipping wood, dragging, unloading, etc. Many people out there work very hard and don’t get tips. The difference between her wage and my $5/hour was probably $2-$3 which she (mostly likely) made up for by waiting on one table. Anything else was icing.

2)I absolutely DESPISE the idea of tipping a percentage. I’m not sure where it came from but it is absolutely ridiculous in my opinion. If I come in to your restaurant and I order a steak that costs $30 I will be expected to pay 18% of that in order to be a decent tipper…$5.40. If I walk into that same restaurant and order a hot dog for $2…then $0.36 will be the appropriate amount. Did the server do more work for the steak than the hot dog? Why am I being punished for choosing to spend more money in your restaurant? In just the same way that I feel $27 is absolutely ridiculous to expect someone to pay for a $150 meal at an expensive restaurant…I also see it as ridiculous that I could go somewhere for lunch where the server does basically the exact same thing but 18% of my bill may add up to a wopping $2.70. They have done nothing different yet are making vastly different wages because of what I chose to order. Think of it this way… if my family and I go to a restaurant and order $40 worth of food from a server…we can leave $8 and he’ll be as happy as can be because it’s 20%. If we go to the same restaurant and have the same server and order $100 worth of food…we all get steaks… and we leave $8…he very well may be upset because he only got 8%. In all likelihood he did EXACTLY the same amount of work…but he is now upset…rather than happy… What’s wrong with this picture?

This is where I really struggle with tipping. I know how it works and I know that servers are making sub minimum wage so I want to leave something for good service. In MY opinion…I don’t want to leave less than a $5 bill no matter what the percentage is of my bill. At the same time…for me to leave more than $10-$15 seems absolutely ridiculous…no matter what the cost of the meal is. The PROBLEM is that I know that if you don’t leave enough money…as one commenter stated…it can actually cost the server money because of the supporting staff’s payouts. In many cases the support staff is paid by the server according to a percentage of the bill…not according to a percentage of what I actually PAID. That’s why I hate the current system. A server should not have to count on me leaving 18% so that at the end of the day they break even or possibly walk away with a decent tip.

We recently went to Disneyworld. We got the dining plan which takes care of all of your meals. The only thing is…tips aren’t included. So…you sit down thinking that your going to relax and enjoy these great dinners every night only to find out that according to them your bill came to $165. Of course that will get zero’d out because you’re on the dining plan…BUT…you’re “encouraged” (actually feels like “expected”) to pay 18%-20% of that to your server every night. That comes out to $33 if you leave 20%! I hate to tell you but I have NEVER had service worth $33. That in itself is a meal. At one of the restaurants I left $12. The server came out afterward and said “was the service ok?” I said…”yes…very good…” He grunted and started shaking his head as he walked away… SERIOUSLY?

To me that’s the problem with tipping…people SOMETIMES come to think they DESERVE that money. I left $15 at another restaurant while we were down there and got close to the same response. Between those two places I left $27. I have an 11 and 13 year old…I could have given that to them to go see a movie but instead I left it to two ungrateful servers. 1) I didn’t know at the time about them having to pay out to support staff according to 18% of the bill rather than 18% of what I leave. Most people don’t know about that. 2) I just gave you $12-$15 and you’re making me feel bad? I didn’t HAVE to give you anything. The sense of entitlement is mind blowing for me. Think of it this way…if $30 is the general expected tip for this server per table (we have a family of 4 so this is probably about average) and the server waits on 3 tables an hour…that is $90/hour. If you take out 25% for supporting staff…that leaves him with $67.50 per hour plus his wage at the restaurant…for a total of about $70/hour. So…since Disney is a place where you have to book restaurants (this one for sure) 6 months in advance…I know that he is ALWAYS busy… it’s fairly safe to assume that this guy is making $50-$70/hour… and still finding a way to complain. Obviously not all restaurants are Disney or have their insane prices (which lead to insane tips because of the “percentage tradition” but it still highlights a problem of entitlement that our generation exudes so well these days.

I truly wish we could do something about this problem. It is a problem. I think we have gotten so far off the mark from what tipping is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a little something extra that I leave for you because I thought you treated me and my family well and I want to say “thank you”. Instead…I can leave someone $12 and have them shake their head at me. When I graduated college and had my first job in my field…I was making less than $12/hour…and I didn’t get tips.

All of this being said…I don’t have a problem leaving a tip for good service. I just don’t want to feel like I HAVE to. I want a gratuity to be a gratuity again. I know that servers work hard (like many people in the world) and I want them to get paid fairly. I just don’t want for my “thank you” to be the thing that they need for them to break even. If that’s how it is these days…then it’s a broken system.

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