‘Tipping’ is the act of rewarding a job well done, monetarily, and I’m all for random acts of generosity when warranted, but lately I find  myself wondering if these acts are truly earned or simply expected.

When presented with a bill for service we are now given the ‘choice’ of tipping a fixed percentage (15%, 20%) or a dollar amount, and rarely is there an option for no tip. Now it’s not very often I would opt for no tip. I have no problem acknowledging exceptional service, and I can on occasion be very generous when met with quality work but is it really my responsibility to acknowledge it? Who’s benefiting the most here? And I especially take issue with restaurants that build in the tip to their bill so we have no choice. Who are they to decide if I will be happy with the service?

A waiter or waitress in a restaurant is hired to provide good customer service and as a patron I should expect no less – I am paying for it. As I understand it most wait staff are poorly paid, i.e. minimum wage; the expectation for better income is via tips, taking the onus, and the expense, off the owner. How fair is that? As the owner of a business isn’t it their responsibility to ensure their employees provide good customer service? And in doing so does that not improve the business and thereby the owners profit from it? That being the case, why aren’t the owners ‘rewarding’ their staff? They’re the ones reaping the benefit. If an owner has an employee who goes above and beyond, the owner should be rewarding them, not his patrons.

For that matter I struggle with the whole ‘pooled’ tips system many restaurants mandate. All tips are effectively pooled then divided evenly between ALL staff, including those who do not have direct contact with customers. Again, aren’t these employees the responsibility of the owner? Hire the right people, pay them a fair wage, and reward premium performance when warranted. Don’t dump that financial obligation on your patrons. We don’t have a say in who you hire so why make us pay them?  Isn’t it enough that we keep coming back to your establishment because YOU (the owner) are profiting every time we do. And where’s the incentive for an employee to go that extra mile in this scenario? The employee who does half the work, without a smile will still get their ‘cut’ of the pooled tips, so why work harder? Let the others do it.

I also struggle with the blatant expectation of a tip in a self-serve environment. Coffee houses put their tip jars front and centre where no one can miss it, but what is it for? The employee presses a button and passes the coffee to the customer. We put in our own cream, sugar, and apply the lid, so what did they do that warrants payment over and above their salary. Where specialty coffees are prepared, the employees need to put in a little more effort, but HEEEELLOOOOO,,,,that’s their job. And if they’re really good at it, shouldn’t the owner be rewarding them? (it’s not like we don’t already pay a fortune for the coffee)

I’m all for improving the base wage for those who serve the public (because the public isn’t always easy to serve) but I believe the responsibility of paying a fare wage lies with the owner and it’s a copout to dump that expense on your patrons. As for tipping, I still support it where earned, but ALL proceeds should go to the employee who earned them. I’m sure your kitchen staff and cleaning staff do a fine job but you as the owner have the responsibility to pay them, and that includes any bonuses related to premium performance. In turn you’ll have happier staff who have a vested interest in helping your business succeed.


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