Is tipping culture tipping over?

by | Feb 6, 2024 | Opinion

You may have noticed that many places that did not ask for tips in the past are asking for tips, such as Subway. This new trend can lead to tipping fatigue. According to Jessica Dickler of CNBC, tipping fatigue is when consumers get tired of being asked to tip everywhere.

Tipping fatigue is dangerous to people who rely on tips, such as servers and stylists. I had to rely on the tips I earned in the past, but I’ve only worked in the kitchens. So how did I get your $5 bill with the phone number you slyly wrote while you flirted with your server in my wallet?

In many restaurants across North America, many servers have to tip a percentage of their sales to the kitchen, house and bartenders. It usually ranges from three to 10 per cent. For example, in Alberta, there are situations where a server could end up earning less than minimum wage in an hour. If they serve one table in an hour, sell $150 worth of food, but the guest doesn’t tip at least 10 per cent, the server ends the hour with less than minimum wage. They’ll have to tip out $1.50 for the honor of serving that one guest, resulting in the server earning less than the $15/hour minimum wage. Does that seem fair? 

When I dine, I will always tip 10 per cent at the bare minimum, even if the server did a lousy job. It’s just to cover the cost servers must pay the kitchen. Usually, I try to tip 14 to 18 per cent and pay in cash, or at least tip in cash. Fantastic service will get 20 per cent or more tips from me. I tip in cash because I know that money will at least go into their pockets. There’s many reports of restaurants withholding tips from their workers, and I’ve heard some tales about skimming off server’s card-based tips in my 20 years of working in the restaurant industry.

Time Magazine author Racheal E Greenspan explains that the process of tipping began in the medieval ages as a form of a master and serf custom. Then, it came over to America in the 1860s, when wealthy elites wanted to act like the pompous royalty of Europe. I believe some people still have this attitude regarding tipping and use it to power trip over people they deem lesser without actually doing anything illegal. Still, I believe tipping should be for a job that goes above and beyond instead of subsidizing someone’s paycheck. I know the Western server industry will not have a grand sweeping change for pay, but it should. Until then, I will tip servers at sit-down restaurants or when someone gives me fantastic service. But I will not tip in a mall food court.

I do not tip at every place that asks me to. If it’s a place where I have to go to the counter to order, such as fast-food, I will not tip. And I will not be tipping cashiers at grocery stores when it inevitably happens in the future. I don’t like tipping, but it is needed until restaurants pay hard-working employees what they deserve. If restaurant jobs are not real jobs, why were they among the first things people wanted to open after the lockdown? The social experience of wing-night is essential for humanity.

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