Manners & Money is a mini-series about etiquette, social norms, manners, and how it effects our financial decisions. Have you ever spent more than you wanted in order to avoid “social awkwardness”. Are some of your frugal habits frowned upon by others in your social circle? Let’s discuss!
The topic for today is tipping.
The act of tipping is an expression of gratitude for the quality of service recived. It is given at the customer’s discretion, usually in the form of a monetary gift. At least, that is what it should be. The reality is in many service industries, tipping has transitioned from something that is graciously accepted to routinely expected. I read the breakdown for tipping in an etiquette catalog is 10-15% of the pre-tax bill:
10% – below standard service
15% – standard service
20% – exceptional service
Why have we choosen to reward mediocrity and sub-par service? You’ve probably heard the same arguments I have. When you don’t leave a baseline tip you are essentially “stiffing” the staff member because they are taxed on an assumed amount. In my humble opinion, it would be much easier to pay waitstaff a higher wage and enforce accurate and timely reporting of additional income through tips to the IRS. This way there is no longer an assumed baseline and customers can tip to express gratitude and it will actually be appreciated.
The other problem with tipping in its current form, is protocol dictates the amount of your tip should be based on the cost of your meal. This is why wait staff will try to upsale expensive drinks, appetizers and desserts…the more you spend, the more your baseline tip. I’ve witnessed the entire countenance of a staff member change when I ask for water to drink! Some restaurants also redistribute tips among the entire staff, so your tip towards an exceptional server may be redistributed to others that did not interact with you at all.
Personally, I feel the practice of tipping is “broken”. But it is something I do because the workers should not have to suffer. When in Buffalo, I adopted the habit of doubling the tax (8%) and rounding up. I still do that, and I have not put much thought into tipping until writing this article…but I would like to see it move back to a reward for exceptional service.
Waiters & Waitresses aren’t the only ones who receive tips. Here are some others:
- Airport baggage handlers
- Car service/limo drivers
- Taxi drivers
- Barbers, Hairdressers
- Food delivery
View the entire list with recommended tip suggestions at http://www.betidy.com/trivtip.html
I’d love to hear your thoughts? Do you tip out of obligation or gratification? Have you worked in the service industry?