Time to do away with tipped wage practices?

Sitting here with COVID time on my hands contemplating essential workers. This of course includes restaurant workers making $2.13 (federal minimum) plus tips. Most states are higher and some have minimums that hourly + tips must earn. Cite.

Obviously, these workers aren’t doing much from the tip side with restaurants around here restricted to a quarter of maximum occupancy.

One of the arguments for tipping is that restaurants would have to charge more for food to make up the difference. This strikes me as a “look over there” tactic. Spending $40 on food and $10 on a tip is exactly the same as spending $50 on food and not worrying about how much my server makes.

The next most common argument I hear from tipped workers is that they personally make good money from tips. I’m happy for them but strongly suspect that they are a small enough minority that doing away with tipping would do more good to the whole than the damage to them personally.

Globally it seems to be a mixed bag of where tipping is a thing so there doesn’t seem to be much consensus there.

35 countries where you should always tip on food and drinks, and how much to leave

What say ye?

Poll follows.

I’ve always hated tipping. Just sell me the product, serve the dinner, wash the car, whatever, and I’ll pay the posted price.

I have friends (cheap-ass bums) who never tip. That isn’t the right answer! That just hurts the poor employee whose wages are low because the employer expects there to be tipping.

So, yes, I do tip – somewhat generously – but I hate it. It’s not part of the contract.

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a lot around the world and in my experience unless you’re being served by the owner or family (in a small place), service by a hired employee without tipping as an incentive, is invariably far worse.

I was recently in Shanghai and friends took us to a high end restaurant. No tipping. You want better service (like getting your beer opened 10 minutes after they bring it to the table) it was easy: go into the kitchen area and shout louder than the next table to get the staff off their phones.

If employees don’t have personal vested interest (i.e. a reward) for working harder, most generally do the minimum they need to keep their jobs. I have absolutely no problem rewarding and providing them an incentive and I tip generously.

That said, maybe the incentive doesn’t need to be a direct tip, maybe they can be given incentives based on how much their tables order etc, but there definitely needs to be some incentive there.

An a person who grew up in a country without tipping, the practice always seemed absurd and unwelcome.
The downsides heavily outweigh the upsides of “slightly better service, in theory”.

I visited North America a few months ago and, of all the differences between our countries, tipping was by far the thing I was least looking forward to. It should be done away with, or at the very least should be a ‘tip if you feel like it and your service was beyond the call of duty’.
The way tipping is in USA/Canada, where there are thousands of articles on “how much should you tip?” shows that tipping is not about how good the service was, it’s just an arbitrary and faux-obligatory percentage tacked onto a meal. And that’s not to mention the fact that even people who grow up with tipping as part of their culture still have to have debates on which services should be tipped and which shouldn’t.

Tipping is a niceness tax. It allows selfish people to pay less than nice people for the same product/service.
In theory, tipping is a great idea. In practice, it’s garbage.

This sums up my feelings exactly. I am a generous tipper when I feel it’s merited - in other words, when service isn’t terrible - but I resent having to subsidize a business owner. I know some tipped workers do very well and wouldn’t want to give up their tips for a larger set wage - my sister was a bartender for years, and she had many days of tips in the hundreds of dollars.

So let’s say tipping becomes purely voluntary - how long before it creeps up to being expected again?

Anyway, yeah, I hate it.

You realize doing away with tipping impacts restaurant owners as well, right? Most places, where servers are making good money in tips, the owners require the servers ‘tip back’ a per centage, based on sales, to the house. Usually on the pretext of ‘sharing’ with kitchen staff etc. A practise that would absolutely not be tolerated in any other workplace. Pay a tax on your earnings to your employer? To upgrade another employees wages? It’s a practice that should be illegal but remains an unregulated open secret. This money is a cash slush fund for the owner, he’s not declaring that money or paying taxes on it, for certain. And it’s a LOT of money in a jumping restaurant.

So, yeah, tipping isn’t going to disappear any time soon, because owners profit from it enormously.

(How it should work? Server tips out to the bus boy, based on his performance, same with bartender. Shitty bus staff, don’t make coin, and that’s how it should work!If the floor staff didn’t tip out to the bar there’d be little incentive for the tender to prioritize the floor over their bar customers. If the tender gets a tip out, they make sure they get then what they need!)

Presumably if restaurants are opening at 50% of capacity or whatever then they’re only bringing back 50% of staff so it’s not like those that depend on tips would necessarily receive less tips. I was talking with a friend the other day that has been making some huge tips. The people that I’ve known that made tips and were good at their jobs made far more than they would make if paid regular wages. It caps their earning potential.

I tip generously and am disdainful of those who do not, but absolutely do agree that it would be better and fairer if we all paid a little more on the bill and tipped employees were paid a decent wage.

Like FairyChatMom, I feel as if I’m actually subsidizing management. I also just don’t think the inconsistency of tipping is fair to people. A server in a restaurant can have her shift just completely fucked up by one cheap asshole.

I tip generously and am disdainful of those who do not, but absolutely do agree that it would be better and fairer if we all paid a little more on the bill and tipped employees were paid a decent wage.

Like FairyChatMom, I feel as if I’m actually subsidizing management. I also just don’t think the inconsistency of tipping is fair to people. A server in a restaurant can have her shift just completely fucked up by one cheap asshole.

I think it would be a lot fairer if everyone paid a set price. Cheapskates stiff servers while some of us tip at least if not more than 15%. Essentially, we’re paying a lot more for the same goods and services. They need to be paid a livable wage, but that needs to be reflected in the pricing that everyone pays.

I think there’s a place for tipped wages; there are plenty of jobs where the workers make more through tips than they would with an hourly wage, but it also gives the customer the option of tipping what they want. And it gives the valets and employers more flexibility in terms of not having to pay out when it’s raining, slow, etc…

Take for example, valets. If they were paid a flat wage, I’d guess they’d probably make minimum wage. But that’s only like 4 cars an hour at an average $2/car tip. I don’t doubt that most valets park/retrieve more cars per hour than that, and make at least $2 per car. So in their case, I think they come out ahead being tipped.

Where the issue comes in for me is the practice of counting tips as part of the minimum wage. I think it’s super-shitty that servers make $2.13/hr and that another $5 and change counts as “wages” to get them to minimum wage. Minimum ought to be minimum, no exceptions.

So there should be two options in my book- tip-only, with certain flexibilities and protections, and minimum wage with tips being literal extras that aren’t tracked by the employer.

I was a server/bartender in the US for ten years, and I was pro-tipping for the most part during that time. Some of that was in California, where servers are required to be paid the regular minimum wage before tips (and the minimum wage was higher than in most other states); some was in Massachusetts, where we were paid the bare-minimum federal tipped wage of $2.63/hour (which meant I never actually received a paycheck, just a statement explaining how all my wages had gone to taxes.) I did generally make significantly more than minimum wage, even in MA, though there were some nights and some jobs that fell far short. My pay also fluctuated wildly, which made it nearly impossible to budget. In retrospect, I think I had a kind of Stockholm-eqsue resistance to examining my circumstances and asking whether this was really fair or right or good. I was determined to succeed on my own merits, and if I was failing it had to be because I wasn’t working hard enough. Getting some distance from that world has, I think, allowed me to see things a little more clearly. I’m now better able to identify the ways in which I was luckier than most, and also the ways even I was getting screwed. I’m more open now to the idea of trying to do away with tipping, although I still have some practical doubts about actually implementing such a change.

As a customer, I’ve never minded tipping and I still kind of side-eye people who complain about it. As someone else pointed out upthread, there’s no difference between paying $40 for your meal and adding a $10 tip, and just paying $50. I find it particularly ironic that some of the same folks who call us “ugly Americans” when we visit Europe because we don’t bother to learn the language and customs of the countries we’re visiting, can’t bother to spend ten seconds Googling how much to tip in the U.S. It’s not rocket science. Just do it.

It is absolutely time to get rid of tipping culture. It impoverishes the people who depend on it. It confuses the fuck out of foreign visitors. A lot of locals don’t fully understand it either. Pay service employees a fair wage, and do away with tipping.

And while we’re at it, start making retail prices reflect the post-sales tax price, too.

The hurdle that will have to be overcome to do away with tipping is to change to paying workers a good livable wage instead (as they do in other non-tip countries) - not minimum wage. I do not suspect that will ever happen, so tips will remain.

My problem with tipping is that it is the expected baseline, rather than a reward for exceptional service. In addition, I may think I am being generous (15% is good, yah?), but the recipient may have different expectations (Only 15%! Cheap bastard!), so my communication of gratefulness is not received correctly. And, as others have pointed out, in food establishments managers have found a way to carve out a portion of my tip to the server, which sounds very mafioso, if you ask me.

Worked as one and get rid of it.

Yup, you can make good money. But there’s also tons of shifts that need to be covered where the tips suck.

If it can be gotten rid of, and restaurant owners forced to pay their employees a market wage, then I’m all for it. Until then, “I’m opposed to the current tipping regime” is a poor excuse for stiffing your waiters, delivery people and bartenders. So tip until you don’t have to anymore.

That said, tipping shouldn’t be outlawed either, directly or indirectly. If someone wants to reward their server for good service, they should be allowed to do so and the server should be allowed to accept. It just shouldn’t be an expectation for every meal and it should be between the server and customer and have nothing to do with the employer at all. When I was working the drive through at McDonald’s when I was a teenager, a woman told me to “keep the change” which was a quarter, I think. The manager got very upset and said I couldn’t keep it because I could be fired or even be in legal/tax trouble. Frankly, that’s bullshit.

Hear hear and darn right!

When I lived in Europe, I absolutely the fact that the price on the menu was the price you paid. There was no tipping and any tax was already incorporated in the price. I usually tip generusly, but feel I am subsidizing those who don’t. Pay the staff adequately and asjust prices accordingly. Also in my lifetime, the tip amount has gone from 10% to 20% and when my parents were young it was 7%. I don’t see that serving me a $50 meal is twice as hard as sarving me a $25 meal. The whole practice is absurd.

Having grown up in, nominally, non-tipping Norway I say:

  • Pay people a living wage at a minimum
  • Then scale back tipping culture so you tip a small amount for great service, not 20% at a minimum because otherwise your server starves.

Agreed! Are there any jurisdictions outside North America that advertise the pre-tax price only (and surprise the customer with a 10-15% surcharge?)