Top 10 Reasons Tipping Has Got to Go
Unlike in other countries, particularly in Europe, where servers are paid a better base salary, servers in the U.S. are paid so little that they depend on gratuities to make a living. The federal rate for servers in the U.S. is $2.13 per hour. Although the Congress allows the states to set their wage higher than the federal salary, most states still adhere to the federal minimum wage.
Since the introduction of tipping in the U.S., it has been a common practice to leave a tip to express your gratitude for good service. However, the tipping industry has evolved too much, enough to affect all of us, as servers now regard this as their main source of income instead of being just a “bonus” for the service they rendered. While tipping is not mandatory, people now are expected to leave a customary rate of 15-20 percent after eating in a restaurant.
Because of this, tipping has been the center of controversies for the past years, with people wanting to do away with it. And just like them, I also want to abolish this long-term practice – not because I’m a cheapskate or I cannot afford it – but it’s because it’s bad for everyone. And here are the top reasons why it should be stopped:
10. Tipping Creates Inequality.
As we all know, the amount of tip is often based on the food cost. As your bill increases, so does your tip. And even if the service was not good, you are still expected to give at least 15 percent tip to the one who has served you.
According to the study conducted by the payscale.com, waitresses/waiters earn 63 percent of their total income from gratuities, while kitchen staff, such as line cooks, only get less than 10 percent of their income from tips. Since wait staff are the ones who often interact with people, most tips are given to them. And when the menu prices are higher, servers make a lot while those who are in the back of the house, who have actually equal skills or better skills than them, are not rewarded. Worse is even if the service was terrible and the food was great, tips are still given to the servers instead to the ones who prepared them. And that’s just not right, is it?
Tipping causes inequality between servers and kitchen staff. And I think it is just right to eliminate tipping completely to avoid inequality. Just like what other people are saying, everyone who works in the restaurant is responsible for your entire experience – from servers to kitchen staff to managers. Therefore, everyone must be paid appropriately for their work.
- Tipping Enables Discrimination.
There is a common belief that tipping motivates the restaurant workers to do better. But in reality, tipping allows the servers to discriminate against their customers. There are some evidences gathered showing how tipping becomes discriminatory.
In some restaurants in the US, restaurant workers use a code word “Canadian” to describe black people, who are considered as low tippers. And when these “Canadians” enter the eating place, servers would say, “I don’t want that table…They’re Canadians.”
There’s a widespread perception that black people tip less than white customers. As a result, servers dislike waiting on tables of black parties, resist being assigned to serve them, and worse, deliver poor service to them. There are even instances that servers refuse to work in a restaurant with black patrons because they believe that they are poor tippers. And according to Michael Lynn’s research on tipping, black people are not the only ones who are likely to receive reduced attention from U.S. servers, but other groups as well, including elderly, women, children, ethnic minority, and anyone carrying coupons.
And as a customer, who eats out often, this really bothers me a lot. I can’t imagine myself being labeled as a “low tipper” (particularly when I reached old age). And I also can’t imagine that my future kids and grand kids will be treated that way. If we eliminate tipping, we will encourage servers to not engage in that kind of negative behavior. We will even teach them the importance of treating people with respect and giving them a decent service they deserve, no matter what their skin color, age, or accent is – and even if they don’t give tips at all!
- Tipping Punishes Good And Hard Working Employees.
Let’s say, you decided to go with your spouse to a fancy restaurant and you ordered two plates of simple meal that cost a whopping $100. Since there’s a customary 20 percent tip, you left a generous tip of $20 to the server, even if it didn’t require too much effort to serve your dinner. And then the next day, you planned to eat at another restaurant and ordered their affordable specialty that included 2 plates of pasta at $8 each, 2 plates of vegetable salad at $2.50 each, 2 servings of French fries at $1.50 each, and 2 glasses of soda at $1.00 each. In total, that’s $26 food bill and only a $5 tip. Isn’t it unfair to the server in the second restaurant to get a lower tip even if he was the one who worked harder – by taking more trips from/to the kitchen and carrying heavier plates?
This same goes for employees, who work in establishments that implement a tip pooling system. Tip pooling is a practice, in which owners or managers collect all tips from employees and then, redistribute them among the group. Some of you might think that this practice is just fair and reasonable because it gives everyone a fair share. But in reality, it’s not. Tip pooling just actually encourages the lazy workers to get lazier, because they know that at the end of the day, they will receive a bonus anyway, which is unfair to the good workers.
- Tipping Produces An Uncertain Stream Of Income.
As we already know, most restaurant workers depend on tips to make a living. And we also know that the amount of tips varies greatly, depending on the place, the worker, and the service. While there is a customary rate of 15-20 percent, there are still instances that customers leave less than this range. Worse, if customers don’t like the workers, they don’t tip at all.
If this practice continues, and it goes on, I think all workers will soon rely solely on customers for their income, rather than their employers, which is actually a bad thing. What if a worker’s tip come in an uncommonly high or low? Or what if a worker doesn’t receive anything at all?
- Tipping Subsidizes Greedy Employers.
Last year, there was a controversial note posted on the internet, which said, “I give God 10%, why do you get 18?” It was actually written by a pastor, who scratched out the automatic 18 percent tip included in the receipt and replaced it with that unique statement. The note was posted by the waitress, which according to her was meant to entertain. The post quickly went viral, but unfortunately, when the pastor caught wind of it, she immediately called the restaurant owner and demanded that everyone there should be fired. Shortly thereafter, the waitress got fired – despite allegedly being one of their dedicated staff.
Now, what’s the point of this story? Well, this is not about saying that people who don’t tip are cheapskate, or workers shouldn’t post just about anything on the internet even if they find it interesting. The villain of this story are not the customers who refused to tip, nor the wait staff who unintentionally embarrassed a customer, but rather, the corrupt employers who refuse to pay their servers an appropriate wage. Obviously, it’s a racket. Restaurant owners are happy to pay their workers low wage because they know that customers are there to fill the gap.
Well, in a way, we cannot blame them because we, customers, tolerate that practice. In fact, even if we don’t want to, we still find ourselves giving tips. Why? Because we’re afraid that if we don’t, wait staff might spit in our food or treat us badly. But let’s remember that the wait staff are not the bad people here. If only they were paid a living wage, they would never expect or demand a tip. So, it’s time to abolish tipping – better to enforce a law that would pressure greedy employers to pay their workers fair wages, as well as educate workers to give their customers the best service they deserve – whether there is a tip or not.
- Tipping Promotes Bad Service.
Another strong reason why tipping should be banned is because it harms the service of the workers. Although many people believe that tipping motivates the workers to do a good job, in reality, it’s actually the opposite.
Anyone who’s ever work as a waiter or waitress knows that you can boost your income by getting a lot of tips from customers. But to make that happen, you should serve a lot of tables because the more customers you serve, the more tips you earn. But sometimes, because of the desire to earn a lot of money, wait staff forget to realize that they are already sacrificing the quality of their service just to get more. Just like what Jay Porter said, “How can you be thinking about your guests’ needs when you’re thinking about your money?” This is especially true on busy days, where servers take advantage the time that they could maximize the number of people they serve. Even if it’s more than they can handle, they still force themselves to serve as many customers as possible.
This practice is common in most restaurants. The customer’s intention for eating out is to experience best service, but workers fail to give them that because they’re often more concerned about the money they will get. But of course, I am not saying that all servers are like this. I still believe that there are servers whose intention is to take care of their customers. But I guess if tipping will be banned, customers will experience a lot better dining experience, because instead of being focused on tips, servers will be able to concentrate more on giving their customers the best service as possible. And this is also beneficial to the entire establishment, because the more satisfied that customers are, the more likely they will come back to the restaurant and encourage others to go there.
- It’s Irritating And Stressful.
What is a tip? And why people give tips? Tipping can be defined in a lot of ways. According to Wikipedia, “a tip, also known as gratuity, is a sum of money customarily tendered, in addition to the basic price, to certain service sector workers for a service performed or anticipated.” The amount of tip varies from places and social custom. In some locations, tipping is considered illegal (an act of bribery) so it is completely discouraged, but in other places, like here in the U.S., tipping is considered a reward to a good service.
Well, I understand the purpose behind tipping – to reward those who give excellent service. As unthinkable as this may sound, I loved to tip – the idea of rewarding good people for exceptional service. But somehow, it’s gotten out of proportion and became a great annoyance to me. Before, tip was considered a reward or “bonus” for the service rendered, but now, it has been the main source of income of many workers.
I’ve mentioned that I understand why people tip, but what I don’t understand is that why am I expected to pay additional money when I eat out – especially leaving a 15% minimum every time I order? And why do I feel that if I don’t tip, the server would spit in my food or give me an average service when I return because I’m already labeled as “cheapskate”? Why should I also pay a higher tip if I choose a pricey meal? And why do some people feel guilty when they don’t tip?
And what’s more annoying is that a lot of restaurants today automatically add a service charge on the bills, but still put a space for tips on the receipts! How’s that? We go out to enjoy and eat and not to worry and tip.
- Good Service Doesn’t Require Tipping.
American eaters are accustomed to giving a voluntary amount of 15-20 percent to get a good service. And there’s actually nothing wrong about that. But does that mean that if you don’t tip, you don’t deserve good service? Isn’t it their job to provide quality service regardless if they get tip?
ALL employees are expected to do their jobs well, with friendly and good attitude. That’s why they receive paychecks. Some companies in other profession punish those with poor performance by giving them warning or if consistent, by firing them. Therefore, servers should also give their best even if their customers are good or bad tippers.
Just so you know, many restaurants, particularly in other countries like Japan, Italy, and South Korea, don’t have a tipping system – in fact, they don’t expect tips at all. Yet, these restaurants have excellent service much better than the restaurants here in the U.S.
- Restaurant Workers Are Already Paid.
Another reason why tipping has to go? Simple – because servers are already paid by their employers. You don’t necessarily have to leave a tip just to get a good service, because the money you pay for the food is enough to expect good service. If you go in other countries, particularly in Asia, you will see servers coming out of restaurant running behind you to return your tip, because they’re not used with that custom. In fact, some of them even feel offended if you give them a tip. Many restaurants in other countries prohibit their employees to accept tips because they already provide enough wages for them.
See, servers are already paid enough so there’s no reason for us to tip at all. And did you know that tipped servers are among the highest-paid in the restaurant industry? You’ll be surprised how much they make – probably more than what you earn! Look at this sample calculation.
Let’s say, a waiter is paid $2.13 per hour – the minimum wage set by the government – and he regularly waits on about 10 tables per hour. The rate of food, of course, varies per restaurant, but let’s say, again, that this waiter works in a casual dining, where the price for a typical meal for two is $50. If all the tables will leave a 15 percent tip, the waiter will earn $75 per hour. So if he is working on an 8-hour shift, and earning an average of $75 per hour, that’s $600 a day! And that doesn’t even include his regular pay! As unbelievable as it may sound, that’s true. So next time you go out, don’t tip!
- Not All Money Goes Directly To The Server.
Another thing why tipping has to be eliminated once and for all is because you don’t really know where your tip is going, do you? In an article posted in Serious Eats, food critic Carey Jones explained how tipping actually works in New York City. According to him, “Unless you’re in the habit of tipping with a handshake, sliding a $20-or-whatever directly into your server’s hand, here’s the reality: your tip does not go directly to your waiter.” He even added, “Many restaurants allot payout via a points system, in which tips are pooled, then distributed at the end of the night.”
Unfortunately, schemes, like this, are often unfair. Since the managers are often the ones who give points to all staff, they reward themselves with highest points. As a result, the managers get the largest portion of the money collected. In some restaurants, tips go to the owner, not to the employees or the ones who received the tip. And this is unfair – not only to the worker, but more to the customer, who gave the tip.
Indeed, tipping is problematic – that’s why it isn’t allowed in many other countries, like Japan, Italy, China, Singapore, and South Korea. The Europeans, who have started this tipping scheme, have abandoned it. So if they can do it, we can, too.