Tipping Point

posted December 3, 2009 by daniel

Why do we tip when we go to a restaurant? When I was in India last year, some people were confused when I tipped them. In Ireland earlier this year, a bartender actually came and gave my tip back, refusing to accept it. I'm a polite, friendly Canadian and I understand the idea behind tipping is to show appreciation for good service. It seems like a good idea, except that you're expected to tip all the time, whether the service is satisfactory or great.

Perhaps the reason is that servers have to deal with people, so they deserve a little extra pay. Lots of other people, like store clerks and bus drivers, have to deal with members of the public too and they don't get paid extra for it, so why do waiters and waitresses get extra money? If workers should get paid a bit extra for working with the public, then the next time you go to a new grocery store and a staff member tells you which aisle the bacon is in, you should give them a tip for it.

Perhaps tipping servers means you get better service, because they're working for your tip. I get great service from all kinds of places that don't expect tips. I don't get tips for doing my job, but I enjoy what I do and work hard because of that, so I don't believe servers would give bad service if they were paid a flat wage. Everyone working in industries without tipping manages to do a good job without tips.

Perhaps tipping servers is necessary because they aren't paid a decent base wage? This is a reason I can actually believe, but I think paying them a decent base wage is the answer, rather than tips.

A minor thing that bothers me about tips is that because tips are supposed to be a percentage, overpriced food means you should leave an overpriced tip. The thing that really annoys me, though, is that you're expected to tip all the time, regardless of how good the service is, and that makes it meaningless. Live performers don't expect a standing ovation every time they perform and if they did get it would be meaningless. So why should we tip all the time?