Definition of gratuity:
Something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service
I consider myself a better than average tipper. I am more than happy to pay for good service. Even better if I have a waiter or waitress that has a great attitude and perhaps a little sass. I like some personality with my service.
But lately I am feeling obligated to pay more regardless of the service. In fact, I believe it has become an expectation, regardless of the level of service provided. Rather than voluntary, it has become an obligation.
Don’t get me wrong. Those in the service industry work hard. I waited tables for a non-profit, Sunday morning breakfast. It’s hard, and often thankless work.
For years, an acceptable tip was considered 10%. Few people carry cash anymore. Most everyone including me, pays via POS (Point of Sale) electronic devices. Not long ago, the choices were anywhere from 10% to 15 or 18%. Now the choices start at 18% and go up to 25% and higher!!
We are experiencing “tip creep”.
Has the service gotten better? Has the food improved? The venue?
Admittedly, the pandemic has pushed prices up, along with the cost of living. However, the dollar amount of the gratuity automatically rises accordingly. 20% of a $100 dinner pushes the cost to $120. Many people, mistakenly tip on the total cost – including HST – tipping for the privilege of being taxed for your service?!
Are the people on the front lines getting the benefit of this, or is ownership taking a percentage? How is it distributed? There is no visibility.
15% is now considered an insult. Why? Are people working harder? Are they more personable? More engaging?
Some people absolutely deserve a great tip. They earn it through attentiveness, personality and great service. Many just expect it, giving no more than necessary. People are human beings after all. We are all different.
I admit, I cringe a little when I get the machine. I don’t want to be cheap. I don’t want to tip less than my counterparts sharing dinner. That would be embarrassing. But it’s also embarrassing to ask others what they are going to tip.
What if the service wasn’t great, or the food substandard? Do I still tip? Of course I do! I feel obligated.
I have this fear that some waiter or waitress is going to follow me out to my vehicle, berating me in front of everyone in the vicinity for being an asshole and not tipping. They have a family to feed after all and bills to pay. So I bite my lip, pay accordingly and immediately start to complain about why I have to tip for poor service.
Sending food or wine back because it is sub standard? In all my life I have possibly returned food or drink one or 2 times – though I have been tempted many times. I have still felt obligated to tip.
Should we have to pay a tip to pick up a pizza at the local pizzaria? I order online, I drive to the establishment, I pick it up. But I still feel obligated when they pass the electronic device to me. You can’t pay without passing the tip option first. We don’t even know if the pizza is good until we get it home. What if it’s not good. Can we get our tip back?
Are we so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or confrontation, that we can’t call out poor service?
It is all so predicated on forcing us to feel guilt. All about preying on your conscience.
Some establishments build in a mandatory tip. There is no ability to opt out. But I still feel a fleeting twinge in my heart that I should tip – maybe just a little – but wait, that would be insulting wouldn’t it? It has become so normal and expected.
Perhaps we should just make tipping optional.
OR – Maybe establishments in the service industry should just pay these hard working people a living wage! Maybe, just maybe, it would solve the worker shortage that we are experiencing.