One of the things by which I have been amazed is the tipping culture in the US.
Whenever I go to local coffee shops, I feel that I am pressured and shamed to give tips. And for no reason that I can understand. My go-to coffee is just purely black coffee. No fancy “pumpkin latte” or even a mocha. Just black coffee. However, I always feel that the modern technology and current practices make me feel ashamed if I don’t tip. In some stores, after a payment is made, there are several options popping up on the counter iPad ranging from probably 10% to 30% or something. Of course, there is a “no tip” option, but it guilts you into doing it. And 20% tip for what? For handing me a black coffee 2 feet away? Don’t we already pay for the combination of the goods and services?
Last week, I was out for a dinner with a friend. The waitress sat us down and quickly ran through a menu with jargon and names that we didn’t fully understand. No biggie. Around 30 minutes in and we were in a middle of an engaging conversation, she showed up and asked: “if everything is ok?”. I was annoyed. If we had had trouble, we would have let her know. Being interrupted when you are in a conversation is just annoying. A bit later, when we still had around 20% food on the plate that we fully intended to finish, she came and asked if we wanted to get a check. We said no. We were still eating. It was unbelievable. Our whole meal lasted around one hour, not like a marathon session or anything. And we are expected to tip for all that?
I understand that service workers rely on tips as their salary isn’t enough. But that’s not on users/consumers. That’s because businesses pass on that part of employee compensation to the end users while still maintaining their margin. That’s insane. Suddenly, end users are pressured by guilt into tipping, especially given that in many cases, the service doesn’t warrant for tips.
We don’t have tips in Vietnam. I didn’t see it while in Europe. What you see in the bill is what you pay. But it’s never the whole story here in the US. Most things are advertised at the lowest possible price with a lot of strings attached. While I understand that this tipping practice has been around for a long time and likely isn’t going anywhere soon, I’d love to see business owners pay employees more so that they wouldn’t have to rely on tips. Like I would love to have a meal in peace without being interrupted and pushed to leave.