Tipping culture

This morning, a friend shared with me a passage from an online article, as follows:

A 2018 survey found people ages 18–27 are the most likely to shortchange the restaurant waitstaff. In fact, 10 percent admitted to routinely leaving no tip at all. Here’s a tip for all you millennials: Try leaving a few bucks on the table instead of posting pictures of your food to social media.

I found it baffling. The tipping culture in the US or Canada doesn’t really make sense to me. Wait staff enters a labor agreement with restaurant owners for a reason. They agree to the benefits and compensation offered by the owners. Without any involvement from customers. Customers have nothing to do with that. Yet, customers are forced to make up for the low wage. In some cases, tips are just expected, but in others, tips are automatically added to the bills. For the past two and a half years in the US, I could count on two hands the times when I felt satisfied with customer services at restaurants. Staff repeatedly and unnecessarily interferes in my conversation with the people I am with or rushes us out by proposing the bill when we are not done yet. Yet, tips are either expected or forced. How does that make sense?

As users, we are pissed that companies do something related to us without our consent, such as sharing our data. We are annoyed by others telling us what to do without consulting us beforehand. Then, why should the tipping “standard” be any different and acceptable? And as diners, why should we defend the owners paying low wages by arguing that it’s a standard?

I would love to pay a little bit more for the meals if it meant that wait staff got a higher wage. In that case, I wouldn’t have to tolerate the tips forced on me without my consent or the overly eager services by staff. Tipping is a standard, but it can be changed and should be. For the better.

Tipping Culture

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.