Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tipping - A Rant

I want to know why certain services expect, nay, demand, a tip, when other services do not. It seems hardly fair, nor reasonable. Don't get me wrong - Hubbs and I are good tippers, averaging 15-20% whenever the situation calls for gratuities - but in principle nobody should actually be tipped, or else everyone should.

Think about it. Servers at a restaurant expect a tip. Your hair stylist expects a big tip. The housekeeper at the hotel, the valet parker, the concierge / door people, the cab driver - they all demand a tip, even if said demand is unspoken.

What makes these services so much more "tip-worthy" than, say, registered massage therapists, or tutors, or dental hygienists, or my bi-weekly cleaning service, or accountants? These professions and people also offer a service, and an individualized one at that, so the argument that the stylist or server presents a specialized personal service is moot. What, then, sets apart certain service providers as those who deserve a tip?

It is getting more ridiculous now as a few more companies have started jumping onto the tipping bandwagon. Several local coffee shops now have tip jars at their tills, as do quite a few fast food joints. People who are no longer providing an individualized, personal service are even expecting a gracious "gift" on top of their outrageous prices.

What gives?!?

If these people are feeling underpaid for their work and require additional monetary supplementation, should they not simply charge a more fair, reasonable rate that can sustain their existence? I mean, roll that tip into the price of the haircut, or meal, or hotel room! Sheesh. The alternative would be for all of us who provide some sort of service to start expecting tips for a job well done. Maybe I should have a tip jar at my desk at school. Maybe your local supermarket should have tip jars in each of their departments. Perhaps the mail delivery person should ring doorbells with one hand open, in anticipation of some gratuity.

Tipping is a ridiculous concept, and one that makes little sense given its unequal distribution among professions. Frankly, my RMT (who has to work hard to dislodge the knots in my back every few weeks) is far more deserving of a tip than the server who barely cracked a smile when roughly thumping down the glasses on my table. The patient dental hygienist who has to scrape the gunk off my teeth is also far more worthy of a gratuity than the girl behind the counter who fills up a paper cup with coffee for me.

Tipping stinks. I wonder where I can sign up to opt out without getting spittle in my food?


Steven said...

Having worked in many jobs where minimum wage was what you got and tips were the only thing that made the job worthwhile, I tend to be very generous, even when shown crankiness or imperfections. Just plain crap service I don't accept but generally I give the server 15% regardless unless they were comepletely incompetent. Reason being was that I had bad nights, we all do, it doesn't mean you aren't good at your job and you didn't make sure food or drinks got out on time and correctly... you just didn't have sunshine to blow up everyone's ass that particular night. As for why tipping for servers is required -- you get paid minimum wage to have mostly cranky or drunk people take their issues out on you and if you can't turn their frown into a smile... you make minimum wage. It isn't easy. Also someone who has landed a position of hygienist or registered massage therapist are getting compensated properly for their education and roles. They receive a salary that actually is over 1000$ in an entire month of work and there is no guessing as to hour vs. rate vs. paycheck. I was a waitress in school with one degree, soon to have another with distinction but I was still getting paid minimum wage and hoping that between owners and patrons to not get completely jaded and depressed and to be able to make a living off of tips. Agreed there are crap people out there just passing the time at work - yes there are cab drivers that drive you the longest route possible - yes you pay ridiculous money to your hair dresser (I still dont know how that one works...) but having been there myself I try and give everyone the benfit of the doubt.

Steven said...

By the way Steve somehow took over my blogger when he created the Ireland blog so that was by me not him :P

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Good points. That still doesn't explain why certain jobs can't have their gratuities "rolled in" to the wage, though; I wouldn't say that the movie theatre workers get much more than minimum wage, nor do the custodians at Cl*b F** (or my school), nor do many other poorly-paid service industry positions (the gas station jockey, the B*bbl*s car wash workers, the folks that work the floors and tills at retail shops - esp. those in Customer Service departments everywhere, etc). However, these other jobs do not require or expect tipping, when I think they deserve it just as much as the server who has to deal with crap on the nights they serve.

Why is tipping exclusive to certain jobs and not others? Frankly, education is not always indicative of salary, anyway; some of our school custodians have multiple degrees in another country (think medical, esteemed degrees), but because of certain Cdn red tape they are relegated to positions in the custodial trades. These hard-working folks have to deal with cleaning up after hundreds of children every single day, and their job includes such illustrious tasks as cleaning up poop, pee, and puke, scrubbing down pencil and marker graffiti, and moving large pieces of furniture between classrooms on a regular basis. Honestly, I would rather tip them than the barista at the coffee shop, but for some reason the social norm is for me to do the opposite. :(

I still don't get it.

vien said...

I agree Mrs L. I always say thank you to the custodial staff who is cleaning the public bathroom if I happen to see her. Be this the airport, mall, restaurant or wherever.

these people probably make very minimal wage and have to contend with crap, pun intended, but because they are not direct service personnel, don't get appreciated with a tip.

I hate that feeling of obligation to tip the hairstylist, barrista, server but social norm has put such pressure on it, it is hard to ignore without feeling shame or bashful about it.

Funny, here in the States, 15% tipping is already the norm and 20%is common. thankfully for chinese hole-in-the-walls where we can still tip 10%.

p.s i've always had the option of tipping the RMT when I pay for my massage back in CAnada and here, interesting that you haven't encountered that blank when signing the credit card receipt.

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Actually, my RMT does not require a tip (and in fact, does not expect one) because she considers herself a medical practitioner who is offering a therapeutic service. Physiotherapists do not get tipped, so her rationale (which I totally agree with) is that she should not, either.

Personally, I think the RMTs that expect a tip, esp. after charging those ridiculous prices, are either a)not properly trained or registered as medical service providers, or b)greedy.

You would like my RMT, Vien. Except she can be chatty, so sleep (for me, anyway) is usually out of the question while on her table! ;)

mack d. male said...

Couldn't agree more! Pay the employees better, raise the prices accordingly. I dislike tipping.

tejanamama said...

i don't mind tipping too much if the pricetag isn't too large...cuz a tip on a big bill gets...REALLY BIG!!!! I tip overly generously for a massage(if its good) and a good haircut. less for other services...but always around 20%. btwn 15&20 for food services, depending on service, but there are a TON OF LOW salary worker...many making minimum wage..somtimes less..and they do NOT get tips. I don't think they have any less crap to deal with and the idea of a tip would probalby seem silly to most of us. The dishswashers? The busboys? The people cleaning the bathroom at the mall??? they deserve a tip! ANYONE who deals with toilets (as a job) in ANY capacity deserves a TIP!!!!!

and and glad to see you posting!:)

Mrs. Loquacious said...

From Catherine_Jane (who is having password issues):

"Hey Guys - I totally agree on a raise for pretty much any minimum wage job that sucks - but as to human contact that adds that element of appreciation... it is much easier to bitch about cleanliness than it is to make an effort to help the cleaning staff. I dont deny that a lot of people joining our country that have way better credentials get stuck with bad jobs. I'm not capable of commenting on how the government deals with this. I would hope that all qualified people get jobs regardless, especially with the shortages in staff everywhere... but I only have experience in my own lifetime... tips aren't evil or they are... depends on point of view and professional existance. Guaranteed if you haven't worked in the service industry you have lower empathy - huge! Maybe I'm a sucker or maybe I worked to long but I will always give 15% unless they server me fat biscuits or they dyed my hair pink. Lets all vote for janitors to get a better wage."

Catherine_Jane said...

And by the way - usually those jobs that you don't directly tip for - such as busboys and dishwashers, etc - they get tipped out by the wait staff. So all you give your servers also goes to all the other people that help get your meal to you. PS still can't remember my password -> i'm surprised you retrieved my previous post and possibly this one...

Mrs. Loquacious said...

CJ - you must have remembered your password, cuz your comment is up :)

The tip-outs aside, there still isn't any conclusive explanation as to why certain positions merit a tip, and others do not. To me, that is still an injustice.

Tejanamama - Totally am with you on the toilet thing! Gross jobs like that deserve far more than minimum wage (can we say "hazardous materials?!"). That said, I don't tip for therapeutic massages...only the "relaxation" ones that are through a spa. And 15-20 is our standard nowadays, unless service is utter garbage.

Natalie said...

I don't know how it is in Canada but in the states waitstaff are paid $2-4 hourly so they actually do live on their tips. That being said, I don't know why that isn't changed except for the fact that it is convention. As far as stylists go they typically rent out their chairs so it's like tipping the cab driver who has to pay for their own gas and rent out their cab. It simply makes up for some of their costs. For people in those roles i tip 15-20%

I don't tip at the coffee shop. Most of them pay above minimum wage and their job is to make coffee. I just don't see the necessity.

One of my good friends is a massage Therapist and he won't accept tips from therapy clients but will for wellness clients. It's all complicated. As far as hotel staff I just take my own bags so I don't feel bad about not tipping.

Just my two cents.

Sunny said...

I refuse to frequent businesses that "REQUIRE" a tip or one that is automatically added into the bill. It's ridiculous. I used to be ignored by the female servers in restaurants when it came to drinks and such because I was the only female in the group. So- as a result- I began taking care of the tipping when we went out. If the server did a good job and didn't ignore me- they got a VERY nice tip- usually it was about 50% of the dinner tab.(Usually I had my dinner paid for by whoever I was with so I could afford to be that generous) BUT- if the server ignored me just because I was the only female there and paid attention to only the guys- she got 2 CENTS- and a note telling her that she should pay attention to ALL the diners because she never knew WHO was going to be tipping her. I also spoke to the manager about the service as well and explained what I did. I never act out with the server while AT the restaurant and make a big deal of it until time to leave you said..Spittle in the food is not something I want to worry about...and since she ignored me the whole time I was at the table I'm pretty darned sure they wouldn't be able to recognize me should I go there again.
Guy servers have NEVER ignored ANYONE in the matter where we go.
And I always take into consideration how busy a place is when deciding the tip for the servers......Attitude has a lot to do with it too- surliness isn't a good attitude to have when you work with people, don't take one patrons bitchiness out on your OTHER customers.

Be nice to me- and I'll be nice to YOU is my motto.

kbaley said...

Sorry I'm late to the party. I promise I'll be relevant.

If this drives you crazy, you'll need to prepare yourself mentally for any visits you make to the Bahamas. Every restaurant rolls a mandatory 15% tip into the bill. Then they bring you the credit card slip with a space for an "extra tip".

Even Jamba Juice adds 15% into the bill.