Will we eventually enter an era where a tip is expected for just about any service?
I ask this question because of what I’m seeing lately in terms of where tips are expected, and how this is expanding into increasingly direct requests for money.
Now, from my experience it wasn’t that long ago when a tip was given only in certain situations. If we focus this discussion on restaurants, we can see how the trend is that some businesses are becoming tip-focused these days.
Before we go into these examples, let me share my view on tips.
- I respect the work that restaurant servers and quick serve/takeout employees do. It may not be glamorous, but it’s hard work and they don’t make that much money
- To show appreciation for their work – and to compensate them for their low base wages – I tip servers 15% to 20% of the bill. I almost always do this, and very rarely go lower, unless the service is atrocious. 99% of the time, I’m leaving a tip.
- The aforementioned servers don’t ever expressly ask for a tip, or at least they shouldn’t. It’s bad form to come out and ask. However, as I mentioned, I pretty much always tip.
- I don’t tip employees at quick serve/takeout places, as that’s not been the custom. Additionally, their wages can be different based on my understanding.
- Thus, keeping in line with how things have generally been over the years, I only tip servers and do so at a very fair percentage.
Having said all that, let’s go through 3 levels of Brazen Tip Requests
Level One – The Tip Jar
I’ve written about this before, but it seems to be more prevalent with each passing year. I recall one place this year where there was a tip jar placed front and center at a coffee shop, right in front of the cash register. The sign read:
“You’re not required to tip, but we would prefer if you did :)”
Well, okay then!
I don’t see this as a place where a tip is in any way required, so I agree with them. But why put up a sign asking for a tip, and telling your customers that you’d like them to spend more than required?
Level Two – The Touch-Screen Tip
So, I was at a sub shop getting a sandwich to go, when I was all set to pay by credit card. As I was in the process of swiping the card and paying, there was an option for different levels of tip…along with an option for no tip. And oh, by the way, the employee who rang up the order was staring right at me the whole time.
I don’t see how wrapping up a sub in two minutes, as a part of a job, warrants a 15% to 20% tip. Frankly, this type of job has historically not been one that received tips. Therefore, I used the stylus to hit the no tip button. And off I went.
To me, this is more a more brazen request than the tip jar.
Level Three – The Verbal Request for a Tip
I was at a different place very recently where I was again at the register paying for my food. This time I gave my card to the employee as she rang up the order, and she proceeded to ask:
“Would you like to add a tip today?”
This at a take-out/quick-serve type of place where there are no servers. You wait for your food and pick it up. And, just as with the aforementioned sub shop, the employee was looking me right in the eye as the tip request was made. Though this time, it wasn’t via a screen – it was her directly asking me!
While I’m not at all a confrontational person, and generally an easy person with whom to work and interact (from what I’ve been told, anyway), this was not a situation where I was going to be afraid to say no. She got a very nice, but direct, “No thank you”. I don’t think she liked it, but I don’t see how a tip should be given for a fast take-out order, much less asked in this way.
Are things changing?
I think they are. As I look at my reaction to these events, I’m confident that I reacted appropriately and that my belief that no tip is warranted in those situations is totally fair. However, I wonder if 10 years from now, tipping in those situations will go from being unusual to expected. And, that brazenly asking for a tip where none is warranted will then become unnecessary, as it might eventually be seen as brazenly rude to not leave a tip for a take-out or quick serve counter worker.
We’ll see. But I’m sticking to my story for now!
My Questions for You
What are your thoughts on tipping at take-out or quick-serve places? Do you see this as being under a different set of “rules” and expectations than tipping a restaurant server?
Do you find each of the three tip requests I described to be brazen, or just one or two of them? Or, perhaps none? If you think this is all totally normal, feel free to share as well – I’m welcoming different points of view here.
Do you think we’re potentially moving to a situation where tipping becomes much more widespread in different situations in the future?