People’s money is usually quite important to them, and for good reason. For most of us, money is something we spend at LEAST 40 hours a week trying to earn and in most cases, much longer. So it stands to reason that the majority of people don’t enjoy losing some of their hard-earned cash for reasons they are forced to. This would be why everyone and their dog complains about paying bills and taxes. But there’s one form of monetary loss that is often written about in media that gets my core temp up: tipping.
Tipping is a controversial subject in most circles, with many people against it, some are for it and some believe it’s subjective to the service they receive. I fall in the latter category, which is why this blog post is categorized only as an “opinion.” My thoughts on this topic may not be popular but in the interest of free speech, I’ll share them anyway. Buckle up and feel free to scroll past, if this is not something you want to read about. I promise we’ll be back to the status quo tomorrow.
So what is tipping? Simply put, a tip or “gratuity” is the act of providing a small amount of money to someone who has provided you with a product or service. This is usually above and beyond whatever the total cost is for the product or service. Tipping is nothing new. In fact, an article I read well over a decade ago once said that tipping originates from England in the 1700’s, where customers could drop coins in a box that was labeled “To Insure Promptness,” or TIP. The idea was that you would receive a tip in exchange for better service.
It’s application in the modern world and in recent years has become a bit more ominous. In many circles, tipping has almost become a mandatory practice when visiting particular business where a consumer is served in any way. To be clear, tipping is not mandatory in Canada but it’s become an expectation and in some Provinces, a server’s wages are based on the expected receipt of a percentage in tips from customers, which is a bunch of nasty nonsense. I first experienced this back in 2006 when I travelled to Ottawa and stayed in Gatineau, Quebec, for the first time.
I made my way out with some friends during that first evening and ordered a beer. When it arrived, I was told by the others in my party that each drink had to be paid individually and at time of service. Fair enough, I paid. Then the waitress, with far more rudeness than what one would expect from someone asking for such a thing, promptly told me the tip wasn’t included in the cost and stood there, obviously expecting a tip. I looked at her blankly for a second, completely taken aback, before dropping some remaining change on her tray to accommodate her.
So shocked and taken aback was I by the interaction, I only had the one drink in order to avoid a confrontation. I was much calmer and more timid back then, than I am now. If someone tried that bullshit on me now, they’d get a surprise, alright. It just might not be a tip. I was later informed that wages in Quebec were often lower in anticipation of tips. I was floored. Tips are not meant to be part of a server’s salary! Are you kidding me? No wonder that Province has to do absolutely everything different from the rest of the country. And why I only lived there for roughly a year or so. Foolishness.
Realistically and traditionally, a tip is intended as a means of thanking your server or supplier for the excellent service they provided and shouldn’t be expected. If the service was sub-par or poor, the expectation was that a tip wouldn’t be provided. Beyond that, providing a tip is meant to not only be the choice of the consumer but how much is left also is not meant to be debated or expected. If all I happen to have on me is an added dollar and I choose to leave it, that added dollar should be appreciated as opposed to considered rude because it isn’t a certain percentage of the total bill.
And let’s address that aspect for a moment, shall we? When did it become a thing to consider it RUDE not to providing a specific percentage of one’s hard-earned money to someone else, ABOVE and BEYOND the total bill? Some of y’all need a serious reality check. The part I dislike the most is when a tip is expected BEFORE the delivery of a service, such as having pizza delivered. There’s always a tip portion to the online payment, which is comical since I have no idea yet what the service of the food will be like or if my order would be deserving of a tip. Did I say foolishness yet?
So why is this a problem? Well realistically, the practice of tipping has drastically changed over recent decades. Where leaving a tip was once the consumer’s choice and considered a compliment to one’s service provider, it’s almost become a mandatory expectation, with many people posting online things like, “Don’t tip your server and see what kind of food or service you get…” Excuse me? I’m pretty sure I’m still paying for that product or service and am still entitled to the same level and quality of product as the person who may have 20% available to provide their server.
Although not necessarily the server’s fault and while it’s not always possible to just “get another job if you’re not paid enough” (everyone’s circumstances are different, after all), the root problem is two-fold. On the one hand, employers shouldn’t be paying a lower wage because their employees receive tips. Tips are intended as an added reward for good service, not as part of their salary. On the other hand, consumers shouldn’t be almost bullied or cornered into tipping by virtue of that, either.
Did you know that there are places where tipping shows up on the bill without the consumer choosing it? Some retail locations now, even have a tipping option on the display tablet when paying. Nothing more awkward than being asked to tip and choose a percentage while the retail worker is awkwardly watching and knows what button you’re pressing. No pressure there. Although the consumer should never be obligated to tip, nor should the server or employee be paid based on tips, either.
Folks, I have absolutely no illusions of winning this battle. It’s one of those things where going against societal expectations is like holding a napkin against an ocean wave. What needs to happen, what should happen, is employers should pay their staff and employees a reasonable salary that allows them to live without depending on tips to do so. And customers should only be expected to pay the actual cost of the product or service they’re trying to obtain. Making it feel like an obligation goes against the intended purpose of a tip. Food for thought… ☯️