The culture of tipping

I’ve been here in the States for 9 years now, but the culture of tipping is so backwards. It’s the employer’s responsibility to pay their staff, not the customer’s.

As a Brit, the culture of “tipping” was something rather foreign to me when I moved to the States. In the UK, it’s not very common to tip anyone. Your waitress might get a few quid if she’s done a particularly decent job, but it’s by no means required or expected and would be quite small in comparison to what is the norm in the States. And you’d certainly never¬†rarely tip your barman, barista or taxi driver.

It’s taken me a few years to get used to and accept the culture of tipping, but that doesn’t mean that I agree with it.

Now, waiters and waitresses (and other workers highly reliant on tips): don’t lynch me yet.

I recognise that a large portion of your salary comes from tips. I am by no means saying that you’re not worthy of a decent income. I’m merely saying that I don’t agree that the majority of your income should come from tips.

In my opinion, it is the responsibility of your employer to ensure that you get adequately paid. I acknowledge that this is the way things are in the States and to turn things around at this point is highly unlikely, but tips are meant to be a reward for a job well done.

Tips are discretionary. They are not required or expected because it is not my responsibility to pay your salary, in the same way that I pay my mechanic for the services rendered, which includes the labour and overhead needed to perform the task. Tips are a way of thanking you for a particularly pleasant or easy experience and are an incentive for you to bring that kind of service to the customer.

However, where tipping is customary and employees rely on them to pay their bills, it becomes unfair to put the customer in the situation of deciding whether or not to include the “optional” tip, even when they receive mediocre, bad or terrible service.

After a few years of training, I now acknowledge that this is the way things are done in the US and I happily tip where it is customary to do so, perhaps more than the prevailing average, but I far from agree with it.

People in the service industry deserve a decent wage: no question about it. They certainly work hard and it’s not the kind of job that I could see myself doing. I just bemoan the process of how they’re paid and the expectation of making the customer pay their¬†wages directly.

Author: Dave

Dave is many things. Most importantly, he’s a husband and a father to Ellie and Jack. Almost as important, he’s British (though he lives in Florida). Following on from there, he’s a WordPress developer and civil engineer, has an unhealthy love of hummus, is vegan, likes cider, wants to travel to Iceland and Japan, loves solving puzzles and is a realist.

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