Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Word on Tipping

I wish I could remember the blog -- I read so many -- that had a long interesting discussion via the posting and comments on the practice of putting tip jars out for services one didn't necessarily think a tip would be required -- say, at the counter of a deli, or a fast-food restaurant where you place your order, or the drive-in lane at Starbucks. (What's next? The dry cleaner or movie ticket booth?)

So I was interested to read in the latest issue of The Atlantic magazine this little item written by Jeffery Goldberg in his 'What's Your Problem?" column:

Q: Have you noticed that food stores, delis and the like, have started asking for tips for their employees? I ordered a sandwich at a deli the other day and handed over my credit card and when the receipt came back, there was a space for a tip. I always thought tips were for waiters at sit-down restaurants. These demands are creating anxiety for me. Are the employees behind the counter now working for tips as well?

A: This is indeed a disturbing trend, but not one that should cause anxiety...Food service workers who are not waiters must be paid at least the minimum wage, so they do not, in fact, work for tips. (Waiters are paid a base salary less than the minimum wage, and are expected to report their tips as income. "Expected" as in "not expected.") If you are a kind and considerate person, you could ask the clerk serving you at the counter if he does, indeed, work mainly for tips. If he answers yes, leave him a generous gratuity and report his employer to your local tax authority.

Well, what's your stance? I leave left-over change or two-bits in the jar, usually, if the service person is pleasant, especially if I'm a regular....but it certainly isn't mandatory.


Myrnie said...

I always figured the "tip" space on those receipts was inserted by their POS (point-of-sale) system...and not the management. We generally just leave tips at sit-down restaurants, and throw our change into the jar at others (ice cream shops, etc.)

Miss Ottley said...

My personal policy is that when it comes to anyone serving my food to me: at a restaurant, deli, drive through will get a tip if one is required or suggested. I've had food poisoning twice in my life so far and I don't want it no more...once in my 20's [after eating at a Caribbean restaurant] and once the night before I had a stroke [after eating at a local dive close to my job at the time].

Either way when it comes to eating outside of my home, gratuity is never a problem with me. Also when you get a rep as a good tipper, favors come your way, a nice way to pay it forward in a round robin kind of way.

One more thing, I know people who have worked in the food industry and regardless of perception, you never know the mood of a server, cook or chef, white cloth or paper napkins always beware!

I hope all of that made sense.

kys said...

If it is counter service, I leave my change.

Alice in Wonderland said...

The Acronym T.I.P.S, comes from the English of meaning "To Insure Promp Service", and was usually given at the start of a meal!Just a piece of trivia that you may find interesting.
The word POSH came from Colonial times, when people travelled Port Out, Starboard Home, so people could stay in the sunshine!

Eva Gallant said...

I only tip at sit down restaurants.

S.E. Sward said...

I always tip at sit-down restaurants. The tip jar at Starbucks rarely sees anything from me - I think it's a bit of cheek to ask me for a tip with what they charge for their barista expertise, though every now and then, I'll toss something in.

Aunt Juicebox said...

There's a local ice cream place here where the employees do have tips factored into their salary. I don't know if it's because they are technically serving you food that they can get away with this. If I see a tip jar out someplace, I will usually put change or up to a buck in the jar, if I'm happy with the service, just because it never hurts to be generous if you can afford it, and I know that they most likely aren't making a whole lot of money working there to begin with. I don't feel obligated though.