I’m seriously thinking about never tipping. How do…

The times they are a-changin’.

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I’m seriously thinking about never tipping anywhere. How do I communicate I’m not tipping on principle rather than bad service?

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70 thoughts on “I’m seriously thinking about never tipping. How do…”

  1. As someone who works in the service industry and who, in addition, treats dining akin to bloodsport. I can tell you this absolutely 1000% the wrong approach.

    The restaurant hospitality industry is basically the only business on the planet in which you decide what someone’s labor is worth after they’ve rendered a service to you. I would be the first to say the system is totally fucked and I work inside the system. I make $5 an hour out of my company’s pocket, plus I receive a % of the total tips, which are pooled at my restaurant.

    As the system stands now, If you don’t tip, you are basically refusing to pay me for my labor. Or deciding that my labor, as a skilled professional, is worth only minimum wage to you. It does not harm my company if you do not tip. It only hurts me, my back waiters, my busboys, my captains, and anyone who’s in the tip pool. Your “statement” is only damaging the most financially vulnerable part of my industry.

    The worst thing that would happen if everyone doesn’t tip at my Michelin 1-star restaurant in the heart of Times Square on a given night, it means everyone who works front of house will be bumped to $7.25 an hour out of the company’s pocket. It will not harm the back of house, the investors, or anyone who is salaried or involved in the management of the restaurant. By not tipping, you are harming the people who you just looked in the face, smiled at and said thank you to. I would even go so far as to say that it’s sort of theft because you received something that you are basically refusing to pay fair market rate for (i.e. 15% to %20 of your check). I basically don’t make a decision based on quality of service. I personally start at 20% on any check I pay, including the big wine bills I often have: if can afford the the food, wine, and service, I should also be able to afford the labor attached to it.

    I will clarify that I’m talking about in sit down restaurants where you have table service. I’m making the distinction between the restaurant hospitality business and service industry in general. The reason you’re not tipping someone at McDonalds 20% is because they basically don’t do anything for you. They don’t bring anything to your table. They don’t pour you water (or soda or wine or whatever) at your table. They don’t advise on the menu or the wine list or the specialty cocktails (that they don’t have). They don’t have any food knowledge. They don’t clear your silverware. They don’t offer bread service. They don’t bus your table. They don’t do anything other than hand you a tray with food on it that basically came off an assembly line. They served you. They were not required to be hospitable to you. They did not (necessarily) offer you hospitality. They fundamentally do a different sort of labor for you.

    We will see the tip system change in America in our lifetime, however, Americans will seriously need to get their heads screwed on straight about what dining in America really costs. The biggest barrier to changing tip culture is the American diner, 100%.

    There are real solutions, which I encourage you to engage in. If you really care about tipping culture in America, don’t make your waiters and waitresses, sommeliers, and bus staff pay for it. If you really feel the need to advocate for a change, write your local restaurant owners and tell them that you would prefer they move to one of the following systems:

    1. A flat % applied to every check as a “service charge”. This will likely be %18-%20 of the bill.

    2. Include the price of service built into all menu items and beverage. Famous chef and restauranteur Thomas Keller does this at many of his restaurants, but people have a hard time getting their head around his prices. A number a restaurants in New York and San Francisco have followed suit. People balk at the cost of items because they’re used to paying a cheaper sticker price for something standard like a steak or a burger, and then tipping at the end. When the service is included in the line-item price, they tend to forget the service is included (“wow, this place is so expensive”).

    The bottom line is this: you will have to pay people for their labor, it’s just a question of how you’ll have to do it. My labor (as is everyone’s in the hospitality industry) is worth a certain market price. You will just seem like a dickhead if you expect things to happen without paying for them and “protesting” by withholding tips will do nothing to solicit the change you seek because it doesn’t impact the people who can make a change (i.e. restaurant owners and managers).

    For further reading on this issue by people smarter than myself:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/dining/leaving-a-tip-a-custom-in-need-of-changing.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

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