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The hospitality industry expects you to tip their employees and employees expect to be tipped.
Your bill arrives, and, under the guise of making it easier for the customer to calculate the tip, owners provide at least 3 options; the minimum amount is usually 15 - 18% and it heads north from there to at least 20% - remember when the minimum was 10%?
From a customer's point of view, the tip is no longer useful to express one's delight with the service provided. A tip is expected even if the service provided is shabby. Shabby service is rewarded perhaps with the minimum tip expected and the recognition for better service goes up from there.
How many times have you NOT tipped? Very few times I suspect. Why? Because "everyone" expects you to; people believe that servers are somehow entitled to a percentage of the bill.
And the customer "feels guilty" to not comply.
From an employee's perspective, the tip no longer represents an incentive to deliver amazing service; it's treated as a part of their salary.
Why bother when you can expect to receive the minimum tip regardless of how you treat the customer? I'm not talking about blatantly bad service, but if mediocre service is provided - displaying basic competence - servers "get paid" over and above their basic wage.
So why should a server stretch and treat their customers in that special exemplary way? There is no downside for the server especially when the base tip amount is at least 15%.
From the store owner's perspective, the tip is an essential way to control operating costs and assuage employees' demands for higher wages.
As long as their customers are prepared to tip their employees ever increasing amounts, and they effectively manage their other costs of doing business, employee wages can be contained.
The "benefit tree" from my perspective of the current tip paradigm looks like this: owners first - employees next - customers last.
Does this make any sense to you?
The basic intent of tipping has been watered down so much over the years, it has now been lost. It's no longer a reward; it's an expectation.
What to do?
Customers have to own the issue because owners and employees are unlikely to suggest a change to tipping - it's not in their best interests.
- Stop tipping for bad or less than satisfactory service (even if it's a "back of the house" issue) and ask to speak to a manager. Explain why you didn't tip and what should be done differently. Be constructive. Coach the manager. Don't berate the employee unless you want your next meal mixed with sawdust.
- Ignore the suggested tipping scale. Tip what you feel is appropriate. It's time to empower ourselves and pay what we want NOT what they expect - why haven't we always been entitled spend our money the way we want?
- Expect blowback from your decision; be strong and prepared to defend your tip decision - It's insane to have to do this, right?
- Raise our expectations of service - I don't care if they are "having a bad day"!
The only way the industry will improve service levels is if we "drag them up" with our higher level of expectations.
If the tip base is to be 20% - and I think it soon will be - don't you think it's reasonable to demand MORE sensitive caring service?
Only WE, the customer, can fix this problem. But do we collectively have what it takes to start a revolution to live our rights?
Somehow I think not.