Can'o'worms on a Friday: What do we think about tipping and the tipping culture? (

Me? Life would certainly be simpler without it. I am also not sure I'm loving the "tip creep" that cashless payment systems are introducing. But I don't hate it. It just sort of is what it is, part of the American landscape. It affects the type of service we receive and the type of personality that will thrive in a tough job. Now that said, fuck any business who doesn't augment to the local minimum wage if necessary, and double fuck any that steals tips, like the very popular barbecue chain near my house.

My wife was a server in high school and all through college, and she said it was a better job because the tips meant that performance would be (on aggregate) rewarded, and for her at least, it made her effective hourly wage much better than it was when she worked, for instance, retail. She also had a sense that her wage was higher than the restaurant would have been willing to pay in a tipless paradigm. She had regulars she was genuinely fond of, and she felt like she could tell the difference between an asshole and somebody who lacked knowledge or just needed to stretch the budget for that special meal.

I suspect I'll always feel more comfortable in the American system, but in time I've realized that's a wjrii issue, not a Europe issue. Once I grew up a little and wrapped my head around the different dining culture I've encountered in Europe (and the sort of "split the difference" one in Canada), I was able to relax and enjoy the slower pace, and feel less awkward about actively requesting more water or the check when I was ready. I do still tip 15% and feel like I'm getting a bargain, lol.

rasterweb avatar

I hate tipping culture in the US. I wish everyone could be paid a living wage, and that we had universal health care like other countries.

(That said, I do tip 20% in most cases when dining out. I don’t tend to tip as much (or at all) for the simple “person handed me the thing I just purchased” interactions.)

Raise the goddamn minimum wage in this country. Raise prices if needed. Do away with tipping culture.

euphoria avatar

Agreed. we shouldn't need to tip, workers shouldn't need to rely on tips to get by. their paycheck should be MORE than enough for a healthy, comfortable lifestyle. a livable wage wouldn't require tips.

Digester, avatar

I find it very satisfying whenever I’m promoted with the debit machine (they always expect you to use a card) and I hand over cash instead. I tell them I don’t need a receipt, gave the cash and leave as they put the money into the register while trying to figure out how much tip they’re getting. I always make sure the cash I hand over is visibly enough (if the total is $18, I give a $20) then leave.

This way I skip the passive aggressive terminal with the minimum tip already on screen and I avoid the akward interaction with the worker when I manually enter a tip below what they expect.


It’s a great, organic system that’s a win for everyone:

  • Laborers get paid better in general, get pay that automatically adjusts for inflation, get paid more on days when they work harder
  • Restauranteurs pay less in labor and get a sales force that’s more motivated to both sell and to provide quality service
  • Patrons get better service and can choose how much they pay for it

For the pro-labor crowd, I’ll also point out that this is a system where laborers can sell their labor to consumers without a managerial middleman taking a cut.

Basically, we’ve got one industry where we’ve figured out how to pay a living wage, and we shouldn’t fuck with that.


Tipping culture is fine as long as the gratuity is gratuitous. Every person working full time should earn a wage that allows them to support themselves and their family, no exceptions.

wjrii avatar

Fair. I could definitely get behind simply raising the floor well past the current minimums.


Tipping has gotten out of hand in this country. Guys at stadium cash registers want tips now. Like no, fuck off and pay your damn employees a liveable wage so they don’t rely on tips or go out of business.

bob_wiley, avatar

I bought a beer at a stadiums for like $10. The guy just took it out of the cooler and set it on the counter. Tip please!! Dude, you could be replaced with a vending machine.

Izzy, avatar

No service no tip. Realistically this is pretty much only going to mean tipping at restaurants. I’m not going to tip a computer at a counter because someone handed me something. Ideally we would get rid of tipping at restaurants too, but that is more of an ingrained problem.

wjrii avatar

I think part of it is that the numbers are usually restaurant percentages. Traditionally, there'd be a dirty plastic cup with a post-it saying "tips" at a lot f places I'd go in the cash days, but I always kind of felt like that was as much to unburden you of loose coins (another American pet peeve) from your change, as much as anything else, and you didn't have to actively say no. There's also an industry culture of tip-out percentages between front-of-house and back-of-house that "proper" restaurants have that sort of transcends price point. Is the counter-service bagel joint doing that?

With the Square terminals and their cousins, nothing makes any sense anymore, LOL. It's almost like I'm starting to feel the same anxiety that I've heard well-meaning tourists complain about.

bob_wiley, avatar

That’s the problem. As a customer, I have no idea how tips are split with the back of the house, if it’s even happening at all. Is my tip going to the person who took my order and pointed at the counter when it was ready, the people busting their ass in the back, or the owner? I have no idea. Knowing this would change my tip.

I would much prefer to eliminate tipping culture across the board. Just charge whatever it costs and let people pay that. I think most people tip pretty much the same regardless of service, unless something is really, really bad. I think there have been studies that show this. Even when it’s bad, I usually assume the person is overloaded and having a shit day… probably not their fault… so I still tip my standard 20% (I’m too lazy to do the 15% math).

There are so many times now where I don’t know if I’m supposed to tip or not. Before going places or having something delivered I’ll end up doing research and trying to figure it out and there is no clear answer. Uber used to tell you not to tip and didn’t give an option. Now I’m worried if I don’t tip enough I’ll get a low rating.

Then there are things like DoorDash where I’m expected to tip before the service is performed. I have no idea if the person will do a good job, so I feel obligated to tip well in hopes that they will. However, sometimes they’re smokers and my food comes smelling like cigarettes, or they live a big bag directly in front of my door so I can’t actually open the door to get it, or a guy the other day walked halfway up to my house then called me and I ended up having to go outside to meet him… just knock on the door dude, you’re 3 feet away. If I wanted to leave my house I would have just gone myself. I had a guy do this once when I was deathly ill, I was so pissed. I paid $50 for $10 of food because it hurt to move, nope come outside and get it from my car bitch… I’m surprised he didn’t just throw it out the window as he drove by. I’ll pay more and tip for service, but when I pay more and tip, my tolerance for even the most minor inconvenience is pretty low.

In Europe I had no issues. People seemed happy with their job and gave good services. No tipping needed. If the service was a little better or worse, no big deal and I didn’t have to worry about judging them at the end of the meal and assigning a monetary value to their performance. When I think about tipping that way, it’s pretty fucked up.

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