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The Top Ten Reasons No Tipping / Fixed Tipping In Restaurants is a Bad Idea

13 Jul Posted by in Opinion, Work | Comments

earls-16-tip-poll-calgary-haroldFixed Tipping has been spun by the restaurant industry as a “No Tipping”.  Nothing could be more misleading.  The restaurant industry says that they need to move to fixed tipping systems to ensure all their workers are paid a fair wage.

Below are the top ten 1o reasons “no tipping” policies are a bad idea:

1 – Tips Are NOT Related To Service… But Everyone Thinks They Are

There is plenty of research to show that tipping is based on the weather, the attractiveness of the server, and even the time of day but does NOT have much to do with the service level.  In fact research shows that only about 4% of tipping is actually based on service. However, the same research shows that staff BELEIVE that their tip is directly related to their service level and as such they have an incentive to try.

2 – Restaurants Can Pay More Than Minimum Wage

There is nothing from stopping restaurants or any other business from paying more than the minimum wage and many already do including large players like In-N-Out Burger and Shake Shack and small chains like Detroit’s Moo Cluck Moo.  fake-restaurant-bill-with-service-fees-200

3 – Why Not A “Clean Kitchen” Fee?

How is a mandatory “service” fee any different from an “air conditioning” fee or a “comfortable seat” fee or a “clean kitchen” fee.  All of these things are not only desirable but required in modern restaurant.  By the “no tipping” service fee logic, we should have a restaurant bill that is broken down to cover all classifications.

4 – Restaurants Want To Promote Themselves as Treating Staff Well

Promotion of a restaurant providing its staff with a “Living Wage” is still quite doable in a much more agreeable way than tacking on miscellaneous fees.  There are several large notable organizations that ‘certify’ living wages are being paid to staff (in any industry) and restaurants would get much more traction from using their logo and letters of support with clientele.  A good example of this in Canada is:

5 – Tips Can Be Shared With Kitchen Staff

There is no reason tips cannot be dispersed amongst all staff without “no tip” “fixed tip” policies.  MANY restaurants do this now including  small restaurants like Glowbal in BC and Boston Pizza throughout Canada.

6 – Fixed Tips = Decreased Service

In other parts of the world where forced / fixed tipping has become the norm, service has tanked.  Have you been to Paris or Miami?

7 – Staff Don’t Like “No Tipping” / “Fixed Tipping” Policies

The staff do NOT like fixed tipping and that causes high turn over rates of the best staff which further decreases service.  See point #1 above.

8 – Tipping is Not Universal

Not all parts of the world have a custom of providing ANY tip and it considered downright rude to tip in some countries like Japan.  Now you may think to yourself, ‘but I am in the US or Canada so why would I care what “they” think’ and the answer is you should care because tourists are a very important part of all first world economies.  Annoying tourists is not a good idea.

9 – It Is Getting Harder To Hide Tips From Taxation

Wait staff should pay their fair share of the public burden and those who don’t will likely regret it in the near future.  Historically restaurant tips have been paid in cash which WAS easy to hide from the tax man but that is rapidly changing to electronically recorded systems (credit card and debt) and if you are server not declaring your income from tips, you are going to in trouble… eventually.  This is akin to small companies selling products through eBay or Amazon; in the old days of 2005 🙂 you could get away without declaring your income, but then both the US and Canadian governments made arrangements with online companies to report sales made on their platforms, for YEARS previous and things got ugly.

10 – “The Server Will Not Be Punished If You Don’t Leave A Tip”… WTF?

A defender of “no tipping” / fixed tipping policies says:

…On the occasions when a server is punished for poor service by a customer withholding a standard tip, the server can keep that information to himself. While the customer thinks she is sending a message, that message never makes it to a manager, and the problem is never addressed…

What a pile… of course the poor service was addressed.  The server did not get paid what they expected and will almost certainly know why that is.  About 50% of the time when I have left no tip (when I thought the problem had more to do with the restaurant than the server) I have also called for the manager to explain what my concerns were.  If you are too shy to not leave a tip in todays world, how comfortable are you going to be calling over a manager and demanding that they remove the mandatory tip from the bill.


What SHOULD Happen To Tips?

We at the Top Ten think everyone with skills and hard work should be able to make a living wage in Canada and the US, so we have no problem with restaurateurs paying their staff better.  Specifically, we are all for eliminating tips completely as they are an antiquated way of paying for service.  Tips should be provided ONLY when exceptional service is provided.  However, for that to happen two things are going to need to change:

  1. Minimum wages that are lower for wait staff need to be abolished.   Why would someone working the floor at Target be paid more than someone at Olive Garden.  The hours, skills and work environment are similar.  In fact, we think wait staff should be paid more than retail staff (and we have no problem with hard working retail staff).  Wait staff work on long hours on their feet carrying heavy items and remembering all kinds of things about their customers (what the ordered, drinks, names…).  Being a server / waiter / waitress is definitely hard work and generally requires more skills than a typical retail worker… so why is it that government’s have often carved out a special decrease in pay for wait staff… one word… tips.
  2. Consumers need to realize that a minimum level of service is to be EXPECTED, not paid extra for.  Most people we know, leave tips almost out of pity for wait staff even if service is poor.  This needs to change.

If you get bad service, call the manager.  If you get good service, smile and thank your server.  If you get great service, leave a tip.




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