When the Linkery, a small San Diego restaurant, shuttered its doors this summer, it ended a fascinating social experiment. The Linkery had instituted a standard 18 percent service charge in lieu of tips, and had refused to accept anything on top of that. Meanwhile, its sister restaurant down the street, El Take It Easy, operated under a traditional tipping model. The upshot, as owner Jay Porter points out in a series on his blog called "Observations From A Tipless Restaurant": people totally resented the Linkery for taking away the power to tip. ("You, sir are a douche," read an email from one unhappy patron.) It's a phenomenon academic research has borne out. But why? Why do we love tipping waiters?
First, the argument for banishing tips: Many states have laws allowing waitstaff to be paid as little as $2 an hour because they will make up the revenue in tips, and prohibiting tips from being distributed among members of the kitchen staff. Ofer Azar, an economist who has written extensively about tipping, explains the cyclical phenomenon this way: "[P]eople start to tip certain workers, the employers of these workers reduce their wages (they can do so because the worker receives part of his reservation wage from tips), people feel more obligated to tip because they know that the worker depends on tips to complement his wages, more people tip and possibly each tip becomes higher, and so on." No wonder some, like Porter, just want to take tips out of the equation.
Problem is, people like tipping. Which is weird, because it doesn't make much economic sense. Tips are paid after the service has been provided, and the quality can't be changed after the fact. People tip even when they aren't planning on returning to the restaurant, so the underlying motivations for tipping can't be all about ensuring a good experience in the future.
A 2010 paper Azar published in Applied Economics found that rather than being a strategic move to ensure quality service, tipping is largely the result of psychological motivations--like feeling social pressure, or wanting to preserve a self-image of generosity. Another study found that tipping is a risk sharing method between a waiter and a customer, ensuring people don't lose too much money on food that could be terrible: "when the meal is unusually bad the diner can choose to withhold a tip and reduce the loss of utility that would otherwise occur," the researcher theorized.
The preference to tip isn't exclusive to Americans. In a study comparing tipping in the U.S. and Israel, Azar found that people in both countries would rather tip than pay service charges, despite the fact that people usually tip more than the fixed amount of a service charge. There's not a definitive conclusion as to why, though one reason might be that "a person who tips because he wants to show his gratitude, will no longer be able to show gratitude when the tip becomes a compulsory service charge." The study found people who tip to show gratitude were 14 percent more likely to prefer tipping.
Porter, for his part, thinks diners' preference for tipping has something to do with power. In his first post, he presents this gem of an observation:
To add extra complexity to the tipping game, a new study, out this month in the Journal of Consumer Behaviour, suggests that when servers express gratitude, it can backfire. Though previous work found that adding a "thank you" to the back of a receipt could increase tips, the latest research found that tip percentages actually fell when wait staff added personalized messages to receipts, like drawing smile faces or writing "thank you."
"If a typical server's customers spent a total of $2,000 over the course of one work week, then our results suggest that servers who personalize bills would lose $42 in tips if their service exceeded expectations and $59 in tips if their service failed to exceed expectations," the researchers write.
It seems like you just can't win when it comes to tips.
well i dont love it Oo guess im a freak of nature.
It is important to note that in many, if not all, of the states that allow employers to reduce an employee's hourly wage based on their tips, still require that the employee earn at least minimum wage for each hour worked. Personally, I do not think employees should be taxed on their tips, and I do not think they should share them with ANYONE but the table busser. To achieve this, I simply write: Happy Birthday "_______"!! on a napkin or other piece of paper and I place the tip money inside the makeshift Birthday card; at this point it's a birthday gift and it's "hands off" for the employer.
@ssilletti I would be remiss to point out that your method could actually end up costing a server far more than you save them. Gifts are taxed at a rate of nearly 50%, whereas a server is probably in the neighborhood of 20% to 30%. Therefore, your method could be costing them an extra 20% or 30%. Now, it would only get taxed like that on gifts totally over $13,000 annually.
Now, as to why you wouldn't want tips taxed (unless you're a server by trade) is beyond me. If you work, your income gets taxed, by not taxing a server, you're essentially subsidizing that person's life. Doesn't make much sense to me. Most tips aren't reported if they're cash. A lot of restaurants make sure they claim enough tips to get up to minimum wage, then the rest generally don't get reported. However, credit card receipts leave a paper trail. If you want to do the best for a server, leave a cash tip. Simple and effective.
I always remember reading (Alain De Botton)that Marcel Proust felt tipping was good Kharma. Seems like as good a reason as any to tip.
If the food is bad or takes too long to get to your table-you should not reduce the servers tips. Servers can not control what the kitchen does. Leave an appropriate tip to the server if they did their job. Also many restaurants put the tips into the workers paychecks so the proper taxes are taken out. If a person or restaurant gets audited the will look at total sales and presume there was at least a 15% tip given by the customers. If the numbers do not add up(not enough tips reported) the IRS will get their cut plus penalties and fines.
first off - I love how the writer worked 'douche' into the article. I'm serious. notice how news agencies don't write 'semi-offensive'words in their articles anymore? news is news, word for word. It's refreshing to have a proper quote. Not just, "you sir are a d-----." good on Popsci. :)
Now, i don't love to tip. I understand if the food is bad, thats the kitchen's fault. not the server's ... that is unless they screwed up the order.
(i see sooo many waiters/waitresses trying to commit the order to memory. I only see the newbies actually writing stuff down.)
Anyways .. I base my tip on service. if i have a good server who is polite, well mannered, well kempt, and comes around to check every once and a while, asks if me and my wife is okay, or if we need anything, i'll be happy and they will EARN a tip.
If a get a server, who looks dirty, has no manners, shows attitude, and shambles around like a "walker," or argues ... ooh, i hate when they argue. then they get little or no tip.... usually no tip. Especially in this time of economic chaos.
If they are a server of Douchey proportions, i will leave them a frosty note, explaining why they didnt get a tip. and then i fill out an equally frosty comment card for the manager explaining, who my server was and why i will not return to spend my money at their establishment.
I may give the place a second chance, but often i wont return for a good 3 - 6 months. Some i really never go back.
i don't know who came up with tiping, but it needs to stop. give the employees a regular salary. I do security, i've given first aid care to people who have fallen down stairs, and suffered massive head wounds. I've arrested shop lifters, I dont ask for a tip from the victim or a store; i'm doing my job. People have hit me, and insult me... at most a server has to deal with the occassionally douchey patron. but their job is to record the order and deliver the food. not very difficult.
They could easily be replaced by an i-pad interactive menu. Like this one Sushi place i went to recently.
You make your order on the tablet @ your table. order goes straight to the kitchen. all the servers do are deliver and clear plates. they're practically bus-boys. Also, its waaay faster than waiting for the server to eventually show up and then explaining your order to them, then wait for them to visit other tables ,,, and then finally go to the kitchen.
I was shocked how fast the service was, using a tablet menu.
I tip my waitress so that the next time I eat at that restaurant she won't put a booger in my food.
I hate tipping, especially in the US. The cost of the staff and the service should be included in the cost of the bill. If it isn't good I won't go there again, simple.
In Japan there is no need to tip, you get good customer service and good quality food (often with no service charge too). This is perfect. If you leave a tip the waiter may even run after you to give your money back, as they think you must have left it behind on purpose!
In the US one feel obliged to tip because the staff are paid poorly. In the UK, it is not so bad as the minimum wage is the minimum wage what ever job you are doing. You can leave a tip if you so choose. In the UK there is nearly always a service charge included (which the company takes and doesn't give to the staff) so tipping is the only way to give more to the waiter if they were good.
I like the idea of tipping for service. Yes, it's after the meal is over, but if most follow the practice, the server will be motivated. If they get a lot of low or non tips, they might try to figure out what's wrong.
And they CAN do a lot to improve your dining experience. A waitress once looked at my steak, and said -- "that looks pretty dry, I'll get you another one". In fact, I had noticed that it wasn't the best, but wouldn't have rejected it. The replacement was better, and so was her tip.
Unfortunately, it's become an expectation that you should always leave a tip, and a pretty healthy one. I think that for tax purposes, there is some assumption of a standard tip amount. That's just wrong.
I will probably get a lot of hate back to me, as I did when I wrote on a Cracked article, but I not only don't love tipping, I hate it. I don't tip. Tipping is nothing less than blackmail. I work very hard to make very little, and if once in a while I want to reward myself a nice meal at a nice restaurant for a change, I don't see why I should pay the server's wage. I have worked as a server in events and restaurants, but I didn't like the job so I quit. Later on I worked in different places, sometimes on the front attending the public and others "behind the scenes". I've worked in restaurant kitchens for a long time, and my job is a 1000 times harder than the server's. And guess what? I get no tips. I get my paycheck and I have to live with that. To me is very simple: your employer should pay you, not me and my very very very hard earned dollars. For 99% of the population the situation is very simple: give your 100%, do your job as you're told, don't overcook the meat, or GET FIRED. But the poor server has to be rewarded for doing its damn job??? In the store where I worked I didn't have the option to "punish" the customer by taking a lot of time to bring whatever he was buying from the stock room, nor I got rewarded for answering every stupid question they had, or for opening ten boxes for them to feel the camera i was trying to sell, and I was also not rewarded for teaching rich a-holes how to use the $5000 camera they're buying for their 12 year old kid. I stopped caring about social pressure a long time ago.
i Hate surprise fees and tipping when i feel like crap for not being able to if rather they get a decent wage that doesnt depend on tips, if i was a server very little of tips would be reported id be like what i dont get tipped well its not like they can prove it otherwise unless they stalk me
It depends on why you tip. If I go to a restaurant I expect the quality of the food to be of utmost importance. In many Northern European countries the tip is included in the bill. If, in France, Italy or Spain you are especially pleased with the food you send a complementary drink to the cook. He'll get out of his kitchen and salute you with his drink and may even present himself at your table to graceously thank you for the compliment. It's sincere and to the point. After all, you go to a restaurant for the food. The waiter didn't prepare it.
IMHO ... Tipping is far more rewarding when it is based on the unconditional generosity of the tipper versus the quality of the meal or service rendered.
I DON'T like tipping. I think it is an insult both to me and to the waiter. It is the restaurant's responsibility to pay their employees the proper compensation for their work, not mine.
Further, if waiters are so underpaid, why are there so many of them? Why does anyone work as a waiter unless it is easy money?
For PopSci readers, who should be above average in math, have you ever bothered to consider the number of hours worked times the number of tables served times the average check per table? That's quite a lot. And the waiters expect to receive an additional 10% of this for the fantastic effort of bringing the food from the kitchen to the table.
A waiter in a luxury restaurant will often have a check of 1000 dollars. That's a 100 dollar tip. Per table. Times 5 - 10. Per hour.
A waiter in an average restaurant will have an average check of, say, 200 dollars. That's 20 dollars in tip. Times 10 or so. Per hour.
And so on. Do the math. Then refuse to pay tip and instead tell the manager that you think HE should pay the staff, not you.
I earned tips for many years. Notice I said "earned" tips and not "worked for" tips. The difference is that I did more than was expected of me to get tips. I never felt as though a customer owed me anything, especially not a tip, for simply doing my job. The employers' are responsible for paying the wages of their employees. Anyone who takes a job for less than minimum wage does so knowing what they're getting into. Those are the terms of the job. If you want a tip from me, you'll have to do more than just your job. You'll have to actually provide me with something over and above what you're boss pays you for. Too many service industry workers expect tips without having to earn them. With this attitude, I'd prefer the service charge. At least my intelligence isn't insulted by leading me to believe I have a choice. For me, you work for your employer who pays you whatever you agreed to when you were hired. Any money expected from customers in the way of tips should be earned.