Last week the unusual whales account on twitter, tweeted that the minimum expectation for tips has raised from 15% to 20%, with 18% as the bare minimum for decent service. At the time I didn’t think much of the tweet and retweeted it stating that I always give 20%. Today, I went to my neighborhood café, I ordered my usual peppermint tea, and I noticed in the few days since I have been there that the prompt on the touchscreen for tips had changed, and it annoyed me. I have been thinking about it since. Prior the tip prompt allowed you to tap 15%, 18% or 20%, there was always the option to leave nothing or to leave what you’d like in cash in the tip jar. Today, I noticed the tip prompt has the option for 18%, 20% and 25%. I don’t mind tipping, but today I started evaluating when and why I even feel compelled to tip and possibly why others do too. Of course, like every American we have it drilled into our heads that servers don’t make more than a few dollars an hour and by tipping you are supplementing their hourly wage. So, I mostly tip as a service to servers. I see it as my way of adding to financial wellbeing of the server and not necessarily a reward for excellent service but more so for just doing their job. I also think tipping may be a way of demonstrating largesse which in the context of a waiter outside of a Michelin restaurant is kind of ridiculous, nevertheless, it’s the American way. I don’t eat out often and when I do its usually at the same places, even when I travel to places I have been before I usually go to the same tried and true spots. So, for me tipping well is kind of a necessary thing to do when you plan on returning to place frequently. But today I started thinking about what I am tipping for. I don’t have any particularly high standards for service. I want prompt service, I don’t care if you remember my name, I don’t care where the server’s accent is from or what they’ve been up to or where they are from, and I don’t need them to take a personal interest in me. I don’t have any requests outside of my order etc. I started to think, like many, that I may mostly tip because I don’t want to be known as the person that doesn’t tip. I wonder how much tipping is done to subvert personal judgement as a jerk or a cheapskate than out of a demonstration of actual gratitude for the service. I recently put my foot down with tipping at the spa that I go to for eyebrow threading and tint. I was informed that the price for each service would be increasing by $10, “due to inflation” and increased prices for products. I was told this as I was sitting in the chair for my service. This annoyed me as I felt as a regular client, along with other regular clients with standing appointments we should have been informed in writing prior to our appointments. I decided then that I would no longer tip for my service since the price was increased. I think the changing of the tip prompt at the café demonstrates some sort of entitlement that people in the service industry have now, this happens often in service type jobs that interface with the public where people believe they should be compensated for “taking care of people.” It also reveals the consensus that most people have concerning work in any domain, that they should be paid top dollar for any job and for just doing the bare minimum at their job or showing up. They don’t mean to do their job well or exemplary, but they feel they should make as much as possible for it. I don’t mind tipping as I see it as my contribution to the ecosystem and the financial welfare of those providing me a service, but I also don’t like the sneaking feeling that as a customer I am being exploited. It is kind of insulting to prompt people to give more. Just include gratuity and spare the patrons and the servers the embitterment and awkwardness.
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