In the Loop

In the Loop: October 14, 2008 Archive

To tip or not to tip . . .

Posted at 12:37 PM on October 14, 2008 by Sanden Totten (1 Comments)

I don't like tipping. It makes me feel awkward and I never know if I'm giving the proper amount. Especially outside of restaurants. How much do I tip a cab driver? Is it 15 or 10 percent for a haircut? That guy just opened the door for me, is he supposed to be tipped too?

Photo by LauraFries via Creative Commons
LauraFries-via-CC-4.jpg
That's why I smiled when I read about a restaurant in San Diego that has banned the tip from its dining room. Instead they charge a flat 18 percent service fee. No messy math, no awkward evaluations of how much to give. So far it seems to be working. The service fee is also split more evenly between the wait-staff (who get all the face time with the customer) and the kitchen-staff (who often deal with the customer's picky demands).

I realize tipping is integral to certain professions. Not tipping would make me feel worse, for sure. But there seems to be a real disconnect between the reason we should tip (because of good service) and the reason we do tip. Studies have shown that the amount a person tips isn't related good service. We tend to tip the same across the board, no matter the situation.

Unless of course the waiter knows some tricks:"Nonverbal server behaviors that communicate liking for the customer, such as lightly touching the customer and crouching next to the table when interacting with the customer, substantially increase the tips restaurant servers receive."

Then of course, there is the This American Life episode where an undercover investigation found that mean servers make more than nice ones (at least in the cafe featured in the story).

All this leads me to believe tipping doesn't add up. But until service fees in restaurants, barber shops and cabs go viral, I guess I'll be stuck doing the math.

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