Some of you can relate to this scenario.
My friend Sophia* and I went out for her birthday dinner at a high-end Italian restaurant in Calgary. Apparently, a $22 caprese salad equates to fine dining but the price didn’t bother me so much as the haste service from our server.
When he realized we weren’t drinking alcohol, his chipper demeanor quickly changed.
FACT: Sophia is pregnant and I was the designated driver so punish us for being responsible.
He barely said a word to us, grabbed our plates even before we were done and not a “thank you” as we left.
In response, I was close to skipping the tipping option on the credit card machine (which would have been a first for me) but Sophia talked me out of it.
As someone who used to work in the hospitality industry, she explained the kitchen staff would also suffer since they receive a portion of the tip.
My course of action should have been to speak to the manager but Sophia said the magic words “let’s go for ice cream!” before I was about to go Raging Asian.
*name has been changed to protect her identity and to pay homage to Golden Girls.
TO TIP OR NOT TO TIP … THAT IS THE QUESTION
This seems like a topic that is being discussed more and more in the media.
Earls – a popular restaurant chain in Canada – is conducting a pilot project replacing tipping with an automatic 16% hospitality fee at their Calgary locations.
Just in time for Stampede also known as The Greatest Show on Earth and the city’s largest revenue generating event.
Just the other day, I was listening to my podcast du jour “The No-Tipping Point” from Freakonomics.
The podcast focused on The Modern, a Michelin-star restaurant in New York. They also had their own trial run eliminating tipping with a “hospitality included” pricing model in December 2015.
With the new fee in place, the lowest-paying kitchen jobs – washing dishes and cleaning floors – increased from $10 to $12/hour and cooks started at $14/hour.
Servers were paid $9 from $5 per hour (New York minimum wage) and they also received a portion of a newly initiated profit-sharing program.
Aside from predictable and proportional compensation between front of house and back of house, other benefits of eradicating tipping include:
- Minimize discriminatory tipping practices from customers who will tip based on their own biased perception and opinion. Research has shown that an attractive, slender Caucasian female server will receive better tips than her counterparts.
- Restaurants aren’t forced to pay less than minimum wage and can offer health benefits to employees.
- Servers no longer feel obligated to work peak shifts – evenings and weekends – in order to garner the most tips.
It would be nice to take away the guesswork and awkward discreet gesture of calculating the tip on my Smartphone under the table. But I still believe that a tip is deemed as a reward and incentive for an attentive, kind and friendly server which is as rare as a good hair day for Donald Trump.
Countries including Australia, Switzerland and China automatically add a gratuity or service fee to the bill. In Japan, it’s a downright insult if a tip is given as it’s customary to be courteous and gracious in the service industry.
So perhaps North America is behind with the times and Earls and The Modern are starting a restaurant revolt by reversing the traditional tipping system.
Are you a fan or foe of tipping? I would love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below!