Is Tipping Over? Why the Era of Tipping Service Providers May be At An End

Does Ontario’s minimum wage hike to $15 an hour mark the end of the culture of tipping service providers for their efforts?

Traditionally, many workers in the service industry are paid lower hourly wages, but the small salary is more than made up for by the tips they receive from customers. This system is supposed to improve the service that customers receive as workers will want to enhance their clients’ experience in order to maximize the tips they receive.

It also helps keep prices down as the business owner can save operating costs by paying servers less money up front. Tipping is assumed, doesn’t show up on the price list, and is paid by the customer directly to the staff.

There are some indications that this system may be coming to an end. Consumer attitudes towards tipping have been changing lately, and Ontario’s move to increase the minimum wage to 15$ an hour is only likely to hasten that. The over thirty per cent increase to the minimum wage means that business owners will soon be paying considerably more directly to their staff. Those costs will almost certainly have to be passed on to consumers.

So, now you’ll have a situation where customers could be paying more for food and drinks brought to them by staff who just received a 30 per cent pay hike. Could this be the tipping point for tipping?

A new (American) poll released just last month found that only 36 per cent of people say that they are happy with the current system, while a greater proportion of respondents (44 per cent) would be in favour of scrapping tipping all together and simply paying those workers higher wages.

That is the situation that is coming to Ontario and other parts of Canada as the move to higher minimum wages gains traction.

A discussion of what this pay hike will mean for the culture of tipping recently broke out on Reddit. Here’s a sample of what people are saying:

    “At $15/hour, I would hope that tipping would go away entirely in Ontario. The original purpose of tipping was that a good server could make up what their employer wasn’t paying them by showing their skills and attention to their customers. It’s a sick system, and it’s long overdue for the grave.” – Monkey_Sage

    “I bartended in Australia. Made $18.50hr on weekdays, $22/hr on Saturdays, and $26/hr on Sundays. Made essentially nothing in tips, but I my wage was great so I didn’t care.” – goinupthegranby

    “I seriously hope tipping goes away. The whole tipping thing is getting out of hand. Everyone seems to be expecting them lately. Go pick up a pizza? they expect a tip. Go bowling? The person who rings you up asks for a tip. I actively avoid eating out most of the time just because of tipping. It’s such a stupid practice.” – Ryokoo

    “I’m pretty much avoiding restaurants these days. Have been for a few years now…
    I’ll order take out from restaurants though and bring it home. For that I don’t tip.
    The few instances that I go to restaurants and tip, I hate it. Restaurants would get a lot more business if they said. WE PAY OUR EMPLOYEES FAIRLY, NO TIPPING REQUIRED. That’s the kind of restaurant I want to go to. Sure, give me the option to tip… but when it’s a must, I just choose not to go.” – bored_silly_at_work

    “Taxi drivers? The f#@k?” -jcs1

You can read that full discussion on Reddit.

Interestingly, their conversation delves into the broader topic of – if we are going to continue tipping service providers, who deserves one?

With tip jars on the counter at most establishments, people are expecting tips for food and beverages that you go and pick up. There’s no extra level of service provided there – except getting your order right, which is pretty much their one job to do.

I literally received a Starbucks cup with “Peatre” written on it. My name is “Peter.” Anyway.

The minimum wage for workers who serve alcohol will remain lower than $15/hour, but it will still increase. As of January 2019, the minimum pay for liquor servers will jump from the current $9.90/hour to $13.05/hour.

The US survey on tipping attitudes also asked polled their respondents on which workers they think should be tipped.

The majority (71 per cent) say that restaurant servers should be tipped. This is followed by food delivery persons (62 per cent), bartenders (56 per cent), and hotel bellhops (55 per cent).

Only about half of people say that they feel the need to tip hairdressers (52 per cent) or taxi drivers (43 per cent).

A far smaller proportion of people feel that tailors (6 per cent), flight attendants (4 per cent), and grocery store cashiers (3 cent) should be tipped.

Here’s the complete list:


Photo courtesy of YouGov.com

What do you think? Is tipping over? Does the coming $15/hour minimum wage change the way you feel about tipping for services or who should get a little something extra for their efforts? Please let us know.

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