The Tipping Point

Monday, October 13, 2008

Paul Wachter from New York Times Magazine hashes out the benefits and detriments of mandatory tipping.


Paul Wachter

Comments [15]

lee from Los Angeles

yowsers. this guy sounds about as bored as I was with his story.

Oct. 13 2008 06:44 PM
hjs from 11211

if i get bad service i give a bad tip. if restaurants want to make tip mandatory they should change the prices on the menu and stop playing mind games.

and what about those tip jars everywhere. i don't play that game.

ps this web site has been giving me trouble ever since you revamped it :(

Oct. 13 2008 12:08 PM
susan from Mendham, NJ

We just returned from living in Australia for a year. There is no tipping and in fact the Aussies think our custom of tipping is comical. Of course, the waiters there are paid a living wage and have access to universal health care.

Oct. 13 2008 12:02 PM
Lance from Manhattan

David - sorry to hear that about Charlie Trotter's in Chicago.
That used to be one of my favorite restaurants.

Oct. 13 2008 12:01 PM
detv8 from nyc

wow.....this is so NOT an interesting story

Oct. 13 2008 11:58 AM
Lance from Manhattan

Great idea, Chris.
Restaurants should pay staff a decent wage.

Tips should be done away with completely. Just include a fixed "tip" in the cost of service (raise each menu item accordingly, so there is no separate indication of a tip on the bill).

Oct. 13 2008 11:58 AM
David from NYC

Something to watch out for with mandatory tips: it can be abused by owners very easily.

For example, the famous Charlie Trotter's in Chicago charges gratuity atop its huge bills for dinner. Instead of going to waitstaff and kitchen staff, this money goes to the Charlie Trotter Fund, which is the owner's personal kitty. Things may have changed since a friend of mine worked there, but you have to tip your waiter directly on top of that if you want to ensure she/he gets a tip. Anyway, this has been a well-documented scandal in the Chicago press.

Oct. 13 2008 11:57 AM
Mike from NYC

Someone give this guy some coffee and maybe a cough drop or something. Please.

Oct. 13 2008 11:57 AM
Craig from Brooklyn

I've really started to notice a change in the tipping process recently - it seems like more and more waiters/waitresses are looking for specific instructions that change is needed. Failure to do so leaves you sitting there for a while before awkwardly having to ask for the change.

On Saturday my girlfriend and I were put in a position were we had to request our $12 change back on our $28 check.

I don't know what's going on between employers and employees right now but something's changed.

Oct. 13 2008 11:57 AM
Tony from San Jose, CA

Service in the US is so much better than in France, where it is included by default.

I think it is a bad idea to remove it.

I do sometimes skip the tip, when the service is bad. It is one again a question of moral hazard.

Oct. 13 2008 11:57 AM
Noah from Brooklyn

Honestly it is good and bad. I think they should simply pay there servers well making a tip financially unnecessary, but allow for tips when people feel it is necessary as is the case in most of Europe, where you don't leave a large tip, but rather a tip that simply shows appreciation. I've lived in Japan where people will refuse tips, they are payed very well and it is culturally improper for them to accept tips. We simply need wage reform for servers.

Oct. 13 2008 11:56 AM
Joseph Anthony from Hoboken,NJ

T.I.P= to insure promptness. It was invented in England when people would go into pubs and wanted a quicker service, they would put money in a box and the waiter would tend to them first.I learned this while teaching for Berlitz Language Center in Santiago,Chile. It's actually in their book Brush Up Your English.


Oct. 13 2008 11:55 AM
Ro from SoHo

Brian I think it is 'TIPS' which stood for To Insure Promt Service.

Oct. 13 2008 11:55 AM
chris from pittsburgh

No more tipping! I just lived a year in Australia where there is no tipping. Servers are paid a very reasonable wage and service is friendly and civil--no weird vibes, no mathematical calculations after dinner, no wondering whether you're ripping off server, etc.

Unbelievably, we've got a young restaurant critic in Pittsburgh who recently recommended that we tip 20 percent or more, regardless of service. She said if you get bad service tell the manager, don't take it out on the server because it might not be their fault.

Oct. 13 2008 11:54 AM
John from Washington, DC

Is this change just a restaurant requiring its customers to pay service staff directly? This still allows the restaurant industry to pay vastly smaller minimum wage and thus shift the bureden of payments like Social Security that are the responsibility of other employers. I wish the NY Times Magazine article had addressed this.

Oct. 13 2008 11:08 AM

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