Guilt Tipping

So, the impetus for this post was an article, supposedly a “news worthy” article, about whether or not Hillary Clinton left a tip at a Chipotle restaurant.

Here’s the Article.

I’m not a fan of Hillary Clinton by any means, but whether she left a tip in the jar at a Chipotle restaurant certainly isn’t news, unless she dropped a significant amount of money into it.  If she’d ordered something ridiculously complicated that required special attention over and above the normal orders at the restaurant, maybe….maybe, not leaving a tip would have been worthy of the equivalent of a small page three blurb.

Tip jars at Chipotle are ridiculous.  It may be slightly more upscale, but it’s still basically a fast food joint.  It would be like McDonalds putting a tip jar on their counter.  The workers take your order, put it together, and you go find your seat with your food.  Admittedly, I’ve not been to a Chipotle in a few years so procedures could have changed, but that process sounds just like BK, right?  Do you tip them?  Not likely.

Going a bit deeper than tipping at fast food joints, though, we get to a discussion of tipping in general.

Tipping, in my opinion, should be done when a service is rendered that you could have done, but chose to have someone else do for you.  For instance, having a bellhop unload your luggage and deliver it to your room, opting to have a valet park your car, having someone wait on you at a restaurant, having pizza delivered to your door, having a friend help you move/build/repair/etc, having our hair styled or colored are examples that warrant a tip.  In the final example, pizza and beer are usually sufficient “tips”.  Yes, the bellhop, valet, waiter, and stylist are employees (usually) and are being paid to do those jobs, but the tip used to be for good service…based on expediency, courtesy, accuracy, etc..

Unfortunately, we’ve gotten to a point that tips are expected whether those services are performed well or not, especially in the case of wait staff at restaurants. We are, more or less, expected to leave the minimum tip of 15%-20% (higher or lower ranges based on regions) for service that barely meets our satisfaction.  Regardless of how long we wait for the waiter to show up to take our drink and food orders, regardless of whether the orders are perfect, regardless of how long we have to sit around once we’re all finished and ready for the bill, we’re expected to leave a tip.

And we’ve been so “trained” to leave a tip, that most of us feel bad about not leaving one…to the extent that we never don’t leave a tip even when the service is horrible.  We tell ourselves that it wasn’t the waiter’s fault the food was wrong or cold and so we “Guilt Tip” the minimum.  We “Guilt Tip” the stylist who didn’t quite get our hair right because we must have failed to accurately describe what we wanted.

Now this won’t be popular, but I think it’s time we get back to expecting good service for our tips.  If we receive poor service, don’t leave a tip.  If the service is simply average, bust out your phone’s calculator and figure out what the accepted standard tip percentage is (calculated on the pre-tax subtotal, of course), and leave that amount.  If the service deserves it, leave a more generous tip.  As long as we continue to shell out our money for crumby service, we’re certainly going to continue to get it.

And by all means, don’t “Guilt Tip” fast food workers.  Anyone can slap a tip jar on a counter.  It doesn’t mean they deserve the extra money.

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