Should We Still Tip?

Tipping in the United States has long been a topic of debate, with opinions varying widely among Americans.

The current federal minimum is $2.13 an hour. Seven states require full minimum wage regardless of tipping, and five more states (Michigan, Arizona, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) are considering similar measures. Around another two dozen states have minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum, but not as much as their state’s normal minimum wage.

It is important to note, that if your hourly wage with tip does not amount to the federal minimum wage of $7.25, the restaurant is required to pay the server the difference. I am not sure if there are statistic on this, but I have heard anecdotally that some places do not do this. Though I do not know if it is from either not knowing, or intentionally. (I would guess some of both)

But there is a question we could ask before that. What are the benefits of tipping vs full pay? Is the expectation for tipping every meal one we should stick to?

Is tipping an essential part of the dining experience and a way to reward good service? It can be argued that tipping encourages better service and helps to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. You could also argue that having a society that encourages tipping might encourage people to be generous all around.

For the first two points, I think tipping can help with both of those. However, I have had bad waiters before, so the possibility of not getting a tip does not end all bad service. I do believe that wanting good tips does encourage many servers to do a good job.

One thing to remember is that if we get rid of obligatory tipping, the bill will likely stay the same. The money you usually put into the tip will not just go into the food price, then be distributed out as payroll. It is possible it could change the price in certain situation, for better or for worse.

Finally, some people make a much better living because of tips. They generally are very nice, hard working people, and they get payed more for it. However, I would bet this mostly happens in semi-nice or nice restaurants.

According to recent data from the Pew Research Center, most Americans believe that they are expected to tip at more places now than in the past, but fewer are actually leaving tips. This indicates a growing dissatisfaction with the tipping culture in the United States. Additionally, a CNBC poll found that most Americans tip 15% or less at a restaurant, with some even choosing to leave no tip at all.

This is all exacerbated by automated prompts for tipping. Every automated checkout station now prompts you for a tip. More importantly, it does not distinguish between when you order some weird complex latte you would tip a barista for making, vs. buying some sparkling water.

Personally, I am leaning toward paying waiters more, and just giving tips to those who do a good job. Because food prices would be higher, it would mean that we would tip less often and in lower amounts. But it might be a good balance.

What do you think? Feel free to send us an email if you have extra thoughts on the matter. (We will include an excerpt in a future email).

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