Tips= To Insure Prompt Service

Didn’t know where the terms tips came from? Now you do.

Is a tip a requirement or discretionary? Does it insure prompt service, or is it merely a veiled means of compensation for the provider’s underpaid employees. And are they underpaid in today’s rising minimum wage world? Obviously in this holiday season you want to generously reward those who have helped you in the past year. But is every tip really earned or are we being coerced?

On a personal level I understand the importance of tips particularly in service industries like restaurants, hotels etc. where employees are paid less than minimum wage. Their finances and livelihoods depend on tips. I was a waiter during college during the summers, so I get it. Any person who was a waiter, waitress or worked in below minimum wage industries understands the need for tips.

But is tipping now out of control? It is. So how does one balance the need for tips to provide badly needed income to the person working at a service industry, versus a formulaic money grab for those who may or may not have provided any real service at all.  

Here’s the problem that we all know. We have been moving towards a cashless society. (Though the pushback from businesses seeking to offload the service charges they used to absorb is a direct counter to this movement)

In today’s digital world, when one purchases anything at a counter and uses a credit card, the payment monitor is often swiveled, and one is asked the size of the tip to be provided. Often starting at 18%. Is a tip warranted? It kind of depends. Is a tip for the purchase of a dozen bagels warranted? How about the preparation of an ice cream sundae? It’s not so easy. Service employees now are making minimum wage which is roughly $15+/hour, either mandated by law or by pressure from other industries paying $15 per hour. That’s a big step up from the federal $7.25 which is a joke.  I do think it’s important that businesses pay their workers a far more reasonable wage in the $15+ range and yes, I understand that provides upward pricing pressure making the dollar store purchases now $1.25, and making fries at McDonalds a little pricier. 

So, are lower-paid workers always deserving of a tip? One does not tip at McDonald’s or Wawa, yet I feel the pressure to tip at Rita’s or the local bagel place. And I do tip there.

So here are the Lonny Strum guidelines:

In restaurants, the smaller the bill the higher the tip % and vice versa. For breakfast at a diner, a tip of 30-40% is fine. If you get the egg special for $10, please leave a few dollars for a tip!

In restaurants where the bill is often $100+ per person, a more standard tip of 15-18% is OK. Remember that restaurant is often charging you 20-25% more than pre-COVID. Use your judgement and don’t be chincy, but on a bill of several hundred dollars a more modest percentage doesn’t make you a cheapskate.

Service matters. For people who go out of their way to help you, reward it! And vice versa. For those who provide mediocre service a more modest service tip is OK.

Do not be coerced. Tip when you feel it is warranted. Don’t when the “service” is not service at all.

But be generous within reason. Remember those with a lower wage can use the extra $.

Happy holidays to all and my best wishes to all for a happy and healthy 2024.

More Strumings

Leave a Reply