I’ve worked in the hospitality industry since I was 18, and I constantly hear “I don’t tip because I don’t think it’s fair the way restaurant workers get paid.” People claim they feel like they are supporting the system by tipping restaurant workers, so prefer not to tip (and show the restaurants they should give workers a living wage).
Today, a whole thread popped up on social media surrounding how someone doesn’t want to tip (because the entire system is broken), but they still want to tell a restaurant worker they did a good job when they do.
I won’t mince words. You suck.
You are protesting a system that exploits workers. But you aren’t willing to boycott that industry, (because you love eating out! It’s so much fun!) so you refuse to tip the waiter, writing “I’m against tipping” on the receipt.
I understand the arguments against a tipping system. I worked in a martini lounge five days a week. While Friday and Saturday brought in decent pay, I worked from about 4pm to 2am on weekdays, making ~$30 a shift. It balanced out. Plus, I wasn’t allowed to work the weekends unless I worked a weekday shift.
Friday and Saturday felt like a lot of money, but once you balanced it out, it was a regular wage. Which is okay–I chose to work for that place–but an hourly wage wouldn’t have destroyed my personal profits at all (and might have added to it).
I was able to get into the restaurant industry because of tipping. It’s one of those industries where a lot of people don’t last past the first year. If you don’t do a good job, you don’t make money.
In essence, you fire yourself.
But because of this, the barriers to entry are lower. I’m not saying whether or not this is a good thing or a bad thing, but this is why it was so easy for me to get involved in the industry. I just basically walked into a job.
But this isn’t about whether or not the system should shift from its current model. The important part is that this is the current model.
If you believe restaurants are exploiting their workers, then boycott them. Write letters into the newspaper. Protest outside. (We had protests outside the cafe I worked at when I was 18, and I was very confused because I didn’t understand the issues people had with restaurants).
But when you fight the system by not tipping your server, you are agreeing that the restaurant owner is exploiting its employees, and then deciding, in protest, that you will too.
That’s akin to saying a company isn’t paying George Jetson enough to make widgets. So you go straight to George Jetson, take a widget from him without paying him for his time working, and explain he’s being exploited.
Over my <cough> 14 years of the restaurant industry (this is where you protest–oh no, you can’t be that old!), I’ve come across people with ethical reasons for not tipping. I remember all of them.
There was one that would come into the lounge I worked in with a white shirt, sharpied with “No fat chicks.” He’d complain to his friends about how bars exploit their workers then “expect patrons to tip someone a dollar just for popping open a beer”.
There was another one who took all of his friends out for drinks. I was his server, and at that restaurant, I tipped out the bar for 10% of the cost of drinks I served (with the assumption that I was getting tipped for them).
He pulled me off to the side, said he likes to tip most with compliments, told me great things about my service, then handed me $5. I owed the bar $10 for his drinks. I made -$5 for serving them that evening.
I’m not saying this to complain about individual customers, or to say my life as a restaurant worker was hard. I’ve done alright for myself, and I’ve had some pretty great managers who have given up their own pay sometimes to make sure I made money. But it was my direct manager who made sure I made money (out of their own money). And when I became a manager, I started doing the same for my employees.
But if you are cheap, please just write on the receipt, “I am cheap, so I didn’t tip.” It’s more honest. To claim you aren’t tipping because I’m being exploited is a joke.
You are exploiting me.
The system in the United States might be all wrong. It might be the worst thing ever. But it is the way it is, and if you don’t tip, people don’t get paid. So just pretend their wages are baked into the operations of the restaurant, and all the prices are raised by 20% to make up for that.