There’s a nice little pub around the corner from my house. While I rarely sit down and have a drink there, it is the perfect place to pick up off-sale beer before a house party. I’ll walk in to the retail side of the pub and pick out a six of something and make my way to the cash register. Right beside the register is a menacing little tip jar. This makes me nervous, and I’ll tell you why.
I don’t necessarily think the person sitting behind the register deserves a tip. I mean, I opened the fridge, I chose the beer, and I carried it to the counter. What part of that transaction requires extra payment. Whenever I see a tip jar though, I feel the societal pressure to contribute. I fear it makes me look like a cheapskate if I don’t “support counter intelligence”. Maybe I’m the only one that isn’t tipping? I think of it this way though: Would I tip the clerk in a clothing store for ringing up my purchases? No, I wouldn’t.
I certainly would tip a bartender in the bar, but there’s a difference between providing me a service (a service which I will probably be requesting again in the immediate future), and doing your job. I think that it’s a little disrespectful to even place a tip jar on the counter. There are certain places where you should not have to worry about gratuities. Fast food restaurants, clothing & retail stores, and convenience stores have no business asking for top-ups.
There are other areas where I’m confused if I should tip or not…
Take out food:
Obviously you tip when you go to a sit-down restaurant. But what’s the consensus for picking up take out food. When you sit down, are you tipping the waiter, or are you tipping the entire staff? I remember when I worked as a busboy, and there was a tip pool all the waiters had to cash out to at the end of a shift. Everyone else would get a percent, the hosts, the chefs, even the dishwashers. If I don’t tip for take out, am I stiffing all those support workers? Normally, I don’t tip when I go pick up the food, but I still get that feeling of awkwardness when “Enter Tip Amount: $ %” appears on the Interac screen.
This one skipped my attention for most of my life. My parents always paid for the hotel when we went traveling. Recently though, someone I was traveling with left some money on the counter for the cleaning staff. I was a little taken back. I didn’t know that this was an area where a tip was required. This wasn’t a fancy hotel or anything. I know that you’re supposed to tip the bellhop or the valet, but the cleaning staff too?
Now that I’ve started to venture outside of North America, it’s come to my attention that tipping practices are not the same in other countries as they are here. It’s the travelers responsibility to know where and how much to tip. For instance, in Australia tipping is not the norm. Minimum wage there is protected and is considerably higher than it is in Canada & the US. If you’re about to take a trip, search online: Trip Advisor has up to date tipping etiquette pages on most countries.
Most of the time, when I don’t tip it’s because I’m ignorant of the fact that I should be tipping. Hopefully I don’t commit tipping a faux pas too many times a day. I’m still not tipping that beer clerk though.
For all you iPhone / iPod touch users, check out the free application TipStar in the App store. It allows you to quickly calculate your tip based on different saved percentages. It will even split up the bill for you if you’re dining with a group.