Consumer Issues

October 7, 2008


Filed under: consumers — Tomi @ 8:47 pm
Tags: ,

 Tipping as I understand it is supposed to be optional and entirely at the discretion of the giver. In fact, the Merriam Webster dictionary defines tip (also frequently called gratuity) as a gift or a sum of money tendered for a service performed or anticipated. I find it rather amazing therefore that these days tip giving has ceased to be discretionary but has rather become more of an anticipation on the part of the receiver so much so that they do not care whether they perform a service or not worthy of a tip.


For example, a lot of  restaurants now automatically add a 15% gratuity to your bill if it’s a group of 6 or more it doesn’t matter what the constituent of the group is.  A case in point my family went out to dinner with my mom (there was in our group of six 3 adults, 2 preschoolers (we ordered 3 adult meals which was shared meals with the preschoolers)  and a 3 month old baby who was exclusively breastfed.  When the bill came an automatic 15% gratuity had been added to our bill (for our use of table space I guess) but to make it more interesting underneath the total was another tiny line for “Tip”. Obviously the gratuity goes to the restaurant and the actual tip added  to the subtotal of the actual cost of meal and automatic gratuity is what goes to the waiter or waitress. 


The other day a friend went in for lunch and right outside the restaurant windows, were employees carrying placards “stop stealing our tips” a message addressed to the owners of the restaurant. On further investigation, we discovered that employers are beginning to consider tips as part of the wages received by the employees thus in a bid not to overcompensate, some of them simply aren’t paying good enough wages to these people leaving it to the client to bridge the gap. 


While I have no hold back on the giving on tips, I prefer that it be given to duly deserving people and not just to anyone who feels like they have a right to it.  The other day we ordered delivery and the food came in 1 hour later than the promised delivery time rather cold.  We complained to the driver but rather than apologize,  he matter of factly stated “I lost my way and when we handed him a $1 tip, the guy goes “ I won’t accept that, “ according to him he’s gone to too much trouble delivering the food $1 was too small.  He insisted on having more added to the receipt rather than accepting a $1. Another delivery guy not only insisted on been paid the tip in cash but said we looked too rich for a $5 tip on a $20 delivery order. I thought that was astounding until a friend mentioned that fact that at her hair salon you had to put the tip for each individual in a labeled envelope before actually putting it in the tip box and when she innocently asked one of the individuals why you can’t drop a sum for everyone to share in the tip box the abrupt reply “you obviously have never had to work for tips in your life”. 


Though the tipping issue is most obvious in the restaurants, the unreasonable expectations on tips is going on everywhere.  Another example is the porter at the airport who goes in search of someone who could break a large note for change and not only does he bring the individual over to us, he takes the larger bill then hands us the change automatically keeping what he believes was commiserate to the level of service he’d offered. 


Personally, I have reached my own tipping point and I am done with the giving of tips to undeserving people.   As a matter of principle, these days, I do not give a tip unless I am genuinely impressed by the level of service received.  Over the summer, I got a nice lady who came to babysit for me, she played with the children and even made them dinner.  She was so good to them that I gave her a tip bigger than what I had paid the agency for her time.  That was someone who was deserving of a tip and I had no guile in giving it to her. But when we went to a restaurant and the attending waitress not only got our orders wrong but also slammed the food down then forgot to refill our drinks, I refused to give her any tip she was so nasty afterwards and complained loudly to the cashier “ they didn’t give me any tip”.  My friend did say that she gives 1cent  in a case like that so that she would not be tagged a stingy person but like that old age adage little drops of water makes the mighty ocean as far as I am concerned even 1cent is valuable it has to be deserved. 


People have to understand that it pays to treat other people with respect and it seems the only way to get the message across is to speak a language they understand. 




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