Stepping Into Hot Water Yet Again

Before I even get started on this subject, let me be very clear – I tip waiters and waitresses about 20% of my bill – every time. I always have and always will. I’m generous with my hairdresser and pizza delivery guys, too. That said, however….

Tonight, I got into a rather ugly debate on Facebook. Why? Because I believe employers should charge a little more for whatever service they offer, pay all of their employees a fair wage … and do away with tipping altogether.

Kristy K. James restaurant tablePhoto courtesy of

Obviously, there are those who disagree with me, but I have my reasons.

1. Contrary to what most people believe, many cooks earn a straight minimum wage while waitstaff often earn a whole lot more than that – thanks to their hourly wage and tips. Most people also don’t realize that cooks work at least as hard as the waitstaff – and in miserably hot kitchens, too. I can’t help it. I don’t think that’s fair.

2. Customers are not owners of the businesses we frequent, yet we’re expected to pay most of the wages of their employees because employers are too cheap to do so. Unlike ‘real’ employers though, we aren’t allowed to deduct those ‘wages’ paid from our income tax bill.

3. Tipping is no longer considered a way to say thank you for good service, but an obligation instead. I actually had a 15% gratuity added to a bill at one restaurant. That was the first and last time I ever ate there – largely because the service sucked and I had to pay a hefty mandatory tip anyway.

If you read the comments on articles about tipping anywhere online, it’s scary. Pizza delivery guys who ‘mark’ the houses of poor tippers – pretty much guaranteeing you’re last on the delivery list – every time. Restaurant staff who serve your food with a little something extra… (some of the pizza guys admit to doing that, too)

For some people, just the cost of a meal or a haircut – or whatever – is absolutely all they can afford. Seniors on fixed incomes, other minimum/low wage employees really can’t afford the tips some of these service employees expect. A couple dollars extra in actual price would be much more affordable to them than a five or ten dollar tip. Yet if they don’t pay, they’re at risk for poorly cooked foods, or food that comes with added bodily fluids from unscrupulous, disgruntled employees.

This is just wrong. Eliminating the tipping system would eliminate the risks of food tampering and poor service – but only if employers were forced to start paying a fair wage to their employees.

Although, based on my brief experience as a short order cook many moons ago, I imagine waitstaff and delivery persons would be up in arms if someone tried to change the current payment system.

I know for a fact that the waiters and waitresses I worked with would much rather have kept the lower hourly and tips because most days, they earned three and four times more than I did as a minimum wage employee. There was no day when they didn’t leave with at least twice as much as I’d earned, and I worked at least as hard as they did.

Again, I’m not knocking any person who performs a service for me. They work hard (most of them), and as long as this system is in place, I will continue tipping them well. It’s not their fault their employers are cheapskates. And contrary to what some might say, it’s not that easy for them to just say “I quit,” and then go find another job. There aren’t that many jobs to be had anymore.

So what’s your opinion about all of this? Do you think employers need to suck it up and start paying their employees fairly, or are you okay with the way things are? Would you be okay with paying a couple more dollars for your meal, your haircut, or your hotel bill instead of having to leave a tip?

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6 Responses to Stepping Into Hot Water Yet Again

  1. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree with Kitt. Why does it have to be a percentageof the bill? It shouldn’t matter if I ordered a $10 meal or a $100 meal.

    • Kristy K. James says:

      I agree, too. That’s why I’d rather pay more for the meal and have the server be paid an hourly. Do away with tipping altogether so no one has to worry about it – or food tampering.

  2. I can totally see your point. Honestly, I still tip based on the quality of service I receive. I refuse to be bullied by folks who feel tipping should be “mandatory” and at a very specific rate. There was actually one place my friend and I went to where we didn’t tip at all because the service was terrible, the meals were wrong (multiple times), and the server sat there and made excuses to us as to why after the manager came to our table and asked us how our service was (and we were honest).

    • Kristy K. James says:

      I’m okay with not tipping in that kind of situation, though the few times it’s happened, I won’t return to the restaurant for a long, long time. Waitstaff remember people who don’t tip, and I have no doubt they get their revenge. It’s a strange world we live in today. People want to be paid no matter how bad they do their jobs. 🙁

  3. Korinna Rena Props-Berry says:

    I agree completely! Without getting into a long story, my second job was an HR manager and my boss was the cheapest jerk I have ever met – aside from my husband’s boss. He would charge 20% on all parties and keep 10 % for himself and split the other ten between 4-5 workers. I always emceed parties and hosted them but got nothing because I was a manager. I would have been ok with that too if I was paid a fair wage for what I did. This happens way too much!!!! There is no even stevens and a fair wage should be the optimal way to go so these employees stop getting screwed over. They like the tangible material that is in their hands- however it is what they are not seeing that is the problem. Then you have those like you said who want to retaliate. It’s disgusting that this behavior exists. I am on disability yet I always tip 20% unless the service sucks and even then I will tip 10%. This is their wages as menial as it is and they have to turn around by law and report at least 10%.

    • Kristy K. James says:

      Wow, I am seriously losing track of time here. I’m in the middle of a big editing job for a friend, and one day is blending into another until a week is gone and I’m not sure where it went. 😀

      Sounds like you and your hubby are far too experienced with lousy bosses, Korinna. Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way though. But yes, I’ve never not tipped someone, even for poor service either.

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