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July 27th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 30
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Gratitude with attitude
Rick's Corner
There is a lot of discussion lately over mandatory tipping in Canadian Restaurants, especially since Earls Restaurant unveiled its new mandatory tipping program earlier in July. Earls called it a "hospitality charge" and it is causing controversy with some patrons. However some agree with the process, of course generally only when they get good service making the show of gratuity seem appropriate.

In Canada for many years there has been a mandatory tip for larger groups but Earls Restaurant is one of the first to practice this method daily with every single bill.

The whole concept of mandatory tipping definitely seems to contradict the idea of tipping itself and many people who have a problem with the practice believe it decreases incentive for servers to perform the best they can on the job. I am personally against it for a few reasons.

We have all been in a restaurant waiting for a drink or a menu while the waitress is sitting behind a counter on her cell phone or chatting with other waitresses. This really makes me aggravated, as a lot of times I don't have time for that. Like many others I want to eat and go. In my mind if a waitress is not tending to the needs we have as consumers there should be no, or very little tip. If service was top-notch then I am happy to give a 20-30% tip or more. I would maybe even think that a server who is very good at their job may be against mandatory tipping as their tip average may be more than the set percentage with the mandatory strategy.

I guess it all really comes down to the customer and their server. I am not a server so perhaps the times they do a great job and are not rewarded for it are too many and they find themselves putting in a lot of energy for nothing. Some patrons may feel that servers are underpaid and should be tipped regardless.
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Either way I am curious to see how this all plays out. Will Mandatory tipping just be the norm in 20 years? Perhaps.

Tipping has a quite a colourful history that I wasn't aware of and some interesting rumours revolving around its creation as well.

Contrary to popular belief that tipping originated in the US, it was actually a practice in England during the 17th Century.

According to a report published in the New York Tribune, visitors entering taverns or pubs during the 17th century, could get a better service if they added some money in the "Tip" jar. This was a jar kept in the tavern especially for this purpose. These jars bore a sticker that read "To insure promptitude" which later on went on to be called TIP. People who tipped received faster and prompt services from the waiters, as the name suggests. And slowly this practice spread across Europe. However, this story has been refuted by many. They say the word "Tip" just means "To let one have", "To give" or "To pass on" which apparently was originally used by thieves and criminals.

Tipping in the United States began just after the American Civil War in the late 1800’s. The wealthy Americans traveling abroad to Europe witnessed tipping and brought the aristocratic custom back with them to prove their elevated education and class.

It was then only natural that the practice of tipping would migrate into Canada in the years that followed.

Not all Americans favoured this practice and In fact, in 1890, a movement against tipping began as many Americans believed that tipping went against the country’s ideals and allowed a clear servile class that would be financially dependent on a higher class. In 1915 six state legislators from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Carolina attempted and failed to pass an anti-tipping bill that would make leaving gratuities unlawful.

In 1904 there was an actual Anti-Tipping Society of America that sprang up in Georgia and its 100,000 members signed pledges to not tip anyone for a year.

In 1909, Washington became the first of six states to pass an anti-tipping law. However tipping would persist and the new laws were rarely enforced. When they were, they did not hold up in court. By 1926, every anti-tipping law had been repealed.
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This information is as accurate as I could find scouring the internet about the history of tipping. There is always the chance however that a History Professor may write a lengthy letter to the editor going through a great deal of work to show how inaccurate this information is but as far as I could find, this is some of the history of tipping that I found somewhat interesting.

Other facts about tipping are that up into the 1980's tipping was actually illegal in China. In France a 15% tip is added to a bill by law. In Australia tipping was not the norm 20 years ago but now 10-15% is customary and in Egypt a 5-10% is normal.

I found it quite interesting as well that there were studies done on what would bring in better tips for servers. Two studies were done and one showed that waiters who squatted next to the table when taking orders increased their tips from 14.9% of the bill to 17.5%. The other showed squatting raised the percentage from 12% to 15%. Another study showed that waiters experienced a tip increase from 11.8% to 14.8% when they briefly touched the shoulder of their customer. Also giving a piece of candy to the customer with their bill showed an increase in tip percentage from 15.1% to 17.8% and in a separate study of the same nature good old candy increased the tip from 19% to 21.6%. Another interesting fact is that a female waitress can raise her tip percentage by a whopping 18% by simply drawing a happy face on the bill, where as a male who does the same gesture can actually decrease his percentage by 9%.
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At the end of the day all we want as customers is to be seated and taken care of by a friendly, aware, dedicated server who makes us feel just a little bit special as we sit down to enjoy a meal. Some patrons are against tipping regardless of how their service was and these folks usually argue that the servers are already getting paid, why am I giving them extra? Truth be told many servers don't make very good money from paycheque to paycheque and when we see them going above and beyond it only seems natural and appropriate to give them something extra for their hard work and diligence.

There will always be good servers and bad servers and when I am confronted with a bad server I often think to myself, " Has this person never been waited on before? They must know what good service is having been a patron themselves."

Regardless, we still see terrible servers and we always will. Do they deserve to be given that extra gratitude for being unpleasant or unfriendly? Do they deserve the show of gratitude for messing up an entire order? Maybe they had a bad day or maybe that's just how they do their job but I know with jobs, I myself have had over the years, I may not even get paid at all if I don't do my job in a timely fashion and do it correctly. Should it be any different for the service industry? I'll leave that up to you to decide for yourself.

All I know is I can't demand extra gratuity for my job and in my opinion it should be left up to the customer to decide if they see their service as exceptional and if that extra something in the pocket of their server is justified. If it was put to a vote I would simply vote no to mandatory tipping. To me, it just doesn't make sense.
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July 27th ~ Vol. 85 No. 30
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