Is Tipping or Are My Tipping Guidelines Out of Control?

by Jon Dulin

Growing up, I would see my parents tip the waiter or waitress at the restaurant where we ate. I would see my Dad tip the barber tipping guidelinesfor cutting our hair. Other than that, there wasn’t much tipping done.

Now that I am an adult, I carry on with the same tipping guidelines. I still tip the waiter and my barber. I also tip the delivery guy when I have a pizza delivered. I also tip the cabbie when I take a taxi, and the bell hop who brings my luggage up to my room when I stay at a hotel.

Tipping Out of Control

Sadly, at least to me, is that everywhere I go now, I see a tip jar. Today I saw one at the cash register at Subway. People tell me I should give money to my mail carrier and the guy that picks up my garbage around the holidays. Where does it stop? Next thing I know, I will see a tip jar in the checkout line at the grocery store.

Seeing all of the tip jars made me think. Am I cheap because don’t know tipping guidelines or is tipping out of control? I started to think about who I tip and why.

My Tipping Guidelines

  • I tip waiters because I know most of them make less than minimum wage and rely on tips.
  • I tip my barber because for as long as I can remember, I have seen it done. I have no other reason other than I want to make sure he doesn’t feel slighted by me and intentionally give me a bad haircut. He owns his own business, so unless he has a huge amount of expenses, his ‘pay’ can’t be too low.
  • I tip a cab driver because most cabbies (from my understanding) split the cab fares between themselves and the cab company. The driver is responsible for most of the maintenance and gas for the car. Quick math tells me they don’t make that much because of this.
  • I’m not sure what a bell hop makes. I’m sure at the nicer hotels, he makes a decent wage, plus might get to stay for free at the hotel chain. I tip him though because he loads and unloads my sometimes heavy bags, brings them to my room, and is usually a good source for local places to eat and things to do.

From my list above, the common theme that I can see is low wages. So that begs to ask why I don’t tip the guy at Subway? He is probably making minimum wage or a little more. I guess the reason why is because I am offended. You read that right. I am offended that they would have the tip jar out. With my barber or the cab driver, there is no tip jar. A tip might be expected, but there is no physical acknowledgement of one.

Put another way, having a tip jar out is saying you deserve a tip, regardless of your service. At least to me that is what that implies. I tip my waiter. If he isn’t very good, I tip him less than the standard amount. If my cabbie comes close to killing me on the ride to my destination, I tip him less. You have to earn the tip. The tip jar makes it feel like it is required when it is not. It is optional.

What are your thoughts on the tip jars and what are your tipping guidelines? How do you see tip jars? Am I looking at them from a distorted view? Do you feel that tipping is out of control or are my tipping guidelines out of line? Be sure to read my follow up to this post as well, More on Tipping.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy April 30, 2012 at 9:24 am

That is how I feel about the tip jar at Starbucks. It's coffee. It's your job. End of story. Same with Subway or any other places where it's implied. I think you're spot on with everything you said!

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Daisy April 30, 2012 at 9:37 am

I see them everywhere and I find them greedy. I shouldn't have to tip a barista at a coffee shop because she poured me my coffee. I accidently went to a full service gas station the other day, and the guy pumping my gas (who didn't clean my winsheild or offer to check my oil, btw) asked me if I wanted to round up from $41 to $50 so I would give him a $9 tip. NO!

I don't get it. When I worked in retail people didn't tip me if I went above and beyond even, and I was okay with that! I had a job, I made my money, why should customers have to pay more or be uncomfortable about it just for me being there? It's exhausting.

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MoneySma April 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Well said

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Nick April 30, 2012 at 10:52 am

I worked on tips for a while but also get annoyed at tip jars for some reason – seems like everyone has a tip jar these days. I'm thinking of putting one on my desk…

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MoneySma April 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm

That's a great idea! I need to do that at my work!

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Modest Money April 30, 2012 at 11:10 am

Tipping is a strange custom. Why is it up to us to make up employees low wages? I can't say I've ever seen a tip jar at subway, but it does seem out of place. Yes fast food employees make low wages, but it is traditionally a tip-free industry. Does every low wage employee suddenly deserve to be making more just because they provide a service? What about all the mid-level pay employees that provide services that never get tips? Personally I'm pretty cheap on tips and pretty much only tip at the specific places you mentioned above.

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masterp1976 April 30, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Expected tips is the worst. There are many waitresses that expect big tips without putting in any effort.

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Squeezer @PFSuccess May 8, 2012 at 11:12 am

I'm with MasterP on this one, I hate expected tips. I usually tip 10-15%. However, if I get bad service, like having to get up and refill my drink myself, then they get no tip.

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Kristen June 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Yes, tipping is out of control!

To my mind, tips are either a bribe or a reward. I tip the pizza deliverer very well because the next time I order, I want it delivered quickly. I tip a restaurant server because I got to sit on my tush and get them to bring me whatever I wanted for an hour or so, and they did it correctly and with a smile.

Many of us have gotten used to tipping people who are in low-paying positions, and I do it too. But, frankly, this simply allows employers to continue to pay their employees a non-living wage. Maybe a cab driver can’t make enough to live on. But do you think their employer isn’t making enough? Why should the customer subsidize the employee’s salary so the employer can keep getting rich off their labor?!

It’s the combination of these two points that keep me from EVER tipping at the cash register. 1) I don’t need to bribe or reward someone for ringing up my order; and 2) If the job doesn’t pay a sufficient wage, my tip only allows a ruthless employer to continue to act ruthlessly.

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Koelw June 14, 2012 at 11:04 pm

I never put money in a tip jar, and I stop going to said place after I see one. There are way too many other fast food options to choose from without the stupid tip jar that just makes me feel guilty for not contributing.

I only tip for full service.

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Denise October 17, 2012 at 5:52 am

I work at a subway and we only make min wage and the owners don’t do raises at all I’ve been there for almost a year and others more than three and only get a raise when min wage goes up. So thats why we put tip jars out. And it is optional.

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