American bar travel

Is Tipping Out of Control?

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I recently had a fancy meal at a high end restaurant just outside of Atlanta and was shocked to see a 20 percent gratuity automatically added on to the bill. I come to expect this in parties of 6 or more, but with only 2 of us in the party, I was a little shocked to say the least at the assumption that it was ok to simply add this onto the bill without my prior consent. That prompted me to write this post. And no, I wasn’t using a coupon, this was for standard menu pricing – no discounts included.

I thought tipping was (for the most part) to be at the discretion of the customer and a reward for good service, not something that is automatically added to the bill. I actually felt so strong about this, I did bring it to the attention of the management who just casually said “that is our policy.” I’ve written a post about where this happened but I still wanted to write this as a separate post as I think tipping has gotten way out of control.

We see tip jars everywhere now, Subway, Starbucks, Dry Cleaners…etc, etc,. It’s become and expectation instead of choice. I don’t know about you, but I think tipping is for an actual service that was provided, not because someone is entitled to it. So, no, I don’t tip at a sandwich shop, or my local coffee shop.

Tip Jar Courtesy Fritz Cartoons

Tip Jar Courtesy Fritz Cartoons

I also can’t stand being at a club where there is an attendant in the bathroom to put soap in my hand and hand me a paper towel to dry my hands. I mean, come on, I’ve already paid to park, to get in the club and had 1 drink, so I’m in the hole 30 bucks at this point, and now I have to give someone a handout because I had to pee?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that tipping has its place and I have been known to tip well. As long as service was decent I leave 20%, and if it was even better, I may even leave more than that. But it has to be earned, it isn’t a right.

Where did tipping start anyway? The closest it can be narrowed down to is somewhere in Europe. Some historians blame it on 18th-century English coffeehouses, where collection boxes (like the tip jars shoved in our face today) often had the words “To Insure Promptitude” (TIP) marked on them. Other researchers trace tipping back to the Middle Ages, when feudal lords tossed coins to beggars on the road to insure a safe passage.

If tipping was started in Europe, shouldn’t they be paying much more in tips than us? Logically speaking, tips have historically gone up, so you would think that it would be more in Europe as it originated there. So, how come it is standard for them to tip so low compared to Americans (10 percent for them vs. 20 percent for us)?

While we can’t be sure where it started, I hope it doesn’t continue to spiral out of control as it has thus far. What’s next? Can I expect to see a tip jar at my bank? The checkout line at the grocery store?

What are your thoughts? Has tipping gotten out of control in your opinion?

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About the author

Malika Bowling

Malika is the author of several books including Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! and the founder of Roamilicious. She is also a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant. Follow us @Roamilicious on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for the content not shared on the blog. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter (subscribe box below) and never miss a contest, giveaway or the latest must visit restaurant!

3 Comments

  • […] While I fully understand that 20% is a normal gratuity, I just don’t like it when restaurants feel entitled to it. We would have happily left the 20% gratuity, but just annoyed it was automatically added on to the bill. Isn’t a tip a reward for good service, not an expectation? I was so pissed about this, it prompted me to write a separate post on tipping in general. […]

  • If tipping if for service, why is it a percentage of the restaurant bill? Does a server work harder because I ordered a steak instead of a hamburger? I believe I get the same quality of service no matter what I eat, so why should I pay more in tips when I choose to order a more expensive meal?

  • I agree with this. There are going to be people (mostly waiters and those with tip jars) who would be outraged at your opinion. It’s because we are all greedy. They will give you all these reasons like “I don’t get paid min wage” and things like that, but really, why is that my fault?! I didn’t force you into slavery. You can go out and get a job that pays you a set amount you can agree on. And anyway, waiters do get their min wage. Their employers have to meet it if they don’t get enough tips. So I don’t get what there is to complain about.

    Also Syd that’s a very good point. I’ve wondered that myself.

  • Coco,

    Thanks for your opinion. I agree that they are free to chose any job they want. However, I do believe that tipping 20% is an industry standard but only when good service is provided. It is too often EXPECTED as a form of compensation rather than a reward for good service. I don’t consider myself a cheap person, but I do expect good service when I go out to eat and certainly will NOT tip 20% if it is not provided.

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