The Tipping Point?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013 | Tags: , , , , ,

I tip servers in restaurants, the bell boys, the hotel maid, my hair stylist and esthetician (who both own their own businesses*), the manicurist and the taxi driver, just to name a few. And unless my change purse is empty, I put something in every tip jar I run across. But I am starting to wonder if in North America, are we going tipping mad? And, are we even tipping all the right people?

With the advent of electronic payment machines, we’re being increasingly prompted to tip. I wasn’t going to add a tip to my $4 cappuccino order but now that the machine is prompting me, should I? Will you think I’m a mucho cheapskate if I don’t?   

(A side note about the payment machines. Restaurant servers, please step away while I try to figure out the tip. Hovering makes me nervous and I’ll be more likely to tip you less. I promise, Girl Guide’s honour, I won’t take off with the machine.)

Tipping grew from showing appreciation to those working in low paying jobs – usually in the service industry – when they did really good work.  But there are plenty of people who do great work and don’t get tipped.  They’re just doing what’s knows as their job.

I don’t tip my house cleaner, the garbage man, my trainer, the nice gals at the doggy daycare or the pest control people.  The last I checked these people aren’t rolling it in either, and they too are performing a service, often a very important one.

Perhaps it’s the rationale that some of these people already “make enough.”  Here’s a comparison of some average incomes from

Barista – $19,500

Garbage man – $24,000

Hair stylist – $24,500

Server – $25,000

House maid – $27,000

Bus Driver – $30,000

Esthetician – $36,800

Trainer – $38,000

Taxi driver – $41,600

Massage Therapist – $56,000

Food for thought about who deserves a little something extra.

*I asked my hair stylist and esthetician about tipping. They said some clients don’t tip the owner of a business while others do. 



Top photo (edited): Ararejul/Flickr 

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  • tiger_lily_2

    In some cases tips aren’t expected, but something akin to a “Christmas bonus” is.

    In the U.S. many servers make around $2.13/hr, so tips aren’t just a gratuity, it’s actually how they make a living wage. I tend to tip more in the U.S. to compensate for that low wage.

  • nunnyabiz82

    Tips should be given where tips
    are due. If I go out to eat and a server has done a fantastic job then I will
    tip generously. But my biggest pet peeve is when a server has hardly done their
    job and still expect a great tip…regardless if they screw up an order or are
    slow. I work hard for my money so why should I feel obligated to give it away
    to someone when they haven’t done anything that spectacular.

  • Pamela Down

    The note on tip jar frog is insulting. I doubt I would put a tip in it. In the olden days and I suspect in the future only wealth people will be availing themselves of services requiring tipping. At the moment I can occasionally afford a treat and calculate tips as part of the experience. However more and more I think twice about it and avoid situation where tips may be expected. ie: I carry my own bags, take the bus, and go to self serve restaurants. Sad but true.


    Tips seem to be the way certain industries get away with paying a low wage. Perhaps as a society we should demand that minimum wages in all sectors are the same, not lower for a server. In restaurants I see more and more where the person who took my order is not the same person who brings the food to my table. Do both people get tipped?

    Tipping seems like it has become an obligation…and expectation.

    I found it interesting that Kristina mentions tipping grew from appreciation of those working a low-paying job but the person lowest on the pay list, the barista, wouldn’t routinely get a tip – whereas the second highest paying job of taxi-driver routinely gets a tip.


  • GTA_John

    I’m as torn about tipping as Kristina is. Wait staff? The minimum wage for wait staff is lower than the minimum wage for other occupations (in Ontario) and wait staff are also often expected to “tip out” to back-of-house staff (though I understand that sometimes management/owners occasionally take a — certainly undeserved — share). So, yes, I’ll tip them.

    But, for me, here’s the real story: outside North America tipping is far less common. In NZ and Oz, it’s just simply not done — staff are paid a living wage and so tipping is rarely done. Talking to Europeans when I’ve been there and they have generally said “No tipping. It’s either already included in your bill or it simply isn’t done.” So civilized.

  • disqus_rJPepfM9xl

    I think the issue is that people in the service industry rely on tips to supplement a meager income due to a low minimum wage. I can already hear the responses, “They should get a better job.” “Their fault for not having enough education.” Increasingly in our society more education does not equal better pay despite what the government keeps telling us. With more and more job shortages, and employers (and by employers, I mean large corporations with CEO’s who make millions in bonuses) who replace full time workers with part time employees and refuse to give them any sort of set schedule to allow them to find another part time job on top of low wages and the ever increasing cost of living… well… it’s no wonder people rely on tips to help make ends meet. The problem I have with that is that there is a sense of entitlement regarding tips. I find all too often that servers are not providing great service but are complaining if they’re not getting at least 20%. My husband and I owned a bar and I worked as a barista, a bartender, a server and in a hotel for many years. I worked for every tip I got and I gave the best service that I could. At the end of the day there is more at work behind the concept of how much is enough when it comes to tipping.

    Sorry for the rant. Hope it was at least somewhat coherent! 🙂

    • annaandkristina

      Hello there, Yes it was coherent, and you bring up some very good points. Thanks for commenting!