Why tips are never negotiable

During the pandemic, her employers didn’t want customers touching the portable payment terminal for security reasons, so staff were asked to verbally ask customers for their tip choice. The tipping percentage has increased significantly and management has allowed staff to continue the practice. Customer reactions were mixed – not everyone was on board to tip.

On one occasion, a customer asked Wilson if she could enter the tip amount herself rather than report it. Wilson apologized and explained the policy. “Okay then, too bad,” the woman said. She left no tip. Many customers still perceive counter service as less work and therefore not deserving of tips.

“Customers live in a bubble of missing information,” Wilson explains, “where we as restaurant workers have kept our complaints to ourselves and restaurant owners have pampered customers in order to continue earning business. ‘silver.” The pandemic has put tipping under the microscope, which Wilson says is making some customers uncomfortable. “It’s only been in the last two years that this bubble has started to burst,” she adds, “where we said, ‘Here’s what we actually do, here’s what our jobs entail, and that’s what we need. in return.'”

At the bakery where Wilson works, all staff share tips equally, including a few kitchen jobs. She knows she could make more money elsewhere, but she prefers to work in an environment where tips are more evenly distributed.

Although kitchen staff generally do not directly benefit from tips, many restaurants invite household employees into the tip pool, in cities and states where this practice is legal. Caitlin Briggs, a cook in Milwaukee, went from her hotel restaurant job to a job as a chain cook at a restaurant named after James Beard because she heard the kitchen staff were getting 2% of all tips.

“Tip sharing is what got me applying,” says Briggs, “because any owner who cares enough about the quality of their employees’ compensation is usually somewhere that’s going to respect me as a human. .” Even though Briggs’ hourly pay dropped by $1.50, with the additional increase in tips, their income was up 50% from their previous job. Briggs thinks sharing the tip pool has also had a significant impact on the quality of work of their fellow cooks.

According to a recent industry trends report published by the Boston-based restaurant POS platform Toast, Tipping has remained fairly stable since the early days of the pandemic, although full-service restaurants routinely see higher tipping percentages than quick-service restaurants. Toast’s report showed that the average tip percentage for full-service restaurants was 19.9% ​​compared to 17.0% for quick-service restaurants out of approximately 62,000 locations that use its platform in the United States.

Wilson says many customers at her counter understand tipping culture, and she estimates that nearly 75% of her customers leave at least something as a tip. One of his regulars regularly tips 25% every time he buys anything, even on the smallest order. “His 25% tip doesn’t do much for my income, but he says, ‘You recognize what I do and you recognize your role in this work.’ This is what tipping has become in many ways.

Whenever the debate over who should be tip and how much erupts again, the conversation almost always centers on the paying guest. It’s ironic to use the word “fatigue” to frame the feeling of tipping (or not tipping) diners, the only people involved in the interaction who aren’t doing any work.

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