When and why to tip

Anyone who works in the service industry knows that you don’t survive on your salary; you survive on your tips. Most industry workers are paid minimum wage, regardless of their rank, and so their tips become their main source of income.

In Canada, there are several service jobs where tipping is considered an obvious obligation. Servers, bartenders, and room service workers are all in this category. Generally consumers know that by accepting these services, they are going to be expected to tip at least fifteen percent. In fact, many restaurants simply add a gratuity to the bill to ensure that the servers are paid. Other jobs have less obvious tipping standards, like cab drivers, salon staff, concierges, and doormen. Many consumers get confused about which of these people to tip and what the appropriate percentage is.

GoCanada.com stated that, in general, fifteen percent should be the norm for all service employees. However, there is some variation. For example, cab drivers should be tipped ten to twenty percent, depending on the timeliness of arrival and their level of friendliness. Servers should expect fifteen to twenty percent, although many people believe that eighteen percent is a more appropriate minimum. Bartenders usually go by the “keep the change” rule as long as the change is an adequate amount. Tossing the bartender a quarter after having purchased a five-dollar drink is not considered appropriate. Coat check employees generally get a dollar to two dollars and salon employees expect the same as servers (fifteen to twenty percent) unless it is a particularly long appointment, in which case twenty to twenty-five percent is the norm.

In Sackville, there are many businesses where service employees make their living. Bridge Street Café, Joey’s, Sackville Cab, and Mane Attraction are just a few. The employees at these businesses offer considerable insight into what they generally receive in terms of tipping.

“I don’t really expect tips,” says Josh Carr, who works at Bridge Street Café. “I consider them a bonus.”

Carr says that he personally will tip someone at least fifteen percent. He says that even if the person didn’t perform to his expectations, he will still tip them this amount out of respect for the work that they do.

“There’s sometimes the excuse that someone shouldn’t get a tip because they’re just doing their job,” Carr says. “People say ‘why would you tip someone for something they’re supposed to do?’”

This might be a valid question. Does someone working an office job get tipped? No, of course not. But they call it the service industry for a reason. You’re paying someone to do a job for you that is time-consuming and usually consumer-interactive. In this way, the bill represents the payment of the object received (the meal or the haircut), whereas the tip is the payment for the employee’s friendliness and helpfulness.

Carr says that at Bridge Street Café, they pool their tips and split them equally amongst who was working. He noted that they usually only receive five percent each.

“I’m not usually bothered by that amount,” he says. “But there are situations where a customer was particularly needy and I felt that I should’ve received a tip and I didn’t.”

Maria Wilson is a third year student who spent much of her high school years working at Subway. She says the experience has taught her a lot about tipping.

“I think that people should really tip fast food employees,” she says. “They usually don’t make a lot in tips, but they’re the ones who put up with the most ridiculous customers and situations.”

Wilson says that her tipping philosophy varies not by the service, but by the quality of the service.

“I usually tip at least fifteen percent or more if the person did a good job,” she says. “If it wasn’t a great experience, I’ll tip ten percent. It would take a lot for me to tip nothing.”

Jake Vecia is a server at Joey’s. He says that when tipping, consumers should also consider that many workers tip-out some of their earnings to the house.

Tip-outs generally range from two to five percent,” says Vecia. “To quantify that, if your dinner cost 100 dollars before tax and the tip-out is four percent, the server must take four dollars of their earnings and give it to the restaurant, regardless of whether you tipped them or not.”

Vecia says that as long as your server worked hard and was friendly, you should tip them.

“I’ve read that on an average shift a server can travel anywhere from eight to twenty kilometres,” says Vecia. “I don’t know many other jobs where you complete almost a half-marathon while on shift.”

It’s interesting to note that there are service employees who have found a way to combat bad tippers. Upon receiving a bad tip, some servers will ask the customer if there was anything wrong with their experience. Bartenders have been known to split bills into coin when giving back change in order to encourage customers to give them a better tip. Non-confrontational methods like this are usually considered acceptable.

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