Saturday, September 22, 2007


I often cannot bring myself to tip poorly, it makes me feel like I’m personally insulting someone who works in an unforgiving industry. Even if I've had terrible service, I usually blame the cook or the other customers before I would turn on my server.

It’s perhaps this flood of guilt that makes me find tipping systems thoroughly disgusting. Some argue that the tipping incentive leads to better service, but accounts from those I know in the food service industry confess it actually leads to triage.

On a busy evening, a server necessarily prioritizes their attention. There’s a customer eating alone in a shabby coat, and there’s a group of couples wearing expensive looking clothes. The guy in the shabby coat gets poor service, regardless of how well he actually tips.

Concerns about prejudice aside, it’s a sleazy way for restaurant owners to hide prices from customers and wages from employees, reminiscent of the most despicable corners of capitalism: used car sales, intro-rate credit cards, bribery of officials, ....

Is there any other field where the manager of the business tells you after you buy the product that you might want to kick in something for the underpaid workforce as well? And if you don’t, you’ll look like a bastard, while the manager doesn’t?

Defenses of tipping in the comments?