My post the other day on how much to tip a tax cab driver stimulated a good bit of discussion, so I thought I’d follow by asking a substantially broader question…
What do you think about the practice of tipping in general?
I have a friend that spent several years in Australia and, upon his return, swore that he’d never complain about tipping again. This actually dovetails nicely with a comment from ‘chosha‘, who said:
Discussions like this make me so glad I live in Australia, where I’m not expected to use 20% of my spending money topping up the wages of underpaid service industry workers. Employers pay them less because tips are considered part of their pay, but it never makes the prices cheaper. Here we pay people properly and tip only for exceptional service. I don’t know anyone who’s ever tipped a taxi driver, because taxis are already so expensive. We usually leave some sort of tip for excellent service at a restaurant, but it’s not expected.
The downside, according to my friend, is that the level of service in restaurants in Australia was (in his experience) horrible compared to what you get in a typical restaurant in the United States. Thus, while it might seem logical for restaurants to simply raise their prices and pay their staff a higher wage, it seems that tipping might have its advantages.
What about tipping in other contexts?
Do you think it’s reasonable to be expected to tip your hairdresser, postal worker, or the guy behind the counter at the local taco stand who just happens to be enterprising enough to set out a tip jar? What are your limits?
Personally, I’m fine with tipping in most “normal” contexts, and we usually tip rather generously (especially when people have to deal with our sometimes messy kids). But this does beg the question of the limits of “normal,” and I don’t really have a good answer.
Why is it that we tip some individuals in the service industry, but not others?