Bee wrote in, wanting to pick the collective brain of the Frugal Girl community about tipping!
Here’s what she said:
I am curious how you and fellow blog members handle tipping. It seems that tips are requested nearly everywhere I go now. I used to have a good idea of what to tip and who to tip, but I am suddenly at a loss.
For example, I visited Panera last week when my refrigerator was out. I placed my order myself at the kiosk. I got my own drink and picked up my meal myself. I did not require any dishes. My table did not need to be bused or cleaned after I ate. Yet, after placing my order, a tip was requested.
When my refrigerator was delivered, there were 3 delivery men. How much should I have tipped them? How much do you tip the person that cuts your hair? The Barista? The complimentary valet? The Uber driver? The person who provides curbside service? Instacart? And so on.
I just read that DoorDash was going to rate the people that use their app by how well they tip. This is to help drivers determine if they want to make that run. I don’t use DoorDash, but I find this problematic. What is considered a good tip? Do you reward for service in advance? What if someone is rude or does a terrible job? I am also very curious if service people receive 100% of the tips given via credit cards and apps.
Any input would be greatly appreciated. Things have gotten so expensive. I want to reward good service, but I feel like everyone’s hand is out.
Boy, I feel your pain here.
As a person who wants to be kind and generous but also wants to avoid unnecessary spending, the current tipping climate here in the U.S. is a challenge.
I understand why so much tipping was added during Covid; restaurants were suffering, and wait staff didn’t have any access to their usual tips, since no one was eating inside the restaurants. I supported this tipping effort!
But this temporary situation seems to have caused a tipping bleedover into…everything. And it’s persisted even though most Covid restrictions are gone.
I wish tipping culture didn’t exist
I really, really, really wish that tipping would be done away with entirely. I find it frustrating and confusing, and I dislike that it puts pressure on the customer to ensure that the employee is paid sufficiently.
I’d prefer for companies to just charge a price that allows them to compensate their employees fairly. That would simplify everything! We wouldn’t be faced with this conundrum, and employees would still be paid an appropriate amount.
I know I’ve heard the argument that goes like, “Tipping ensures that people are motivated to give you good service.” but that makes no sense to me. We don’t tip, say, CPAs or plumbers, and we still have an expectation of appropriate service.
And I know tipping is supposed to be a pat on the back for really good service, but again, I don’t think CPAs are tipped when they do a really good job, and neither are plumbers.
I’m certainly not going to be tipped for my work as a nurse, but I would hope there is still an expectation of high-quality work from nurses.
In short, tipping seems to be very inconsistent.
Tipping culture is probably not going away
Much as I wish for a change, I think tips are here to stay. So, the question is, how do we navigate this?
I don’t know that there’s a right answer, but here’s what I do.
I don’t usually tip when it’s a self-serve experience
In Bee’s Panera example, I would not feel obligated to tip.
I know wait staff is often paid a lower-than-usual hourly wage, with the expectation that tips will make up the difference, but if you pick up a Panera order that you placed online or at a kiosk, there’s no wait staff involved. The service you received was the bare minimum; just food preparation.
In a case like that, a tip doesn’t make sense to me.
I do tip in places where it’s been a long-standing expectation
For example, for all of my life, I know hairdressers and waiters have been tipped. So, I still do that.
I avoid tipping-related services as a whole
I hate dealing with tips so much that I’d rather just avoid the whole scene if possible.
I’d rather drive myself than use an Uber. I’d rather pick up my own groceries/pizza/takeout than pay someone to do it and then also be expected to pay a tip on top of it.
And honestly, if I’m going out to eat, I generally prefer waiter-less restaurants. I’m not a very fancy person, and I’m happy picking my food up from the counter.
If I don’t want to pay a tip, and tips are expected, then I think the best thing to do is to just not use the services. I’d rather not be a customer of these services than be a non-tipping customer!
I look at it a bit like charitable giving
No one (except maybe Jeff Bezos) can possibly give to every valuable cause that’s out there. And if we let ourselves be eaten up with guilt every time we don’t give a charitable donation, we will never feel peaceful.
That’s how I view things like coffee shop tips; sometimes I add one, and sometimes I don’t. It’s a nice thing to do, but if I don’t tip everyone everywhere all the time, I do not consider myself to be a bad person. 😉
How do you handle tipping?
And if you have insider info about how much of the tip actually makes it to the employee, do share!