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Confessions Of A Bad Tipper

This post was featured in Totally Money Blog Carnival #2!

Confession

I am a horrible tipper. Also I should admit I can be a terrible customer. When I know that I am supposed to tip, my expectations as a consumer raise exponentially. If the service does not live up to my high expectations, I don’t tip.This drives Beaker crazy. He worked in the food service industry for ten years and he knows first hand those cheap and demanding customers like me. He dreaded them back then. He dreads me signing the bill at a restaurant now. So, I never get to sign a check when we go out.

Background

Tips in the Soviet Union in general were ideologically incorrect. There were no official tipping practices. You took a cab ride, you paid what the meter showed. You got a haircut, you paid what the price of that haircut was. You ate in a restaurant, you paid what was on your bill (after you added up the bill yourself to make sure you were not overcharged – overcharging was a common practice.)

Waiters and waitresses in the Soviet Union were the best-off people with never ending supply of food because they had access to free provisions in the restaurant they worked for. Interestingly enough this profession was dominated by men.

It all made sense back then – why would servers need a tip when they were so much better off than some of those people who found themselves (mostly either attending birthday parties or weddings) at a restaurant? Most of the working class people could not afford to eat in restaurants anyway. Moreover it would never occur to them to tip a server.

Current Day

Correct me if I am wrong but in the US tips are paid because restaurants continue to underpay its staff. So, to compensate for this, we, customers, tip waiters/waitresses for their service to make sure they make a living.

Do we tip only because people don’t get paid enough? Would we tip if they’d get paid as much as, let’s say, $25/hour?

Whenever I get poor service in a restaurant I am inclined to skip on tipping. Beaker, however, taught me to tip at least a 15% of the bill if the service was bad. I don’t understand why I should tip for bad service quite yet. But I know that no tipping , even when the service did not live up to my expectations, is considered mean and rude. I’ve been told so by my friends and by my husband.

Trying to understand the practice of tipping for bad service, I asked people why they tip at restaurants when their experience was less than pleasant and enjoyable, and more annoying and frustrating. This is what I heard:

– “Because I don’t want to look cheap”;

– “Because I don’t want to feel guilty”;

– “Because I don’t want to upset the waiter, especially if I am planning to come back to the restaurant.” (I guess a “spitting into your food” factor plants fear into our minds)

Does it all mean that tipping for bad service has nothing to do with underpaid and overworked service workers? I think it all has to do with our human emotions and our image in the eyes of our family and friends. Don’t forget our reputation in the eyes of waiters and waitresses. Finally, and most importantly, it is all about how good we want to feel about ourselves.

Resolution

Even though I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, this year I promised myself to accept and embrace tipping for bad services in restaurants.

Servers depend a lot on their customers to make a living. It is not their fault that they are underpaid, overworked and sometimes over abused by demanding, mean and rude customers like me.

Well, I am not too bad. According to Beaker there are worse.