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Tipping – It’s Out Of Control And Needs To Be Reigned In

I ran across a story in the news earlier this week about Starbucks and its new mobile payment app.  The story was about how the company can “nudge” customers who pay through their app to remember to tip their barista.  It can actually “gently remind you” for up to two hours after the purchase was made.

Some customers say they’re happy to leave tips, while others argue they fork over enough money and shouldn’t be asked to pay more.  The fact that the app “gently reminds” customers to tip is neither here nor there.  My question is, “When did it become a given that we need to tip for, what seems to be, EVERYTHING?”

I realize the restaurant industry has run on the tip model for years (which I think is extremely unfair and needs to be changed), but I don’t understand how establishments can get away with paying their employees under minimum wage and expect tips to make up the difference.

Thankfully, there are a handful of states where this isn’t the case, Minnesota being one of them.  There, all food establishments are required by law to pay their employees at least minimum wage, regardless of whether they receive tips or not.

But I’ve noticed here recently it’s gotten to the point where anyone and everyone thinks they deserve a tip.  Even when you get poor service, a tip is still expected.  Really?!?  But service sucked!

Did you know in some parts of the country you can actually be arrested for not leaving a tip?

Case in point – a man by the name of Humberto A. Taveras was arrested for not leaving an 18% tip after dining at a restaurant in New York City.  Instead of tipping 18%, he left 10%, stating that his group didn’t think the food was very good, so he didn’t feel like he needed to leave a large tip.

This 8% discrepancy resulted in the owners of the restaurant actually calling the police and having Taveras arrested and charged with “theft of service”.  The case was eventually thrown out of court because the judge ruled tips can never truly be mandatory, regardless of posted signs in a restaurant or restaurant policy.

If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t the original intent of giving someone a tip to acknowledge that that person went over and above what was expected?  This having to tip someone just for pouring me a cup of coffee is, in my opinion, ridiculous.

As I eluded to before, I would like to see businesses pay their employees a decent wage where they wouldn’t need to be dependent on tips.  That way, if someone goes out of their way to make me feel special when I’m dining at their establishment, I can decide for myself whether to leave a tip – and how much!

Don’t just assume I’m a living, breathing un-signed check.

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