Leave room for a tip or don’t leave at all

I know several people who work part-time or full-time in the service industry and nearly all of them cite tips as their biggest chunk of pay. | Conor Moore, PantherNOW

Conor Moore | Assistant Opinion Director

Tipping culture is growing and here to stay. If you want to go out you need to budget a tip or don’t go out at all.

The culture and economics of tipping in America goes ignored by students, despite many of us working service jobs where 20% is a virtual guarantee when a customer signs their name on the check.

For years, people (also known as snooty Europeans) have derided America’s tipping culture for a perceived over-reliance on tips. Part of that criticism can be chalked up to elitist attitudes proclaiming “We don’t do it where I come from, so we won’t do it here”.

However, there are less snobbish concerns with tipping culture in America and while these can’t go ignored, this doesn’t mean you should leave 10% on a triple-digit bill.

On average, nearly 60% of a server’s income comes from tips. In Florida, employers are permitted to pay a minimum of $8.98 an hour before tips, hardly a liveable wage.

It’s an undeniable fact that the majority of servers rely on tips to pay for their expenses. Sure, it might not be fair as a customer to have added expenditures, but it’s the inevitable reality of going out to eat in America right now.

I know several people who work part-time or full-time in the service industry and nearly all of them cite tips as their biggest chunk of pay. It’s also common that students work in restaurants to pay for necessities like groceries or gas, or even tuition.

If you’re going out to eat at a restaurant and the service did its job, you should tip. If the service was really good and went above and beyond, you should definitely tip. It’s part of the cost of going out.

This also applies to other tip-oriented services, such as valets and barbers.

There’s a good chance the person serving you is a student just like you and me, and they’re using the tips you give them for their quality service to pay for things like tuition or car insurance.

However, with the rise of point of sale systems during Covid that enable minimal contact, there’s been a lot of discourse regarding tipping and its place in a transaction.

In a coffeehouse, smoothie shop or any place with a point-of-sale platform like Toast or Clover, there is a digital tip jar for you to tip right then and there. It’s completely changed the way people perceive tipping.

Even experts on consumer behavior don’t know how much to tip when presented with a point-of-sale.

The lack of direct service has led many feeling confused at how much they should tip. When a server seats you at a traditional restaurant and takes your order, there’s an experience that an iPad can’t replicate. Many people don’t feel obligated to tip at these places at all.

And if you feel guilty about not tipping at such places because you think the employer is paying them pennies, these workers are almost certainly salaried. If you do feel like you were given proper service, do it. But in the case of point-of-sale-based locations, tipping is more optional rather than custom.

Just don’t forget to tip where it counts and when it matters. The people who serve you food are just like you and me. When you go out to eat at a proper restaurant, leave some money for 20% – it goes a long way.


The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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