You probably already know that tipping is out of control in the United States. If you don’t, this story will get you up to speed on this money-grabbing epidemic.
Done yet? Like I said, out of control. But I also recently predicted that things are about to get worse — much worse — and I hate it when I’m right.
But I’m right.
If you’ve seen more employees with their hands out, especially when you’re traveling, it’s probably not your imagination.
Kerry Ridings’ battery died when she was in Hilton Head, S.C., during spring break. “I called AAA and they gave me a new battery for about $150,” she says. “That was an unexpected expense.”
Then the technician asked her for a tip. How much? 15 to 20 percent, she recalls.
“I was astonished,” she says. “I had to decline since it already was pricey.”
Also, because you don’t tip the tow truck guy. Because you just don’t, that’s why.
When James Boner picked up his take-out order at Grub Burger Bar in Willow Grove, Pa., the cashier pointed to a tip jar and told him the jar was “hungry.”
“I said ‘Are you asking for a tip?’,” he says.
“Just kidding,” the employee replied.
“I don’t think so,” he countered.
Boner didn’t leave a tip, of course. And why would he? It was a takeout order.
Kathy Egan, who considers herself a “good tipper” couldn’t muster enough generosity to part with a few dollar bills, either.
“I just spent $492 on lenses for my glasses and prescription sunglasses,” she says. “When sitting for the lens measurements, I shared my counter space with a tip jar.”
It was early in the day and Egan noticed that there were already a few dollars in the jar.
“The money had to have been placed by the employee as an enticement,” she says. “Read: shaming.”
It’s too much, she says.
“I have a hard time accepting that patronizing every type of business means I’m requested, or expected, to tip,” she adds. “What’s next? Your bank teller has a tip jar?”
And then there’s Paul Stephen, who was checking his bags curbside on a Delta Air Lines flight in Atlanta recently.
“A Delta ticketing agent informed me that he was a tipped employee,” he says. “He then checked my flight, gave me my boarding pass and put my luggage on the conveyor belt. I assumed that this was something that the union had negotiated in the latest contract, that agents could solicit tips.”
Again, no can do.
“I had no intention of tipping him as this is not a tipped position and his announcing it to me was absurd and a cash grab. My traveling companion was a less experienced traveler and more easily intimidated and thought I should tip. I set him straight that this guy doesn’t get tipped,” he says.
Delta doesn’t say much about tipping its curbside agents, but does note that for other airport services, tips are allowed but may not be solicited.
Point is, there are more people soliciting tips than ever.
We know why. Employers don’t want to pay their workers a living wage, so they lean on customers to make up the difference. In effect, they exploit the generosity of the American traveler.
You shouldn’t be angry at the employees who declare their tip jars are “hungry” or that they are “tipped” workers. Nor should you allow the signs that tips are “welcome” upset you. No, save your wrath for the business owners who declare that in order to remain competitive, they require a waiver from the government to pay below-minimum wage.
It’s morally wrong.
The tipping economy is off the rails. If we don’t take a stand against this, we don’t just encourage it to spread; we hurt the very people we are trying to help. I mean, it’s just a matter of time before an employer tries to argue that they shouldn’t pay a salary at all — that the tips are enough.
Shameful. It has to be stopped, now.