Over-tipping becoming the norm

Tipping was once reserved for pizza delivery drivers, barbershops and servers at sit-down restaurants. But coffee shops? Canada’s etiquette guy Jay Remer said, “That’s lunacy.”

(Book Sadprasid/AQ)
(Book Sadprasid/AQ)

A recent New York Times article spoke about gratuity creep caused by technology. With the increasing use of credit and debit and touch screens for even small purchases, tip options for cup of coffee regularly exceed 40 per cent and can reach $3 for a $4 coffee.

Some customers may feel obliged to push one of those touch-screen suggestions. But Remer says a tip should be reserved for services where they deliver an experience along with the product or go out of their way to satisfy the customer.

“The amount of service is minimal. You’re often herded in and herded out as quickly as possible,” said the St. Andrews-based etiquette columnist with the Telegraph-Journal. “You’re not looking for some sort of experience your looking to get in and out as quickly as possible.”

Shanda White, a third-year St. Thomas student who works at Tim Hortons, says she doesn’t expect tips but there are times it’s deserved.

“Sometimes people are pretty rude and you know you’re not going to get a tip, even though you feel like you should get one,” said White.

White can remember times when the drive-thru was backed up because of food orders. When certain customers felt they waited too long for their order, they would slam down the exact change for the coffee. White says most times she’s simply grateful to get any tip.

“It’s strange because I tip at Tim Hortons now, and I feel myself over tipping,” said Emily McPhee, a Coffee Mill worker.

McPhee said she finds herself over tipping because she knows what it’s like to be busy and not get a tip. She’s been working in the service industry for a couple of years, but never takes a tip for granted.

“I don’t take it personally. Everyone’s coming from a different place. Their wallets are coming from a different place.”

Remer feels at any establishment that the worker makes your day better, or puts a smile on your face, then one should tip.

“Having been in the hospitality business for as many years as I have been, I tend to tip more than the average bear.”

Remer said coffee shops tips should be token tips, and all tips should reflect the experience at the establishment. He said it’s customary to give a 15 per cent tip to a restaurant server for a standard level, a 10 per cent on substandard level of service and 20 per cent for a high-level server and experience.

He said you should always tip when receiving a service that brings a certain level of experience. Although coffee shops and fast food restaurants provide a level of service, it isn’t enough to garner a tip.

“If I go to a Subway, I don’t tip them even though someone’s making the sandwich. It’s not above and beyond anything. It’s a bare minimum, they can’t do any less. I don’t leave a tip.”

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