The National post has a piece by Nida Siddiqui and Tristin Hopper about The Westerly and The Ace, two new restaurants in Toronto’s west end, prompting their customers to pay a 20% gratuity when paying on handheld electronic terminals. Wow!
The Westerly’s co-owner Tom Earl reportedly allowed, “Nobody’s demanding that anybody tip anything.” Sure, right, so long as you don’t plan to go back there any time soon—somebody is likely to spit in your soup if you do. But it’s nice of him to tell us, don’t you think?
As the Post’s article points out:
… 20% tips are ‘customary’ in large U.S. cities such as New York. But while Toronto servers earn a minimum hourly wage of $8.90, waiters in the Big Apple only earn $4.65 per hour ‘because their total compensation includes expected tips,’ according to the New York State Department of Labour.
Time was when 10% was considered generous. Now 15% makes you a cheapskate? Well I beg to differ and refuse to pay more than 15%. Besides, the whole tipping thing has gotten out of hand.
Some patrons tip 20% on top of the tax on their bill: that’s a whopping 22.6% of the basic food and beverage charge. And what about smaller establishments where owners sometimes serve at the tables? Since when did the owners decide they should get tipped? About the time they found out that owners of barber shops and hair dressers were collecting tips like they were taking their due, I guess.
When menu prices in restaurants go up, dollar amounts of tips go up also, though service staff don’t give any better service or work any harder.
Nor is the expectation of a tip in any way proportionate to the quality or level of service in many establishments. Regardless of wait-time, amount coffee slopped into saucers, lack of timely beverage refills, the main course appearing on the table well before the appetizer, salad or soup has been consumed, you’re still considered a deadbeat if you don’t leave a decent tip.
Some places now add the tip (gratuity) to your bill automatically—that’s the height of cheekiness. An especially galling practice when you have had to endure the pathetic efforts of poorly trained, sloppy service staff.
I spent many years in the hospitality industry and never liked the tipping tradition. Perhaps it’s past time service staff were paid a proper wage and prices were adjusted accordingly, then we could just pay the bill as tendered.
Until then, I’ll continue to carefully calculate 15% on the pre-tax bill, but only if service was, at least, satisfactory. For bad service, expect about three cents.
That’s the way I see it.