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For The Sake Of Customers And Servers, It's Time To Retire Tipping

Let me preface this by saying I'm not one of those people who "doesn't tip." And while I'm not saying this part to brag, I'd estimate that I probably go above what's expected of me more often than not.

And while part of that has to do with the fact that I honestly can't remember the last time I had a server who was rude or noticeably incompetent, I'd wager that I also do it for the same reason that many of you do.

Basically, we know too much.

By that, I mean that once upon a time, it was much more possible to be ignorant of the ways that those in the service industry are taken advantage of. But once the internet made everyone's voices more capable of reaching a wider audience, we found ourselves hearing enough horror stories from servers and other service staff that it feels wrong to even suggest not tipping.

But while I'm not saying we should stop doing it while things are as they are, we also have to recognize that tipping has gone from being the Band-Aid we put on a broken system to one of the main things that keeps that system afloat.

I think it's fair to say that tipping is something we mostly do out of obligation.

Whether we're talking about servers or delivery drivers, there's an understanding that we tip the workers we do because if we don't, they won't be able to pay their bills.

Not only are their hourly wages nowhere near enough to live on but they're also one of the few exceptions to minimum wage laws purely because of the expectation that what they make will be supplemented by tips.

After all, the more we can be convinced to tip, the less that business owners feel they have to pay their staff.

It was certainly telling when HEI Hotels and Resorts CEO Ted Darnall suggested that the answer to America's labor shortage was higher tips, not higher wages.

Yes, how convenient that his big solution happened to be the option that doesn't involve any action or cost on his part.

And as we can see from at least one example, some chains and owners have managed to exploit tipping culture so far that the people we think we're tipping have to pay the rest of the staff with what we give them and end up holding the bag.

And even if that weren't the case, a system that relies on tips is hardly doing service workers any favors.

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Because while they stand to make a lot of money on a good night, they also go to work each day with no real idea as to how much they can expect to bring home.

So basically, their ability to pay their bills and rent depends on the kindness of strangers. And we all know that there are a lot of strangers out there who aren't very kind.

This problem gets worse with the tip out system I mentioned above in that servers who didn't get anything from their customers still find themselves having to take care of other staff members. In other words, they lose money by showing up to work.

And if you're wondering what we can do about our current tipping culture, we might find some answers in other countries where tipping is a lot less common.

According to Business Insider, it's actually considered rude to tip in Japan because good service is just the expected standard practice within the nation's service industry.

But before any restaurateurs take that expectation and run with it, it's worth noting that in countries where this is the case, staff are paid well enough to match the level of dedication they're supposed to put in.

That's true in Switzerland, Belgium, and Australia, where tipping is not expected because any money we might be inclined to set aside for that purpose is automatically factored into the bill as a service charge.

Of course, now we just have to find a way to implement that here without a way for owners to just keep that charge for themselves and leave the people it's supposed to help with nothing.

And when we can do that, we can likely do away with this weird exception for "tipped wages" and let servers have some financial stability for once.