A running rant about bad television, crappy products, horrible service, mindless politics, corporate and government ineptitude, moronic media, marketing overload, public idiocy, stupid entertainment, etc. Here's what's annoying me today:

3.20.2006

FAQ About Tip Jar Etiquette

Generally I'm not completely opposed to the concept of the tip jar. I freely choose to spend $1.79 for my grande coffee every morning rather than making a cup of Maxwell House before I leave the house. So throwing the extra 21 cents to the barista doesn't make me extra cranky. They usually give me good service.

But there are many questions and personal conflicts that the development of the tip jar has brought up.
  • If I order my coffee from the barista, but a cashier rings me up, who gets my tip?

  • What if the barista is a bitch today, but the cashier very courteous. How do I specify that only the cashier should get my 21 cents?

  • Is Big Coffee Corporation actually getting my tip, because they are paying their workers less figuring the tip is now a part of their wages, like most restaurants do with their waitstaff?

  • If the bill comes to $2.25, and I decide I want to get rid of one of the quarters in my pocket, rather than breaking a $20, do I now look like a cheap guy?

  • How come there are so many bills in the tip jar? Is that where things are going next?

  • Am I supposed to wait for the cashier to give me the change back so I can put it in the tip jar myself, or can I just say "it's all set?"

  • If I do the latter, do I seem like I'm only giving a tip because I don't feel like waiting (which may be the case).

  • If there are only 2 cents coming back, and the cashier is slow, then I really feel foolish waiting for her to give me back the 2 cents so that I can throw in the tip jar, don't I?

  • Say the bill comes to $2.05. Do I give a 46% tip for a cup of coffee? Do I give nothing? Do I drop in some of the change but secretly hold a couple quarters in my hand to keep?

  • If I know the bill is going to come to $2.05, do I pull out a $20, so it's easier to walk away with the change.

  • I suppose using the tip jar as the "take a penny dish" is in bad form.

  • We go to a local diner for breakfast quite often. It's a place where you leave the tip on the table, and pay the bill at the cash register. But there is a tip jar at the cash register. Am I expected to tip the cashier just for taking my money?

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10 Comments:

Blogger leif said...

This whole tip jar thing drives me crazy... I'd love to know if the tip total is anything significant or if the idea behind the tip jar is just to make us paying customers feel like cheap, selfish @$$hole$. I mean, really, 21 cents? What kind of tip is that unless your the grocery delivery boy circa 1952?

What stikes me as being even odder than your willingness to not be crankier about the tip jar, cranky, is that you buy into the whole "grande" and "barista" faux lingo the Church of Coffee-ology has foisted on us. Whathef@#% is wrong with plain english?!?

I'd like a LARGE BLACK COFFEE and if you want a fancy job title and a f@#%ing tip go train at the Institute of Culinary Arts and get hired to wait tables at f%#@ing Spago, for chrissake!!!

4:35 PM

 
Blogger leif said...

Aahhhh, you know, I really do find your blog to be very cathartic.

4:38 PM

 
Blogger Cranky said...

Yes, yes, yes. I plead guilty. When I first got hooked on Starbucks, I resited the whole language thing. It is ridiculous. I mean the whole "tall is small" thing could easily deserve its own post. But I have now become so completely co-opted by Starbucks culture, that I play by whatever rules they want me too. I do have a nice little local independent coffee shop that I try to support whenever I can, but I still do frequent the coffee giant more often than not.

4:47 PM

 
Blogger Mary said...

I'm not a fan of tip jars. I tip at resteraunts the way you should since they don't pay them squat, but tip jars?

Any little snot working there could have gotten a platic cup and written "tips" on it. Who knows where that money is going? If you work at a place like that, you knew the wage when you took the job. They didn't perform any miracles. They did their job. Curteousness shouldn't need to be tipped. Gah, I'm a b!tch :)

10:03 AM

 
Anonymous stuffisthings said...

Hi, I randomly stumbled across your blog here and found it mildly entertaining, but sometimes you've just got to have a little common sense. Since you've apparently never worked in this area of the service industry (something all Americans should be required to do by law, in my opinion) I'll fill you in:

At a place like a coffee shop where everyone works behind the counter, tips from the jars are usually shared evenly between all the employees. Sometimes (for instance, at a pizza place where I worked that has a seperate counter for ordering food and ordering coffee/baked goods) the tips are split up by area. Since you can also order food at the coffee counter, this was a coveted position (one whole tip jar all to yourself!). At a regular restaurant, each waiter has their own tips, and the waitstaff will generally tip out bussers (and sometimes cooks, if it's busy enough). Usually the more you interact with the public, the more tip-based your salary. Cooks and kitchen prep, even at a behind-the-counter place (like the above-mentioned pizza joint) generally don't get tips, but may get tipped out if it's busy. Oh, and anyone who works behind a counter is making at least minimum wage. The tip jar is for customers who realize that this is still a laughable amount of money, and/or to compensate them for working during particularly busy periods (unlike most other jobs, food service is very much based on rushes... you will bust your ass during the lunch and dinner rush, and spend most of the rest of the shift recovering/preparing for the next rush).

Why are there so many bills? Well, it doesn't take a marketing degree to understand basic marketing. The employees will usually "seed" the tip jar with a couple dollars at the start of a shift, so that customers assume everyone else is tipping heavily. They will also periodically convert the change into bills. This makes the jar look full and prevents them having to count 600 pennies at the end of a shift. Isn't it ironic that people are more likely to put money into an overflowing tip jar than an empty one? FYI, the homeless do the same thing.

As far as your elaborate questions regarding change, because the employees are paid a quote-unquote "normal" wage they won't look down on you for not tipping if it's inconvenient. Keep in mind the whole idea is to reward them for working during busy periods; if you stand there fooling with your change you're just making their job harder. Having worked at a busy coffee shop before, I can tell you that 90% of the time they won't notice that you tipped at all, let alone the amount, and since the tips are split up it doesn't really matter as long as there is something in there. Even at a busy place the most anyone is likely to see per shift is $5-10. I generally drop about a quarter on a basic cup of coffee (and yes, I do sometimes hold back change if I'm giving them two bills for $1.10 or somesuch). Don't think of it like a restaurant: the tips are appreciated but not socially or morally required. Of course, if you are requesting some ridiculous thing it would be nice to give them a little extra for the effort, especially if they are busy. Sadly, the kinds of assholes that want really complicated coffees and generally also the kinds of assholes who don't tip. (Another fun fact: milk costs far, far more than coffee. So why does a 10-cent shot of espresso cost almost as much as a latte, and a latte the same as a cappucino (which is 1/3 foam)?)

As far as the breakfast place, at most places like that there is no designated cashier; you are just rung up by whoever happens to be behind the counter. The tip jar is just a conveninece and the tips they pick up from your table are likely getting stuffed in there anyway.

As far as the take-a-penny, actually, this isn't bad form in a tip-jar situation. Usually if you are a penny or two short the cashier will just give it to you, especially if they are busy. If the register is 15 cents short at the end of the shift they can always take it out of the tip jar, if their boss is that much of an ass. Again, it's all about getting you processed as quickly as possible. Leave it to American capitalism to turn both sides of the consumer equation into cattle.

Hope this helps. You've really made it much more complicated than it needs to be, as I suspect is your wont.

By the way, don't you just love people who answer rhetorical questions?

4:50 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tip jar Etiquetttttte???
I just ignore those greedy bastards. They get paid at least minimum wage. Its not my job to subsidize their income. I am the customer, thats the owners responsibility , unless its a traditional tip job like mailman, valet parker,delivery, wait staff, hair dresser, cab driver etc.

4:11 AM

 
Blogger Fred said...

Fredo
Mary, you're not a bitch. I feel the same way. The rude girls at shipely donuts want to be tipped for grabbing a bag and putting kolaches in it for me. They can kiss my a**!

9:34 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whats the cinfusion about tip jars? ...I don't feel obligated at all to leave my money, end of confusion and stress for me :)

1:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the answer to a lot of your questions is that "tips" are divided up among the employees working a certain shift (I would guess in most cases). So that leaving a tip on the table is equivalent to leaving it in the tip jar, for example.

12:47 PM

 
Blogger SV FB FILM said...

I know a restaurant that takes the tips from the tip jar and does not give it to his high school age employees. In essence he uses the tip jar to pay there hourly rate.

10:23 AM

 

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