Head to Head: Should Tipping Be Banned?

Emily Levinson – Against

Tipping is a long-established practice, and one that some would advocate eliminating altogether. It’s awkward, they say. The rules are so ill-defined that it can be hard to know when and how much to tip. Sometimes, a tip is expected but not deserved. So why is tipping still common? The short answer is, the practice is not actually flawed.

Anyone claiming that tipping prompts greed or laziness clearly never worked in the service sector. In restaurants, for instance, people seem to think the process is linear: take the orders, bring the food, bring the bill. Simple, right? Not quite. Waiters have to keep track of food and drink orders, keep the table clean, make sure patrons are happy and do this for four or five tables at a time.

Granted, not every server will be stellar, but patrons aren’t always a joy to serve either. While working in a restaurant, I met a wide range of characters. Some were quite  personable and pleasant to serve; however, many were less than polite. This is why restaurant turnover rates can be as high as 50 percent– people who have options choose not to stay in a high-stress, thankless job.

Workers who receive tips work hard for every dollar they earn- and that’s not much. Kansas is one of two states in the U.S. in which business owners can pay workers less than minimum wage if they can prove that workers earn enough in tips to put their total earnings above $7.25 per hour. Because of this, many workers depend on tips to supplement their $2 per hour salary. Waiters know that good service leads to bigger tips. Tipping, therefore, encourages hard work.

Tipping also isn’t even technically mandatory– just polite. Thus, there’s no need to ban tipping. Patrons can adjust the tip based on the quality of the service. You should consider, however, that some workers share their tips with others, such as cooks and dishwashers, who are just as important as waiters but don’t get a chance to earn tips directly. Thus, undertipping hurts employees who work behind the scenes.

One proposed alternative to tipping is to increase food and service prices and give workers higher base salaries. This strategy, howerve, would create problems rather than solve them. While most restaurants include a gratuity in the bill for large parties, forcing everyone to pay 15 or 20 percent more for food would upset customers. Plus, telling businesses how much to charge for their services goes against the core values of capitalism. Tipping, on the other hand, helps the economy by giving lower-income individuals nearly $40 billion each year. This increases demand for products, which causes the economy to expand.

While banning tipping might make life easier for some, it would ultimately hurt the economy and service-sector workers who depend on tips to make ends meet. Until workers are actually able to live on minimum wage, this is one practice we can’t afford to eliminate.

Jake Goldman – For

In early September, an African American waitress at a Red Lobster in Franklin,Tenn. received no tip on a $45 meal. The receipt had the N-word written on it. This deserving waitress was left with zero dollars in tip because of the color of her skin. Despite this waitress’ hard work, she left the job with no change in her pocket due to a couple of racists.

Whether they’re waiting at a restaurant, cleaning your golf clubs or checking your bags at the airport, all serviceworkers expect tip. Tipping, however, has proved to be racist, biased and awkward. Therefore, tipping should be banned.

Let’s say you go to dinner at your favorite restaurant. Your waitress is a hot blonde, busty woman. Then let’s say you go back a week later hoping for the same waitress, but instead you are helped by a flat-chested brunette waitress with equally proficient service. Be honest. Despite the waitresses who provide an equal quality of service, wouldn’t you tip the blonde woman more than the brunette? Welcome to the philosophy of Hooters, where all waitresses have voluptuous features. The fact that physique and attractiveness play a role in the amount tipped is unjustified. Tipping is supposed to be an “incentive;” however, much of it is based on factors unrelated to the quality of the service.

Besides tipping being biased and discriminatory, the practice is also awkward. All of us have had a time when we have been waited on by an awful employee. When it comes time to sign the bill we all ask ourselves, “do I still have to tip this ill-deserving waitress on top of what I already paid?” You feel bad if you don’t leave any money, or guilt if you feel that the employee didn’t deserve the extra amount you left her. Tipping shouldn’t be an obligation. In fact, many countries have already outlawed it.

Tipping is sought to be an incentive for workers; however, it is not necessarily healthy for the workplace. Tipping encourages “upselling” goods. Workers realize that most people tip an average amount of 15 percent; the only way to make more money is by selling more product. Instead of tipping promoting hard work, it nags customers to buy more goods. People work hard regardless of the tip. When you have a job and are responsible for something, you are still being supervised by a boss and you still earn a wage. You want to perform well because other people are depending on you, and you don’t want to be fired.

If people earned a “solid” salary, their accountability and value of their job would increase. Kansas is one of  a few states in the U.S. that allows businesses to pay employees as low as $2 an hour. But what if it’s a slow night at the restaurant or golf course? That isn’t fair. With a constant wage, you can be assured a consistent income and a better experience, no tip necessary.

If tipping were banned, a busty waitress wouldn’t be tipped any more than a flat-chested waitress and an African American won’t be tipped any less than her white counterparts. Awkwardness and guilt would dissipate while the value of one’s job would increase improving their performance. Tipping isn’t capitalism. It’s time for it to go.