The Tipping Point

No, I’m not talking about Malcolm Gladwell’s book/concept. I’m talking about gratuity.

The Freakonomics guys, Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner, did a radio podcast about it.

They then posted more stories about tipping.

I’m not going to talk about the cross-tabs on what cultures tip more and what waitresses get the most tip (you will be shocked to know it’s big breasted, slender, attractive women… I’ll give you some time to recover from your shock). It’s worth noting that these studies have found that service is not a good predictor of how much you give as a tip (an interesting phenomenon). Give the podcast a listen.

My point: Why is tipping based on a percentage of the bill?

Waiters and waitresses do the same work if they are in a four star restaurant as a shitty dinner. In fact, the service is probably much better at a diner (or one of those chains) than a fairly upscale restaurants. So even if I give the diner waitress a 30 percent tip and the snooty French waiter who treats me like an idiot and is very slow 15 percent … the French dude is going home with more of my cash.

Unfortunately, societal pressure says if I tip $5 on a $100 meal I’m a jerk.

The podcast talks about banning tipping, via a class-action suit alleging that tipping is discriminatory. The case sounds like it could be legitimate, I could see how you could find damages to protected classes, but I don’t see one class action case eliminating this factor that is all over the country.

Also: places that just ban tipping and raise their prices do not help. If I go with other people those other people are still going to expect me to tip! It’s the societal expectations that are a major impediment to ending tipping, not a government control.

Share your thoughts about the practice of tipping in the comment section.


~ by realfactsandbeer on June 7, 2013.

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