Okay, I have to confess something. I don’t get holiday tipping.
I know, I know. I must be some sort of terrible person or something. I might be the tipping grinch.
But before you burn my blog to the ground give me a chance to explain. At the end I would love to hear your comments on why you tip for certain tasks and at the holidays. Maybe your thoughts can convince me to change my ways…
Is “Regular Tipping” Okay?
Before we get started I definitely tip in situations where the person’s primary form of income is from the tip. Folks like waiters and pizza delivery workers get a fair tip every single time without fail. I’m not a financial grinch… at least in that respect!
The issue I run into with tipping is with service providers that already charge a hefty premium for the service.
Folks like your…
- taxi driver
- massage therapist
- coffee barista
…all charge a premium (or their companies do) for their services.
My wife’s haircuts cost $45 and last about an hour from the moment she walks in until the station is ready to be used again for a new customer. You expect a tip on top of $45 per hour?
Let’s say a hairdresser could do 7 haircuts per day for 5 days per week. That would be $1,575 in revenue per week. Over 50 weeks (allowing for two weeks of vacation per year) that’s $78,750.
Now I understand your hairdresser has to rent her space in the shop, or even rent the whole shop. I get that. But nearly $79,000 per year in revenue is not half bad. I’d be okay with a tip if the net profit ends up being a lot lower. Otherwise a tip on top of that seems excessive to me.
You drove me from point A to point B. I paid what was on the meter. Maybe you talked with me for a bit and were friendly… but is any of that tip worthy?
I drop $100 for an hour long massage. $100 per hour is $200,000 per year if you work 2,000 hours (50 weeks). Like the hairdresser I know a lot of that hourly cost goes to pay for rent or marketing or whatever.
But look at that number. $200,000 per year for one massage therapist if they worked a full year for a spa. That’s a lot of revenue.
I’m sorry. You work at Starbucks. You are paid a fair wage for a mostly unskilled job: pouring extraordinarily expensive coffee into a cup. And you get health benefits after 20 hours per week! If you want a tip cut the price of a cup of coffee in half.
Tips are Critical to Some
Check out this CNN Money article: Tips add up for many workers.
Note how waiters and waitresses get 70% of their income from tips. That’s how the system is set up, and I’m okay providing a fair tip.
I also see tips as an expression of gratitude for great service. If your waitress provides amazing service then of course she deserves a better tip.
But what exactly is great service from your taxi driver? Not getting in a wreck? Not having the cab smell like smoke? I see no “value add” here unless he safely gets you to your destination in 20% of the time it was supposed to take.
And the barista? You deserve a tip for making my drink correctly or for making cute images in the whipped cream on top? I would think making a drink correctly would be a requirement to keep your job not to get a tip.
Give Out of Gratitude Not Tradition
This handy CNN Money article gives some guidelines on how much should you tip during the holidays.
My issue with holiday tipping is that it’s forced giving. I personally believe that giving should be from the heart out of gratitude and not because a set of traditions says to do X, Y, and Z.
If I really, really thought my mail carrier was a swell guy I would consider tipping him or getting him something I thought he would want. The simple act of writing a check or handing cash to someone is impersonal. It reeks of “I have to do this and I don’t really know you, so here, take this.”
That’s so shallow, and frankly, so American.
Imagine the shock on your mail guy’s face when you run out to the mailbox when he pulls up and offer to pay for the two of you to grab a cup of coffee after he gets off work. “Why?”, he might ask you. “Because I really appreciate your hard work and want to get to know your story.” Utter shock. I guarantee it.
So what do you think? Has tipping gotten out of hand, or am I the worst person on the planet? Leave a comment below. I read every one.