Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tipping . . . Or Not

I am not a fan of this latest trend - stores with tip jars by the cash registers. These jars are popping up everyplace the Gen-Y'ers are working - coffee shops, music stores, even some clothing stores. It is so indicative of this generation to be asking for more without actually working for it.

I tip people in the service industry who hustle for my benefit: mostly food servers and bartenders; people who are juggling more than one customer at a time and have to deal with everyone's crap at the same time. I am not about to tip someone who's job it is to work within a 6'x6' space barking my coffee order to someone standing 8 feet away. Or the person working behind the counter at the take-out place where I have to go and pick up my own food. Or the salesperson who rings up the three tee shirts I buy in her store after standing in line for 15 minutes waiting for her to stop staring at a break sheet on a clipboard as if she is figuring out thermodynamic speed ratio equations. These deserve a tip??

If customer service were truly good in the U.S., I would be happy to reward it with a little extra cash. I've lost count of the number of times I have given a snotty "you're welcome" without even receiving the "thank you" first. There's a cashier at my CVS who doesn't speak to anyone - no "next please", no "your total is...", and certainly no "thank you". He points at things alot and bats his eyes as if he's in a coma. He's not mute, he just doesn't care. I'm not even thanked in another language, which would be preferable to just being stared at, as if I am supposed to be thanking him for the privilege of his service.

I am not sure when it happened that customers ceased being the reaon for your work and became the interruption of your work. If you can call it "work". I've had to interrupt employee conversations, both on cell phones and in person to ask for assistance (one of my biggest pet peeves is two employees complaining about their job while at work, bitching about other employees or their managers in front of me.)

If every clerk was like Maureen at Walgreen's at Belmont and Broadway, I'd be tossing out tips right and left (The BF is totally charmed by her). She's funny, helpful, and she seems to enjoy what she does. She might be a little slower due to her high social skills, but she makes the experience of waiting in line tolerable, albeit enjoyable. If Maureen had a tip jar, I would fill that sucker.

But she doesn't, because she knows it's inappropriate. But then Maureen is probably in her late 40's. She's not mad at the world for no damn reason, and she's not suggesting that she gets tipped for doing a job she's getting paid to do in the first place. If those other clerks would put as much energy into their work performance as they put into making the signs for their tips jars, customer service may finally return.


  1. Dop, I fully agree with you on this issue. It does appear that finding true customer service is a very rare thing. I actually went through a McDonald's drive-thru window recently and was pleasantly suprised as to how customer service oriented the young man was giving me my order. He was very pleansant and went out of his way to make sure my order was right. However, that is something that I normally don't experience. Normally it is instances like you mentioned where they appear to get upset that you bothered them by walking in the store. So sad.

  2. I ignore those tip cups and jars. I have a service-related job with my publishing company, and I'd be fired if I set out a tip jar in my cubicle.
    If you bring me my food and clear my table, you get a tip. If you carry my bags to my room, you get a tip. If you drive me from Lincoln Center to JFK, you get a tip. If you give me a shitty look for wanting to buy some jeans? Fuck you and be thankful I didn't ask for your manager.

  3. I agree! Even though I work for tips myself sometimes, I think it is ridiculous how many places tip jars are showing up these days.

    Coincidentally, the bf and I were just commenting yesterday on some great customer service that we received at a local record shop. Of course, the guy who gave us the great service was probably in his early 40's. That figures. It's tough to find kids who’ll do a good job these days.

  4. I remember when those tip jars started to appear and I would feel embarrassed to not tip. But really serving me my coffee deserves a tip? The funny thing is that ever since the tip jars started to appear the quality of customer service has gone down dramatically. I worked in retail and McDonalds so I know those don't deserve a tip. Here's a tip, maybe if they had better customer service people wouldn't shop on the internet as much!

  5. I agree, customer service sucks here, everyone wants a handout.

  6. I hate tipping people who don't earn it.

  7. WELL PUT!!!
    I agree 100% with you on this. I tend to OVER tip which drives the man crazy however if the service (at a food/service ect. establishment) is great then to me its worth it.
    I ignore the "tip jars" in other places.
    Good customer service is hard to find.
    Oh some guy tipped me $100 (actually threw the money at me) when I worked in customer service at a certain car rental place. I have also been given small "I love your service" gifts.
    Maybe bring Maureen flowers and make her day!

  8. i say NOT. tipping is really not an efficient way of saying you appreciate the service. if this were so, then we wouldn't base it off the size of the bill. it would just be a flat rate. what is the difference between a girl slaving away at a ihop with great service vs a server at a 5-star snooty restaurant? why should the other person get a bigger tip. if this was truly a "rewards" measure, then they should both get the same tip. (the ambience doesn't count--you pay for that with the price of the food).

  9. MUSIC STORES? Arghhhh! I usually just ignore the tip jars, but at a MUSIC STORE?! I would have to harangue the counter-person if i ever saw that.