Guilted into Tips

By Ojas Joshi

Recently, “tipping” has sprung up everywhere. At cafes, grocery stores, boutiques, and even large corporate chains. Many have experienced guilt—or frustration—in these situations. Not tipping feels like a crime; how does one look the cashier in the eyes and say, “Thank you,” two seconds after lightly tapping “No Tip?” But tipping also feels like an exploitation, a guilt trip into giving up money for…what? Exceptional service, or just service in general? Tipping used to feel like a form of respect to a dutiful waiter or waitress; now it just feels like an internal battle. Corporations and business owners have taken advantage of the human psyche with the advent of “universal tipping,” and forced a meaningless and unclear charity upon society. Businesses need to get rid of “universal tipping” because of the ambiguity of the tip qualification, and funds distribution.

Take a cup of coffee from a local cafe, sold for two dollars and fifty cents. Based on current Arabica bean supply, one pound of coffee costs around four dollars and thirteen cents for that business to purchase. One pound of coffee produces around 48 cups; thus, that one cup costs the company around 10 cents to brew. Sold at two dollars and fifty cents, the business is making nearly 250 percent profit on this one cup of coffee. Part of that profit will be used to pay the employees. Nonetheless, at the register, they ask for tips. What extraordinary service has been provided? Frankly speaking, they probably aren’t the one’s brewing the coffee: a machine is. So should the machine be tipped? Clearly, this transaction, like so many others, does not warrant a tip. 

Furthermore, these businesses neglect to inform the customer about the distribution of the tip funds. At sit-down restaurants, customers tip with the understanding that each tip goes to the specific waiter who served them. Conversely, there is no implied distribution of tips at other businesses. Are they being split by the employees? Do all of the employees get tips? Do any of the employees get tips? Tipping at businesses does not show appreciation for an individual’s hard work, and it might not even help the employees.

Small businesses, cafes, and grocery stores need to get rid of “universal tipping.” These establishments take advantage of the customer and exploit their sympathy to increase their profit margins.