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Why Tip? The history of tipping in America

 
 
Reply Sun 12 Oct, 2008 06:59 pm
The Food Issue: Why Tip?

Quote:
After the Civil War, wealthy Americans began traveling to Europe in significant numbers, and they brought the tip home with them to demonstrate their worldliness. But the United States, unlike Europe, had no aristocratic tradition, and as tipping spread " like “evil insects and weeds,” The New York Times claimed in 1897 " many thought it was antithetical to American democratic ideals. “Tipping, and the aristocratic idea it exemplifies, is what we left Europe to escape,” William Scott wrote in his 1916 anti-tipping screed, “The Itching Palm.” One periodical of the same era deplored tipping for creating a class of workers who relied on “fawning for favors.”

Opposition to tipping was not limited to the media. In 1904, the Anti-Tipping Society of America sprang up in Georgia, and its 100,000 members signed pledges not to tip anyone for a year. Leagues of traveling salesmen opposed the tip, as did most labor unions. In 1909, Washington became the first of six states to pass an anti-tipping law. But tipping persisted. The new laws rarely were enforced, and when they were, they did not hold up in court. By 1926, every anti-tipping law had been repealed.

Ultimately, even those who in principle opposed the practice found themselves unable to stiff their servers. Samuel Gompers, who was president of the American Federation of Labor and a leading figure of the anti-tipping movement, admitted that he “followed the usual custom of giving tips.”


It's a long article, but has interesting background to the history of tipping in the US.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 13 • Views: 18,785 • Replies: 82
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JTT
 
  2  
Reply Sun 12 Oct, 2008 07:10 pm
@Robert Gentel,
It's often said that tipping is to ensure good service. Go to Japan where there's no tipping. There you'll find out what service truly means.
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Oct, 2008 07:31 pm
@JTT,
Strangely enough, in most of Europe there is hardly any tipping either. Restaurants have built in a 15 % gratuity into their prices, and no tip is necessary - although everyone gives a few Euro anyway.

It's gotten a bit out of hands in the United States. The other day when I went to a small patisserie to buy a cake, there was a tip jar next to the cashier. Starbucks is notorious for having a large tip jar in everyone's face, and pretty soon my local supermarket will have one too. Actually they always have a money jar sitting there anyway for some sort of charity contributions.
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Oct, 2008 08:02 pm
@Robert Gentel,
quite a few years ago we stayed at grossinger's resort in the catskills to attend a convention .
in the rooms was a card with a view of grossinger's with the slogan :

"TIPS = to ensure prompt service"

printed underneath .

btw most cruiselines now charge a standard tip and add it to the cruisefare , usually about $10 a day . i sure find it more convenient than having to fumble for cash the day before dis-embarkation . of course , a litttle direct tip always helps " TIPS" !
hbg

many of the up-and-coming boxers did their training at grossinger's .

http://www.antekprizering.com/johansson5969t.jpeg
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Oct, 2008 08:18 pm
@hamburger,
I agree; direct tips on cruises is our standard too.
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Oct, 2008 08:45 pm
@cicerone imposter,
i guess one might also call it "greasing the skids" ???
hbg
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Oct, 2008 08:46 pm
Methinks RG nee Craven reads Neatorama...
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Oct, 2008 09:10 pm
@patiodog,
...or stumbleupon.com - that's a great site!
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 12:40 am
@CalamityJane,
CalamityJane wrote:

Strangely enough, in most of Europe there is hardly any tipping either.


It's not really so strange: tipping (in Europe) was thought to be unethical .... because historically you bought "a service" (= e.g. "full service in a restaurant" = the waitress as well for .....).
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 12:42 am
@patiodog,
I have ended up on their site following links elsewhere a couple times, but don't read them regularly.

Stumbleupon, as CJ notes is one I use now and then though (which reminds me to look for their RSS feed, thanks!)
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 01:00 am
@Robert Gentel,
BM. We Brits are not comfortable with the tipping malarkey.
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 05:11 am
@McTag,
Just do it when you're over here, please. Waiters/waitresses aren't paid a living wage -- they are expected to make their living on tips.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 05:50 am
@patiodog,
So right, patiodog. Many Americans aren't aware that "customarily tipped" employees are not covered by minimum wage laws. It is perfectly legal for a restaurant owner to pay his wait staff a dollar or two per hour with the understanding that the difference between that and a living wage will be made up for in tips. Same goes for bartenders. Taxi drivers in major cities often work for a percentage of what the meter reads at the end of the day; they get no wage at all, so hustling for a decent tip is the only way to nake a decent living. Some restaurants in the States -- not very many -- have adopted the European custom of adding a 15% surcharge to the bill as an automatic tip. I don't like this system. If the service was lousy, why should I leave as much as 15%? On the other hand, if the service was outstanding, I might be tempted to tip a full 20% or more.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 06:00 am
@Merry Andrew,
I suppose exactly that " "customarily tipped" employees are not covered by minimum wage laws" makes the big difference between the USA and other countries: here, everyone gets his standard wage, regulated between employer associations and unions. (Waitreses/waiters and employed barbers aren't in the top of the league, though, since tips are thought to be part of the wage - all tips are colected and divided via the the so-called tronk system.) Si usuall, you only give a tip when are extremely satisfied by the service, mostly, you just round up the sum.
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 07:01 am
@Walter Hinteler,
States do have minimum wage laws for waitstaff, but I doubt they are uniform. Rhode Island (just happened to come across it with a Google search) has a minimum paid wage (as of 1/1/2007) of $2.89/hr before tips and must be at least $7.40/hr after tips. I'm assuming that if the tips come up short the employer is expected to make up the difference.

Tips are supposed to be reported for income tax purposes. It is "customary" among many or most waitstaff/bartenders/etc. to under-report tips earned (or was when I worked in the restaurant business).

Also important to remember when thinking about how your tip pays your waiter that he/she will have to share tips with the host, with the bus staff, with the bartender, sometimes with the dishwashers, and so forth. The fancier the restaurant, the more of these types of folks there are.

When I washed dishes tips pretty much covered my gas money -- but gas was a lot cheaper back then...
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 07:23 am
I don’t have a problem with doing away with tipping if the waitstaff is given decent pay. Currently in the US within most states, waitstaff is paid below minimum wage because it is expected they will receive so much money in tips. I understand the amount of the tip is given (and should be) according to the level of service " poor service minimal amount, average 15%, good 20% and excellent above 20% (or at least this is what I do). What would compensate is that the waitstaff is paid a wage according to how well they do their job " like we all should be. So those which are better servers get a hirer hourly wage. To me this more fair as some places “share” their tips. So if you are a crappy waiter you get as much as Fred, the top server.

cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 01:00 pm
@Linkat,
I agree 100% with your tipping "policy."
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 01:42 pm
@Linkat,
Linkat wrote:
So those which are better servers get a hirer hourly wage. To me this more fair as some places “share” their tips. So if you are a crappy waiter you get as much as Fred, the top server.


We had a discussion about this already some time ago
I did a some research that time [and will get a just published book about the history of tipping tomorrow).
Waiters/waitresses here are paid according to their training: like in all other professions, you undergo three years of apprenticeship, then qualify more.
Semi-skilled personal gets the less money, those with the highest qualifications (and best certificates) get more, according to the effective pay scale. (5-day-week, 40-hours per week, Sunday/bank holiday premiums, 28 days vacancies - all the normal stuff.)
Tips are either shared amongst all (according to a local agreement) and those who get it keep it.
Sometimes, you can find a little tip-piggy as well - what I like more since in such cases the chefs participate as well (and it's mainly their work which is my reason to go to a restaurant).
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 02:06 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
I have never personally tipped a chef. Maybe, something to think about the next time we dine at a nice restaurant.
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 02:15 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter, in the US chefs usually make a very good sallary, indeed. They're the most important people in the "back of the house", after all. There's no comparison to their rate of pay with that of the wait personnel. So sharing tips with the chef and his cooks seems unfair to some waiters/waitresses. There is one restaurant I frequent where the cooking is done on an open hearth, in plain sight of the diners. There is a special tip jar "for the chef" near this operation where you can drop in some extra gratuities on the way out. The place serves mainly bbq ribs and has a Texas motif. Therefore the chef's tip jar is an old-time brass cuspidor.
 

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