posted by Matt W on December 11th, 2013

Tipping rules need to change.

When I was a kid, everyone did most everything for themselves. We didn’t have dog walkers, car detailers, personal trainers or paid coaches for kids. Most of the jobs were in manufacturing and as most people didn’t track-down the line worker that tightened the bolts on their new Chevy Impala to give them a $20 bill as a show of thanks, tipping was limited to a few service sectors. Everyone tipped the wait staff at a restaurant and slipped the paperboy an extra buck every month if he put the paper on the porch. He usually received a plate of cookies during the holidays as an additional show of thanks.

Fast forward 40 years and we have changed to a service based economy, so everyone thinks they deserve a tip. I personally don’t see why someone driving around the neighborhood stuffing 500 newspapers in slots deserves a tip. It’s just a job like tightening bolts on an Impala. But these days someone does something for you, really anything, and they wait for a tip. And people are much more brazen with suggesting tips as well. I recently got a massage and the woman who took my money said as she handed me the receipt, “The appropriate amount to tip the therapist for THAT type of service is 10-15 dollars.” I was a little curious as to what type of service she thought I had received (I checked my zipper), but as I was planning on leaving $8 (20%), I left $7.47 instead because I like the number 47 and I envisioned the receptionist having to go get change for the therapist.

As I am all for efficiency, I would love to just see tipping eliminated in our service economy. If a massage costs $50 dollars then at the end of the massage I would just like to walk out $50 lighter and be done. If someone does a really nice job, show your appreciation by going back and using them again for the service. If they didn’t do a good job, don’t go back. At the end of the year during the holiday season, instead of dropping an extra $50 (Emily Post’s suggestion for a massage therapist’s holiday tip is the price of one session), why the therapist wouldn’t just say happy holidays and thank you for you being such a loyal customer is a mystery. It seems counter-intuitive that people are pressured to tip even more for their loyalty.

What is especially frustrating to me is when a person that you don’t have a long term working relationship with expects more for the holiday. I recently got my hair cut and gave the barber-type-woman a $3 tip on my $14 haircut. She looked at me and then at the Christmas tree decoration in the shop obviously annoyed. I had never received a haircut from her in the past and she definitely expected a big holiday tip; there was no misinterpreting her look. I took my receipt, said thanks, and will never go back to that establishment, because why would I go someplace that tries to pressure me into a tip? There are plenty of places that know how to cut hair with a 2 guard.

Now I know I’m an old curmudgeon, but at some point, if everyone expects a tip, it no longer means anything. Because I know in our current economy tipping is still a major source of income for many, I continue to tip, but we really need to change how we compensate people.

File Under Jack of all Trades