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Dec 14, 2007 03:49 AM

Tip jars - love 'em? Hate 'em?

I think counter service has gone crazy out of control with these tip jars showing up everywhere. The dry cleaner, coffee shop, ice cream parlor, etc. Hell, I'm expecting to find a jar strategicly placed at the reception desk of my OB/GYN.

Tips were generally reserved for those being paid less than minimum wage or for service folks that went above and beyond in service. Now, every Jane & Joe wants a tip just for acknowledging your presence.

What really blew me away was a recent trip to a Starbuck's drive-thru where there was a tip jar right smack in the middle of the takeout window. I had to reach over it to grab my coffee!

I consider myself a generous tipper and have worked in the restaurant industry much of my adult life... but I think the tip jar has gotten way out of hand. I hate feeling guilted into tipping someone undeserving. Does that make sense? No one wants to be perceived as a cheapskate. I think shop owners have a duty to eliminate these jars where they are inappropriate.

Anyone else care to way in?

(So sorry, I just realized that this topic has been beaten to death in previous posts!) - edit

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  1. 99-44/100% of the time, I ignore them.

    1. I'm neutral about tip jars. I don't like the ones with a note taped to the jar like the old chestnut "tipping is good karma" or "please help our vacation club" etc. If I've gotten really good service, I'll throw in any decent change left from my purchase or $1 if I'm a regular. Last time I threw in some spare change, the "barista" at Starbucks really gave me a big sincere thank you. People share these tips and it goes a long way in stretching their salary. However, don't be guilted or feel you have to tip - it's your money.

      1. Oh Lynn, once again you are spot on. A few years ago I worked at an ad agency in South End (Charlotte, of course). There was a sandwich shop I will not name, near from Atherton Mill. They made unbelievable sandwiches. The bread was so good! It would have been the perfect lunch spot were it not for the TIP JARS! Not only were they everywhere but they had threatening things written on them like "Tipping is not a city in China". Swear! And the sandwiches weren't cheap. Needless to say, the place was out of business in about 18 months. It was downright hostile.

        7 Replies
        1. re: southernitalian

          they had threatening things written on them like "Tipping is not a city in China".

          I don't get it. How's this threatening? Do they come up to your face with the tip jar and shake it at you?

          1. re: PeterL

            I was trying not to give away the place too much because it wasn't just here that I've seen the agressive tip-begging going on. The signs in the jars were written in bold, black Gothic letters. Like they didn't want you to miss. The city and China one was the only one I'd post here. the others were worse. And they'd watch you closely when money was exchanged to make sure some of it wound up in the tip jar. Come to think of it, I don't know why we ever went there. Says something about how good their sandwiches were!

            1. re: southernitalian

              If I was that upset about a tip jar (And it's pretty far down on my 'Annoyance List' ,) I simply would not frequent the establishment. No sandwich, no matter how well put together, is worth your reaction.

              1. re: Tay

                Well the place is closed so I think everyone but me voted with their feet. I'm a whore for a good sandwich, I guess.

                1. re: southernitalian

                  Ha! Being the victim of a hospital cafeteria five days a week, I was thrilled when a Thai restaurant opened within walking distance of work. Eventually they began to piss me off with increasingly thinly disguised opportunities to tip them, and it got to be laughably regular. First, you order at the window, where there's a tip jar, of course. They eventually bring out your food, after ignoring you until that time. Then they start coming by at shorter and shorter intervals, a'smilin' away and asking repeatedly if they can get you anything else. Mind you, you've been on your own for drink refills and so forth up to that point. Finally they bring you out a fortune cookei per person in a check billfold- so you can leave them another tip for bringing you a fortune cookie. It got so annoying I quit going there- unless somebody else was doing takeout and offering to pick stuff up for other people.Their food's good, but it's not THAT good, and the service really isn't service at all.

          2. re: southernitalian

            Ha! And that is offensive. I suppose to rogue crowd that's funny. But really, it's like saying, "hahaha, but seriously, tip us".

            Oh, and how about the places that ring a bell, do a dance and sing out in unison, "Thanks!!!!" when you throw a tip in the jar. UGH!!!! But as another poster mentioned, it's annoying when you do toss a dollar in the jar and they don't acknowledge it. God, when did I become so difficult???

            1. re: lynnlato

              I'd be saying "hahaha, but seriously, No way!" :-}
              No... Not really. Sometimes, kids get carried away with their . uhhh...creativity
              in terms of tip jar 'art' I don't think it's that big of a deal. If it really bothered me, as I wrote to southernitalian, I'd just stop frequenting the place.

          3. I despise tip jars. Unless you have a waiter or bartender, chances are the person behind the counter is getting paid at least minimum wage. I find them incredibly tacky and greedy. I try not to frequent places that have them. My sister-in-law is a manager at Starbucks and she thinks their great.

            My other issue is that owners expect tips. I was brought up that you never tip the owner because they're generally getting a cut of the price no matter what.

            7 Replies
            1. re: AlyKen

              I find it akin to panhandling, especially when the jar says "college/vacation fund".

              And here's something more fundamental to its logistics. I'm expected to tip during my order at the counter, which is way prior to most of the service upon which I might base said tip. Are there clean tables to sit at? Am I expected to bus my table? Is my order brought to me with a smile or do I pick up? All this goes into calculating tip, which I am expected to do up front. This is the polar opposite of table service, where tip is at the end, when I can make a sound judgment as to quality of service.

              As for "Tipping is not a city in China". Last time I saw that classy sign, it was at a pizza shop with horridly unfriendly service, lovely folk who can never grunt a pleasant word. To one of the meanies at the counter I said cheerily while pointing it out: "You're quite right. And "Thank You" is not a city in Korea!"

              [To the person who did not find this sign offensive: it was next to a drawing of a $ sign with a slash through it, an = sign, and a photo of a burnt slice, so yes, it was very much a threat.]

              And to people who tip at such places because they believe the help is underpaid: do you tip your children's teachers? If you subscribe to such a mindset, perhaps you ought to. They are most certainly underpaid and are educated professionals, some of them with multiple masters degrees.

              1. re: Leonardo

                Everyone deserves to be shown gratitude for the services they give, especially if they are hard working.

                1. re: jdawn73

                  Yes, and the proper way to do that for a job that is not customarily tipped is (1) to respond "You're welcome" when the employee says "Thank you" (one hopes the employee is thanking customers for their business - if the employee isn't, the employee needs to go to Customer Service 101), and (2) return to give the establishment (and its employees) more business.

                  1. re: jdawn73

                    Yes. Everyone DOES to be shown gratitude for the services they give--it's called a performance review and with great service comes a raise. It is not up to me to supplement everyone's income. Having lived in NYC, I generously tipped the delivery people. I tip for counter service at a sit-down diner. I will tip my servers when I am dining. However, I find the tip cups becoming increasingly annoying and cloying. In this current economy, I do believe the employers are becoming "cheap" with their staff in many instances and expect the tip cup to get filled. There are business in which I am fully aware that staff is getting paid very well.
                    So no. I ignore the tip cup 98 percent of the time.

                2. re: AlyKen

                  Isn't it incredibly tacky and greedy to expect someone to serve you for minimum wage? I bet you're not simple to serve.. Of course you shouldn't tip owners, but it's rude to expect their employees to serve you and not give them the respect you would a bartender or server if they prepare something for you.

                  1. re: jdawn73

                    Tacky? A lot of things get called tacky on this board and I think I no longer understand what it means.

                  2. re: AlyKen

                    Its never too late to respond to this... Owners get a cut of the price no matter what?? You are obviously not a business owner. We pay for everything, and until the business is well established, tips can be our only income (or, in many cases, be additional funds to pay for the expenses of the business!). And if my customers think that tipping isn't very important to me personally, my employees may also miss out on valuable tips. You tip for SERVICE, regardless of who gives it to you. When my business gets to the stage that it is supporting me, I won't take any portion of the tips - I'll distribute them fairly among my employees. But until then, tips are buying my meager dinner, and I work as hard or harder than anyone on my staff to provide excellent service.

                  3. I usually throw a dollar or my spare change in. I worked for a lot of years at a counter job and learned that minimum wage is not equal to a living wage. The extra money in the jar at the end of the night was a big help.

                    But a drive through window is getting a little greedy.