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Tipping - How do you feel about tip jars?

I'll preface this post with the following:

1. Husband and I are generally considered "over tippers" We believe in good food and good to excellent service and we will pay for that. The wait staff works hard and deserves it. (Plus for some weird reason, I feel like we make up for the jerks that don't tip enough or at all). The other added bonus is once we are recognized in a place, wait staff will fight each other to wait our table and provide excellent service. (one place, we were known at, the waiter basically ignored us and we walked out - he was berated by the entire staff for ignoring us telling him, don't you know who that was??? - received a phone call from the management the next day apologizing and offering us a comped meal)

2. We tip equally well no matter if it is the local diner or a 5 star place (of course, based on the check) and we'll also add to the tip if something was done "just for us: i.e off menu

3. We will tip for good service even if the food is not up to par. It's not the wait staffs fault if the food sucks. I'll take that up with management. (Unless of course the order is completely messed up and the wait staff should have caught this - that's a whole other issue) However, I digress...

So, I'm rather conflicted about tip jars, especially in places that are "to go" places, such as Subway, a local deli etc... I'm talking - place order, wait in line, pay for food and leave (or stay) but no wait staff to get more drinks or whatever.

What's the general concensus here about tip jars? I'm curious. I almost feel like having a tip jar is a "guilt trip"

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  1. Unless the counter person wiggled her nose Bewitched-style and your sandwich or latte magically constructed itself, she is serving as both your chef and your service person. It seems a bit unfair that a person doing both roles is deemed less tipworthy than a person doing only one.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

      if the customer waits in line, or is walking to the counter to order and refill drinks, then he is doing half of the serving job. so i may tip 10% at a "counter service" place if they at least bring the food to my table, and usually 0% if it's a "pay and go" counter, like an actual Subway or fast food would be.

      1. re: kibbles

        I will tip at a "pay and go" counter like Chipotle if I see the person making my food take extra care or go out of their way to make sure it was good.

        At Chipotle, if I see them give me extra meat, they get a tip. If they spoon the meat onto my burrito and look at it and then take some away, no tip.

        1. re: 2roadsdiverge

          so if your "server" goes against their employers wishes and gives you a bigger portion(there by giving away something that doesn't belong to them), that is worthy of a (bigger)tip? do you routinely reward theft?

          1. re: nkeane

            Theft? Hyperbolic much?

            It is routine to get a slightly larger pour from a bartender in exchange for a larger tip. Why is this any different? I'm not talking about an order of "double meat". I'm saying that the counter person grabs a bunch of shredded meat with the tongs, looks at the pile and grabs a bit more to fill out the burrito.

            It might not even be more meat than they are supposed to give. I am talking about tipping for them looking at what they gave me, evaluating it, and deciding that they didn't give me enough. That deserves a tip. Same with an ice cream shop or a pizza place. Extra care with my food deserves a tip.

    2. There is a local ice cream place near me that has a tip jar on the counter. Ice cream scoopers work really hard and have to make everything themselves. I always put a dollar or two in the tip jar when my family visited the place -- until my friend's son got a job there and told me that the owners of the joint take the tips fro themselves! So unfair to all those kids! Now I make sure to ask how the money in the tip jar is distributed before I tip, or I try to had the tip directly to the person who waited on me.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Divalicias

        I'd heard of this practice (it seems really underhanded to me, because it's natural to assume the few dollars in the jar are going to the counter workers, not the business owner), but will make it a point to ask before tipping.

        1. re: Divalicias

          My daughter has been working at a BBQ restaurant/bar for the last few years while going to school. They do counter service for food and have a tip jar. The staff will bring the food to your table when ready. They have a tip jar at the counter and that plus any tip given the wait staff goes to management. They are paid minimum wage. At the bar where she does cocktail service she is paid under minimum wage but gets to keep her tips.

          1. re: scubadoo97

            "any tip given the wait staff goes to management."

            This is my problem with tip jars. Who gets the tip?

          2. re: Divalicias

            Good Lord, that's the slimiest thing i"ve ever heard of! It really is.

          3. Since this is probably the most FAQ at Chowhound, or so it seems, you might want to explore these more recent threads for opinions that might not be re-entered into this discussion:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/469370
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/366450
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/792430

            1. I believe I've only come across tip jars in places where, otherwise, nobody would dream of tipping. So I don't..

              Where I am, it would never even occur to people to tip in places like the local deli, etc as described by the OP.

              1. Tipping jars is low-key compared to check-outers asking if you'd like to donate to a charity-of-the-month.

                One could feel guilty when asked "would you like to give a dollar" when one's bill is around $100 or $200. But then again, would you have a dollar left over :-)))

                7 Replies
                1. re: Rella

                  Ugh, yes! I think those charity of the month campaigns are a sneaky way of giving the store credit for what your customers are doing. "Oh, look, Whole Foods donated $$$ to the starving children fund!" Not really, it was their customers, but WF gets the tax break.

                  That said, I do appreciate that one grocery store near me has a bin at the front of the store for you to donate to the local food pantry. I know the people who run the pantry several days a week, and I know the food is going where it's needed. Just having that bin there reminds me to pick up healthy canned and boxed things to buy and drop in on my way out.

                  1. re: Isolda

                    WF in our area donates 10 cents for every bag they don't have to provide. If you bring a bag or if you reuse a bag the charity gets the 10 cents. The food pantry I volunteer at gets some of this. It is interesting that the checkers can tell you about the charity of the month. I don't find this procedure to be a burden. In this case WF really does donate money to the charity.

                    At my grocer there is a can to donate to utility charities. THAT is totally from the customer. My grocer should not be taking too much credit for putting the cans out at the register.

                    1. re: Isolda

                      i can assure you WF doesnt get a tax break on the dollars its customers donate to a cause. that would equal major lawsuit.

                      1. re: Isolda

                        I don't appreciate being asked to donate at the checkout but I have no problem saying no. Most checkers are fine about I've gotten attitude a few times, which annoys me. There are many wonderful charities to support but ultimately it is a personal decision as to where my charitable $$ go and I will decide, not have the decision foisted upon me in a grocery checkout line.

                        1. re: jlhinwa

                          Absolutely.
                          The thing I really hate is the company that says "If you buy our product we will donate $XX to thisorthat charity." Bullshit. Lower your price and keep it all, that will leave me the money to donate to the local food bank or wherever I prefer it to go. At one point there was a local plastic surgeon contemplating doing that same thing. It's not like donating a buck at the Petsmart when you check out, why do businesses think you want to donate through them and get all the credit for the donation?

                          But regarding tip jars, I hadn't considered that the owners were stiffing the counter people and keeping the tip jar contents for themselves- it fills me with rage.

                          1. re: EWSflash

                            If you would buy the product anyway, what's the harm? The charity gets a few dollars, and the company gets a tax break. Isn't that how much of the charity gets funded in this country?

                        2. re: Isolda

                          +1 on the store getting undeserved credit! Unless the business puts something else in (and should make that clear).