Tipping Isn’t Just Annoying, It’s Racist and What Not to Wear on a Plane

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Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “Memo to Choice Privileges: you won’t win the heart of millenials (or anyone else) with a $2.50 Amazon.com credit in lieu of points. Because.. it’s $2.50, and everyone knows that is worth no more than $2.50.”

    $2.50 vs 100 miles? Am I crazy that I might take the $2.50? Or even the $5 coffee card (do they mean a $5 Starbucks card? I’d take that for sure).

    Then again, I’ve stayed at 1 Choice property in my young millennial life.

  2. Tipping is worse than *just* being racist. We have controls against blatantly discriminatory behavior in the workplace via the EEOC.

    Tipping is payment from customers and an easy way of getting around the EEOC. To my knowledge, which is admittedly extremely limited, no one has successfully sued a restaurateur for racial discrimination on the basis of tips received (or not) from customers.

    In my view, this is the number one argument against the entire idea of tipping. It perpetuates a system that was admitted to be SO BROKEN that they “fixed it” in 1964 in the midst of the civil rights movement, when racism was still very much a “thing.” The EEOC is the single legal protection that races have against discrimination in the workplace. It was a hard, long fight to win that protection and it took generations. Why anyone would ever think it was a good idea to undermine that is absolutely beyond me.

    You shouldn’t “patch” the problem by creating some kind of legislative fix around racial protection for tipping in the workplace. You should fix the root cause of the issue, which is underpaid workers in the US. The protection system is already in place and well formed, it’s tipping that’s broken.

  3. Long live tipping! My first job was as a caddy. You bet that tips focused us on meeting the needs of our customers, whether we liked some of those spoiled sons of successful biz men or not. And how many travelers have had awful experiences with surly wait- and other service-staff in Paris or the old Soviet bloc (I am 65 yrs old), where service was compris.

    The cited author’s views are interesting. But it is soooooo obvious that the problem, low wages in one or another sectors, is not directly related to the fix.

  4. oy, tipping. One of the big reasons why employers love tipping is that it relieves them of having to pay payroll tax on a huge chunk of their payroll. The restaurant business has thin margins, so 8% of your single biggest business expense is not insignificant.

    For every surly Parisian waiter, I can find a dozen fantastic Asian servers. Bad customer service is cultural within a workplace and can be motivated by things other than tipping (eg, good management). What irritates me is when an establishment attempts to enforce a certain level of tipping, because then it just feels like a resort fee or a fuel surcharge.

  5. Tipping in the US is out of control. 20 to 25% of the bill is insane, especially when we consider that the average dufus tips the percentage on the whole bill, including taxes. I love being in Japan where there is no tipping – except now and again by an ignorant American. In the US, I think 15% is fine for really good service. Otherwise, I’m happy to give 5 or 10%. Of course, most of Europe has the gratuity included, but again many poorly informed Americans don’t realise that and put in a tip.

  6. I’ve never been a tipped employee or worked in a business where tipping was part of pay. I thought, though, that in most places with tips, tips where “pooled” at least to the extent they were accurately reported by those who received them. But in places where tips are received, I also believe that they are not distributed equally amongst all employees. Servers (who may be more likely to be in a higher social class) get more than buss boys and dishwashers.

  7. The article referred to states that tipping in America originated when well-traveled, wealthy Americans wanted to appear so by matching a practice they observed in Europe. So tipping was more of a statement about who they were rather than about the service they received. IMO those who tip a lot today are also more influenced by the impression they want others to have of them than by rewarding the efforts of servers.

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