…we appear to have come a long way down a road paved with good intentions. What the hell went wrong?

Yeah, that’s pretty much my thoughts on tipping in general. It went from a reward for good service, to an expected supplement to an employee’s compensation. Heck, everyone expects to be tipped nowadays.

We went to Yogurtini the other day and there was a tip jar on the counter next to the register. What’s the problem, you ask?

Well if you’ve never been to Yogurtini, here’s how it works:

  • YOU take a container from the rack at the start of the line
  • YOU fill the container with as many yogurt flavors as your heart desires
  • YOU scoop all the fat-filled toppings you want on top of your yogurt
  • YOU carry the cup to the register and place it on a scale (they charge by weight)
  • THEY push a button and tell you how much you owe them

Yogurtini is a self-serve yogurt shop. The kid at the register pushes a button. Beyond that, they keep the toppings filled, the machines running, and occasionally use a stinky wet rag to wipe-down the tables. So, what part of this process warrants a tip from the customer?

This excellent article by C.A. Pinkham titled The Gratuitous Injustice of American Tipping Culture sums it all up quite nicely.

I don’t mind tipping for great service, but when the expectation for a tip is there from the moment I walk in the door of a business, I’m immediately placed in a position of looking for a reason NOT to tip well. Of course, this situation exists mostly because employers don’t pay a livable wage in many industries, but still…