The Truth Behind the Tip™

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Posts Tagged ‘coffee shops’

Tip Jar Debate Rages On

Posted by gratrueities on October 29, 2009

The lowly Tip Jar continues to provoke controversy of all sorts.

 Some, like MSN Money’s personal finance expert Liz Pulliam Weston are tired of seeing Tip Jars pop-up almost everywhere, moving way beyond the traditional deli counter or coffee shop setting.

In this post, from early October, she writes, ” You can ignore tip jars. Throw in some change if you’d like or if you get particularly wonderful service, but otherwise, don’t bother.”

Others, as evidenced by the comments on the above post, are most concerned with the tips that the Tip Jar  silently commands. GraTRUEities previously wrote about Tip Jars here.

But, realistically speaking, you can’t always ignore Tip Jars. Here, from our Tipipedia, is GraTRUEities guidelines on Tip Jar tipping:

Tip Jar

“Always the question…what to do about the ever-present Tip Jar?  This is a subject of much debate for which we offer no concrete guideline. It its our opinion that, if you regularly frequent an establishment, it is wise to tip at least every so often.  Also, if you place an order that requires extra effort a tip is warranted.  How much to tip?  10%-15% seems to be the consensus.”


Posted in Coffeehouse, Tip Jars, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Coffeehouse Squatters

Posted by gratrueities on October 16, 2009

Just noticed this post in the Chow “Dear Helena” column. Personally, I’m not a coffeehouse squatter. I prefer writing from home or from our very nice brand new public library (sidenote:  many comments related to this post mention dreary public libraries).

But…I can understand why one would want to sit all day and write in a coffeehouse. They are warm, comfortable and they usually have the very best aromas.

At our local Peet’s there always seems to be one gentleman (using the term loosely) who not only writes at the coffeehouse, he seems to actually inhabit a corner. His table is generally covered with paraphernalia that goes beyond items related to computers and/or writing. Many, many plastic bags are typically involved.

The dilemma is: how much product (coffee, sweets, etc) do you need to buy to justify your table? One coffee every hour? One coffee per day?

And, related to this, how do you tip for the pleasure of using a table for an extended period of time, or do you not tip at all? After all, it does mean an extra trip to the Tip Jar on the counter.

Posted in Coffeehouse, Dining experience, Pop Culture, Tipping | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Random thoughts about the “Tip Jar”

Posted by gratrueities on October 28, 2008

Tip jars are part of my every day experience but I realize that they are something I don’t fully understand.

As I was standing in line at my local coffee shop, I couldn’t help but notice how the the two people ahead of me handled this not so subtle request for money. The first man (who I must say seemed like a nice person overall – when I apologized for stepping in front of him, thinking he had already been helped, he just said “no problem, it’s only coffee”) ordered two coffees, one drip and one espresso drink. His total was $3.85; he paid with a $5 bill and told them to keep the change for the tip jar. Quickly calculating, I noted that this was about a 30% tip. (Not to pass judgment, but that wasn’t too bad for less than a minute of attention.) The next person in line left approximately the same amount. Then I realized my drink of choice is $2.10 and I generally toss in .50 or more – also over 20%. Perhaps this isn’t the norm, but it did get me thinking about tip jar culture in general.

First, I assume people working counter service, unlike those who wait tables, make at least minimum wage. If so, they don’t depend on tips to the same degree as the person waiting tables.

Therefore, I’m curious what average percentage of sales does end up in the “jar.” I’m sure there are many factors to consider – most importantly the type of business. More upscale shops very likely do better.

I also wonder if people tip more generously percentage-wise because the total amount is most often much less than a sit down meal. If people are served promptly at the counter, they are probably happy – there is much less risk they will be disappointed and punish with a bad tip.

And one last question – does the amount charged for an item impact the amount of the tip? My local coffee shop charges $2.10 for a 20 oz. coffee while Starbucks charges $1.85 for a Venti (aka a 20 oz coffee). I’m just thinking that by charging $1.85 that they might be setting the stage for a paltry .15 tip – if someone pays with dollar bills and leaves the change. While charging $2.10 opens the door to either greater tips if paying with dollar bills – or, of course to nothing if using exact change.

OK – this probably reflects way too much time thinking about this subject…but, honestly, this all occurred to me in the two minutes I spent getting my coffee!

While I sort of doubt any studies have been done on this subject, if anybody has any answers to my questions, I’d love to hear from you! If you have any thoughts on tip jar behavior or stories to share, please do so as well.

Also, what “GraTRUEity” would you be most likely to leave in a tip jar?

My personal tip jar quirk – a little embarrassing, but true – is that I want the server to see me putting my money in the jar. I tend to wait with money in hand until they can see me making my move. So no…I don’t just leave the tip out of the goodness of my heart, I’m afraid – I do want the credit. (However, I suppose if I were leaving a really small amount I might feel differently.)

My husband’s tip jar quirk – doesn’t believe in them and it seems that others, according to this Wall Street Journal opinion piece, agree. My husband feels no need to tip for counter service unless he places an order that requires more work than filling a coffee cup – and then he hands the money to the person. I’ve given up nagging, though I’ve been known to be the “behind the scenes tipper.”

Posted in Coffeehouse, Pop Culture, Tip Jars, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »