Tips, Inc.

Let’s explore the tipping culture in America. I’m probably only really thinking of LA and NY. Below is the conversation between Luigi, Sejin and David.

Sejin works at Nobu, a restaurant who leaves it up to guests to tip accordingly. David works at Kazunori (SUGARFISH) where each check automatically adds 16% service charge onto the bill (18% at SUGARFISH).

Luigi’s argument: Much of what a server, barista, or bartender does in the hospitality industry is HIS/HER JOB. So why create a custom of tipping around the 20% mark? It’s absurd.


Sejin’s argument: Much of what these hospitality enthusiasts get paid isn’t reflected fairly without tip. These environments make it a pay-it-forward responsibility for customers to reward them for doing a good job.


Luigi: Shouldn’t the owners pay them that difference? It’s unfair for me to feel bad for not leaving tip as if their livelihood becomes my responsibility. I rather have no problem with going to places where the tip is already included.

Sejin: What’s the difference between tip being mandatory and it being your responsibility to accurately reflect that yourself?

Luigi: I can make that choice of going or not beforehand.


Why is there presumably a high starting turnover rate at SUGARFISH?

These individuals weren’t promoted quickly enough. The management’s game is to have these workers be excited about higher pay at a higher position. But it speaks loudly because their current pay is shallow in its depth of field. Taking longer than expected? Got screwed? Quit.

Why is there a low turnover rate at Nobu?

Promotion for a higher position may take a while. BUT current pay (tip percentage) is reflective of the work being done.


Overall, I feel like if Nobu moved away from the tip system, I’d have a much harder time finding great reason to work there. It’s hard work! There should be a documentary about BUSSERS. I’m glad I moved out of the catering and retail world. Honestly, the pay was upsetting. I feel bad walking into a retail store. I know I’ll probably dig lower in a pile to find my size and stand dumbfounded because I don’t know how to do a perfect fold to put it back. I’ll just leave having made a mess. If I could leave a tip at a Club Monaco to erase the mistakes of having made the store look like my closet, I’d be happy to do so. Then I wouldn’t leave knowing I just purchased something that I’ll return in a couple days because I felt bad.

By the way, I’ve gotten more generous with tipping- working from within changes the perspective.


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