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Service Not Included – But Should It Be?47:30
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The tipping economy in America. It’s huge. It’s being challenged. It may be changing.

In this file photo, Waiter Spencer Meline serves a customer at Ivar's Acres of Clams restaurant on the Seattle waterfront Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Seattle's minimum wage will rise to $15 an hour, the highest in the nation, by 2017. (AP)
In this file photo, Waiter Spencer Meline serves a customer at Ivar's Acres of Clams restaurant on the Seattle waterfront Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Seattle's minimum wage will rise to $15 an hour, the highest in the nation, by 2017. (AP)

Right alongside the big minimum wage debate in this country now, there’s another debate. About tipping. We’ve never done more of it. It’s spread to many corners of the economy. New technology is pushing it to new heights – the digital pad flipped around at the coffee counter or in the taxi to ask if you want to tip 20 or 25 or 30 percent! But is tipping a good way to compensate work? It’s arbitrary. It’s undependable. It leaves out the guy scrubbing pots. It lets the owner off the hook for paying more. This hour On Point: the tipping economy in America, and where it takes us.
-- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Kathleen Kingsbury, editor of the Ideas section at the Boston Globe, where her recent series, "Service Not Included," garnered a 2015 Pulitzer Prize. (@katiekings)

Nick Bilton, tech columnist for the New York Times. Author of "Hatching Twitter." (@nickbilton)

Michael Lynn, professor of consumer behavior and marketing at the Cornell University School of Hospitality.

Bob Donegan, president of Seattle's Ivar's Restaurant Group.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: 10%? 20%? Apps Are Changing How We Tip — "The advent of these exciting new payment technologies is actually creating its own challenge: tipping. If you’ve purchased a ristretto in recent months, chances are you’ve experienced that awkward moment when your finger hovers above an iPad, anxiously trying to figure how much to tip."

Washington Post: Why some restaurants are doing away with tipping — "When you stiff waiters for bad service, you might be penalizing them for something that’s not their fault, such as a backed-up kitchen. And you might be stiffing the rest of the staff, too: Many restaurants pool tips, and servers give a share of their tips to busboys and bartenders, and sometimes even the dishwasher and hosts."

Esquire: Why Tipping Should Be Outlawed — "When you leave a bad tip, you are docking a person's wages. This may either be because you're confused about what's expected or because you're an asshole, and you really believe that your sea bass arriving lukewarm is justly punishable by making it a little harder for the guy who brought it to you to pay his rent."

This program aired on April 23, 2015.

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