Monday, 30 May 2011

Tip etiquette: when to leave a dollar and when not to.

I was out this weekend doing errands and decided to stop at the liquor store for some beer. While paying with my debit card I noticed a tip option come up on the screen. Now I can see that this might be applicable if I had a large purchase and the cashier helped me out to my car, but do I have to tip for a case of Bud Light Lime?

When is the right time to tip? We are all familiar when eating out to tip the waitress. But what if the waitress was no good? What if she was rude? Do you hand over the cash then? And how much is too much? What is considered the norm? Most places have a few choices when tipping. You can bypass the whole thing. Pay a percentage of your bill. Or choose to pay a dollar amount. The choice ultimately is yours. I tip all waitresses whether good or bad, the dollar amount may vary, but I always leave something.

This brings me to last week when I took my boys for ice cream. I paid with debit. The tip option popped up and I wanted to bypass it. However, the machine wouldn’t let me. I was told by the cashier that I’d have to enter an amount even if it was a penny. I was shocked, and angry that I was being forced to tip. I was not given the option. The business took away my right to choose whether I’d like to tip or not.
I probably would’ve given some sort of gratuity if these were extravagant ice cream cones that took time to construct, but they weren’t. They were vanilla, and not even dipped in chocolate! I pulled out my wallet and counted out the correct amount in change – pennies included, and handed them to the now grumpy cashier. Why should I have to tip for three ice cream cones?
Where is the line drawn when it comes to tip etiquette, not just on our part as the consumer, but the businesses as well? Shouldn’t it be our choice to tip or not? And what is the deciding factor when it comes to adding this option at your store? Does a liquor store or fast food restaurant qualify?

A debit card junky, I now carry cash with me where ever I go. This eliminates the awkward feeling I get when paying for an item and having to tip.

Sometimes not seeing things can be a blessing. – August Strindberg



  1. I'd better get the name of that ice cream shop cause I won't be going!!! I ended up tipping 30% at one restaurant because they automatically added it to my bill and then failed to mention it...only noticed after we left...furious!!!

  2. I can understand the automatic gratuity on large parties and banquets. I've seen that and always been warned about it up front. I also don't mind the ubiquitous tip jar at every register (I don't have to put money in it). But I loved Disney World where tipping isn't required, expected or encouraged. Nothing is cheap, but the staff are paid a decent wage and don't need to rely on tips.