First and foremost, I wish we could overhaul the current tipping construct in general. I don’t think it should be used as a way for employers to avoid paying their staff a decent wage, and there are a lot of studies and articles on the various imbalances/discriminations the entire practice creates.
However, it is ingrained in our society at the moment, and certain professions rely on it. I used to be a waiter and I remember what it’s like, so generally I’m an across-the-board 20% tipper in restaurants. Until we can all agree to change the system, I’m fine with participating in the practice where appropriate.
But I feel like “where appropriate” is starting to get a little blurred.
Since the pandemic started, I have ordered food for pickup from local restaurants far more than I ever did before, and drastically more than I’ve done any “dining in” in the past two years. And more and more on these apps they use, I notice during checkout I’m being asked to assign a tip when placing the order, before any service has taken place. (To be clear, we are not talking about delivery drivers, I am aware tips are entered prior to the order on those apps, and can often be adjusted after the fact based on performance.)
In a lot of these instances, I don’t feel like a tip is warranted; I’m paying for the food, and I’m going to pick it up. Somebody at the restaurant (most likely a host, being paid an hourly wage, not waitstaff-pay) stands behind the counter and hands me the food, sure. For that thirty second interaction, should I be expected to offer the same 20% tip as a waiter who took care of me through sixty-minutes of dinner/dessert and coffee? My thought is no (though I’m open to hearing arguments to the contrary).
But at the same time, I don’t love the idea of telegraphing “NO TIP” way ahead of time when these people are about to handle my food, either. Rule number one, don’t piss off the people in charge of something you want to eat, right? Now, this is most certainly my anxiety at play; deep down I don’t really believe people fucking with food because they didn’t get a pre-tip on the app is something I need to be worried about. Buuuut… it still doesn’t feel great. It starts to feel more like safe passage for my food is being held ransom at that point.
I’d love to hear others thoughts on this, especially anyone working on foodservice where these apps are used. Where do these pre-tips go to? Does the restaurant just keep them (which would be even worse)? Does it get split amongst everyone? The person who happened to be at the counter to hand me my food?