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HomeWorldCanada's tipping culture is flawed and there's no clear solution in sight:...

Canada’s tipping culture is flawed and there’s no clear solution in sight: expertsGTN News

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1:53:00Full Episode: What’s Your Tipping Story?

From oil changes to food to food, “tip nudge” has quickly become a “well-established social norm” in Canada, according to food economist Mike von Miso.

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Card payment machines have made the gratuity option an instant convenience for businesses, even in industries where tipping was previously not a cost or conversational item. And data from Canadian trade associations show that the average percentage tip for restaurant meals has increased since the start of the pandemic.

Van Misso, also a professor at the University of Guelph, says Canadians expect Increase their gratuity amount. is spiraling out of control, and has become a hot-button issue across the country.

“I went to my local craft brewery the other day, just to the bottle shop, to pick up two cans of my favorite,” Van Meeso said. “While I was there paying, someone literally took a beer out of the fridge and handed it to me and I was prompted to tip in that situation.”

He calls it a “double whammy” for consumers, with more businesses asking for tips along with raising their prices.

“You know, I’m starting to think that if I give a particularly good lecture, should I put a jar in front of the lecture hall at the end, and as they’re filing in? Maybe they’ll Leave some bills there. Me too. I mean, where does it stop?”

International Alternatives

Kate Malcolm moved from Britain to Port Perry, Ont., in 2017, where tipping is not common.

Five years later, she says she’s still having trouble coming to grips with Canada’s tipping culture.

He said there’s no way in England you pay $10, $20, $30 to a hairdresser. “It’s so expensive to have your hair the way it is, and then you have to tip it too? It’s such a foreign concept.”

Malcolm, who runs a podcast for newcomers, added her reaction to the unwritten rules for Canadian gratuities. TikTok video Outline his “culture shock.”

Kate Malcolm is featured in a screenshot of a TikTok video she made outlining her culture shock since arriving in Canada from the UK at age 5.  In this shot, it's highlighting Canada's tipping culture.
Screenshot of Kate Malcolm in a TikTok video featuring her reaction to Canada’s unwritten rules for gratuities. (Kate Malcolm/Tik Tok)

She says that when her parents first came to visit, even they weren’t clear on what the expectations were for tipping in Canada, which led to an awkward exchange at a restaurant.

“They just threw coins on the table, like maybe $2 and change, and were like, ‘That’s all we do, right?’ I was crying for him. [tipping]”

Malcolm lived and worked as a server in Australia, as well, where tipping is not the norm.

Wages are much higher than in Canada, she said, and without the expectation of tipping, she feels less pressure to be “super friendly” all the time.

Some users were irritated by the tip prompt.

A dough bake shop in Toronto added a gratuity option to its card machines after input from employees and customers.

Co-owner Onagh Butterfield says he always has a cash tip jar on the counter but saw a significant increase when customers were given the option of a debit or credit card to do so.

“Ever since we implemented it, I’ve had signs, as much as I can, saying it’s not expected,” he said.

Headshot of Onagh Butterfield, co-owner of Do Bake Shop in Toronto, Ont.
Onagh Butterfield, co-owner of Dough Bake Shop in Toronto, says some customers have expressed anger at being tipped for tips, even with signs posted in the store saying tips are not expected. (Photo by Dylan Garris)

Butterfield says some customers still question the electronic gratuity option despite posting signs like “Please press green to bypass tip option.”

“Sometimes there’s a little, I would say, outrage around the fact that they’re even being asked the question, ‘Would you like to tip?’ Especially if they’re just buying bread, which is why I try to talk to people that it’s not a necessity.”

Despite currently having a tip option for customers, Butterfield says she supports moving away from Canada’s current tipping culture, “so that everyone can be guaranteed a living wage.”

No tipping equals inflated prices to pay staff.

In July 2020, the Richmond Station restaurant in Toronto eliminated tipping, instead raising its prices to pay staff more.

Co-owner Carl Heinrich called Canada’s tipping culture “a very inequitable way to pay staff.”

He says the lockdown forced his business to start offering takeout — a service that historically hasn’t generated many tips.

“Anytime you modify someone’s wage or salary, their livelihood, there’s a lot of communication required,” Heinrich said. “Because there was no blueprint for this new system, it was a lot of work. And frankly, two years later, it’s still working.”

Headshot of Carl Heinrich, co-owner of Richmond Station Restaurant in Toronto, Ont.
Karl Heinrich is the co-owner of the Richmond Station restaurant in Toronto. They say they stopped tipping in July 2020. Instead, they chose to raise their prices to pay staff more. (Photo by Sarah Brownlee)

There is not a flat rate of pay for staff at Richmond station. He added that the salary varies depending on a person’s performance, experience and position.

“Dishwashers are making a living wage. Servers are making a living wage. But certainly our best servers are paid more than our less experienced servers. That wasn’t possible under the previous system.”

In an ideal world, there would be no tipping. It is a destruction of human rights. But it is only so deeply rooted. I think we’re stuck with that.– Mark Mentzer, Business Professor, University of Saskatchewan

University of Saskatchewan business professor Mark Mentzer says that except for “very high-end” restaurants, where customers may not be sensitive about how much they’re spending, many businesses would replace tipping with service charges. are not successful.

He added that users like the illusion of having power over the server and the server likes the illusion of controlling the amount of their earnings.

“In an ideal world, there would be no tipping. It’s a human rights disaster. But it’s so deeply entrenched. I think we’re stuck with it.”

Mark Mentzer pictured sitting with a drink at a table next to him.
Mark Mentzer is a professor at the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan. Card readers for electronic payment have changed expectations about how much to tip, when to tip and for whom, he says. (Contributed by Mark Mentzer)

Mentzer added that the hefty pre-programmed tip percentage options on chip card machines “may scare people into tipping a higher percentage than they ever thought possible.”

“Everybody complains about tipping, but given a choice between a tipping restaurant and a service charge restaurant, I’m not sure how customers would make that choice. I think if given the choice, customers would actually I may prefer the tipping method.”

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