Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Coyne on Tipping

Andrew Coyne, a well-known Canadian opinionator, has a piece in this month's Macleans magazine about the scourge of tipping people in the service sector.

It's highly enjoyable mainly because it's true. There is something unseemly about tipping, and as Coyne points out, the conventions of tipping are completely arbitrary. I'm usually one for ritual, but who does tipping really help if it's so asymetrically applied?

My one reservation is Coyne injunction to encourage the individual to stop tipping. While this lines up nicely with his libertarian leanings, it seems that the only way that tipping would become shameful is if restaurants and hoteliers decide to discourage it publicly, an unlikely scenario.

Here in Toronto, there was a big move from restaurateurs to stop using bottled water and serve water only from the humble Toronto tap - can you see them banding together and proudly boasting their restaurant is a tip-free zone?

So Coyne's point is taken and accepted, but how many of us are willing to band together to stop tipping, and how much pressure would be needed to get tip-soaked industries to do anything to address the wage issue they hide behind to justify tipping?

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