To Tip or Not to Tip?
Prince George, B.C.- The move by an Earl’s restaurant in Calgary to do away with discretionary tipping and include a 16% service fee to the bill instead is causing a buzz.
A new Angus Reid poll on the move to a no tipping system shows Canadians are split on the idea.
- 40% of those surveyed say they would like to move to a “service included” model
- 46% said they would rather keep the current model
- 13% said they had no preference
- Only 9% said they often deviate from their standard tipping ( usually between 10%-20%) because of the quality of service
BC Restaurant and Food Services Association President Ian Tostensen says the no tipping model was tried by a restaurant on Vancouver Island “There was no tipping, you just paid the prices, but we (British Columbians) are very sensitive about our food prices. ” That sensitivity was evident when the HST was in place in B.C. and the hospitality industry said it would lose business because of the added 7%.
The “no tipping” model has also been tried in the US. One franchise restaurant, Joe’s Crab Shack, announced last December they were moving to the new “service fee included” model, but announced in May that they were going back to discretionary tipping. The company’s CEO said customers were confused, and staff were not happy so the franchise has now switched back to discretionary tipping.
The idea of the “no tipping” model has been seen as a means to boost the pay of all restaurant workers not just those who actually wait on tables. Many restaurants in BC already pool tips, and share that money amongst all staff.
Tostensen says convincing customers to switch to a new model is very difficult “We are so wired to controlling that part of the sale. It’s in our DNA I think, that we like to reward and recognize service through the way we feel.” But adds Earl’s is a very innovative restaurant “Maybe they see something that can break through that typical resistance.”
There is no indication other Earl’s restaurants, including the one in Prince George, would be following the Calgary move.
Tostensen says there has been a lot of discussion about tips in North America but says moving away from discretionary tipping in B.C. would be a hard sell “I think it would be really hard in British Columbia to change our values. I just think we would have to re-educate all of us on what the potential benefits are.” In the end, he says it is the customer who will have the final say ” Everybody is going to vote with their voices and their feet on this one.”