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October 27, 2017 10:00 pm

To Tip or Not to Tip?

Thursday, July 14, 2016 @ 6:00 AM

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.tips2.

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.”


Earls innovative pfft right. They are the ones who try to make change fun and FAIL to see the reality of it in the long run. Good luck!

I’m for the ” good service deserves a tip”.If I have to beg for water , coffee or “can you keep your hair out of my meal “, it is reflected by my tip.

Won’t eat at Earls either way!

Mandatory Tipping is right up there with automotive ” Shop supplies”

In my opinion this will hurt the good servers as quite often they will receive more than 16%, especially at that particular location as most customers are using expense accounts. This is like working in the union, the lazies get paid the same as the hard workers, so what is the incentive to perform?

If the owners paid their staff a decent wage, there’d be no reason for all this.

    Define how much is a ‘decent wage’. Whatever wage is paid is a cost that will have to be included in price, or the employer goes broke and his staff are unemployed. So just what is a ‘decent wage’ and who decides how much that should be? Are ‘decent wages’ to be set by some all-knowing government authority? What would Unions think of that? They seem to spout off endlessly about something they call “free collective bargaining”. At least as long as they have the upper hand in forcing their demands on the employer. But when the shoe’s on the other foot, as it is now at Canada Post, and the employer’s in a spot to effectively resist? They don’t like that, do they? They won’t even put their case before an independent arbitrator who makes a final decision.

    A Vancouver restaurant, Ritual, recently raised all staff wages to Vancouver’s “living wage” and at the same time eliminated tips.

    Now, slightly less than 3 months later, they have lowered wages back to their original levels and have reinstituted tipping! Although the owners would have preferred the “living wage”, the financial reality is that they were going broke! I suppose that they could have raised the price of their food but that might also result in them going broke by having their customer base abandon them in favour of less expensive dining options!

    Running a business is often not the “gold mine” that some on this site might think it is, rather it is more often than not a fine balancing act between remaining profitable and going broke!

US Halal beef and now this. This is a case study on how to wreck a franchise.

Tips are not an entitlement.
A lot of people think they are.
If they give me a menu, take my order, bring my meal, and give me the meal and the bill that doesn’t warrant a TIP. That is their job.
now if asked for special seating, a special meal ( not cooked or containing ingredients exactly as normal) or if something like a spill happens at the table, then yes I think at that point a tip is warranted.
I go to a eatery and they just put the tip (service fee) on the bottom, and they haven’t pre-warned me before I order that they do this, I think they will have trouble collecting it.
I would be more than willing to challenge it.

I don’t like this model one bit. How are those who are supposed to receive the 16% to know they are actually getting it? Any place that does this will not be getting any business from me.


I agree with Stillsmokin. Everyone deserves a decent wage. Whether they get paid or not should not be at the whims of restaurant patrons.

We won’t be switching to that system any time soon given the enjoyment folks get from wielding that bit of power over others – just read above.

great service=great tip, good service=ok tip, bad service=no tip and a word with the manager

I prefer to do my own tipping. I know of a great male waiter that said it didn’t matter how great of service he provided, he couldn’t compete with the amount of tips a girl in a low cut top and mini skirt made. Sharing a percentage of his tips with the kitchen staff was not a problem.

I’ve went to restaurant that have the option and when you choose option 15% you end up paying tip on the taxes that are on your bill. Not Right as who gets that money any why pay tip on taxes

I don’t eat out as it is because it’s just to damn expensive and I don’t see the value in it unless on holidays. Tipping on top of that is just a bridge to far; so I save myself the embarrassment and enjoy good home cooked meals. My grocery bill runs me a thousand dollars a month, so I have nothing left to spare for restaurants and tipping.

I would be all for eating at an ethical restaurant that charges a fair price for a meal and pays its employees a fair wage with no tipping or tipping surcharge expected. The only time tipping is warranted IMO is when eating in an impoverished country where employees don’t make a living wage.

Just for information, no tipping in Australia.

Don’t have a clue what a waitress makes, cook makes, busboy makes. But what I do know is this, when I go out to dine for an evening the establishment with all their combined team members can or cant make it an enjoyable experience. One deals directly with the waiter/waitress and if they are polite and prompt this in my opinion goes a long way towards the amount I so choose to tip. What I do is pay by credit card but always leave cash amount for the server and what she does with that is her choice.

the very definition of tip is To Insure Promptness! I don’t tip unless I have had an outstanding display of service from wait staff that have gone above and beyond the basics of their job. I’m sorry, but I don’t eat out very often, and am careful with my money. If they start adding tip amounts to the bill, I will never eat out. Period.

    Absolutely agree. If I find they are adding a tip to my bill, they will remove it and I will not return.
    I leave my tip with my server.

I dare Earl’s to man up and just increase the cost of its menu items by 16% across the board – food and drinks ! Because that will be the effect on the customers !

Then they can put up a sign that says: Earl’s will not accept tips, don’t even try, no matter how you rate our service !

With mandatory tipping included on the bill would tax paid go up or is the tip separate?

I tip when I eat at a restaurant. I tip on average of %15.. I tip better for great service and less for poor.. I have on occasion not tipped at all for horrible service…but it’s very rare..

By adding a cost to my bill to force tipping is a easy way for the business to give their staff a raise without the owner paying it..

who cares what Earls says or does. this is the company that attempted to go away from Canadian beef, and buy American until an uproar. PEE on them

I have never been a big fan of tipping but I most always have tipped.
I would like to see the employer pay a living wage and tipping would not be required. Tipping, sometimes, leaves a guilt trip on an individual when you do not want to tip. If you work at any of the store outlets, employees are not tipped, even if you have received good service. I am not in favor of a tipping charge been added to the bill. Who is to say what percentage that the employees will receive?

    tipping is not required at other types of businesses because they are paid miniumum wage or better. Servers are paid less than minimum wage as they receive tips. Has been that way for many many years

I was a server for many years and I do not agree with this policy at all. If I didn’t give someone good or even decent service, then I didn’t deserve a tip. If I gave good service and the ppl didn’t leave me a tip, oh well. I moved on and still did my job to the best of my abilities. If they came back, they still received good service since that was my job. I will never forget the little old lady that thanked me for good service and had such a big smile on her face as she placed my tip in my hand…a quarter. lol She was so sweet and cute as she placed in my hand and that was one of the best tips I ever received.

There’s a YouTube video “Why Tipping Should be Banned” Adam Ruins Everything.

The history is interesting. Tipping use to be an insult, an attempt to bribe a professional maitre’d for a better table. It was a blatant attempt by the well to do to get better treatment.

Then the depression hit, and restaurants couldn’t afford to pay their employees a decent wage, so it was work for this, or no job. So, servers started to grudgingly accept tips (bribes) in exchange for better seat placement, food delivery etc.

I eat out lots. I do go to Earls often. I have been tipping 15% for as long as I can remember. I have never had bad service at most restaurants. Have mistakes been made in getting meal orders correct or dropping an order? Yes of course. They are human. The only humans that never make a mistake are the only humans that have never done anything.
If you suck at serving, you don’t last long in that industry especially at a top producer place like Earls.
I like the idea of ensuring that the entire house shares in the tips. They have a bit of a system there now but it’s always based on the honor system and subject to human behavior and subjectivity. Based on 100 bucks for dinner for 2, I don’t understand how they don’t generate enough profit from that to pay their staff a decent wage. The reason they don’t is because we tip..

    Thanks to Christy Clark minimum wage for servers in BC is $9.20 per hour .Most restaurants take 4 or 5 % of a servers total sales to tip out the staff in the back. So lets say 3 couples come in for an hour and the total is $200 . If they are the type that do not believe in tipping the server makes $9.20 per hour less 4% which is $8.00.The server will make $1.20 for that hour. I know that good tippers can make up for it.

    If you are one those people that don’t tip and are very demanding don’t be surprised when you get poor service or no service at all. Why would a server want to serve you and have money taken off their pay to tip out the other staff.

    I think tipping should be done away with and food prices increased to pay staff properly. If you don’t like the service you receive talk to the manager or eat elsewhere. The servers that don’t do a good job won’t be there long.

      I wish people like you had to live on 9.20 an hour, so you could find out just how “good” life is in an economy where two bags of chips and a bottle of pop amounts to an hour’s wages.

      I take that back. I misinterpreted that first line about Christy Clarke as meaning that 9.20 an hour for a server was too much. I apologize.

The women servers at earls are all very pretty but wear night lady outfits and not sure of their age…

    You haven’t been at Earls have you? The dress code was changed some time ago and they can wear whatever they want. I for one liked having a pretty girl in a nice dress serve me my food. It didn’t count in the tipping decision but it was nice nonetheless.

      I was there about 2 months ago, they all wore extremely tight high skirts showing off their legs…made concentrating on food difficult

My wife and I don’t go out often but when we do, this is how we break down our tipping…

We start out at 20%, and deduct from there if there’s any flaws in the delivery of service and/or food. Most often than not, we dotip 20% on the price of food BEFORE tax.

Wine is a different animal. As there is no difference in work provided for a bottle of wine, I flat rate that part of the tip at $5 whether it’s a $30 or $100 bottle. Why should the tip triple because the price of wine did? That never made any sense to me.

Tipping is a personal decision. I make the decision to tip and how much. That is my business. If Earl’s or anyone else tries to influence how I spend my money, then they will very quickly lose a customer.

If things somehow got to the point that the tips were a mandatory amount, then I would make certain that I ordered less food, and drinks to ensure that they make the same or less than they would have made under the old system.

I am not about to have some franchisee dictate to me how I spent my money.

You could not pay me enough to eat at earles .

    ataloss,I agree with you. Pigs are flying by my window.

The best tip I can give is “Eat at home, it is usually much better food AND I know whos’ hair it is”

Bent–I think you win the thumbs up today.

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