Saturday, June 26, 2010

On those Tipping Jars

What is it with all these tip jars that are now proliferating on store counters from Fremont to Oakland . They seem to be more common that voting signs. Are we expected to tip for every type of service we pay for. Let's go over one of the most traditional services for tipping.

Restaurants

They have been the most traditional one to tip. You are seated at a table, you order there, your drinks are brought and refilled and your food it put right in front of you. You have personalized service, so you feel generous. Now let's take the delis, fast food chains and coffee shops. You stand in line, order at the counter, wait for your order, take it to your table and that's it for the service. Places like Subway, Starbucks and your local shops now have strategically placed a "tips accepted" jar on the counter.

Tip for What

You are not getting personalized service and no one offers you a refill. I know a lot of people are working barely above the minimum, but these are not career jobs. Gary Taylor of Oakland is one who does put money in the tip jars. " I put whatever change I receive in the jar. It may be nine or ninety cents. I don't really see it as tipping, more of a donation. I would be embarrassed to hand the money to someone as a tip" he said.

Exceptional Service from Clerks

Have you ever gone in a bookstore and had a clerk spend several minutes to locate a copy of a rare book for you? You probably have. Did you tip them? Probably not. Did you ever tip someone at a library who helped you locate some information? Probably not. How about a grocery clerk who carried your bags to your car? Probably not. These people are going that extra mile for you but they don't wear a button that says "tips accepted". How about someone at a Home Depot or Staples who runs around and finds the exact item you need. Again probably not. Yet when we see that tipping jar at the counter we somehow feel compelled to leave some kind of tip.

The Future

The way tip jars are proliferating we may soon see them on buses, auto repair stations, copy shops or every store that has a cash register. By the way, having worked in a call center at one time and taken probably 8,000 calls over a year, I helped people save money, gave credits and got their service running at a critical time. I don't ever recall anyone on the phone saying they wanted to "tip" me.

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