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Canada’s tipping culture is flawed and there’s no clear fix in sight: experts

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From oil changes to take-out food, “tip nudges” are fast becoming an “established social norm” in Canada, according to food economist Mike von Massot.

Card payment machines have made it easier for businesses to encourage tipping options in industries where tipping was not previously a cost or part of the conversation. And since the pandemic began, the average percentage of tips for restaurant meals has risen, according to data from a Canadian industry association.

Von Massow, also a professor at the University of Guelph, believes that Canadians increase tip amount It’s spiraling out of control and becoming a hot issue all over the country.

“The other day I went to a local craft brewery. I went to the bottle shop and bought a couple of my favorite cans,” von Massaud said. “When I was paying there, someone literally took a beer out of the fridge and gave it to me, and I was asked to tip in that situation.”

He calls it a “double blow” for consumers, with more businesses demanding chips and raising prices at the same time.

“Look, I wondered if I could give a particularly good lecture, put a jar in front of the auditorium at the end, and drop some bills in there when they turned in their files. I’m starting to think, me too, so where does it stop?

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Kate Malcolm moved to Port Perry, Ontario in 2017. Tipping is not common in the UK.

Five years later, she says she still struggles to make sense of Canada’s tipping culture.

“There’s no way in the UK to give a hairdresser $10, $20, $30,” she said. Is it a very alien concept?”

Malcolm, who runs a podcast for newcomers, describes her reaction to Canada’s unwritten rules: TikTok video I will outline her “culture shock”.

Screenshot of Kate Malcolm in a TikTok video. This includes her response to Canada’s unwritten rules regarding gratuities. (Kate Malcolm/TikTok)

When her parents first visited, she says she had an awkward interaction at a restaurant because they were unsure of tipping expectations in Canada.

“They just threw a coin on the table, maybe $2 plus change, and said, ‘That’s all we do, right?’ [tipping].”

Malcolm also lived and worked as a server in Australia, where it was not customary to tip.

She said she didn’t feel much pressure to always be “very friendly” because wages were much higher than in Canada and she didn’t expect tips.

Some customers outraged by tipping prompts

Dough Bakeshop of Toronto added tipping options to its card machines after listening to feedback from employees and customers.

According to co-owner Oonagh Butterfield, there was always a cash tip jar at the counter, but tipping increased significantly when customers had the option of debit or credit cards.

“Since we implemented it, I signed up as clearly as I could, saying it wasn’t expected,” she said.

Headshot of Oonagh Butterfield, co-owner of Dough Bakeshop in Toronto, Ontario.
Oonagh Butterfield, co-owner of Toronto’s Dough Bakeshop, said some customers were angry at being asked to tip, even though there was a sign inside the store saying no tipping was required. (Photo by Dylan Gareth)

Despite posting signs such as “press the green button to bypass the chip option,” Butterfield said some customers still question the electronic chip option. said.

“Sometimes it’s like, ‘Do you want to tip?’

Customers now have the option of tipping, but Butterfield said he favors moving away from the current Canadian tipping culture “so we can guarantee a living wage for everyone.”

No tip equals price hike to give staff a living wage

In July 2020, Toronto’s Richmond Station restaurant chose to do away with tipping and instead pay staff more.

Co-owner Karl Heinrich calls Canada’s tipping culture “a very unfair way of paying employees.”

The lockdown has forced his business to start offering takeout. It’s a service that historically hasn’t produced many tips, he says.

“Anytime you’re compiling someone’s wages or salaries or livelihoods, it takes a lot of communication,” said Heinrich. Frankly, two years later, we are still working on it.”

Headshot of Karl Heinrich, co-owner of Richmond Station Restaurant in Toronto, Ontario.
Carl Heinrich is a partner of the Richmond Station restaurant in Toronto. He says they discontinued the chip in July 2020. (Photo by Sarah Brownlee)

There is not one flat rate living wage for staff at Richmond Station. Salaries vary according to individual performance, experience and position, he added.

“Dishwashers earn a living wage. Servers earn a living wage. But certainly the best servers are paid more than the less experienced ones. It was possible.”

In an ideal world, there are no chips. It’s a human rights disaster. But it is so deeply ingrained. I think we are stuck with it.– Marc Mentzer, Professor of Business, University of Saskatchewan

According to University of Saskatchewan business professor Mark Mentzer, the business of charging a service charge instead of a tip is not a successful business, apart from the “high end” restaurants.

Customers like the illusion of being in control of their servers, and servers like the illusion of controlling their own income, he added.

“In an ideal world, there would be no chips. This is a human rights catastrophe. But it is so deeply ingrained.

Mark Mentzer was photographed sitting at a table with a drink beside him.
Mark Mentzer is a professor at the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan. He says his reader for electronic payment cards has changed his expectations about tip amounts, timing and coverage. (Submitted by Mark Mentzer)

Large tipping percentage options pre-programmed into tipping card machines “could scare people into tipping at higher percentages than previously thought,” Mentzer added. rice field.

“Everyone complains about tipping, but I don’t know how customers would choose between a restaurant with a tip and a restaurant with a service charge. If so, I suspect customers might actually prefer the tipping approach.”

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