How much do you tip? Why most Canadians feel pressured to give extra

Click to play video: 'New study shows Canadians are fed up with tipping, expert weighs in'
New study shows Canadians are fed up with tipping, expert weighs in
RELATED: New study shows Canadians are fed up with tipping, expert weighs in – Jun 29, 2024

Whether dining at a restaurant or getting your nails done, most Canadians likely expect at the end of the service you may have to tip — but with the high cost of living, a majority of people are now giving a thumbs-down to the idea of tipping.

“They’re already charging me $7 for a latte that I can drink, it’s repulsive to ask for tips for making a drink or pouring coffee,” Toronto customer Edwin Ng, 46, said in an interview with Global News.

Ng isn’t the only Canadian who may feel this way about tipping, with a recent survey of 1,500 Canadians by Lightspeed Commerce Inc. finding 67 per cent felt pressure to tip, with 54 per cent saying inflation impacted their ability to do so.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, tipping appears to have moved beyond the usual places for tips like a restaurant or hair salon, with Bruce McAdams saying more “nontraditional” businesses like dry cleaners or oil change shops are bringing in tipping. He calls this phenomenon “tip creeps.

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“Tipping as a practice has evolved, particularly since the (COVID-19) pandemic,” McAdams, associate professor at the University of Guelph’s school of hospitality, food and tourism management, said in an interview.

“I would really say that we are potentially at a crossroads right now as far as the practice who will participate in it, how they will participate in it (and) the history of it being a social norm.

“We’re at a tipping point.”

Depending where you go, the option to tip has some feeling pressured through tip prompts — the amount of pre-set values for tipping programmed into payment machines.

Need to tip 'very common feeling'

The need to tip is a “very common feeling,” Jaime Peters, the dean of finance and economics at Maryville University, told Global News.

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“As we have moved from a more cash-based society to a card-based society during COVID-19, we’re seeing those tips come much more in our face and the result is people are having much more mixed emotions about tipping than before the pandemic,” Peters said.

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Not everyone is opposed to tipping, however: 42-year-old consumer Ken Zulian of Windsor, Ont., says he tips every time because he wants to help servers get a decent amount of money.

“You have to think about… sometimes you’re probably making more than that server is making per hour,” he said. “Sometimes they actually count on that extra tip to make a decent living.”

Click to play video: 'Tipping minimums increase through “tipflation”'
Tipping minimums increase through “tipflation”

Christopher MacPherson, a 32-year-old consumer from Windsor, Ont., said he feels the same way, noting if servers aren’t being paid a full wage and tipping may be supplementing the funds, people should tip.

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But he adds because people may not understand how much certain employees are being paid, it leads to misconceptions.

In Canada, the minimum wage servers make can vary depending on province. For example, those earning wages and tips in Quebec are making just $12.20 hourly, compared to the $15.25 minimum wage in the province. As of 2024, most provinces have made servers’ wages equal to minimum wage for other jobs.

“They see a tip as something ‘extra’ that can be withheld arbitrarily if a customer feels some level of their expectation wasn’t met,” MacPherson said. “Then servers are referred to as ‘entitled’ for relying on tips when it’s baked into the system that they are supposed to receive those as part of their wages.”

So, when should you tip?

With so many businesses utilizing tipping now, McAdams says people should consider asking the employee where the tip is going so you can decide if you want to pay it — but then, even he asks, should we have to?

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“As a consumer I would ask, but this also leads to fatigue,” he said. “If I go into a blue jeans store and buy a pair of blue jeans, I can take it to the counter, pay and leave, and I don’t have to ask the question, where is this tip going? And I don’t have to use the energy, and I don’t have to hear an answer that I don’t want to get.”

But there can be some simple suggestions, Peters said, including tipping if you’ve had a nice dinner or a nice job was done on your hair.

“Where you can start thinking about where to save money is going to be in those situations where it has not been traditional to tip, where you’ve had a barista or you have not actually received the service and they’re asking you to do it up front,” Peters said.

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