People are becoming more conscious of what they’re spending their money on as inflationary prices rise, and an Angus Reid poll released on Thursday centred around tipping reflects those concerns.
“We shouldn’t feel guilty for giving gifts, and tipping is a gift,” Jessica Larusso, train director at In Good Company Etiquette School in Winnipeg said.
Larusso said people should set boundaries, noting that you shouldn’t feel guilty for giving a smaller tip.
But the Angus Reid poll found Canadians feel they are being asked to tip more, and more often.
In Saskatchewan, 63 per cent of respondents say they’ve noticed an increase in the number of times they’ve been prompted to tip while out.
About 62 per cent of respondents say they’ve seen an increase in the amount of the tip when they’re prompted to leave one.
Across Canada, most respondents agreed that too many places are asking for tips, that tipping is no longer about showing appreciation for good work, that tips are just a way for employers to underpay their employees, and that tips are the only thing that makes some jobs worthwhile.
That said, most respondents said customer service has not generally improved over the last few years.
Back in 2016, a poll found that 40 per cent of respondents would prefer a “service included” framework with higher base wages for employees; about 46 per cent preferred the current system with tipping included, and the remaining 14 per cent had no preference.
That changed in 2023, with 59 per cent of respondents wanting a “service included” model with higher base wages for employees, and 32 per cent preferring the current system.
Larusso said people were generous in keeping businesses afloat during the pandemic, but noted that the generosity is now expected.
“That’s a challenge, because now the prices have gone up because of inflation and supply chain, and many different variables. We’re paying a larger amount, and then people are expecting us, or demanding us to tip this extra 30 per cent on our already big bill.”
She said that expectation is a slippery slope for businesses, noting some customers may look elsewhere.
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Jim Bence, president and CEO of Hospitality Saskatchewan, agrees that tipping isn’t mandatory. It’s a discretionary practice and the consumer should feel free to tip what they feel is appropriate.
Bence said he’ll tip if a service was great, but will adjust accordingly if the product or service wasn’t up to spec.
He added he’s seen a lot of discussion around moving to a “service included” model with higher base wages, but noted that many businesses in Saskatchewan won’t see that move until there is more of an appetite for it.
“I don’t know that in North America, or Canada, or Saskatchewan our employers are really ready for that type of thing,” Bence said.
Bence said many employees in the service industry take pride in their work and like to see that reflected in their tips.
He said there’s a reward system that comes with tipping — there’s the gratification of doing a job really well, but also having people agreeing that the job was done well and tipping accordingly.
“I can’t see the current model that we have going anywhere soon.”