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Canadians think tipping is ‘getting out of control,’ new poll suggest

Click to play video: 'Canadians at their tipping point with gratuity'
Canadians at their tipping point with gratuity
WATCH: Canadians at their tipping point with gratuity – Feb 16, 2023

Canadians are hitting their limit when it comes to tipping, new polling from the Angus Reid Institute shows.

“People feel like tipping is getting out of control,” Angus Reid Institute Research Director David Korinski told The Roy Green Show on Sunday.

“I think that it’s compounded by the fact that everything is more expensive.”

While 62 per cent of respondents say they’re being asked to tip more, one-in-five also reported leaving a tip of 20 per cent or more the last time they dined out, suggests the polling, which was released Feb. 16.

“When you get the tipping machine, instead of 12, 15, and 18 per cent for the suggested tip, it now says 18, 24, and 30 per cent. I think for a lot of people, that it’s getting a little overwhelming,” Korinski said.

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“This is great for people working in the industry and who are getting the benefits but it is a challenge for consumers.”

Click to play video: 'Understanding ‘tip-flation’ or ‘tip creeping’'
Understanding ‘tip-flation’ or ‘tip creeping’

Those in British Columbia were the most likely respondents to report “tip-flation,” while Atlantic Canadians were the least likely to say they’re being asked for increased gratuity.

And, as the cost of living has hit Canadians hard across the board, recent polling by Ipsos conducted exclusively for Global News also showed 22 per cent of respondents reported they are “completely out of money” to the degree that they would not be able to pay more for household necessities.

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Canada’s annual inflation rate hit a 40-year peak last year, reaching 8.1 per cent in June 2022.

Last year’s inflation was up by 6.8 per cent compared to 2021, with Canadians seeing the largest price gains for transport, food and shelter.

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However, in recent months, inflation has appeared to begin to ease.

'Better of a balance'

When it comes to gratuity, more places that previously didn’t request tips are now prompting for them — the Angus Reid polling suggests a total of four-in-five say too many establishments are appealing for tips nowadays.

“People are noticing that more places are asking for tips. We’ve got to remember that it’s an important part of the income for people who are in the service economy but it’s also Canadians who are looking for a little better of a balance,” Korinski said.

“If you’re somebody that doesn’t always have the financial means to be generous with your extra cash when you’re out and about – being asked all the time, I think it has this compounding guilt effect.”

Click to play video: 'Canadians at their tipping point with gratuity'
Canadians at their tipping point with gratuity

According to University of Guelph food economics professor Mike Von Massow, tipping has “historically been a social norm.”

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But now, “We’re getting wider range of places that are encouraging us to tip. It’s not that little jar on the counter anymore but it’s when we get that payment machine,” Von Massow told Global News.

To put an end to tipping in Canada, 59 per cent said they would like to see a “service included” model implemented. This means higher base wages for employees and the removal of gratuity fees for consumers.

“Looking at that 2016 to 2023 period, when we asked seven years ago, people actually preferred tipping,” Korinski said, referencing prior polling.

“People think that it’s time to switch to a service inclusive model where you’re just paying people better wages so that we don’t have to pass on to the consumer and rely on people’s generosity.”

With the current way of tipping in Canada, more than four-in-five of the Canadians who want to get rid of gratuity believe the existing system allows employers to underpay their employees.

Half of those who want tipping to stay agree.

“A lot of people look at that and say: ‘That’s not what this was designed for. That’s not the gratuity system,’” said Korinski.

“If these individuals actually need to be paid more, they think that it should be done through the wage system and less so on constantly increasing the amount that people are being asked to tip.”

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Meanwhile, aside from being asked to pay more, most don’t actually believe service has improved, polling showed.

Only 13 per cent say they’ve actually seen better customer service since tips have inflated.

“If you’re being asked to pay more, you’re expecting that somebody is going to do a really over-the-top job,” said Korinski.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2023 among a representative randomized sample of 1,610 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

— With files from Saba Aziz

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