The 19% Solution is Not Convenient

by Barry Moltz on August 1, 2010

I just came back from a short trip to Phoenix this past week where I stayed at a famous resort.  I noticed on all the invoices for spa services (and some of the restaurants) there was a note that read:

For your convenience, a 19% gratuity has been added.”

For my convenience?  Who are they kidding?  It’s for their convenience!

It makes it convenient for the spa owners to pay their employees minimum wage (or less) but still guarantee a certain level of tips regardless of how they perform.

I hated this policy.  It takes away the ability to show my appreciation for the good (or bad) job that was done by the provider.  Remember that TIPS stands for TO INSURE PROMPT SERVICE. If they automatically get a 19% tip, how can we insure great service?  BTW, the service at the resort was excellent, but I prefer to leave my own tips!

What do you think of this automatic tipping?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick Gioi August 1, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I don’t like it. It’s not a tip then it’s a charge and defeats the purpose of a tip.

Roger Wohlner August 1, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Barry I used to feel exactly as you do. Over the years my view of this issue has changed a bit. After hearing horror stories from some of our children’s friends who have worked at resturants and similar jobs about how chincy some folks are when it comes to tipping, I can see the other side of this and don’t mind these automatic tip amounts as much.

Barry Moltz August 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm

@Roger- yeh, I get that part, but I think that the tip for many of these places has become an excuse for the company not to pay a livable wage.

Roger Wohlner August 1, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Barry you are probably right re the living wage part. We are probably like you, I generally tip between 15-20% at a resturant and accordingly for other services. I also don’t know the right answer. Many places will let you opt out of the automatic tip and allow you to leave the amount you wish. As a practical matter the auto amount is generally what I would leave anyway. Thankfully I’ve never encountered service poor enough to make disputing the charge worthwhile.

Barry Moltz August 1, 2010 at 6:34 pm

@Roger- Maybe its a good thing…with the auto 19% tip, the service was great!

Carol Roth August 1, 2010 at 7:34 pm

This practice is Cirque-du-So-Lame. You have to earn a tip, it is not a given. If service is great, I often tip more than 20%. If it is poor, I don’t. But it should be the customer’s choice.

Barry Moltz August 1, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Agreed!! I love the expression Carol!

Jorin Cowley August 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I definitely agree with you one this one Barry. I usually tip 20% no matter what. I’m always thinking even if the service is poor, you never know what kind of day the person is having. They could of had someone die in their family, or a fight with their partner. So I just leave a decent tip regardless.

The next time I’m in their business I always get prompt service, and it gives me an opportunity to promote my business, or service. In my opinion, it’s nice to be able to show our gratitude genuinely instead of being forced to pay a tip, when you’re forced, it kind of feels like a tax, and I know we all like being taxed. Cheers!

Phillip Kerman August 2, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Plus, often I’ve noticed on such items–say room service–they show the 19% and then they have ANOTHER line item for a tip. I’ve only fallen for that one once. I’m all for tipping and making it easy to tip.

By the way, what do you think of the auto tip at restaurants when you have over 8 or 10 people?

Barry Moltz August 2, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Yes, why would I want to give an “additional tip”—

I think it is the same deal with 8-10 people- do great work and you’ll get a great tip!

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