Is Tipping an 'Abomination' or Should it Remain Common Practice?

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In many ways, tipping can be an annoying practice.

Consumers get stuck trying to figure out how much to tip per level of service, while restauranteurs get away with paying waiters as low as $4.77 per hour in the state of Florida.

An article written by Brian Palmer, recently published on Slate, claimed that tipping is an abomination and we should abolish the practice.

"Tipping is a repugnant custom. It's bad for consumers and terrible for workers. It perpetuates racism. Tipping isn't even good for restaurants, because the legal morass surrounding gratuities results in scores of expensive lawsuits."

While it did raise some valid points, we decided to look into it further a bit further. We chatted with some local servers and bartenders to see how they felt about getting rid of common gratuity procedures.

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The author claimed removing the tip system would benefit restaurant workers by ensuring they make a living wage.

The real problem is that restaurants don't pay their employees a living wage. The federal "tip credit" allows restaurants to pay their tipped employees as little as $2.13 per hour, as long as tips make up the shortfall--which turns a customer into a co-employer. Although federal and state law requires restaurants to ensure that tips bring employees up to minimum wage, few diners know that. (Hosts/hostesses, bussers, and food runners, who receive a small fraction of the servers' tips, often fall short of minimum wage on some nights.) The tip credit has turned the gratuity into a moral obligation, and we ought to cut it from our statute books with a steak knife.

Both the bartender and server to whom we spoke disagreed. Neither believed they would be paid the same hourly salary if restaurants paid an hourly rate.

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An average tip of 19.2 percent?  Maybe among Zagat readers but that is far from average nationwide.  I moved to Arizona after living in PA, NJ, and DC, and I've been shocked to see what some people in the Southwest consider an adequate tip.  When I dine with someone, I'm always spying on what they tipped and leaving extra money to make up for their cheapness. 

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