The U.S. tipping system must be revised

When buying something, you might assume that the labeled cost of the product is the amount you’ll pay. However, it’s become more and more common for the person working the register to flip around the iPad and ask how much you’d like to tip, with tips like 15 percent, 20 percent, and even 25 percent often expected. The reason for this is that tips have become a large part of many service workers’ salaries. Tipping, however, is mostly unique to the U.S. In other countries, service workers’ wages are often included in the cost of the product. That system is much more efficient than leaving tips up to customers and would leave both workers and customers much happier. The U.S. implementing this system would be beneficial for all.

Over the past couple of years, tipping has become much more frequent in America and is expected in a wider variety of services. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Americans felt that tipping is much more expected in many businesses than it was even five years ago. Suggested tips are causing people to pay much more than anticipated originally when buying a product and some people are starting to get fed up with this system. Americans are often unsure when to tip, where to tip, and how much to tip. According to the same Pew Research Center study, only 33 percent of people feel confident in their ability to know when and how much to tip in any given situation. 

This sentiment is also reflected by Berkeley High School students. BHS sophomore Simone Zabarsky said, “I don’t always know what to do when I’m tipping, because I think different services require different tips.” Removing the tipping process and simply including tips in the cost of products would eliminate this confusion. 

Outside of the U.S., tips are almost always included in the cost of goods so that workers are guaranteed a fair salary and don’t have to worry about what their pay will be each day. In some cases in the U.S., service workers are paid less than minimum wage because of the tips they may be able to make but aren’t guaranteed. This can leave workers underpaid and worried about a steady income which is incredibly unfair. 

One BHS student works at a Berkeley restaurant and requested anonymity to avoid retaliation. This student said, “I feel like my tips aren’t always reliable, and vary too much … Most of my working wages are made of tips.” If tips were incorporated into a worker’s salary, they wouldn’t have to rely as much on reluctant or confused customers.

While some may think that workers’ wages should be left up to the customer and their experience, many times the amount customers tip isn’t a reflection of their experience at a given restaurant. A study from Cornell University suggested that tipping is not the most effective way to measure server performance. It’s important for service workers to have a steady income, and the most efficient way to do this is to add their wages to the cost of products.

Tipping is an unnecessary and often confusing system that can cheat workers out of their right to a liveable wage and frustrate customers. In order to end the uncertainty of tipping, America should follow other countries’ lead and abolish the need to tip in the first place. Rather than leaving it up to individuals, companies and businesses should incorporate workers’ wages into the product cost to make the service processes easier, quicker, and more fair.