Tipping- When is it appropriate?

The discussion on tipping comes up all the time. When to tip? When not to? How much to tip? And who deserves the tip?

I once had a guy who was working for me, he was from Ireland, and in the States for about a month. We were out to eat at a decent establishment that served its patrons. I had bought him lunch a few times before this experience. The few times before were at fast food restaurants, in which he was never at. He was insisting to pay for the both of us and I told him that he didn’t need to. Finally, I said I will pay and you can leave a tip for the waitress. He looked at me with these bewildering eyes. I could sense something was bothering him and he told me he didn’t know what tipping meant. I explained to him what my thoughts were, and he said in Ireland they don’t tip. Not even at a pub for the bartenders.

So, I recently read that many restaurants in California are not allowing their customers to tip. In my conversations with people who are servers and bartenders, I have concluded that the local employee’s don’t think they would like it if their employers implemented the same rules. Some of the servers feel that they would be taking a pay cut. I guess that would be a topic for another post.

We have also had the conversation about tip jars on counters at restaurants, coffee shops and the like. Some customers are for them and will tip the counter person and some will not. Would you tip the person if the jar was not there? Again, this depends on who the patron is, or it depends if Tipping really is a city in China. My follow up question was, if you tip the counter person at Starbucks for making your Venti Caramel Macchiato, do you tip the person at McDonald’s for making your hamburger? How much extra would your Big Mac cost you then? Probably as much as the coffee!

I guess at the end of the day people in the service industry have a different take on the tipping “unofficial” rules. The patron still makes the ultimate decision on when, how and who to tip? Let me know your two cents into this age old question.