Last month the debate raged on Fat City whether 15 percent was still an adequate tip, but now the question is whether the concept of tips should even exist. In a recent essay, columnist David Mitchell of The Observer tries to explain why he feels tips are outmoded:
If you're going to a restaurant to be served and eat a meal, why is the price of the delivery open to negotiation but not that of the food itself, the ambiance, music, heating or use of the furniture? All of these things can disappoint or delight. It's illogical to fix the price of one element but not the others.It would be a fair question if servers were salaried employees -- similar to the chefs, designers, plumbers and electricians who create those elements Mitchell describes. But the current salary structure requires waiters to receive tips if they are to make a living wage. Although it's a point that Mitchell is willing to concede, he still can't get past the awkwardness of judging another person:
But when you're expected to estimate a fee yourself -- to look someone in the eye and say what you think their efforts are worth -- any right-minded person (by which I mean socially awkward Briton) is going to feel embarrassed and stressed.In an effort to avoid these encounters, Mitchell sings the praises of fixed pricing that includes gratuity. And while that's certainly simpler, is it really necessary? Is Mitchell too sensitive to dining tradition or should we restructure the way that servers are compensated?