Tip Jars and What They Say About the Service Industry

I hate tip jars. And they are everywhere now. They are at the coffee shop, at the ice cream parlor and, yes, even at the dry cleaners. That’s right; the other day I went to the dry cleaners and was greeted by a large tip jar. I handed the person behind the counter my pick-up ticket and they went to the back to retrieve my shirts. I paid for them, and was about to leave when my frustration got the best of me. I asked, “Why do you have a tip jar at the check-out counter?” The lady said it was a way for customers to show appreciation for great service. I responded, “Isn’t great service what you should strive to provide with every transaction/interaction?” I left and haven’t been back.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m big on tipping. When my girlfriend and I go out to a nice dinner and our server is exceptional, I tip well. That person has worked for my recognition. However, as a consumer, I’m unwilling to drop a few bucks in a jar because it is sitting on a counter.

What exactly am I paying for? An exceptional check-out experience? A smile as they hand me my change? To me, tip jars define what is currently wrong with service standards across industries. Why is great service for a transaction, a scoop of ice-cream, or a cup of coffee considered tip-worthy? Isn’t that what we, as consumers, deserve all the time, every time? Why should I be expected to drop a few bucks into a container to thank someone for the level of service I should be consistently receiving for dealing at their establishment? It seems counter-intuitive and self-serving. It seems greedy. It’s a visual reminder of the decline in service standards.

I want to hear from you! Respond to one, all, or none of the questions below. I just want to hear your thoughts! And, if you post a response, be sure to check back for a reply!

  • What do you think about the tip jar phenomenon?
  • Do you disagree? Do you think rewarding even the smallest successes monetarily will increase service standards?
  • Do you agree with me? If so, share your experience.


Post your response!