Canada's tipping culture is flawed, experts say

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Canada's tipping culture is flawed, say experts

The new payment methods would partly explain the increase in tips.

Canadians are often asked to tip in restaurants, but for some experts this practice which invites customers to pay under any circumstances can have a pernicious effect in the commerce sector.

According to food economist Mike von Massow, tipping has become a well-established societal norm in Canada, especially with payment machines.

Payment terminals have made so that it is easy for businesses to offer a tipping option, even in industries where gratuity was not part of their business practices.

The situation is all the more concerning, according to von Massow, as data from Canadian trade associations has found that the average tipping percentage for restaurants has increased since the pandemic began in 2020.


Von Massow, who is also a professor at the University of Guelph, said Canadians expect tips to rise out of control.

I went to my neighborhood brewery the other day to pick up a few bottles. And when it came time to pay, I had to tip, Mr. von Massow argued.

For Mr. von Massow, it's a double blow for consumers, because more and more companies that ask for tips at the same time increase the prices of their products.

You know, I started wondering if I was giving a great class, I had to put a jar at the entrance to the room. And maybe at the end, while they [the students] are going out, they could drop off some tickets for me too. I mean [simply], where are we going with this situation? he wondered.

Oonagh Butterfield, who co-owns a restaurant in Toronto, has found that since they added an option of tipping at their payment machines, this [tipping] has seen a significant increase.

But, according to Ms. Butterfield, some customers, despite the display on the screen such as to bypass the tip option, please press green, still question the tip option. electronics.

Sometimes there's a little, I would say, outrage around even being asked the question, “would you like to tip?” Especially if they're just buying bread, which again is why I try to get people to understand that it's not a necessity, she explained .

Although she currently has the option of tipping customers, Ms. Butterfield says she is for the abandonment of culture tipping in Canada, so that everyone can be guaranteed a living wage.

Kate Malcolm moved to Port Perry, Ont., in 2017 from the UK, where tipping isn't common practice. Five years later, she says she still struggles to understand tipping culture in Canada. in England you gave $10, $20, $30 to a hairdresser, she said. How expensive is it to get your hair done like that, and then you have to tip them too?

Ms. Malcolm, who runs a podcast aimed at newcomers, included his reaction to Canada's unwritten rules on tipping in a TikTok video describing his culture shock.

Carl Heinrich is co-owner of the Richmond Station restaurant in Toronto. They removed tipping in July 2020, choosing instead to raise prices to pay staff more.

The tipping culture in Canada is very inequitable in paying staff, he said.

But this practice is not very fruitful, according to Marc Mentzer, professor of commerce at the University of Saskatchewan.

Aside from very high-end restaurants, where customers may not be as sensitive to the amount they spend, many companies that replace tips with service charges are not successful, he said. he explained.

Clients like the illusion of having power over the server and the server likes the illusion of controlling the amount of their own income , he added.

“In an ideal world, there would be no tipping.” This is a human rights disaster. But it's so deeply rooted. I think we're stuck with that.

—Marc Mentzer, professor of commerce at the University of Saskatchewan.

Hefty pre-programmed tip percentage options on smart card machines can scare people into tipping a higher percentage than they ever considered before, Mentzer added.

Everyone complains about tips , but given the choice between a restaurant with tip and a restaurant with a service charge, I don't know how customers would make that choice. I think customers might actually prefer the tipping approach if given the choice, he reasoned.

With the information by Bob Becken of CBC News

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