Opinion: Everyone expects a tip these days

This was originally printed in the Daily Post on March 13, 2023.


Daily Post Editor

I don’t mind tipping for service, having worked once as a bartender in what is now called the “hospitality industry.”

I understand the concept: If you provide great customer service, you get bigger tips.

But my generosity flags when a restaurant puts an iPad in front of me and asks me to designate a tip. I guess the thinking is that if you’re using a credit or debit card, it’s easier to get the money out of you than if you have to dig into your wallet and give them cash.

If the service is great, I’m happy to tip 20% or more. But when a cashier puts an item in a bag and hands it to me, that’s not worth a tip.

Tipping has expanded to everywhere. I saw one of these iPads at a booth in a farmers market. Some restaurants ask for tips on to-go orders that the customer picks up. And coffee shops are asking for tips on items as inexpensive as a $4 cup of coffee.

I picked up the check at a restaurant that had a 20% gratuity as one of the line items. Then, at the bottom, they had a place to add a tip. In other words, a second tip. How irritating. I wondered how many people didn’t look over their bill, and automatically added a tip at the bottom.

I wish we could go back to a time when there were no payment kiosks, no iPads, and no attempt to guilt customers into bigger tips. If you want a bigger tip, earn it.

As for me, the only tip I want is a news tip.

• • •


Pay attention or you lose

I’ve received a couple of emails asking me to write an editorial against SB9, the state law that allows up to four homes to be built where a single-family home now sits.

The emailers were very upset. They had just read an email blast from a special interest group and felt their single-family-home neighborhoods would be overrun with housing developments and traffic.

Both pleaded with me: Can’t the Post do something?

I had to explain to them that the train had already left the station. That is, Gov. Gavin Newsom had signed SB9 into law on Sept. 16, 2021. He signed it after it was approved by the Legislature. SB9 got “yes” votes from Assemblymen Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, and Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo. In the Senate, it got a “yes” vote from Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park.

The emailers were astonished that SB9 was already the law.

I asked if they had picked up the paper in 2021 when the Post and other papers ran dozens of stories about SB9.

Neither said they regularly read newspapers. One said he got his news from Facebook. The other said she kept up-to-date by watching the news on TV.

I relate these conversation not to embarrass anybody, but to communicate my astonishment that some people aren’t paying attention to issues that will affect their lives.

This isn’t limited to the great masses. I know of a council member in one city who doesn’t read the papers, and last summer had to be told by her mother that there were a couple of letters in the Post that were critical of her. For politicians, the danger of not reading is that they don’t know the history of an issue and will repeat mistakes in the past.

For typical citizens, failure to pay attention means the scammers in big business and government will find ways to take away everything you own. If you spend your life saving for a house, your job isn’t over when you’ve closed the deal. SB9 is an example of a law that could, potentially, destroy the neighborhoods people had hoped they could one day live peacefully.

That may not happen, however, because of a clause added to SB9 requiring the developer of the property to actually resided on the property. That’s chased away speculators and reduced the SB9 applications cities have received to a trickle.

An attempt to repeal SB9 failed. Opponents of SB9 needed to get 997,139 valid signatures to put a repeal on the May 2022 ballot, but came up short.

Four Southern California cities – Redondo Beach, Carson, Torrance and Whittier – are suing the state over SB9, saying it’s unconstitutional.

We’ll cover the case, but I’m guessing that neither of these people will read our coverage.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is [email protected].


  1. Everyone wanting a tip is irritating, but I just ignore it. I tip generously to those who’ve earned it, and everyone else can go fly a kite.

  2. The problem with tips is how your manager divvies them up. Sometimes the wait staff can keep all of it, but then they’re made to feel guilty if they don’t share them with the kitchen staff. In other places, the manager decides how much the wait staff and back-of-the-house receive. Usually the manager will rip off the waiters and waitresses. I say they should pay everyone more and let the waitstaff keep the tips.

  3. I try to tip in cash, instead of just adding it to the debit card charge. That makes it more likely that the server will actually get the tip, instead of it being kept by the restaurant.

  4. 15% ought to be good, but I hate the computer screens that you sign which give 20% as the lowest choice. A 5% tip is designed to get the server to pay attention and up his or her game.

  5. the amount of the tip is often determined by the kitchen crew, if the food comes out cold, the customers blame the waitress. it’s not fair, but that’s how it is. that’s why waitstaff shares with the back of the house people.

  6. This is why I always pay with cash at coffee shops and other places that automatically include a tip line on the receipt. If I want to add a tip, which I do depending on the service, I simply place cash in the tip jar.

    If the store does not accept cash – which is a growing trend since 2020 – I leave and find a place that does.

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