The180·The 180

Is it time to end tipping?

Tipping is an accepted practice in North America. But lately, restaurateurs, both big and small, have been toying with ridding their businesses of the custom. It is a move Mike Von Massow says will not only improve the restaurant industry itself - but also the customer experience.
The kitchen and back-scenes staff at The Modern, one of N.Y.'s most upscale restaurants. The company switched to a no-tipping policy and higher food prices to boost staff compensation. (Photo courtesy Union Square Hospital Group)

Whether it was the coffee you bought, the cab you took, or the food you just ate — chances are at some point this week you tipped someone. 

It's a cultural norm in North America, and a pillar of the restaurant industry. 

But in recent years, restaurateurs both big and small are testing out a 'no-tipping' business model. 

And one of the people watching to see how they fare will be University of Guelph associate professor Mike Von Massow. 

Von Massow has been studying tipping in North America, and has concluded that it creates a lot of problems without solving a specific one. He says there is no correlation between quality of service and the size of the tip, yet he acknowledges it persists as a cultural norm. 

We've got this cultural guilt, based on a cultural norm... it has become fundamental to the business model of restaurants ...and it doesn't need to be. - Mike Von Massow

Von Massow has been keeping tabs on the progress of American restaurateur Danny Meyer — who announced a 'no-tipping' restaurant policy in late 2015 — and says that while Meyer reports success so far, he doesn't think Meyer's model is necessarily replicable. 


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