A reader writes:
I try to tip well, because I have been in the service industry, and often you are getting minimal pay for very busy and sometimes stressful work. I've noticed that friends and family who have put years in the service industry are generally more likely to tip better than those who didn't. This isn't a hard rule cut in stone, it isn't something I've conducted a scientific study on, and I'm likely bringing my own prejudices to the table, but it's how things appear to me. People who haven't worked in the service industry much, or it's decades behind them are more likely to tip less and explain to the party that they are doing so because service didn't meet expectations. I don't use low service to dock a tip (I start off at 18%), since everyone has a bad night and I'd rather not make it worse. I will use good service to increase my tip though.
Some businesses don't even pay minimum wage, at least in Colorado, since the law allows for tips to be rolled into the server's hourly wage.
I have problems with this method, because it takes some of the burden off the employer with regards to pricing food items and whatnot, it places that burden directly on the consumer, whether they are aware of it or not. Tipping isn't mandatory, yet in this situation it is necessary for an employee to make minimum wage. True, the employer must make up any deficit if tips don't reach the minimum, but if you think you are giving your server a little something extra for good service, that may not necessarily be the case. You might just be aiding their employer in giving them the minimum paycheck required by law.
Having done food delivery a few years ago, I also tip well for delivery drivers. Why? Because oftentimes they are putting their own property on the line for their job. Some joints will chip in a little extra for mileage and wear and tear, some won't. Plus, drivers have to put in their own money for gas, at least at locations where I worked. After going through two cars, I learned that delivery driving is a fool's game in the long run, unless you work for a company that provides you with a vehicle. This is another way that restaurants can run a business while putting an undue burden on someone else to provide an advertised service.
Bottom line though, if I can't afford to tip and tip well, I can't afford to eat out or order out.