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Should You Tip at Fast Food Restaurants? [POLL]

Tip Jar
(Nerthuz)

To me, tipping has always been reserved for waiters and waitresses whose hourly pay rate is below minimum wage, however I’m noticing more and more non-sit-down style restaurants displaying tip jars for the staff next to the cash register. And it confuses me.

Before we get too deep into this, let me say that I’m not here to turn this into some sort of political debate about whether or not the minimum wage needs to be raised, or how working in the fast food industry is the only option for some people due to their skill set. I’m just trying to gauge why some places have a tip jar and others don’t, and whether or not I’m the only one unclear on why that is.

This all started a week or so ago when my family and I stopped by one of the new frozen yogurt places in the Evansville area. If you’ve never been, the concept is simple. There’s a wall of ice cream machines along one wall featuring roughly 10 different flavors of “Fro-Yo”. You grab a cup, pick and choose the flavors you want to mix, add some toppings from the condiment bar, then you’re charged based on the weight of your concoction. Keep in mind, this all happens while the staff WATCHES. Unless you ask for help, it appears their only job is to wipe down the occasional counter top, and take your money after YOU have done all the work. Yet, sitting right next to the cash register is a tip jar. In this case, if anyone should get a tip, it should be me.

I’ve also noticed tip jars at a few of my regular lunch stops including my favorite burrito restaurant, and a Chinese take-out restaurant. However, I don’t see them at places like McDonald’s, Subway, Arby’s, Burger King, etc. At least not yet.

I totally understand tipping at restaurants where you sit down, someone takes your order, makes sure you always have something to drink, and brings you your food. I’ve had friends and family who waited tables so I know a large chunk of their income is based on the tips they receive. What I don’t understand is why a fast food restaurant, where I assume the employees are at the very least making minimum wage, are encouraging patrons to tip. Yes, they are cooking my food for me, saving me from doing it at home, but they’ve never asked before. What’s next? A tip jar next to the WalMart greeter? Maybe they can put one next to the cashier at the grocery store so I can reward them for running my canned goods across a scanner and letting a computer do the math for them.

“Hey, that’s nice form you have there Billy. I really like the way you turn the label down so the scanner catches it on the first swipe. Here’s a five-spot for the effort. Go buy yourself something pretty.”

Cashier - Nothing to Do
You want me to smile? That’ll cost you extra. (Credit – Lisa F. Young)

Am I being a too cold-hearted? I get that times are tough and that I’m very fortunate to be doing what I want to do for a living, and getting paid a respectable amount of money to do so, BUT, I don’t put out a tip jar when I’m broadcasting on location so you can give me a couple bucks for telling you that a certain bar has five dollar pitchers that night.

What do you think? Cast your vote and share your thoughts in the comments below.

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