Uber’s Continued Decline: Tipping

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Q: What did the leper say to the prostitute?
A: Keep the tip.

I consider myself a decent tipper at restaurants and bars, driven in part by a desire to reward good service and compensate staff I encounter regularly, but also because I believe crappy tippers are reviled in the backroom and are more likely to find a booger in their pappardelle. Tipping in its barest form is really an exercise in avoiding personal shame and reducing fear of the unknown.

Still, I find the archaic tradition of tipping a mostly distasteful charade by management seeking to minimize costs perpetrated on consumers of practically everything that involves interaction with a human service provider. Rather than paying a decent wage, restaurateurs, cab companies, parking lot owners, and many others would rather shame their customers into making up the difference between poverty and minimum wage for their forlorn employees. It’s been a scourge of travelers for years now. Doormen, bellhops, concierges, cab drivers, baristas, bartenders, dudes who ticket your $100 third piece of luggage at the airport. All have a hand out for compensation; each capable of fucking you up should you fail to measure up. Stiff the baggage handler and when you arrive in Oakland you’ll discover your luggage is in Auckland. Boston? Oh, I thought you said Austin.

I pity the fools who dine with the mentally impaired who labor over the excruciating details of determining the tip. The guy who tries to determine to the exact penny a tip that when added to the bill will result in a round number. The guy who debates whether to tip on the bottom line or on the price minus tax. The guy who throws his share of the bill on the table, conveniently forgetting to add a tip.

And What about an expensive bottle of wine? Does the waiter deserve $27 more for corking a $150 bottle than a $15 bottle?

Not only is tipping essentially a shakedown, the practice is extremely uneven in its application. Someone who serves you “food” at Applebees expects a tip; that same person at McDonalds does not. You tip the guy who takes your bag at the curb, but not the guy who takes your bag at the jetway. Why not? Perhaps the best argument against this stupidity comes from Mr. Pink:

Now today we learned that Uber – that paragon of ride-hailing companies – is planning to modify their app to allow riders to tip drivers at the end of a ride. There was a time when the value proposition of Uber was the seamlessness of the ride: you hail, you get a ride, you get out, done. No money changes hands. Now, Uber – a so-called 21st Century entrepreneurial company whose mission is to disrupt the taxi status quo – is re-introducing a throwback to the 19th Century tip option. Presumably, like every other company that recoils at paying a living wage Uber has opted to press more of their salary challenges upon the customer/rider.

Now, instead of enjoying the promised seamless ride on Uber, the rider (most likely drunk) must decide whether to pay only the agreed-to fare (and risk a minus-2 star rating from Jugdish, along with banishment from hailing Uber for 2 weeks), or knuckle under and tack on 20+ percent while questioning Uber’s supposed superiority over a yellow cab.

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