Vancouver Island customers feel the pinch as tipping expectations rise

Vancouver Island customers feel the pinch as tipping expectations rise

Tipping fatigue is hitting Vancouver Island as consumers are noticing an increased gratuity demand.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, residents and tourists who spoke to CHEK News noticed an increase in menu prices and tipping suggestions.

Greg Cubberley, visiting Victoria, said at that time it made sense but thinks now it’s time to bring prices down again.

“I’m getting a little tired of it,” Cubberley said.

Alyssa Brown, also visiting Victoria, said she is currently on a cruise where they automatically add gratuity fees to her bills.

“I would say it was probably 20 per cent,” Brown said. “At one point in time I would say it was the norm to tip about 10 per cent.”

Tipping prompts at some point-of-sale terminals increasingly suggest amounts ranging from 18 to 30 per cent, though another amount can be manually added.

Both Cubberley and Brown also noted seeing prompts for tips at retail stores as well.

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce believes this is due to the rise of inflation.

Bruce Williams, the CEO, said employees are asking for more money as food, rent and living costs have risen.

“The employers are passing that ask onto us in a way by asking us to tip them maybe more than we would in the past,” Williams stated. “That also means the employer doesn’t necessary have to cover the cost of an increase to the employee because their cost of business is going up to.”

This is something that has been seen not just locally, but across Canada.

READ MORE: ‘Now 15 per cent is rude’: Tipping fatigue hits customers as requests rise

Sam Jones, owner of 2% Jazz Coffee in Victoria, said the food industry is currently trying to survive day to day.

“Tips augment the pay for employees, if it weren’t for tips our employees would not be able to survive,” Jones said. “I pay a living wage and my employees get tips on top of that. That’s almost enough for what they need right now.”

A tourism and hospitality expert at Camosun College told CHEK News that while the argument for increasing gratuity minimums is valid with the rise of inflation, it is also causing tipping fatigue.

Carl Everitt, chair of the tourism, hospitality and golf management program, said customers are also dealing with inflation and can’t necessarily afford higher tipping percentages.

Everitt added that having what feels like “mandatory tipping” also takes away the original purpose of leaving a tip.

He said tipping used to be a form of appreciation of service.

“My concerns are that my trying to generate more revenue through tips and gratuities, we are putting more pressure on the consumer,” Everitt said.

He doesn’t believe this is the solution to offset inflation costs.

“That is in many ways alienating the consumers from the interaction and transaction for overall good service,” Everitt added.

Williams told CHEK News this is likely to continue until inflation levels flatten, but doesn’t anticipate that to happen in the near future.

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