“There is a consequence” is the forbidding slogan of a US website called Lousy Tippers, which I discovered via this piece on Eater.com. It’s a forum for food delivery guys, waiters and the similarly employed to upload stories of bad tippers, shame them by listing their names and addresses and to append vengeful comments. These can get pretty furious. Of an address in New Hampshire, one user writes: “The guy here tips fine, the woman tips like shit. Maybe you’ll get a warm 2l Coke next time.” Elsewhere: “What kind of cheap ass leaves less than 10% tip? Go die.” An Ohio man who left a $2 tip on a $30 bill finds himself succinctly glossed as a “fucking nightmare”.
Publishing people’s real addresses is wrong, of course, and the occasional flare-ups of racism on the site are thoroughly depressing. But I confess to feeling a good deal of sympathy for the principles behind Lousy Tippers. A waiter or deliveryman in the US likely earns under $3 an hour – they’re heavily reliant on tips to secure a living wage. Absent a forum like this, he or she has no recourse to complain about bad customers or to reinforce the need for others to tip properly. The carrot of doing a job well has failed: it’s time for the stick.
Undertipping is less of a problem in the UK, where most restaurants whack 12.5% on to every bill regardless and where there is, in general, less of a tipping culture. (If you’ve ever felt that service wasn’t very good in New York, don’t take it, as they say, personal – Brits are notorious there for being polite customers but terrible tippers, and some waiters don’t try as hard at a table of British accents.) Nonetheless, there are British punters who routinely exercise their option to deduct optional service, even when nothing was wrong with the meal. They should be discouraged from doing so.