As tip amounts rise, many Canadians say they'd rather skip the tip — and some restaurants agree
Customers intent on leaving tips at Vancouver's Folke restaurant tend not to get very far.
"They'll hide it under napkins or under their plate," said co-owner Pricilla Deo. "If we catch it while they're still here, we just hand it back to them and politely remind them that we're a no-tipping restaurant."
When diners do make it out the door without tips being noticed, she says the money is used to fund staff dinners.
I find it amusing (and incredible) that customers seem desperate to leave a tip even after it's been made clear to them that it's not necessary
Folke introduced its no-tipping policy when the vegan restaurant opened in June 2022. Deo says employees earn well above minimum wage ($15.65 per hour in B.C.) and get full benefits. All overhead costs, including salaries, have already been factored into the menu prices, so customers simply pay the bill.
"It was really important to us to have an inclusive work environment where everyone was compensated fairly," said Deo. "It's not our customers' responsibility to pay our staff properly. … It's our responsibility to make sure that our staff are taken care of."
Two big factors are driving customers to up their tips, suggests Marc Mentzer, an organizational behaviour professor at the University of Saskatchewan's Edwards School of Business.
First, he says, the pandemic has generated sympathy for the hospitality industry which suffered big losses during lockdowns.
Second, said Mentzer, the pre-programmed tip amounts on electronic credit and debit card readers may be goading some people into tipping more.
"There are percentages that are pre-programmed into the device," said Mentzer, noting it can be awkward to navigate the self-select tip option. "Even more awkward if I have to ask the server, 'How do I leave a non-standard tip?'"
Also, possible pitfalls:
Another hurdle is that many restaurants may not be ready to shift to a no-tipping model, fearful of the consequences.
Lazy Daisy's owner, Dawn Chapman, supports such a model, but said she would only adopt it if it became the norm across Canada. That's because, in order to boost wages, Chapman estimates she would have to raise menu prices by 20 per cent.
"It's too risky," she said. "My worry is that people would come in and say I don't wanna pay $15 for a breakfast sandwich. I'm gonna go to the place where I can pay $11 and choose a 10 per cent tip."