Ideally, more hotels would follow the example of the Elysian Chicago and Fairmont Banff, by paying their frontline employees a decent wage and banning tipping. But, for the most part, tipping is still a part of the American hotel experience.
So what’s wrong with tipping with cash?
The folks behind a site called Where’s My Tip? seem to think that cash is inferior. Their site pitches “tip cards” — business-cards with a code and a link on them.
The tipper gives the card to the person they’re tipping. The recipient goes to the site to “claim” their tip — by suggesting a tip amount — and eventually receive the tipper’s cash via Paypal.
(sample card, from their site:)
The person paying the tips has to pay $39.95 a year for the privilege of managing their tips this way. And if you expend the first 50 cards, replacements cost 50 cents each.
Okay, I see the expense account angle here. A paper trail of tips paid is easier on the accounting department than a list of non-receipted petty cash expenses. Okay. Fair enough.
And I get the “exact change” angle. Yes, it sucks having to keep small bills at the ready.
But other than those two minor inconveniences, how on earth is this better than cash? For the tipper, maintaining an account like this costs more than the tips, requires a stack of cards to keep separately, and makes you go online to manage the payment after the fact. Time elapses, and you may not remember who was who during your last trip.
For the tippee, it’s even worse: it adds a delay in payment and forces you to name your own price for the tip. It makes your income dependent on an after-the-fact renegotiation. How awkward! What if you bid too high? Too low? Will they counteroffer? Will they even pay at all? That stress (and time) shouldn’t be a part of your job. It’s the tipper’s responsibility, period.
Maybe the model is salvageable, and these are just kinks to be worked out. There’s a nugget of a problem here that deserves attention, after all, but I’m not sure this is the solution.
So, what do you think? Are tip cards the wave of the future? Is this a clever innovation? Does it need tweaking, or should it be relegated to the dustbin of history? Vote in the poll, hit the comments, and speak your mind.
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