Should Apartments Have ‘No Tipping’ Policies?

Some restaurants are banning tipping. Should the multifamily industry follow?

jfiur thumbnailBy Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor

Do you tip at restaurants?

That was a trick question. Of course you do, unless you are a terrible person. In this country, it is customary to tip waiters. Many give 20 percent of the bill no matter what. Some tip less if they think the service wasn’t great. Tipping is supposed to be voluntary. But it’s really not. Trust me, I once had a waiter run after me and a friend because he didn’t think we left enough. (Which, right or not, was not cool. And he wasn’t even cute.) We ended up leaving more, but, out of embarrassment, I never went back to that place.

The whole tipping system can sometimes seem a bit unfair. After all, shouldn’t the restaurant owner be paying the waiters enough? And why should we have to tip more just because we got the salmon, and that costs more than the chicken. They weigh the same! It’s not like it more work.

Because you have to, that’s why.

And it’s not just in the restaurant industry. Tipping is everywhere. Especially during the holiday season, and especially in the multifamily industry. And for renters, this can make the holidays very stressful. Do you tip the doorman? How much? What about the night doorman you never see? Is wine ever acceptable? If wine is, than how about beer? What kind of service would I get for a three-quarters-full bottle of Peppermint Schnapps? (I’m asking for a friend.)

It’s hard to know, really.

Well, some restaurants in New York City are doing something revolutionary. They’re getting rid of tipping. These aren’t cheap restaurants either—Danny Meyers, who owns fancy, pricey restaurants, is trying it out. The prices are going to be raised, under the idea that diners will end up spending the same amount, but without having to worry about tipping. This will allow the restaurant to share the money with all the workers (bus boys sometimes don’t get anything, or have to split with waiters, and the cooks who usually get no tips under the usual system). Bravo, Danny Meyers. I admire your spirit, and also your gumption. ($122 for a three-course meal? You clever minx.) Think how must less stress there will be for diners now!waiter 2

Why couldn’t this system also work for multifamily? Sure, all multifamily employees deserve recognition during the holidays. But if residents were told that tipping wasn’t allowed, rents could be raised slightly (a “service charge” each month, or something similar) and all the employees could equally split that money at the end of the year as a bonus. Or, instead of giving a bonus, just give the employees all a slight raise from the service charge, so it’s spread out evenly throughout the year. Of course, your residents probably wouldn’t be thrilled about rising rents, but if it’s only minimal, and if the charge is explained, they might be more amenable.

Then, no pressure during the holidays. Residents won’t have to worry about maintenance not getting to their request right away because John in 4B gave a bigger tip, so he takes priority for awhile. (Not that that happens, of course. We are all consummate professionals.) They won’t have to stress about getting the name of the doorman they never see. They won’t have to worry about carrying envelopes of cash with them at all times in the hope that they’ll run in to the right person. (Unless they’re constantly paying ransoms, but if that’s the case, they have a lot more to worry about than making sure everyone gets a holiday tip.) If a resident wants to give a gift to a particularly helpful employee, of course they should be allowed. But, if it’s not unofficially required, it might make the season just slightly less stressful for renters.

What do you think about a no-tipping policy at multifamily communities?