The president of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association was surprised when a BC restaurant decided to ban the practice of tipping.
David Jones, owner of Smoke ‘N Water Restaurant in Parksville said he will not allow his staff to accept tips - instead he will offer them a profit sharing plan that will allow them to earn close to $15/hr as opposed to the minimum wage they would normally receive.
"I was surprised," said BCRFA president, Ian Tostenson.
"I've been around restaurants enough - I just don't get it."
Tostenson does applaud Jones for 'embodying' the spirit of the industry by trying to be innovative and getting a lot of attention for doing so, but doesn't believe it is a model that can work in North America.
"TIPS is an acronym for 'To Insure Prompt Service' and I think that is really what this is all about," said Tostenson.
"In North America since the early 1900s we have had this culture that rewards service in various industries."
He includes everyone from restaurant/bar servers and taxi drivers to hair dressers and the concierge at a hotel.
"Tipping generally goes around industries that pay a bit lower but have this upside with the tip."
Tostenson also pointed out that the restaurant in Parksville will raise prices 18 per cent in order to pay for the policy.
In essence, a tip that Tostenson says customers don't have any control over.
"If we think that restaurant did a good job you and I can leave an 18 per cent increase for a tip - or more. If we don't, it's not a protest, we're just saying we're not paying for what should be better service."
Tostenson said part of the vibrancy of the service industry is that workers can be incentivized to give really exceptional service.
"Service trumps food. Service is everything," said Tostenson.
He also points to other countries where tipping is not allowed such as Australia and several nations in Europe.
Tostenson said in countries such as those, generally prices are higher and the service is poor.
"No one I have talked to in places that have no tipping policies thought it was a great idea.
It's a very interesting debate. It's raised a lot of questions but I just don't think we're ready as a society for a long time to go to this place."
Interestingly, more than three-quarters of people who took Castanet's unscientific poll believe tipping should be discontinued.
Of nearly 800 people who answered our poll, 77.67 per cent agreed tipping should be banned while only 22.33 per cent said keep it.