Tips About Tip Jars


Photo courtesy Bottoms Up Restaurant & Bar Supply -

        On Saturday, we went into a restaurant. Someone put our order in. This person put napkins and flatware on our table. He brought our food and filled my glass with ice tea. He even made my payment at the register. So does the restaurant staff deserve a tip?


          Why? Let me reframe the way I presented the above story. Cheryl (The Consumer Gal) and I walked into a restaurant and approached the cashier. We perused the menu and made our dining selections. We told the cashier what we wanted, he  rang up the bill, and we paid him. He handed us our beverage tumblers and a pager. We went to the condiment/flatware station and loaded up on napkins, condiments and flatware. Then we headed for the beverage station and filled our tumblers with ice and drinks. When the pager went off, we headed to the pickup area and retrieved our tray full of food and carried it back to our table. When we wanted drink refills, we fetched them for ourselves. In other words, The Consumer Gal and I were the “someone” in the original version of this story.

            Now, here’s the question: Why is there a tip jar near the register? A tip jar! There are all kinds of stories about the derivation of the word “tip” or “tips,” but its purpose is clear. You reward an otherwise (usually) underpaid service provider for giving you good or better service. An earned tip, therefore, requires an essential element: personal service. Cashiers have never been part of the tip gestalt.

            Before I go into the second tip jar issue, I’ll create another scenario, one that most people have been through many times. You stand in line at a coffee establishment. You order your jumbo double-shot, cocoa-raspberry, Ethiopian, fair-trade espresso with whipped cream. While paying your $5.25, you notice the tip jar. “What the heck,” you think, “the person making my drink deserves some reward.” So you plop your 75 cents change into the jar. Ten minutes later you get your coffee, only to discover you are sipping a Sumatran, decaf, cinnamon macchiato. Damn! Back to the cashier. Re-order. Another 10 minutes lost and wishing you could fish that tip out of the jar.

            So what did you do wrong? You tipped for a service before you actually received it. Tips are for after service people have carried out their duties . . . and did a good job of it.

            Let’s sum this up with a few tips on tips. As savvy consumers we need to put a stop to this. First, no tipping for non-service. Cashiers do not get tips. If there’s a busboy, busgirl, or bus-hermaphrodite who cleans up and/or refills your water glass, leave a buck or two on the table.

            Second, never, ever, ever leave a tip in advance. If you are satisfied with your order and service, go back to the tip jar before you leave.

            Let’s not reinforce cheap employers or service people who have no incentive to earn that reward.

Money Saving Tips – and What to do With That Tax Refund


Looking for ways to spend that tax refund? Whoa! Not so fast.

If you’re not saving money each month, here are some things to consider in order to stash some cash..

1. If you carry a balance on your credit card accounts, use that 600 or 1200 bucks to get rid of it. The monthly interest – and any late fees – is costing you a fortune. You’re giving your money away!

2. Cut back on air conditioning. First thing in the morning, open up your doors and windows and turn on a fan. Cool the house down then close it up, including shades and blinds. Let nature cool the place for free. A whole house fan can cool your home at night or in the morning in just 15 to 20 minutes.


3. Brown-bag it to lunch. A piece of fresh fruit makes a healthful dessert.

4. If you must eat out, get the larger sandwich at places like Subway. Have half the sandwich today and half tomorrow. For an extra buck and a half you get two lunches.

5. You’ll be paying at least three times as much for a restaurant meal as for one made at home. But if you must eat out, try these money savers:

A. If dining as a couple, order one appetizer and an entrée and split them.

B. Restaurants make their biggest profits on drinks and desserts. Order tap water (or iced tea if you must – it’s usually refillable, but ask first). Why order a $6 or $9 glass of wine? At Trader Joe’s I can get three bottles of decent wine for 9 bucks.

C. Stop at the market on the way home and get a half-gallon of ice cream or frozen yogurt for less than the price of dessert at most restaurants.

D. Before you order a “special” that’s not on the menu, ask the price.

6. Don’t be embarrassed about looking cheap in front of your friends. Affirm that you are a cheapskate and let them be envious of your self-confidence.

Discount and big box stores
7. Buy vitamins and minerals at places like Trader Joe’s or Costco. You’ll save a bundle buying store brands or specials.

8. If big box stores sell in quantities that are too large for you, ask your neighbors if they would like split a case of mangos and a twin pack of dishwasher detergent with you.


9. If you must have cable TV, drop the premium packages that cost so much extra. If you can’t be entertained with a mere 100 channels, you’re watching too much TV.

10. Shop around for lower cost TV/Internet/and-maybe-phone packages. But be careful about packages that save money for a limited time only.

11. Shop around for insurance. This can save hundreds a year. Comparison shop on Internet sites and find out what’s available, especially if you combine auto and home insurance.

12. Raise the deductibles on your insurance. You don’t need to insure for small damage claims. Insurers could raise your rates if you make such claim.

13. If you go to the movies a lot, how about waiting six months longer for those new blockbusters and renting from Netflix or You can get four movies a month for less than 10 bucks.

14. Get DVDs from the library.

Auto Savings

13. Drive slower. You’ll use more time but less gas. And cut your engine when waiting at a light during the daytime, if you're expecting to idle for more than a minute.

14. Unless you do a lot of desert driving, you don’t need to change your oil and filter every 3,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual.

15. If your car uses premium gasoline, try switching down a grade. If it doesn’t ping, you’re good. And you’ll save 10 cents per gallon.

16. If you need a new car, think twice. A two-year-old car under warranty can save you a bundle. Just be sure you have it checked out before you buy. Check and take it to a reputable diagnostic repair place.

17. If you don't need your cell phone except for urgent situations, switch to a pay-as-you-go service like T-Mobile To Go. I spend about 8 dollars a month on cellular service.

18. Use a discount long distance service such as ECG for your home phone. You can pay less than 3 cents per minute for interstate calls and 4 cents in-state.

Ellis Levinson has made a career of helping consumers with their complaints against businesses that don't meet customers' expectations. Your business might be employing money-saving strategies in the short run while alienating customers day after day.