Tipping problem solved

Last week's story about tips at Starbucks has me thinking again about this topic I hate so much. A judge ruled that the tips left at Starbucks are for the baristas, and that shift supervisors shouldn't get a portion of the tips. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz disagrees, and he says they're not giving the baristas the money for those tips, period. He basically says that the supervisors have every right to be tipped for their good customer service too, and the company isn't going along with the court ruling.

I have an easy solution to this problem at Starbucks: Do away with the tip jars. When I go into Starbucks to buy a grossly overpriced cup of coffee, I expect that the employees actually make the coffee and serve it to me nicely. Isn't that what I should expect for several dollars? Why on earth do I need to tip them in addition? Just for doing their job?

I don't know about you, but I am frankly sick of tip jars everywhere I go. Tipping used to be reserved for restaurants only, as a method of showing appreciation to your server. Good service meant a good tip. Poor service meant a not-so-good tip. It was a simple system and it worked.
But these days, everywhere you go, there are tip jars. Should I really have to tip my drycleaner? And should a "tip" be mandatory? It is at some restaurants or when eating out with a larger group. Tips have no longer become a barometer for service, and no longer seem to be optional either. Restaurant servers seem to expect a certain level of tipping, no matter how they treat you during your visit.

So let's try something new. Employers: Pay your employees whatever they're worth. I don't care how much or how little you pay them. If they're good and they think they're underpaid, they can simply go work for someone willing to pay them more. If they're bad and want to be paid more, they can simply step up their efforts and earn that raise. Customers: You pay the price for the goods or services, and you get the reasonable service you're entitled to. If you don't get that service, don't ever go back. Tipping problem solved.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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