ashlingrainbow (ashlingrainbow) wrote in indie_baristas,

Advice on the non-tippers

I'm an experienced barista with 1.4 years at a former (RIP) busy local late night coffeeshop and a 3 month stint at starf*cks to boot! I know that tipping isn't mandatory, but when I have 5 customers in a row who I'm handcrafting lovely mochas and flavored lattes for and NONE of them tip a cent, I get a little peeved.

I'm working a new place. It's very nice, not even open a year yet. French presses, organic coffee roasted on the premises and so on. Nice, new and clean. So far every day I get these college girls (complete with name of socially-responsible university across the front of their shirts) and a few young professionals. I'm making the drinks right in front of them, friendly, professional and kind as f*ck, rocking the foams and giving their change (about 1 dollar 50 something cents worth) directly in front of the jar that says TIPS. The jar is always pre-seasoned with 1 or 2 dollars to make sure people get the idea.

I have about 7 of these customers daily (days are slow) and not a single one has ever tipped. I don't make minimum wage. Even with the help of my beautiful regulars throwing wads of ones in the jar (they all tip, every one of them... even if they're poor) I'm still far from minimum.

So, question is, what can I do to get the idea across to these privileged college students and professionals that baristas don't get minimum wage. It's getting to the point where I'm considering a letter to the editor of a local paper, because I have NEVER had so many well-off non tippers. Not at my local shit-hole-in-the-wall former coffee shop, not even at starbucks. I can always leave as a last resort, but whomever follows will have the same problem. I'm worried that there's a rumor flying around that the place does pay minimum, as I think they tried to when starting out and currently can't.

Should I learn the art of the latte and start writing "tips please" in the foam? I'm looking for some classy ideas here.

Any advice is welcome. Thank you. :)
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You'll probably hate this idea but I think the classiest thing you can do is to not make an issue out of it. Some people are just jerks and don't tip. That's a crappy part of the job. At best you'll get some coins, at worst you'll lose customers overall and get a reputation as a money hungry jerk. The people may not tip, but they pay your wage by spending money on a regular basis, sometimes that what ya get.

Maybe in time they'll feel friendly enough to throw a buck down, but until then...chill and be like Fonzie.
"The people may not tip, but they pay your wage by spending money on a regular basis, sometimes that what ya get. "

I hear ya, and of course it wouldn't be a problem normally, but I'm making over a dollar shy of minimum wage on average... and that's with tips, on good days. I've been doing this a long time too and have never run into such a prevalence of similar-aged non-tippers. That's why I wonder if they simply have no idea that it's a tip-based position. If my wage wasn't so expectant on tips it wouldn't matter either way.

"Some people are just jerks and don't tip."
I know, I dated one once. Horrible mistake. ;)

Thanks very much for your advice though. I appreciate it.


February 9 2008, 05:19:05 UTC 9 years ago Edited:  February 9 2008, 05:20:36 UTC

All right, then I'll give you my real sly approach to non-tippers.

As you hand back the change do it (with natural movements) over the tip jar area, your hand should be within a foot or less of the tip jar and preferably above the jar not literally right above it, but above it altitude wise. Just after you have counted back the money, count it back so they don't feel the need to check the amount, smile genuinly and flick your eyes towards the tip if you saw a fly there or something reflected light for a mere second. That's the best you can do aside from clearly and loudly, but not TOO loudly thanking someone when they do tip.

The fact that you counted back the change makes them less likely to stare at their money trying to decipher how much you put there, so they will keep eye contact for a few more nanoseconds. Flicking your eyes (just the eyes, no head nods) will subconsciously alert them to it's existence. The trick during this time is to be friendly, honest and warm.

It's probably a good idea to practice the eye flick too.
You rock, thank you. ;)

That's my secret from over 17 years in the coffee biz.

Don't tell the other coffeeshop owners, I'll get kicked out of the club for telling that to a barista.

Deleted comment

Yeah, who the fuck doesn't pay minimum wage to a barista, even with tips? Many years of coffee-slinging and I always made well-above minimum, with tips being just extra.

You need to live in a different state.

I used to make $5 dayshift, $4 night till 1am (with a partner). We often made good tips and managed to make minimum (6.75) and over. We also worked like crazy.

Now minimum's 8, I make 5. So far I've only made it up to minimum once and most days I don't come close.

In MA we can be considered waitstaff. We could be paid as low as 2.63 as long as the tips brought it up to minimum.

*note, I wanted the job based on a rumor that they paid minimum (and I think it *was* true). I had no intention of putting myself through this whoring for tips yet again, but didn't want to quit off the bat without giving it a chance.
I was thinking the same thing. You're lucky that min wage is so high in your state, and if your job isn't, perhaps you should consider other places that actually pay that. Frankly, no one should have to work for $5/hour anymore.

The hard truth is that no one is required to tip, so it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to "convince" non-tippers to do so.

Tipping baristas hasn't gotten the same attention nor do people have the same expectations for tipping waitstaff (sucks that your job can be considered waitstaff and paid the same since most people don't think of it as such).