I ordered some pizza online the other night for my family (dear healthy living friends: I had chicken pizza). I actually had a coupon for $3 off any online order. When I'm ordering, it assumes that I want delivery, which is a fair assumption, so I switched to pick up, as I intended to go get it myself. At several places in the checkout process, it kept asking for a tip. Since I wasn't having it delivered, I left that at $0 throughout the purchasing process.
When I arrived at the pizza place, I was greeted kindly, and they had the pizza ready. They gave me a receipt to sign, which, as is standard for any restaurant receipt, had a place to add a tip. I looked at this thinking, "they didn't deliver it, they didn't wait on me at a table... do the cooks get this?" I asked, "Who gets the tip?" The cheerful young lady behind the register said, with an almost disappointed sigh, "the house."
Really? I didn't pursue the conversation, I just left the tip at $0 and went home. Now, here comes the conjecture. While it is entirely possible that these tips go into a fund which is distributed somehow to the employees and cooks who are doing the customer-facing work, I am more readily inclined to believe these "tips" go to the company. If this is the case, let's follow this through:
The company, by requesting these tips, is basically saying "will you give us money for nothing?" Anytime there is a tip jar or a place on a receipt to leave a tip, most people feel obligated that they should leave a tip for fear of how they may be perceived: either as cheap or inconsiderate. I would venture to assume that most people add tips. I had a $3 off coupon, and they think I should give that back to them?
What also concerns me about business in this fashion is what would happen if everyone wised up to this scheme and stopped adding "house" tips to their orders. The company would then say "we're losing money!" after which, you guessed it, prices go up.
I'm not the kind of bull-headed person who is going to say "I'm NEVER coming here again!" Rather, when presented with this situation, I will continue to leave $0 tips. I like to tip people for a job well done. I like to tip people who I know rely on them for their personal income. I like to tip people, not companies. A tip is a personal thank you between a customer and an employee. It means, "I appreciate your work ethic, I appreciate your time and care for my personal comfort, and I want to show you that appreciation by offering you this tip."
Some companies even tally up tips on credit card receipts and use a portion of those to cover the extra costs of credit card processing. When I tip an employee, I want the employee to get all of that tip. Sometimes I have even asked "Do you get all of this?" just to be sure. Other times, when paying via credit card, I will leave a cash tip at the table (or even hand it directly to my server) a leave the credit card tip at $0.
I don't have any problem at all tipping people for a job well done, but when the tip goes from a personal thank-you to a large company begging for money, I have to draw the line.