“Bribes To Ensure Good Service:” Hawaii Tipping Goes Insane

One person said if you can’t tip generously, don’t come. Another said, for goodness sake don’t tell customers that. Five huge issues with tipping in Hawaii.

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127 thoughts on ““Bribes To Ensure Good Service:” Hawaii Tipping Goes Insane”

  1. We just got back from Maui, and this report hit the nail on the head. In fact some restaurants sneak the grat onto the check, and Then include the additional tip menu. I now go down to 10 or 15% if I find the tip ask is overly greedy

  2. I’m all about leaving a good tip for good service, I also work in the industry, It’s out of control all over the united states’ not just Hawaii, Good Service = Good Tips ,It shouldn’t be forced in service fees or gratuity, Here’s a tip do your job better get better tips

    1. @joshJ If you work in the industry, then you know that there are some things that aren’t in the server’s control. The kitchen might be running behind, for example. This is often taking out on the server in the form of a bad/no tip. As I’ve said before, if tips were truly just for quality of service, then that’s one thing, but they aren’t. They are a way for company’s to underpay people and then force us, the customer, to make up the difference with tips. I personally prefer the system they have in Europe where you don’t tip at all, or rather just tip a small amount for extra good service and the servers are paid a living wage.

  3. The tipping issue isn’t limited to Hawaii. It is the same thing here in Washington State. While in Hawaii, we try to eat in the local restaurants and food trucks that are moderately priced. We have never received anything but outstanding friendly service (even when everyone was talking about how bad things were in Hawaii) and are always happy to leave a nice tip. We are on vacation enjoying someone else’s home after all. I kind of agree with the person who said if you can’t afford a tip don’t come or at least don’t go to a place where a tip is warranted. We put tips into the budget anytime we take a vacation.

    1. AJ we also put tipping money into our spending plan wherever we vacation and travel, services deserve acknowledging. Hawaiian Food Trucks have amazing foods and most other venues that we have eaten at haven’t disappointed us either. With monetary conversions being different around the world and wages at many non-US resorts actually meeting or exceeding a living wage, seeing the workers satisfaction in their job is wonderful. Giving a Dollar tip can convert into a $25/$35 dollar local currency rate, over 10 days that can, and does, make a significant difference in the lives of hard working and friendly servers. Employees happily help support their parents and other family members, here that isn’t a possibility.

  4. This all started with chip card technology, chip read transactions cannot be edited and changes once the the sale has been run as a result the tip is asked for up front, I told people developing this stuff it would be a while for people to accept and get used to this. Most restaurants are supplying your bill with the tip line all at once so tip is already part of the full amount of the transaction. Places that have both sit down dining and take out are not doing this on purpose everyone is held to chip card logistics is not logical in this instance but it is the way the banking industry designed the technology and all merchants must follow regulations as set forth by the industry.

  5. Lee I agree with you, however, I also believe that there’s things going on that most people are not considering, let’s call it the “BJ” proposal. It’s extremely disheartening to see the Exodus of people to Las Vegas and the Elected Politicians are unconcerned by it. Why would that be? The “BJ” proposal, as I call it, is an initiative that will solve big businesses concerns. Big Business and Your Politicians colluding to eventually import to Hawaii Illegals, Border Jumpers (BJ), to train and fill the positions necessary to operate effected businesses. Housing concerns would be taken care of by the employers, not saying that they would be acceptable to us, and everything would be good. Don’t doubt this, it will occur.

  6. I Tip when I am served in a restaurant. If I order at a window, pick up the food and seat myself, there is nothing to Tip for and no Tip is provided. Anything else? Forget it. I’ve seen this “request” on credit card purchases and my standard response (Hawaii or elsewhere) is No Tip. No service, no Tip. If your employer isn’t paying enough, why are you working there?

  7. It’s not a complex problem. If you can afford to have someone package or prepare your fresh food, the person handing you your product because you are advantaged enough to hire people to prepare your food probably needs money a bit more than youu. What’s the deep psychic philosophical issue that makes this a worthy topic?

    1. James you’re assuming that anyone, and everyone, that consumes food from a takeout is better off than those who are working there and many times that may not be the case. Have you ever considered that many people purchase the food after Saving a portion of their meager earnings as a Special Treat for their child or children? Similar situations arise and for whatever reason it’s easier than driving home when running errands or attending appointments? Of course Some People are better off than the workers, perhaps they should go elsewhere with their money and put more people out of work? Comments can have unexpected results that can be counterproductive. Capitalism is Sound, Socialism weakens and falls apart the very fabric of society.

  8. Since Ice has been so heavy in Hawaii I think alot of it has lost the Aloha Spirit..Shame it’s always been Home for me..but now it’s gotten so bad in so many areas.

  9. Hawaii’s population is declining due to residents moving to the mainland where the cost of living is lower. Eventually wages will rise because employers will have to raise wages in order to have any staff. Until that happens it’s going to be a struggle.

  10. I tip a set amount at restaurants. 5.00 per person in my party. No matter what restaurant. So at Panera, if my bill is 30.00 for 2 people, I tip 10.00. That’s a good tip, right? If I am at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and my bill is 240.00 for 2 people, the tip is still 10.00. Why should someone working at a schwanky place be tipped more than a person working at an inexpensive restaurant?

    1. Because the person at panera makes at least minimum wage while the Ruth Chris waiter makes well below minimum wage. I hope you will adjust your practice so you don’t cause a person to make below minimum wage.

  11. The author left out extremely important historical context to the historical background to the history of tipping in the US. Most importantly, tipping really spread here, like the author said, just after the civil war when railroad owners used unpaid former slaves as porters, whose only pay was tips. Tipping is an obscene practice where the responsibility to pay employees is shifted to customers from employers where it completely belongs. We need to expect that employers pay their employees rather than leave payment to the good will of customers.

  12. I would love to see the USA eliminate tipping as an excuse to underpay employees. Pay them what is fair for the work and be done with it. To be realistic, how will anyone earn a living wage waiting tables in expensive Hawaii? Maybe in an upscale restaurant, but not at a coffee shop. There are many places in the US where people routinely hold down 2 jobs to make ends meet. Sad, but true. Hawaii, relying heavily on tourism and repeated rejection of new industry will remain a state of working poor. As others have said, many leave for the mainland in search of better opportunities. It’s up to the state government to realign their priorities.

    1. Kim, the State and County Governments need to realign their priorities which is a monumental task due to the “Influence” peddlers. The Entire Blame for the ongoing debacle faced by residents of Hawaii can be traced back decades and culminating today. The Voter’s choices in Politicians that They Elected all of this time, for the most part, has allowed all of this and it continues. The Voters need to take Responsibility for Their Choices, plain and simple. Blame over tourism on Yourselves, you allowed it to occur and get to where it is today. Now Accept That and Change it moving forward, it’s Your responsibility and choice! Don’t blame Tourists because of Your Choices that don’t work!

  13. I agree with everything said. We do tip when service is provided like at restaurants boat trips thing where people actually work to serve the customers. I will put $1 in tip jar at Peets and places like that. Tipping is for good service and has become expected not a reward. I’m sorry employers don’t pay better to help their employees. I was surprised at how low Hawaii min. Wage is. CA is higher and things cost less. Servers make $15/hr plus tips.HI needs to increase minimum wage. If tourists stop coming you have no job.

  14. We’re currently in Kauai and the other night we went to an upscale restaurant on the south shore. It has valet service and I normally tip the valet attendant when he brings the car. But when leaving the dining area we had to pass the front desk and was asked to pay $3. “For what?” I asked. I was told it was for the restaurant manager, who I never saw of course. Definitely over the top, probably won’t go back. It’s become more of a “great place to be seen” type restaurant anyway.

  15. I lived through a great era when good service got rewarded with a good tip. Robotic service got minimal, and lousy service got none. It was a time when everyone shared “good values”. We believed in karma. Now, expectation and entitlement are foundations. We just eat at home. Healthier!

  16. Nothing wrong with tipping most people have the money to tip 15% its part of our culture whether you like it or not. If no tips you will have no Hawaii to take a vacation to period.

    1. You’re Right, nothing wrong with tipping, unless the service sucks. I can’t remember the last time that I didn’t tip, typically 18 to 20+ percent with the occasional tip closer to 50 percent. On the other end of the scale I can remember the smallest tip that I have left. The Server would have fit in as a dock worker, cursing and slamming everything on the table and not an ounc of courtesy…..I left an entire Quarter! 🙄 She didn’t last too long and I heard that she was complaining that she didn’t get tips like the other servers, she had no clue!

  17. A simple solution….. first I do not feel I should have to support people who do not make a enough to support themselves…find a different job ! Second if the cost of living is to high where you are at…..move ! James

    1. LOL, right then next you’ll be complaining that “no one wants to work anymore!” when your favorite restaurant doesn’t have enough servers to provide timely service. This is the same ‘ol problem where people think that good old fashioned work with your hands isn’t something that’s “skilled”, and this shouldn’t be compensated well. But without the carpenters, waitstaff, cleaning people, etc. those self same elitists wouldn’t have the services, or the buildings, or the furniture that they need/want.

      1. @Joerg H – Carpentry, Mechanics, Plumbers, etc. Are skilled laborers. House keeping, food servers, etc. are not. And lets not confuse hard work (which they all are) with the skill factor. Some jobs take months, if not years of training to become proficient, others you can pretty much start day of and work.

        1. LOL, have you ever worked as a server? There’s more to it than just going back and forth to the kitchen. Finally, let me say that there’s nothing wrong with hard work, and I think that people should be compensated for their labor fairly. this idea that “unskilled” labor should be treated like slave labor is abhorrent to me. As I’ve said elsewhere, I find it interesting that the same people who tell them to “get a better job if you don’t like it” are the ones complaining that “no one wants to work anymore!” when there’s a shortage of same said “unskilled labor” to work int he restaurants, as housekeepers, etc.

          1. Yes I have worked as a server, my feet and fried mind remember all too well what it was like. The tips were awesome at certain times of the day and especially with repeat customers. If anyone has the opinion that servers are not professional maybe they should give it a few months. That’s If they get past day 3 without being shown the door!

          2. What amazes me in these comments about only tip for good service is the obvious. If one can afford to let other people cook, serve your food and clean up after you, then what’s the problem with sharing a bit of aloha (paying it forward) for simply having the privilege of being privileged? Or has noblesse oblige lost its meaning?

          3. Hi James, do You leave a “normal” tip of 15% or more for service that is below standards? Do You, by doing so, Encourage and Foster that kind of behavior? I would rather decide to tip accordingly, it can improve that person’s serving and people skills. It can also change the course of a life into a job/career that is better suited to the individual. Tipping bad servers encourages worse service to propagate. The Industry and Customer deserve much better! Consider that.

          4. The only problem with your theory is that tips are no longer a reflection of the quality of service alone. Companies under pay their employees and expect us to make up the difference with tips. So, someone who’s having a bad day (you’ve had those, right?) is going to not be able to feed their family because you want to teach them a lesson?

          5. Joerg, we both know that isn’t what I was stating or advocating. I actually inquire wanting to know, most of the time it is quite obvious that a plaguing problem exists that is effecting the person. It is those that simply have a problem with working and show it in practically every way that I refer to. Unfortunately as time moves forward there are more of them. Why give my all, referring to a good tip, when the server won’t? Call me a Concerned Consumer or a Nosey Customer, I do care!

      2. Joerg there are too many people that cannot equate the Importance of any job that entails working with their hands as “Unskilled” and dismiss what they do as unessential. How many went to college and garnered a degree which is essentially “useless” or the pay scale is an unlivable wage yet they believe that they are Superior to others? I have seen the Wage Reports and True/Real Targeted Jobs Reports and Trade Schools would have been a better choice and Yes there are Bachelors Degrees awarded upon satisfactory completion of the course work! The Income for many Trades is well above what people realize and outcompetes many regular college degrees. Time for “kids” and parents to consider Reality vs supposed “prestige!”


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