Monday, December 15, 2008

Tip talk

On my way through Payson last week, I stopped in at Safeway. They've got one of those Starbucks kiosks and I had a gift card in my wallet, so I figured I'd grab a cup of black coffee for the road.

The older lady in front of me paid for her drink, and then tried to tip the barrista a dollar.

"No, thank you," he said to her. "We're not allowed to take tips."
"Oh, come on, it's just a dollar," she said, shoving it toward him.
"Thank you, I really appreciate it, but I could lose my job, and it's just not worth it," he said, with a very polite smile, at which point she relented.

The exchange pointed out a couple of things to me. First, that it's odd that a Starbucks standalone allows tips, but the rules are obviously different in the supermarket. Which is why, second, that it was a bit odd that the lady insisted on trying to give the young man a tip, even after he had said, quite clearly, why he was declining.

And third, leaving aside for a moment that "it's the principle of the thing," I think it's just flat-out rotten that someone could conceivably lose a job over a $1 tip.

1 comment:

  1. Those Starbucks kiosks in grocery stores (and, usually the ones inside of big hotels & airports too) aren't actually corporate owned. Domestically Starbucks doesn't do franchising either but what they've done is allow for some special partnerships from time to time. The partner (the hosting store, hotel, etc) runs the store and the employees are on the payroll of the hosting organization not Starbucks.

    In theory they get Starbucks style training but I've never ran across one of those where things were run as well as genuine Starbucks stores. Not that there aren't good people working in them... but they aren't part of the same corporate culture that Starbucks has established for its employees so I imagine the mindsets are a bit different.

    It results in other oddities too, such as policy differences (like this), Starbucks gift cards not being accepted (sometimes, somewhat better more recently), some supply differences, etc.

    Regardless I think that's a pretty silly policy about tips. The only rational explanation I can come up with is that grocery store managers aren't very used to the idea of tips and that policy carried over to the Starbucks kiosk inside. Perhaps they're just looking at as another department/aisle within the store and not an independent business (which, I suppose, it's not - due to the way things are structured).