Musings of an aging mind.....

Things are not always as they seem...

Over the years, I have always tried to understand why things are the way they are. One thing that I did learn is that there is a relationship between comfort and complacency. If we are comfortable, we burp and fart. If we become uncomfortable, we rant and roar and look for someone to blame.

If we knew what we don’t know, we would quickly realize that we don’t know everything.

Am I getting a little set in my ways or is this simply a case of rumination? And no, there is no rum associated with rumination.

On Tipping

It has always been my understanding that tipping was a choice made by the customer. Based on that freedom of choice, the customer had the option of expressing their appreciation to the server monetarily.

This monetary gift aka “Tip” to the server was traditionally motivated by a variety of factors, including;

1. an appreciation for the level of service received

2. a recognition that servers are not very well paid

3. the “Big Shot” syndrome or the need to pretend that you have lots of money

4. or any combination of the above

Times have changed. New factors have crept into the system. Service providers have asked themselves; “How can we get more money out of the customer, with minimal blame?”

The first phase of the process was for the service provider to communicate to the customer that the business will now collect the “tips” on behalf of all staff. In other words, “to supplement the salary of our staff”.

The justification; We would like all of our staff to share the “Tips”.

This first phase significantly changed the dynamic of “Tipping”. The choice “to tip or not to tip” was usurped from the customer and the right to collect was given to the service provider. Whether these fees are shared equitably with all staff remains an unknown.

Traditionally, tipping is associated with selected service providers. In some cases, tipping is expected, while in others, it is discouraged and may even considered insulting. Tips to public servants and police officers are considered improper, if not illegal. Such tips could also be interpreted as bribery.

From a “Tip“ to a “Fee”.

It would not be long, before the credit card companies would be in on the act.

If my memory serves me, initially, the inclusion of tips on the credit card initially looked something like;

1. No Tip

2. 5%

3. 10%

4. 15%

In the United States, (the tip capital of the world) the generally recognized amount to tip is 15% to 20% of the pre-tax bill. In Ontario, 15% of the full bill works out to ~ 13.3% of the pre-tax bill. Interesting, the credit card companies calculate the tip on the full amount, which includes all taxes and fees.

Probably, the service provider most impacted by the COVID pandemic was restaurants. Fundamentally, most restaurants do not pay their staff adequately, leaving them depending on tips to supplement their income. Roadside service (take out) was not normally related too as being served and resulted in a decrease in tips.

One of the many consequences of the pandemic is something called “tip-flation”, particularly as it relates to restaurants. Your choice “to tip or not to tip” is now somewhere up there with the dodo bird.

What has changed?

Tips are no longer the clear choice of the customer

New credit card suggested tips for restaurants have increased to;

1. No Tip

2. 15%

3. 25%

4. 30%

Customers are;

1. feeling obligated (hanging the monkey on your back)

2. being caught off guard

3. not wanting to appear cheap

4. feeling frustrated/annoyed

“Tips” have been hijacked and are now “Fees”

This shift in service provider behavior has prompted considerable discussion, debate and concern, and has quite naturally resulted in some polling, which suggests that;

1. People feel like tipping is getting out of control.

2. People are reluctantly tipping higher.

Only 13 per cent say they’ve actually seen better customer service since tips have inflated.

From a Tip to a Fee

A second post pandemic initiative on the part of service providers has resulted in something called “Fees”. They are sometimes referred to as a “Tax”.

They show up on your invoice/bill as a fee and may or may not be called mandatory;

1. DF (Destination Fee)

2. DMF (Destination Marketing Fee)

3. TIF (Tourism Improvement Fee)

4. LF (Luxury Fee)

5.APF (Attractions and Promotions Fee)


Such fees are not confined to tourist areas. They seem to be showing up everywhere, from car rentals to your property tax bill. Critics suggest that these fees lack transparency, which I find very confusing.

For example, why is there an item listed on my property tax bill labelled “Local Improvements”. I’m OK with a portion of my property taxes is used for “Local Improvements”. I don’t need the breakdown.

My Hydro bill includes an item listed as “Regulatory Charges”. Besides having no idea what it is, I don’t care.

My Gas Bill lists an item called “Delivery to you”. Seriously, like I need to know how much it costs to deliver my gas.

Fees seem to pop up when you are checking out. For example, when settling your account, just before bisembarking a cruise ship you learn about something called the “crew appreciation fee”. Again there is no evidence that the fee is shared equibably with all of the crew. I always hoped that the Captain was adequately paid.

There is some irony in the fact that listing every little fee costs money, which of course is also passed on to the consumer. Or is it that listing it, somehow justifies it.

The invoicing/billing system can be improved significantly simply by streamlining the process. Listing a fee for every piece of your service on the invoice/bill is quite simply unnecessary.

A number of years ago, I was planning a visit to Paris, France. I was being warned by some of my friends that had been to Paris. They said that the restaurants and bars were very expensive. OMG, a hamburger was going to cost me $15.00.

After a pleasant evening at a café on the River Seine, we got our bill. I learned from the server that the prices on the menu were all inclusive, meaning that they included all gratuities and taxes. The server communicated to us that gratuities were not expected. After a little math, I soon realized that the cost was not significantly different from what I would have paid in Canada. All in all, a pleasant and guilt free experience.

We can fix this.

Again, from the Angus Reid Poll;

1. To put an end to tipping in Canada, 59 per cent said they would like to see a “service included” model implemented. This means higher base wages for employees and the removal of gratuity fees for consumers.

2. With the current way of tipping in Canada, more than four-in-five of the Canadians who want to get rid of gratuity believe the existing system allows employers to underpay their employees.

The “all Inclusive” or “Service Included” model will make your visit to you favorite Restaurant/Bar so much more enjoyable.

On the Price of Oil versus the Price of Gasoline........

When oil was $110.00 U.S. per barrel, gas was $1.10 per liter. Then, the price per barrel halved to $55.00 U.S. per barrel and gas remained at $1.10 per liter. Is this a case where we got comfortable with the $1.10 per liter?

Where does the difference go?

Update: Oil is again $110.00 U.S. per barrel, but at the gas pumps, it is now 2.00 per liter.

On the Selling of Government Assets.....

Most government assets have been paid for by the tax payers over many years, often decades. What gives a newly formed government the right to sell these assets? How does that really work?

Over the years, I have often compared the financial decisions of governments with my personal financial decisions. Although there is the difference of scale, I believe that the fundamentals are the same.

There were times when I got myself into situations where my expenditures exceeded my income. I always came to the same conclusion. I had 2 options. Either, I had to increase my income to match my expenditures or I had to decrease my expenditures to match my income. In other words, I had no choice but to live within my means.

Overspending is a serious financial problem at any level. And yes, you can sell your assets to cover off some of your overspending for the short term, but at the end of the day, you will have no assets and you will still have the spending problem.

And yes, I do understand that increasing taxes (revenues) and/or cutting spending (expenditures) can have negative consequences for the  politician and that sound financial decisions can adversely affect their chances of re-election.

On Money.....

To date, I have spent most of my money on wine, women and song…. and boats….., the rest I wasted.

On Life Style...........

If……. I had known that I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.

On Communications......... Who you talkin' to?

A tale of the self-important aircraft carrier captain getting his well-earned comeuppance at the hands of a plain-speaking lighthouse keeper has been making the rounds on the Internet since early 1996. Most write-ups purport to be transcripts of a 1995 conversation between a ship and a lighthouse as documented by Chief of Naval Operations:

Based on an actual transcript of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. This radio conversation was released by the Chief of Naval Operations in 1995.

Americans: “Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision. over”

Newfoundlander: “Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision, over.”

Americans: “This is the captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course, over.”

Newfoundlander: “Negative, I say again, you divert YOUR course, over.”


Newfoundlander: “This is a lighthouse. Your call.”

Whether or not this conversation ever took place is not important, but it does make the point that clear and concise communication is important, especially at sea.

On aging.......

I’m supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one.

On learning.......

You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

On feminism.......

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer belly, and still think they are sexy.

On Beer.........

“Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer.”

Henry Lawson