Going out to a bar for drinks with your friends is great. You can relax, de-stress, and forget about your problems. That is until your annoyingly disinterested bartender stands awkwardly next to your group of friends after having delivered you your drinks with their hand out. They want a tip.
Granted not all places do this. There are some bars where you can order your drinks when you want them, the barman brings them to you, and you pay and tip for all your drinks at the end of the night.
Before I go any further in this rant, I want to clarify that I have never in my life worked as a bartender, but I have worked many customer service jobs, so I have some sympathy. I know customers can be dicks and I can only assume that there are some customers who would try to cheat a barman out of a tip. There have been reports of people not leaving a tip after a $140 bill, or not tipping the pizza delivery guy when he orders food to your door. But these are exceptions to the rule. In Montreal, customers are expected to pay roughly 15-25 per cent on a bill, and I understand some servers may not always get it, but asking for a tip is the cheapest thing you can do as a server.
You have to earn your tip
By it's very nature, a tip is something that is NOT included in the wages that you are paid to do your job. It is something you have to earn. It is something I give you because you have provided some sort of service for me. That means that I have the ability to judge how good the service was, and will give you a percentage of the bill based off of my opinion. So don't ask for a tip! I will give you a 15 per cent tip for doing your job, and a 20 per cent tip if the service is great.
It's a ploy
Giving a tip is basically a ploy for server to attempt to make more money off of you. If you ask for a 20 per cent tip on an average beer at a bar that costs around $8, the tip comes out to $1.60 per beer. But chances are, people are just going to give the bartender a toonie. That means that if you get three drinks, you're paying a total $6 if you tip after each drink. Compare that to a $4.80 tip you would give if you paid for everything at the end and decided your $24 experience (three beers at $8 each) at a bar was worth a 20 percent tip.
It may not seem like a lot, but it does add up for the customer. More importantly though, it erodes the trust a bar-person is supposed to establish with a customer. The service industry is based on a relationship between a server and the client. That's why a good tip is awarded to a bar server that the customer enjoys. By asking for a tip after each drink, the bartender is saying "I don't trust that you'll pay me what I'm owed."
All you can drink events
What's even worse is going to an all you can drink event. These events will reel you in with their promise of all the alcohol you can drink for one price at the door. The only problem is that you still end up spending money because servers still expect a tip. If you don't tip, or don't tip enough, you may be refused service. It's happened to me. This is after you've battled through the hundreds of people crowded around the bar.
Look, if you're going to advertise an all you can drink event, don't make me tip. I have stopped going to those events because of the injustice of false advertising.
In addition to the monetary tip that is expected of any customer in Montreal, here is a service tip for all bartenders: don't ask me for a tip after every drink. If you don't want to establish a relationship with me, leave me alone and I'll pay you your 15 per cent at the end. If you aggressively solicit a tip, chances are the situation will get awkward. That means I'm not going back. I may just be one out of the millions, but if you don't provide a relaxed and comfortable place where people can unwind, you're going to lose more than just my business.