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by Abigail Van Buren

Multiplying Tip Jars Get Divided Reaction

DEAR ABBY: When I read the letter from "All Tipped Out," commenting on the increasing number of "tip jars" she encounters in business establishments, I had to write and say I couldn't agree more.

I first noticed the phenomenon about 15 years ago, at a wine-and-cheese fund-raiser for an organization to which I belonged. I was flabbergasted to see that the people pouring the wine had a tip jar on the bar. I assumed that we had hired these people as part of the contract, and certainly never expected to see them blatantly soliciting tips. However, I couldn't convince the event organizers to do anything about it.

Since then, I have seen tip jars on the open bars at weddings. Only once have I seen the father of the bride have the good sense and righteous indignation to order them removed immediately.

There is no reason to tolerate paid help hustling one's invited guests for tips. You wouldn't put up with this at a catered event at your home. -- PAT C., HOCKESSIN, DEL.

DEAR PAT: Good point. Frankly, I too was surprised at how prevalent the practice has become. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Please tell "All Tipped Out" to hold onto her hat. There is a doctor's office in our town -- a beautiful facility with lots of employees and patients -- that does the same thing, although in a slightly less blatant way.

A friend of mine went to this office to have a procedure done. It was not performed by the doctor, but by a technician. When she went to pay at the reception desk, she was asked if she would like to "tip" the technician.

I have no problem tipping in establishments where I know the employees are not receiving minimum wage and depend on tips to supplement their incomes. However, I have no doubt that technician was earning more than minimum wage, and I don't think it was appropriate to ask a patient for a tip.

I will be more on my toes than my friend was. I will say, "Perhaps the doctor should give his technician a raise if she needs tips." -- ALWAYS A NEW TWIST IN WYOMING

DEAR NEW TWIST: What you have described seems more like a demand than a request, and it's appalling.

DEAR ABBY: I work in a local bakery, and there is a tip jar; however, the employees who work the counter earn the same as everyone else, and it's more than minimum wage. Yet they expect tips and make rude comments when the customer leaves if they are not received. I find this embarrassing. I'd be less dismayed if the tips were divided by everyone, and the comments were kept in check. -- E. CLAIRE IN CAMBRIDGE

DEAR E. CLAIRE: Your boss should be made aware of what's going on in the front of his shop. If word leaks out, it will affect the business.

DEAR ABBY: I work in a small restaurant where there's a tip jar on the counter. I don't "expect" tips because of it. What makes my day is when a customer is friendly, cheerful, and says "please" and "thank you." "All Tipped Out" needn't feel obligated to tip. Just being polite and friendly will make an employee's day far more than any tip could. -- HAPPY SERVER IN CANADA

DEAR HAPPY SERVER: You're 100 percent right -- but that's a subject for another column.