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Saturday, September 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 75.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Paper
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Tell All: I hate tip jars
Why do so many Madison stores want my extra change?

Dear Tell All: Madison has gone crazy with its ever-expanding tipping culture. I don't mind tipping in restaurants, where you get to know your waiter over the course of an hour or two. If they give great service, I'm happy to leave 15%. If they give less-than-great service, I can leave less.

But I'm dismayed by the new electronic devices at some local restaurants. The waiter brings it to your table, tells you to swipe your card, then asks you to press one of three choices for a tip amount. The first choice is 15% -- as if that's the minimum! The other two recommended choices are 20% and 25%, which seem exorbitant. It's awkward enough pressing the lowest amount with the waiter standing right there. But what if I want to leave less than 15%, or nothing at all? Choosing that option in the waiter's presence would make an unpleasant experience even worse.

I'm seeing the dreaded tip jar in more and more places around town. Why should I be expected to tip someone at a coffee shop who merely reaches into the display case to get my muffin? It's getting to the point where I just avoid going into coffee shops altogether because I'd rather not deal with the counter attendants' scorn if they don't get a tip.

What really floored me was seeing a tip jar in Budget Bicycles' repair shop. I told the counter attendant my problem, he took my bike...and I'm supposed to put money in the jar for that? Or would the money be for the mechanic fixing my bike in the back room who I won't even meet?


Tapped Out

Dear Tapped Out: If you're staying away from coffee shops just to avoid the tip jar, it's not Madison that's gone crazy -- it's you. We're talking about a small amount of money here. Rather than being mad all the time, why not decide to do a favor for beleaguered service-industry workers and throw them a few coins? I predict you'll feel better about yourself. You'll also end up eating a lot more muffins before you die, and that's a good thing.

Do you have a question about life or love in Madison? Write Tell All, 101 King St., Madison, WI 53703. Or email

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