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One of the things I hate most about America is the tipping culture.
Actually, who am I kidding, it’s not a culture, it’s an expectation … and the worst place to be exposed to it is in restaurants.
Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to give additional money to someone who I believe has genuinely enhanced my eating experience – whether that is by their advice, attentiveness or all round demeanour – but I detest the expectation that I should pay even more for something I’ve already [over]paid for, simply because someone dropped a plate of slop in front of my face.
Yes, I know this is a British thing and I know how poorly paid many waiters/waitresses are [I was one once and I was terribly paid, mainly because I was terrible] but it gets on my nerves.
Of course, when a restaurant owner automatically adds the tip to the bill, then I nearly explode.
How dare they!
Apart from the fact that a tip should be a discretionary payment, how the hell do I know the person I may want to get the cash, will get the cash?
But what’s blowing my mind these days is the % people are now expecting as a ‘tip’.
Yes, I can be a tight fucker, but in the US, 20% is the minimum expected amount.
TWENTY PERCENT … for taking an order, dropping some food in front of your face and handing your the bill at the end of the night.
And adland feels lucky when they make 10% and for that, there clients basically expect them to be their 24/7 slaves!
I remember once being in the US with a friend and the bill came to about $65.
My friend handed over a $100 bill and the waiter said, “Do you want change?”
Fortunately my friend – a Brit – put the smug waiter in his place by announcing he wanted every cent owed to him.
What’s fascinating is that in China, tipping is frowned upon.
Yes you can say the country is rich – and it is – but for many millions of people, their life is very poor and yet despite that, tipping is seen as something you shouldn’t actually do and something actively discouraged.
I cannot tell you the amount of bollockings I’ve been given by colleagues for tipping taxi drivers, delivery men or restaurant staff … but the reason is always because  they have given me good service and  they never expect it.
OK, there’s also the fact I feel guilty earning a proportionately much higher salary as a guest of this wonderful country than the average person born here so that always encourages me to hand over more than I should [which in many cases, has already been bumped up by the owner for being exactly that sort of person] but the fact is, customer service people here still don’t expect gratuity [at least in the form of customer tips, they do expect ‘annual bonuses’ from their company] and when you compare that to the US service industry, that’s astonishing.
The role of a tip – or bonus – is to act as an incentive to be at your best. Do the best work you can. Push your boundaries. When you expect it, then the point of a tip is nullified and everything goes downhill.
Of course the biggest issue is whether people are being paid fairly in the first place and that’s a whole different discussion point, but where [expected] tipping is concerned, it drives me nuts.
Oh, I feel so much better for letting that out. Thank you, even though 99% of you won’t have got to this point in the post.
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