Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Faine daining: to tip or not to tip

Ploughing sadly through the various horrors of the Adelaide news this morning, I came across an altogether more frivolous item about SA people being the meanest tippers in the country.

What do people think about tipping in restaurants? Do you do it? How much? Why?


Tatyana Larina said...

I never tip if the staff are rude or if the place is snooty (I don’t like being called ‘madam’ when I’m out with my kids). I don’t know how I’d feel if I had to tip every time I had something in a cafe, that would be weird. If there’s a dish labelled 'retirement fund' or ‘tippers have better sex’ and the place is groovy and relaxed, I’ll throw in a few coins. Don’t know why.

henry said...

Usually leave a tip for a restaurant meal, and only if the staff are pleasant and helpful. Grumpy soup-sloppers will be disappointed.

About ten percent of the total, but that's not a rule. And cash only; not an extra on the credit card. I want to be sure the waiter herself gets it.

Elisabeth said...

I'm troubled by tipping. I don't do it often in Australia, mainly when there is exceptional service. Overseas is different. The cultures are different and I'm never sure whether it's a necessity and if so how much.
I'd much prefer that people were paid properly up front with none of this gratuitous excess or deprivation on a whim. It feels too much like master/servant stuff.

elsewhere said...

Whenever I come back from America, I'm stricken with guilt about the amount of tipping I don't do here, (tho it's done for such structurally bad reasons over there). After a while, the guilt wears off and I revert the whole 'only if they're outstanding or I can't be bothered to collect the change' thing. Which is kind of capricious master/slave stuff, as Elisabeth says.

lucy tartan said...

If there are a lot of people and the waiter has a lot to do then I think a tip is good.

When I worked in retail, visitors from overseas would occasionally try to tip and I hated it. On those occasions the relationship between gratuity & gratuitous & ingratiating came forward.

Barry Leiba said...

I'm an American who's never been south of the equator, so I'm entirely unfamiliar with how it's done in Australia... but I hate the way it is here. I fully agree with Elisabeth: the staff should be paid properly, and not have to depend on the whims of the customers. Dealing with good or bad performance should be the job of the restaurant's management.

On the other side, the diner should know what she's paying: if the menu says 23 dollars, then it should cost 23 dollars, not 23 dollars plus some amount of local tax (which, in the U.S., differs by state, by county, and sometimes by city/town) plus some amount of tip that's up to her but that makes her seem like a skinflint if she leaves less than 15%, and, oh, by the way, that's gone up to around 20% these days. So that 23 becomes 29 or 30.

But in the U.S., knowing that they do depend upon my tip, I'm generally generous with it unless the waiter has done a bad job at things that are his fault.

When I travel, it's difficult. I have to find out how things are done where I'm going... and, as this post shows, even the locals don't always agree. In Sweden, recently, I was told that one needn't tip, and people just round up to the next SEK 20, so that would amount to leaving no more than an extra dollar or so. But then I went to some restaurants (in tourist areas) that had "tip not included" printed on the menus. What to do?

And Henry: leaving the tip in cash does not ensure that your waiter gets it, at least in the U.S. Many restaurants here use one or another system of tip pooling, where either the waiters put their tips together and they're then re-distributed among the staff, or the waiters keep their own tips but have to give certain percentages to the other staff (busboys, cooks, and so on).

Sure, a cash tip can be pocketed quietly and not disclosed, but they're risking their jobs if they're caught doing that.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

I never tip unless its with a large group and everyone can throw in a bit. I think tipping is insulting to people. Although obviously I'm wrong.

Why can't places pay people what they are worth and include it in the costs - thats normal.

I had my car serviced today - the guy was great and gave me advice I asked for about someone else's car for free - he loaned me a car too. I didn't tip him - yet his work was so much more important to my safety and others than a waiter.

No one ever tips someone they consider their better or equal.

Do people tip their lecturer on the way out of a lecture?

I've never seen anyone tip the checkout people at the supermarket - thats largely a food industry. Or tip at the local deli after buying some cheese and ham.

No one tips at the shoe shop and no one ever seem to tip the librarians who do provide a wonderful service (mostly).

Cozalcoatl said...

Having lived in the US for nearly 3 years, I'm a pretty generous tipper. When I first moved here (Flagstaff, Arizona from Sydney) I worked in a couple of bar/diners. The minimum wage here is about $7hr. Waiters and barstaff get paid about $4hr because it is assumed that they will get tips, so there is the loophole for employers to pay less. It still boggles me. If you don't get tipped you don't get paid. I usually round up the tax, its pretty close to 15-20% of the bill. Getting paid $4hr sucks, you can't live on that alone.
Its common here to tip your hairdresser as they have to rent a chair in a salon and probably get paid crap too.
In Aust. they are paid more (~$15+ hr) and I don't really tip much when I go back home.

Kathleen said...

Yes, I agree with Coazlcoatl, I tip in Australia because I was a waitress through uni. We got $10 cash-in-hand per hour, and that money was feeding me. Tips were appreciated.

I also have a "child tipping" policy: one of the things that made waitressing harder work was sweeping up crumbs after kids, wiping muck off windows, etc. When I am at a cafe with the four-year-old, I leave a little extra child-tip. It's not necessary, it's not to say "thank you" because he's so inherently offensive, or whatever - it's just out of recognition.

Word verification: dregi. Yes. That sums up my waitressing career, I think.

Deborah said...

Do people tip their lecturer on the way out of a lecture?

I wish they would!

I do very occasionally, for extra extra good service, and then I leave cash on the table for the waiter. Sometimes I'll just leave any change in the saucer / bowl / whatever by the till.

Hairdresser - no. But I take in a small, homemade end-of-year gift, as I do for my children's teachers. Usually homemade fudge, or pickles, or something like that.

Mary Bennet said...

Like Kathleen, I add a "toddler tolerance" charge to the bill, especially if the staff do things above and beyond like bring out crayons or mention which things on the menu are likely to be favoured by fussy eaters.

I figure that way they're less likely to hide next time they see us coming...

But then in Sydney I generally do tip around 10 per cent with the exception of times when the staff weren't very nice or forgot something.

I don't know enough about the industry to know whether this is needed (I know everyone could do with extra money but are there still determined awards for waiting or is everyone paid cash in hand?) and I suspect my motives are just that everyone around me started to do it. My parents flatly refuse to tip in Australia so I think peer pressure is an important reason.

Mary Bennet said...

Sorry, I meant that my parents don't tip because none of their friends do.

kris said...

I think if you are splitting the bill in a big group and sorting the change is a pain... then just leave it as a tip. But generally speaking we pay the correct price for the item - it was agreed upon when you chose from the menu... so to add more is silly. If the staff are underpaid or being taken advantage of they should simply stage a revolution or work somewhere else. Its a free market economy after all!

I spent a long time working in the service industry and unless you actually hand it to the person you want to get it - the extra cash rarely goes to the staff... if often goes towards 'the Christmas Party 'fund... whatever that means!

Ok. So maybe i am just miffed about the boring Christmas parties and the lack of tips...

Helen said...

I generally eat out in a group so I'll usually "round up". It may not be a great amount but I don't have to agonise that I'm freeriding on others or shortchanging the restaurant. I HOPE it ends up with the waiter, but I guess you never know.

w/v wooded, which is the chardy I'm drinking

Thinks: A person who not only bothers to comment on the w/v but bothers to italicise it is probably very, very sad and needs to get out again soon.

skepticlawyer said...

I always tip in the US, in large part because people there are often taxed on the basis that they receive tips. The thought of being taxed on something I haven't earned fills me with dread.

In Australia or the UK, I tend only to tip if the service is good (which I take to be friendly, not obsequious).

cinnamon girl said...

Since when have we been expected to tip in Adelaide restaurants? I was taught that tipping wasn't necessary or culturally appropriate here.

I'd do it if I was in the USA or some place where it is expected, but I never realised it's expected here!

I save all my coins for the buskers....

via collins said...

put me down in the "round up the bill to nearest five dollar mark if service has been good, and it's a group" category.

if the service is above and beyond the call good, maybe more, but that's rare.

i detest obseqious, over-serving, and jars that suggest i tip. de-test. so no tip there.

M-H said...

One of the few things that makes travel in the US stressful for me is tipping. When I travelled with my late partner, who required a wheelchair at airports, we were warned we should tip the wheelchair pusher $1, or $2 if it was a long push or there was a lot of waiting. She tried to always keep a small supply of $1 bills in a shirt pocket for this. But hotels - how much to tip the bagboy? I'm informed it's $1 for a small bag and $2 for a large one, so around $4 for the two of us. So is $5 OK, or is that patronising and rude? Is $10 for extra (obsequious) service (turning on lights in the room, demonstrating the TV quite unnecessarily) overly generous? Cab drivers - you can round up, but what if that only delivers 25c? DO you add... how much?

I have seen restaurant customers in the US counting out change to get to the expected 15% or 20% - to the cent. This seems to me mean and grudging - if you're going to tip, then round it up. But the vexed question for me as a traveller is always 'how much'?

feral sparrowhawk said...

Yesterday one of my lunch partners formed a raport with the waiter, including quite extensive banter and some jokes that had the rest of the table in stitches and the waiter clearly trying to hold back his laughter. As we were leaving she slipped a $5 bill in his back pocket. He loudly accused her of grabbing his arse, only realising as we were at the door what she'd actually done.

Not sure this is really that relevant, but where else am I going to get to tell that story?

Personally I tip if the service is particularly good, I feel we've been particularly demanding, or I'm celebrating. My parents always tip as a form of wealth redistribution, I figure I'm not that rich, but that when celebrating something one should spread some joy around. Of course I always tipped in the US, because my understanding is that pay scales are based on an assumption of 15% tips.