May 26 2005

Tipping and you

This is a subject that won’t win me any fans I figure, but it has been eating at me for awhile, so…deal with it.

I despise tipping. There, I’ve said it. Let me say first though, that no matter how much I may not like it, I still do it as it is expected by society. That doesn’t mean though that I don’t think it has gotten out of control. I believe tipping should be a reward for good service, not just be expected carte blanche, sadly it is becoming that way. Observe the reciept from one of the local restuarants


Ok, as some people I have shown this to have point out to me, this is for the people who can’t do the math for themselves. (my feelings on that are a whole nother entry onto itself) I view it as a little nudge…a little reminder…”Don’t forget to tip…we’ll even figure it out for you!” No you won’t. I will decide the value of the tip…I will decide who should be tipped…and I will tip in the amount I see fit.

According to (anyone notice how much I like that site yet?) defines tipping as:

A tip (also known as a gratuity) is that amount of payment to certain service sector professionals which is in addition to the advertised bill or fee. These payments and their size are a matter of social custom.

There are no standing rules or obligations concerning whether to tip (tip is both a noun and a verb), who to tip or how much. It varies from being considered rude to offer a tip (the other may find it degrading, as if (s)he is a beggar) to being considered very stingy not to give a tip. To give a very small tip might be considered even worse than giving nothing.

See? Even this says there are no rules and no OBLIGATIONS. Do not just assume that the mere act of showing up at my table and taking my order, obliges me to tip you. I don’t expect you to kiss my feet to earn the tip, but I expect at least a normal level of service from you. Are you keeping my coffee cup from reaching bottom? Are you smiling? Are you checking on my meal is? Did you get my order right? None of those things are too much to ask in my opinion.

And why is tipping so widely expected HERE, as in the USA? Other countries don’t do it as much as us, if at all. Also from Wikipedia:

In Sweden, a tip of the lowest denomination may be given as a sign of approval to a waiter who has given exceptionally good service, but never anything else. In Finland and Taiwan tipping is also practically unheard of except when a customer wants to show appreciation for exceptionally good service.

In Australia, tipping is not common and almost all service providers will never expect a tip. Employers (usually!) pay a sufficient wage and do not expect employees to supplement their income with tips. However, as in Sweden, in some establishments in larger cities such as Sydney or Melbourne it is possible to give a tip for good to exceptional service. It is entirely optional and a personal choice.

In the United Kingdom, tipping is an established custom but is less widespread than in the USA, and the expected percentage lower, rarely any more than 10%. Notable distinctions include pub/bar staff, where no tip is expected.

In Spain, expected tips at restaurants are usually from 5% to 10% of the total amount. But nothing happens if you don’t leave any tip as waiters are already paid.

I can add to this that tipping is unheard of in Japan. The bellman at my hotel, sadly, have gotten used to Westerners tipping them, but I refuse to give in there. Nowhere else in Tokyo do I ever run into it though. Not cab drivers, waiters, doorman, elevator operators….no one.

So here we are in the USA and everyone and their brother expects a tip. Waiters, bartenders, doormen, cab drivers, shoe shiners, hairdressers, delivery men, movers and on and on and on. What is it about the United States that we have to do this? Why do these other countries not view tipping the same way? What is it in our mindset that makes people think they should be rewarded for just doing their job?

I am sorry I don’t have the answers, but I sure have the questions. I won’t stop tipping, I like recieiving my order, but it doesn’t ever mean I have to like the practice.

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