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Does Tipping “Insure Promptitude”?

May 29, 2011

Last night my husband and I went to one of our favourite restaurants, anticipating the usual good service, generous portions, and tasty fare (all at a reasonable price) that we’ve come to expect from this particular establishment. Unfortunately, the service was slow (the restaurant was not busy, so why did it take almost ten minutes for the waitress to deliver two bottles of beers?), the servings were much smaller than usual (as were the plates the food was on), and the meal was sub-par (we both ordered something we’ve had many times in the past, so we knew what to expect). 

Liver and OnionsWhen I commented on the disappointing food quality and quantity when the waitress came by to inquire, she said she would pass my comments along to the kitchen (we did ask if they had a new cook; she said ‘No’).  When our bill was delivered, it was accompanied by two ‘chits’ for free appetizers on our next visit, and an apology (of sorts) from the waitress for the poor quality of our meals (portion size wasn’t mentioned) – apparently the kitchen had run out of the particular cut of butcher-supplied meat they usually serve and had resorted to having someone ‘pop out to the local grocery store’ to buy (a clearly lower quality) substitute.  Since this has been a favourite restaurant for almost ten years, we’ll certainly give them another go, but I struggled with determining how much I should leave as a tip.  The service was adequate, I suppose, the waitress did take our complaints seriously and offered an explanation, and we will get two free appetizers (a $15 value) on our next visit – but how much should I have tipped when I was clearly dissatisfied with the overall experience? 

As with most things, my quandary (I finally left somewhere between 10% and 15%) led me to wondering where the whole idea of tipping came from, why we tip for some ‘services’ and not others, and why people feel compelled to tip (even when the service they receive isn’t exceptional). 

18th Century PubThe most commonly accepted theory is that tipping began in 18th century British coffeehouses and pubs, where containers labelled ‘To Insure Promptitude’ were placed on tables for patrons to drop coins into if they wanted ‘exceptional service’ (this is also where the word ‘tip’ appears to have come from).   Those who tossed something in did, indeed, receive better service, and tipping in the food services industry soon became a mark of one’s social status (i.e., if you could afford to tip, you got better service than those who couldn’t afford the extra). 

Around the same time, guests staying in another person’s house would present ‘vails’ (small amounts of money) to the servants in their hosts’ homes.  Originally these were given for good service but vails soon became ‘expected’. Clearly this was the dawn of the notion that people working in the travel and tourism industry should receive ‘something extra’ (beyond their regular wages) for providing services to visitors.

Tip MoneyApparently, tipping wasn’t common practice in North America until sometime after the American Civil War (it has been suggested that most households had ‘slaves’ rather than ‘servants’, and that the people who ‘served’ others for money saw themselves as employees, not ‘servants’), but the Europeans brought the custom across the Atlantic (tipping was a show of wealth and cosmopolitan ideals), and by the early 20th century, it had become a routine practice. (There was actually an anti-tipping movement in the early part of the 1900s and several U.S. states declared it an illegal practice; however, employers who wanted to keep wages low – and workers who saw tips as a ‘bonus’ – soon had the bans overturned).  

Cruise ShipIf the idea of tipping originally was to ensure better service, why do we now tip at the END of the meal or hotel stay? (It is interesting to note that most cruise lines now tack on a $10 – $12 per person per day ‘gratuity’ to all fares – they distribute the amount among the crew members, rather than leaving the prospect of tipping to the discretion of passengers, as was the norm in the past).  Tipping now seems to be more of an expected acknowledgement of services rendered, rather than as an enticement to provide ‘better’ service. 

I find it particularly interesting that most people admit they tip whether the service is good or not – because they either feel embarrassed if they don’t, they worry that they won’t get good service the next time they visit the establishment (assuming a staff member actually remembers them), or because they want to feel good about meeting ‘societal expectations’. 

Personally, in a restaurant I tip according to the quality of the service I receive: Below par?  5% perhaps.  Mediocre?  10%.  As expected: 15%.  Exceptional:  20%.  And I have never felt ‘mandated’ to leave a tip if I’m not entirely satisfied (if you do that, you’re simply encouraging repeated poor behaviour on the part of the server.)  Same goes for travelling (I usually carry my own bag and I only leave something for the ‘maid’ if she does, indeed, take care of the room – I’ve stayed in hotels where the bed hasn’t been made up and wet towels haven’t been replaced for days!)

The real problem I have with tipping, though, is the question of why we tip for certain services and not for others.  In the food services and travel/tourism industry, employers often pay lower wages because employees can ‘top up’ their salaries with tips – why not just pay them a reasonable wage in the first place?  Additionally, while the ‘front line’ workers earn tips, the people ‘in the back’ don’t.  For example, the cook who prepares your meal (to your specifications) in the ‘average’ family restaurant makes the same hourly wage as the server and the bartender, but receives no tips for a ‘job well done’; the maintenance person, gardener, pool cleaner and others at a hotel don’t earn any more than the bellhop or maid, yet their work is just as important to the comfort of your stay – and they don’t get tips.

Tip JarWe’re even seeing ‘tip jars’ popping up in coffee shops and other establishments where servers do little more than pour a hot drink or select a pre-packaged snack or sandwich from a display cabinet and hand it to you – and people drop as much as a dollar in the jar when buying a couple of dollars worth of food or drink (that’s a tip of 25% or more). 

Why do we tip the pizza delivery guy but not the UPS driver?  Why would a cab driver expect a gratuity for getting you where you paid to go, but not the local bus driver?  Why don’t we tip the grocery store clerk, the librarian, the bank teller, the snowplow operator?  And please don’t suggest that recommendations for tipping are based on salary … most ‘lists’ of who to tip include jobs like the letter carrier – mine is a government employee who earns $22 an hour (plus benefits and a generous pension), and she regularly delivers the wrong mail to my house (despite repeated complaints about her ineptitude, she’s still on the job!)  (“The Complete Guide to Tips and Gratuities” by Sharon Fullen – designed for both employees who receive tips and employers who hire them – offers a list of over 50 people who should ‘expect’ to receive tips; my favourite? Clowns!) 

Personally, I think the idea of tipping has gotten completely out of hand – and I don’t expect I’m the only one who feels this way.  Perhaps my view on things is somewhat ‘old fashioned’ but I like to think I’ve gotten where I am today by doing what I was paid to do, executing the tasks to the very best of my ability, and going ‘above and beyond’ whenever and however I could.  I took pride in ‘a job well done’ and the only ‘tips’ I received were positive comments and hearty ‘thanks’ from people I helped along the way.  And you know what? That’s all the ‘extra’ I need to show for a life well lived – all the way to … the other side of 55. 

Cow Tipping

Is 'cow tipping' allowed?

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40 Comments
  1. March 9, 2013 9:34 am

    I guess we think alike, Margo — although you think it much sooner!

  2. Jackie Paulson Author permalink
    June 6, 2011 4:23 am

    I think that wait staff should get more money – at least minimum wage. I used to waitress and with downturned economic times we all need to be aware that wait staff need to pay bills too. All regions are different. I used to waitress and it’s tough. Cooks are not paid enough either.

    • June 6, 2011 9:01 am

      It’s a shame that tipping is even considered to be part of anyone’s wages (and it is, in far too many circumstances). Everyone should be paid for the work they do, and at a wage that affords them the basic essentials of life. Minimum wage (at least here in Canada) is barely scraping the edge of the poverty line.

      Margo

  3. June 2, 2011 9:38 pm

    Here in South Carolina, servers make $2.13 an hour. Cooks and other staff who do not make tips are paid higher (standard minimum wage at most places, perhaps slightly more at nicer restaurants or for tenured employees). Factor in taxes and suddenly tips ARE essentially the only form of income a server will have. Naturally, this is not the patron’s problem and having worked as a server in this state on more than one occasion, I will say that it is extremely frustrating to be forced to assume that people are going to be generous enough with their gratuity to allow me to pay my monthly living expenses.

    I agree with you that positions should simply come along with a standard wage. Tipping should be truly optional, not expected. I’m actually of the belief that the outdated $2.13 an hour crap is, in fact, MORE likely to lead to poor service. Stereotypes about which race/age/gender/mentality tips best fester like wildfire, and guess what? If a server is “in the weeds,” as they say, and has the choice to pay more attention to the table they assume will tip better versus a table of people that fit a stereotype of a poor-tipper…the “good” table will get the better service. Which, in turn, quite likely leads to a bad tip from the table that was ignored or hastily tended to, which serves to further perpetuate the stereotype, and thus the cycle continues.

    What really gets me are the quick-service restaurants like sandwich shops, etc that automatically print out a tip line when paying with a credit card. I shouldn’t have to feel like an asshole striking through that line when signing for my food that took less than five minutes for me to order, have prepared and into my hand; but I do, simply because leaving a tip is such a pointed suggestion. Nonetheless, I can’t afford to freely tip just because someone hopes I will, so I don’t. At a sit-down restaurant, sure. Picking up take-out, no.

    In short? Yes, tipping has gotten out of hand.

    • June 3, 2011 9:04 am

      I had no idea the pay wage for this sort of job was so low in some places (particularly in the U.S.). $2.13 is not enough to live on – no matter where you live. Considering the number of people in this sort of job in a country of that size, I’m surprised no one has taken them to task (as I mentioned in one of my other replies to a post, servers in Canada earn – as do most ‘low wage earners’ – a minimum of $10.00 an hour and it increases regularly; this is government mandated). I must say that I am coming to understand why books have been written on the subject (although I’m not sure salary ranges are included that would help customers better understand the problem). Thanks very much for sharing your comments.

      Margo

  4. June 2, 2011 8:29 pm

    In the United States, particularly where I’m from in Indiana, server minimum wage is actually lower than the standard minimum wage. We earn 2.13 an hour. Our pay is based on the idea we will receive tips. Now if we don’t receive enough in tips to reach the actual minimum wage, the company you work for is forced to compensate you up to the minimum wage; here minimum wage is 7.25.

    The starting pay for people in back of house at my establishment is 10.00. So in fact, if I do not receive proper tips, I don’t make more than the kitchen. In fact, on slow nights they will earn more than me anyway.

    Main point of this comment, in the United States, although it’s unfortunate, earning what I need to get by depends on my guests tipping me. I don’t think it’s a good system, but it’s the one we have.
    I’m not saying treat poor service the same way you treat exceptional service, I just want people to think about it before they punish servers for things they cannot control.

    • June 3, 2011 9:06 am

      As I’ve commented before, the pay rates being quoted are quite shocking. I doubt most people understand the situtation – particularly if they’re from a country that does pay their servers a decent wage. Thanks for sharing.

      Margo

  5. June 2, 2011 8:11 pm

    Interesting thoughts on tipping. Reading this blog post and your subsequent comments, I chuckle a bit at your apparent fixation on paltry serving sizes. There are worse things in the world than getting a dinner that was slightly smaller than you expected. Come to my home, the good ol’ U.S. of A., and I bet you’ll never get a portion that is too small again. You’ll be packing up enough food to last you for two more meals.

    I have a part-time job as a tour guide in Philadelphia, PA. I get paid a generous flat rate for each tour I do, and customers often give tips at the end. Some of my tours are for heterogeneous public ticket-buyers, and some are for private groups (schools, etc). The latter do not usually entail tips for me, but I give my best to everyone regardless. As with other similar jobs I’ve had, I believe that if people are paying for a service, they deserve a quality version of what they’ve paid for, regardless of whether there’s a tip for me in it.

    In a previous tourism job, I earned a semi-decent wage but was forbidden by my employer to accept tips, which were frequently pressed on me by people who took my tours. Some of them seemed really disappointed or even insulted that I turned down their tips, and I sometimes felt like it would have been nice to just accept the tips, not to secretly line my own pockets but because people looked so disappointed that they couldn’t offer me a tip for a job well done. I think many people enjoy the magnanimous feeling of offering a tip, a tangible expression of gratitude.

    My husband is from a country where, unlike the US, restaurant wait-staff earn a living wage and don’t rely on tips. Going out to dinner in his adopted country now, I sometimes still have to remind him of the necessity of leaving an adequate tip for the server. When we visit his home country, he reminds me not to automatically put down 15-20%.

    • June 3, 2011 9:10 am

      Thanks for sharing your comments, Alaina. I wouldn’t say I’m ‘fixated’ on serving sizes – I just expect to get what I pay for (and I have always appreciated the more-than-generous serving sizes in some U.S. restaurants – but often considered that they are TOO BIG and sometimes wasteful, which is a whole other post!!!!). I suppose the subject of tipping will always be a contentious one, as there are no standard wages from country to country (and no understanding by patrons re: who is paid what and who depends on tips) and no ‘one size fits all’ rule when it comes to gratutities. My post has certainly made me even more aware of the problems inherent in the system.

      Margo

  6. Janet permalink
    June 2, 2011 8:09 pm

    I noticed in the comments that you said you haven’t worked in the service industry. All I have to say is that I’m sure you would feel differently about tipping if you had. The comment about “simply pouring milk” when ordering a drink at a coffee shop is a gross simplification of what actually occurs behind the espresso machine. Curiously, it is the coffee shop in which you tip first and receive the service after wards, which at the beginning of the post you said makes more sense than tipping after the fact, but then the for the one establishment in which this is customary, you denounce the actual service as something too easy to warrant a tip to begin with. The prep work that customers don’t see… calibrating the shots, steaming, grinding, stocking, washing stacks of porcelain cups, etc, is not for wimps. Unless you are at starbucks, making a latte is not “simply pouring milk.” So too, is the bartender rarely popping off (not twisting off.. ouch) a beer cap. They are hauling ice, stocking, cleaning, polishing before customers arrive so that the experience is a pleasant one. That isn’t to say that if you find yourself in a grubby pub and are served a warm beer you should feel obligated to tip (since the bartender obviously isn’t doing his job). But don’t assume that just because it looks easy, that it is in fact, easy.

    Also: must add to the history lesson. In France, Germany and England around the turn of the 20th century, customers at hotels began tipping the staff after services rendered to build a repor at certain hotels, since those who regularly stayed in hotels would visit the same establishment several times in a year. The staff is turn began to offer better service in hopes of a tip. (Read anything by Hemingway). Even in tipping’s early days, the timeliness of the tip was never clean cut.

    As other replies to this post have pointed out, it’s one thing to wish that employers would pay service workers a living wage, but this is rarely feasible for the business’ budget. It would have to be made up somewhere, probably in the price of the food or drink. A tip for service workers are never a “bonus,” it is the largest chunk of their pay.

    Final note: your son should quit! I’ve never worked in a restaurant, or even heard of a restaurant, that doesn’t tip out the kitchen.

    • June 3, 2011 9:20 am

      I obviously hit a bit of a nerve with this post, and that’s a good thing. It sure gets people talking and thinking. No, I’ve never worked in the service industry insofaras a restaurant or the hospitality industry where tips were part of the game, but I HAVE worked retail and several other ‘low wage’ jobs during school and afterwards where you got minimum wage, served a lot of people (some not-so-nice) and didn’t receive tips. I also know a lot of people who worked hard for tips to make ends meet. My post was – admittedly – seen strictly from the viewpoint of the patron (in Canada). You make some excellent points about the job responsibilities of various coffee shop workers and bartenders, etc. I have tipped for a latte and a sandwich, but not for a quick cup of coffee (not milk, BTW) straight from the pot, or hot water with a tea bag thrown in. Its a matter of effort, I suppose. As for the hospitality industry, if someone gives me great tips on local attractions, recommends a great restaurant, or performs ‘extra’ services, they’re worthy of tips. But I’ve had ‘service’ people ignore me, grunt at me when I’ve asked a question, or just shrugged their shoulders at me. I’m sure they later wondered why there wasn’t a tip left. Finally, the idea that a tip should be the’largest chunk’ of someone’s pay remains, in my mind, a very poor statement regarding how we treat people who work hard and deserve a fair wage for a job well done. Unfortunately, its doubtful it will change in the near future. Pity.

      Margo

  7. June 2, 2011 1:25 pm

    Loved this post 🙂 I don’t mind tipping as long as the service is decent. I do love it in Europe (France in particular) where both service of 15% and tax are automatically added into the price ON THE MENU. Therefore, I know exactly what I’m paying. Although the 15% does not need to be distributed to the waiters by law, they are paid at least minimum wage and do not depend on tips. If I have a great waiter/waitress or bartender over there, then I will sometimes leave a couple extra euros (which they can typically keep) as a thank you – but its not required, and in most cases – not expected.

    • June 2, 2011 3:34 pm

      I agree that you should know exactly how much you are paying for something before you order. However, I still have an issue with the idea of paying for ‘service’ , though, when ‘service’ is what you expect. I also find it odd that the server gets so much more than the cook, etc. Same goes for who gets what in a hotel, and so on. I was at a resort once that had a clear ‘No Tipping’ rule – apparently before they instituted it, the staff would get quite aggressive in trying to ‘please’ customers and even ‘encroached’ on other staff member’s ‘territory’ (i.e., serving tables that they weren’t assigned to, delivering drinks on the beach where there were clear ‘No Alcoholic Beverages’ signs) just to get the tips. Pay people well, give them clear expectations, and have them do the job they’re paid for.

      Margo

      • June 2, 2011 4:03 pm

        Well, as a past waitress I have to comment once again to clarify a bit. Here in Italy tipping is not customary and hence the service is always lousy! It drives me crazy!!! If a server knows they will get the 15% regardless then they will not try as hard to please the customer. There is no incentive for them to obviously. And I hear that it is impossible to get fired here.

        It’s nice to know the costs up front but my rule of thumb is that I would prefer to be the judge of what tip I give. If the service is crap they get a crap tip and if it’s good I will reflect that in the tip too.

        But, I agree with your post that tipping is getting out of control. Outside of a nice restaurant or bar, I hardly think we should feel obliged to tip the Starbuck’s guy. But once again, after working 6 years on cruise ships I now tip the spa for services even after shelling out $100 for a massage simply because I know how little money they make and how many long hours they work: 7 days a week on a 9 month contract! The simple fact that they don’t pay for food, shelter etc. is reason enough to pay them less but I look to them as professionals with a special skill. Keep in mind this is only for a registered massage therapist not some massage guy on a beach under a canopy.

        I really resent it when a waiter asks for a tip. I think it is rude. I once refused to pay a taxi driver the amount on the meter because he took the highway and my exit was closed for construction. He had to drive an extra several km and I told him it was his job to know that the exit was closed. He reduced the fare : )

      • June 2, 2011 5:11 pm

        The sad thing is that few people know exactly how much a person providing a service actually gets paid. For example, I’ve heard people comment that auto mechanics make a lot of money because they had to pay $100 an hour to have their car serviced. The reality is that the mechanic makes maybe $22 – $25 an hour (the rest goes to the shop/dealership) and ONLY if there is work to be done (i.e., a mechanic may 3 jobs that take him an hour each – he only gets 3 hours pay for the day); they also have to provide their own tools, and get no benefits, pension, (basically they are like subcontractors). A lot of hairdressers, massage therapists, and others are compensated this way as well (it’s called ‘flat rate’ – you get paid a certain amount for a certain job and nothing if no one needs/wants your services). Perhaps when you go to one of these places, there should be a sign that says (something like): We pay our massage therapists $15.00 for each one hour massage they give; tipping for exemplary service is appreciated.

        Margo

  8. June 2, 2011 12:54 pm

    Great post by the way! I totally agree with you too! I now live in Italy and they don’t tip here very much. My husband’s attitude is that they get paid a good wage here unlike in North America. Also, many restaurants add a “sitting fee” to the bill!!! So as a former waitress I don’t feel guilty at all about leaving nothing unless the service was outstanding or it was a very large group.

    • June 2, 2011 1:13 pm

      I notice that most restaurants now automatically add a ‘gratuity’ to the bill (and make it clear on the menu that they do) if its a large group. I suppose the assumption is that a large group is more ‘difficult’ to serve than a smaller group. But is serving a group of 8 any different, really, than serving 2 groups of 4, or 4 groups of 2, etc.? I wonder if, in the end, the tips total is more or less? Thanks for the comments.

      Margo

      • June 2, 2011 1:29 pm

        Actually, to answer your question about serving an 8 or 2-4 tops is different it certainly is. The idea is that everyone should get their drinks and meals at the same time. So serving a table of eight at the same time is impossible for 1 waiter. Whenever I worked in “good places” we helped each other. If I had a big group the manager always intervened and helped too so that everyone was eating at the same time.
        When I worked at the Hyatt a 15% grat was added to the bill and I only got 12% of it, the rest went to the “house staff” i.e. kitchen, bar etc. but it was up to the hotel to dole out the remaining 3% which personally I would rather hand the money over myself to them…
        I also worked in many bars…the waiter opens beers, fetches glasses and garnishes all drinks whilst the bartender is mixing the actual cocktails. So in fact, they do less but on the other hand they are responsible for stocking their bars with fresh cut fruit, ice etc. Either way, it’s team work. It’s hard work with long days on your feet. You have good days and bad days just like everyone else.

      • June 2, 2011 3:28 pm

        Thanks for the clarification. I have to admit that I’ve never worked in the hospitality industry but the way the tips are collected, distributed, and even calculated just doesn’t seem equitable to me. Honestly, I do appreciate the work that the cooks, bartendes, and servers do – especially with some of the really rude people I’ve seen in some restaurants.

        Margo

  9. June 2, 2011 12:49 pm

    “For example, the cook who prepares your meal (to your specifications) in the ‘average’ family restaurant makes the same hourly wage as the server and the bartender, but receives no tips for a ‘job well done’;”

    I worked in bars and high end resorts/hotels as a waitress and can say that based on my experiences in Canada and the Caribbean, the wait staff are obliged to hand over 10% (sometimes more) to their service bartender AND the kitchen staff. So all the tips that go to the server is not kept by them…it is a chain reaction. If I tip my coworkers well, they give me faster service and so on…

    • June 2, 2011 1:11 pm

      My son is a cook – he’s worked in pubs, high end three-star restaurants (where there’s LOTS of stress and demands for excellence), and catering firms, and he’s NEVER received a share of the tips, yet he’s the one who has to make sure the food is prepared and presented PERECTLY. I also question why a bartender gets a tip for popping open a bottle of beer (I understand if s/he’s making a mixed drink, but to twist off a bottle cap?!?!?) It would be so much better if employers simply paid everyone a reasonable wage (no matter the ‘service’ provided) and tipping was eliminated altogether.

      Margo

    • June 2, 2011 1:35 pm

      Oh, and I made 3 Cayman dollars an hour at the Hyatt! One of the most expensive islands in the Caribbean…so if it weren’t for the tips I would have starved! I worked 6 days a week in 100 degree temperatures walking on hot sand from 9 – 7, then showered, changed and worked banquets some nights until 11 pm!

      But my sister is a nurse and I think she works much harder than I ever did. And although she gets paid well at the hospital I think they are probably the most under appreciated people on the planet…just sayin’

      • June 2, 2011 3:24 pm

        I agree that a lot of ‘service’ jobs are totally underappreciated … why do ‘sports heros’ and ‘movie stars’ and such make millions and get their names in the paper, etc. all the time when the hardworkingest (is that a word?) people who serve others and do so much to make our world a better place are under (or un) acknowledged by the majority of people who actually DEPEND on them? It sure says something not-very-nice about our society as a whole. One thing I always try to do is express a heartfelt ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to anyone who does something for me. If only the world were a ‘fair’ place, we’d all be a lot better off!

        Margo

  10. June 2, 2011 12:18 pm

    I tend to be a blanket tipper I leave the same amount regardless. I have been known to leave nothing if I felt the service warranted such…My sister is in food/service and always makes sure she tips, because that’s what she receives, but I am of the mindset that you do your job and a bonus or ‘tip’ shouldn’t be expected but earned. Plus as mentioned in this economy I save as much as I can and try to eat out only rarely…

    • June 2, 2011 5:02 pm

      I agree that you should earn the money you are paid and that tipping has become ‘expected’ so in many cases that it is no longer something that’s been ‘earned’. I realize many people in ‘service’ industries are paid less than they should be because the employers expect that they’ll get tips, but – really – is that how a business should be run? (If so, then why don’t we pay bank tellers or teachers minimum wage and ‘tip’ them if they do their job well? And how about lawyers or doctors or dentists?!!? I could go on and on and on …). It’s such an odd custom that’s gotten way out of hand.

      Margo

  11. May 31, 2011 10:30 am

    You’ve given this a lot of thought. Good post. As recently as last fall, I went to a restaurant where they were clearly busy juggling plates without even glancing at the customer. After bringing me the wrong dish twice, I called for the manager to inquire if they really knew what I had ordered. He assured me I would soon be served. He also, assured me there would be no charge for my portion of the bill. The bill came charging me for my three dishes, my family’s meals + tip. Needless to say there was no tip left that day in that establishment.

    • May 31, 2011 10:59 am

      I have a similar story – it was MY BIRTHDAY and I had picked the restaurant (a new seafood establishment) with high expectations. My husband and ‘the kids’ got their meals in a reasonable time (although portions were smaller than the menu would lead you to believe) but my shrimp dinner (which was a ‘special’ that month) didn’t arrive. I finally told the rest to go ahead and start without me, and called over the waiter. He said my meal would be ‘up’ shortly (with some excuse about the nuumber of shrimp dinners being ordered as the excuse). When it finally arrived (almost 7 minutes after the rest), it wasn’t the item I’d ordered (however, it was fried shrimp so I accepted it) but the fries were barely blanched. I called the waiter over again and asked for fries that were COOKED – he actually told me to ‘try them, just to be sure they aren’t done’. I called the manager over and he ‘excused’ the waiter’s behaviour (the waiter was, by the way, a ‘mature’ man, not some new kid) by saying he was overwhelmed by the volume of people in the restaurant!!! I finally got some decent fries and they comped my dinner (the $15.99 one I didn’t order – the one I had ordered had more shrimp amd was only $12.99). Needless to say, there was NO TIP and we’ll NEVER go back to that restaurant again (I also tell all my friends to avoid it; I’ve seen some pretty nasty critiques of both service and food online since). When will firms (and some employees) ‘get’ that good service should be a ‘given’, not a ‘bonus’?!?!?!? Thanks for sharing.

      Margo

  12. May 31, 2011 4:08 am

    We don’t really tip in Australia. We pay people fair wages in the first place and tipping is not expected. we find it very difficult to handle when travelling overseas!

    • May 31, 2011 8:25 am

      That’s the way it should be. All ‘goods and services’ should be priced fairly and workers should be paid a proper wage – and no one should feel obligated to pay extra for anything (I’ve overheard a lot of people worrying about whether or not this or that server or other person is ‘supposed’ to be tipped. It’s epidemic!). Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be happening – in a lot of restaurants and other ‘service oriented’ environments, ‘gratuities’ are automatically added to the bill. Its outrageous! Maybe we should get pins made up that say “I’m from Australia and we don’t tip”!

      Margo

  13. May 30, 2011 3:39 pm

    You should come to India. Over here we have no fixed rule so the end of every meal is a small Sherlock Holmes moment where you read the bill closely to see if they have included the tip in the bill or not.

    But yeah, you make an excellent point – I rather tip ahead of my meal and get assured good service than tip after the meal and feel like I am obliged to leave a tip no matter how the service. Sigh.

    • May 30, 2011 6:37 pm

      It would be so much easier if the prices included ALL ‘service charges’ and you only tipped if the service was really, really exceptional. And why is the tip based on a percentage of the total bill (I might have better service for a $50 meal than a $200 meal but the tip for the $50 would be $10, but $40 for the $200- if we go with the ‘typical’ 20% tip). It’s ridiculous!

      Margo

  14. May 29, 2011 6:31 pm

    I have to agree that tipping has gotten out of hand. Lately I have noticed meal servers asking me if I want my change when I hand them payment. Why? So they can not be bothered to return to my table with change. One young woman went so far as just keep it and when questioned she said “oh, I assumed it was my tip.” Wow. I asked her to return the money. Just on principle.

    • May 29, 2011 7:13 pm

      A friend of mine actually had a server point out that she’d ‘neglected’ to add a tip to her bill when paying by credit card; the friend had intended to leave a cash tip on the table, but at that comment, decided to leave NOTHING. I am astounded by how often we are ‘expected’ to tip people who are simply DOING THEIR JOBS (and oftentimes, being paid quite well to do so)! I like places with ‘no tipping’ rules – with the current cost of food and services, I figure I’m already ‘paying through the nose’ for most things!)

      Margo

      • clairebrown2004 permalink
        June 2, 2011 7:02 pm

        You are expected to tip people who are just doing their jobs because you are receiving their services and hence should compensate them. Restaurants pay servers less than $3/ hour. So, if you don’t tip, you are taking advantage of them. Your friend was extremely rude. She sat there and accepted services and then just decided not to pay for them at all simply because she didn’t like the server reminding her to do so. You can say that restaurants *should* pay their wait staff living wages, but until they do, you are in fact obliged to pay for services rendered. (Note that if restaurants paid living wages, meal prices would go up. You aren’t entitled to pocket this savings simply because the server did something you didn’t like. )

      • June 2, 2011 7:11 pm

        Thanks for your comments, Claire. I’m not sure where you are from but here in Canada, servers are paid (at least) minimum wage ($10.00 an hour) – the same as most retail clerks, landscapers, and others who provide ‘services’ but don’t get tips. Tipping is considered optional and is supposed to be for ‘extra special’ service (although most people agree that 15% to 20% is ‘expected’ on top of the bill). If a fee is required, then it should be clearly stated as such on the menu (or list of services and charges) – perhaps as a ‘service charge’ vs. a ‘tip’. Around here, food prices have gone up significantly in the past few years (and serving sizes have gotten smaller) – so the expectation that one would leave a tip for less-than-stellar service (or that a server would demand one) is inappropriate. I do know that ‘rules’ around tips, wages, etc. are different in different countries/regions but I never would have considered a tip to be an ‘obligation’.

        Margo

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