I’m Aussie : I don’t Tip! – I Only Reward for Good Service.

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Why is it that tipping has now become an acceptable form of bribery and extortion?

I have come to accept that I am a Bogan in some things. Tipping is one of these things for sure. I don’t know when or how it became something of a mandatory charge in restaurants and taxi’s and other service industries but it seems that this is becoming more common. I am one for rounding-up more for convenience sake than anything else but tipping as an expectation regardless of service? You have to be kidding!

I have the expectation that I will get service when I hail a taxi (cab in US lingo) or go to a restaurant. I am there after all for a reason, mostly to eat, to enjoy friends and I am patronising their establishment from choice. Should there be more than this? If the service is crap… then I will leave. If the food is crap then I will never return and I will tell my mates about it at any given opportunity. This is free and open commercialism. Tipping to me does not enter the equation unless the service was exceptional and then likely not other than rounding up generously.

I often have wondered where I have formed this very grounded opinion of mine and the incident that springs to mind was where I was barely an adult (18yrs), in fact my then boyfriend and I were celebrating my coming of age at the swankiest restaurant in town in the 1970’s and it cost a relative bomb. We left a generous tip only to see two waiters arguing over the tip in total disregard for other diners. It was a tip we had left under a plate and we watched them astounded while we waited at the lift to leave. It left an indelible imprint on the development of my opinion in regards to tipping and the pitfalls of the practice being aside from the realms of courtesy and consideration within the services industry and having a whole different classification of its own.

tipping adviceNow I do realise that Yanks tip… usually generously for whatever reason, it is a practice I cannot fathom aside from their thinking that it is an expectation in their country. I see this as propping up restaurateur’s for following pay awards which are inadequate, and a means of propping up a Union movement that is failing its members in its representation.

In China and much of Asia, tipping is not expected and can be considered crass. However with the cattle driven movement of tourists into what is essentially a communist marketplace, the practice of tipping has become more and more driven by tourism from the US. This became evident when we were on an Asian cruise boat as independent tourists, making our way down the Yangtze River some years ago. We purposely had chosen this boat as it was smaller, more personal and a true Chinese experience as opposed to the Chinese-US versions of China to be found on the larger cruise lines. Tipping was not expected however they did leave little envelopes on your pillow with overly generous advice on how much you should ‘tip’ each day (in cash) to be distributed amongst the crew (or this is what they said). I don’t believe any commercial group would distribute monies without a finger in the pie too, particularly in Asia. That they only left these envelopes on the pillows of English speaking guests was also an eye opener.

So why did this expectation develop? You can check out the practices of different cultures on Wikipedia. In Aus we tip whom ever we choose for good service and a tip is not assessed by any percentage value mandatory or otherwise and I hope that never changes. Given that tipping is illegal in some service area’s across the world including the US (as with tipping Government servants) and that tipping is commonly exclusively relevant to cash (often via credit) then I can’t see how it can be seen as an acceptable or even honourable mandatory practice for restaurants and cabs. Yet it is accepted as such and is becoming more an expectation if not a demand.

In the US Federal law permits employers to include tip wage towards satisfying the difference between employees’ hourly wage and minimum wage. A tip pool cannot be allocated to employees who do not customarily and regularly receive tips. These non-eligible employees include dishwashers, cooks, chefs, and janitors.  And I find this legislation insane. Firstly, that the customer cannot tip the employee they choose and secondly that the tip can be counted as wages! Good grief. Perhaps the employee should be considered as a volunteer rather than am employee, this would be more in keeping with the award they are apparently working under.

When in Rome

When in Rome

We are told that the practice of tipping began in London around the 1700’s and I daresay it was a means to assist the poor or to show appreciation for service. Today we have other safety nets that are automatically funded by taxes and yet there is the expectation that we will fund some sectors idea of gratuity, particularly that this practice is seen as illegal or insulting in other sectors and by other cultures. That it has become an expectation and fast becoming a demand now is amazing to me.

Here you will find a list of countries I am unlikely to visit due to their weird customs. They wouldn’t much like me arguing over tipping practices and their expectations are very much a deterrent for any proposed visit. I see mandatory tipping and service charges as ‘bum on seat’ costs to walk through the door and some establishments are going a bit overboard on their ‘bum price’ such as in a recent incident in Venice. It reminds me of Mediterranean Europe where you stand up to eat and drink due to these same ‘bum on seat’ costs, even at Macca’s in places like Rome.

Personally, if I can’t find a comfortable seat on which to enjoy a snack or meal, or even a quiet cuppa without having to deal with extortion for the privilege of choosing to purchase from any establishment… I will just go home and relax with friends or take a thermos and find a park. It is no wonder many service industries are going down the gurgler and can’t retain good staff.

I would enjoy hearing your opinion or any of your experiences.

Happy reading everyone!

Jan Hawkins – Author

To read more travel tales,
or explore the world of the Australian Aboriginal Shaman told in a fictional tale and to discover other works on traveling around Aus. visit my web at http://janhawkins.com.au and check out the discounts available for my readers and friends on ‘Where to find Jans Books’.
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6 thoughts on “I’m Aussie : I don’t Tip! – I Only Reward for Good Service.

  1. Jan, your moral stance is entirely reasonable. But when you refuse to tip someone in the US who has given merely ‘good’ (i.e. less than extraordinary) service you’re actually taking money out of their pocket. Not the restauranteur, not the Union movement. You’re hurting the poor sod who you’ve already said should be better looked after. How so? As it’s been explained to me by someone from the IRS, they’re taxed on an income amount that is DEEMED to include tips of a percentage over and above their declared wage income. Whether they get those tips or not. Agitate. Post outraged well-written blogs (as you do). But please don’t encourage non-tipping for anything other than genuinely lousy service. When you DO refuse to tip because someone’s attitude or behaviour has been poor, explain why. Believe me, it makes an impact!

    • Hiya Renoir, I can see your point and in our recent trip to the US we didn’t begrudge tipping in the end, at diners, as the coffee was bottomless which is a lovely custom and we found we didn’t mind shuffling the cost of those second serves of coffee to the wait staff. However it is distressing to hear that the Union and Gov. in the US has structured and supports such an appaulling state of affairs for the low income worker. To Aussies it is an unbelievable state of affairs to be working for such a low rate and relying on the the need to depend on the generosity of others to simply make wages. Your IRS really needs to be sent to the cleaners… it is truly a third world state of affairs to then tax workers in deeming for tips… near as bad as taxing pensioners for deeming as they do in Aus.
      We understood in our recent trip that tipping was a custom, one now seeping into Canada as well and when in Rome… 🙂 … We also had a particularly unpleasant and irksome experience in Vancouver where the service was truly crap and yet they expected the gratuity. It was automatically added to our bill. You can read about it in the travelogue on our trip at Amazon, the publication ‘The Rockies and the Greater NW USA’ if you pop up the preview read it is in the first chapters.
      I only hope that the situation changes of the hospitality workers in the US and that the government or union does something about the slave wages they have allowed to perpetuate in this area.
      Travel Well Renoir

      • G’day Jan. Oh yeah, HATE the automatic gratuity thing! I believe it’s only legal for them to do that for parties over a certain number but maybe that’s more ‘established practice’ than actually legal.

        Sorry you had a bad experience in Vancouver. BC is a place I’ve enjoyed visiting and looking forward to going back.

        BTW, I’m not American (I just happen to be in a very good Utah bar as I type this!) My darling bride are also Aussie-based world travellers. If you’d like to compare travel stories check out MeredianOnTheMove.com – cheers!

      • Great to meet you Renoir, I love reading and hearing about the experience of others when travelling. Thanks for the link. We loved our time in Vancouver too… such a lovely spot in the world.

        Some good news on the fight for a living and decent wage in the US is the Fight in the US for a just wage. Great stuff!!!

  2. Pingback: Oldies at Large – On the Oregon Trail West | Jan Hawkins Author

  3. Pingback: Oldies at Large : Vancouver BC | Jan Hawkins Author

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