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.
Now 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.
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.
- This Restaurant Banned Tipping And Made More Money (thinkprogress.org)
- Tipping Is an Abomination (slate.com)
- Donatella Arpaia: Service will suffer if we get rid of tipping (today.com)
- An Argument Against Tipping (wittybadger.com)
- La Culture – Service Charges at Restaurants (greensboring.com)
- Here is a tip – tips aren’t always tips (blogs.berkeley.edu)
Happy reading everyone!
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