How about tipping?

Wikipedia has this map of tipping customs in restaurants:

tipping map

This might be useful for those of you who like to do things as they are done customarily.

Me, I am rather skeptical regarding tipping. And it really pisses me off when people expect it or even add it to the bill, like I have experienced it in Chile and the US. If you run a restaurant and you can’t pay your staff a living wage, close the damn restaurant! Or if you know that you need to charge 10% more, amend the menu instead of luring customers with fraudulently low prices.

Also, I don’t quite understand why I, as a poor freelancer earning less than minimal wage should support people with a fun job that even comes with free food. And ain’t nobody never tipping me when I deliver a great translation (which does not come with free food).

No, I reserve tips for cases when I want to. For example when I spend more time than normal at a restaurant, reading a book and smoking a cigar for an hour after I have finished lunch, then I pay extra for the time that I occupied the space. Or when a hairdresser in Brazil or Romania has to communicate with me in a foreign language, then I compensate them for the added stress. Or when a taxi driver helps me carry my bag to the house. Or the guy at the hotel who patiently answers all my questions about where to find this and that.

But if you do run a restaurant or a shop and want tips, I recommend that you put up a jar for all tips for the whole crew. Otherwise, the practice is rather discriminatory, with young people receiving more tips than older people, beautiful people more than less beautiful people and big-breasted women more than their lesser endowed but probably equally hard-working colleagues. (Yes, there is a study on that.)

(This article was also published on Medium.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Economics, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to How about tipping?

  1. Asha Seth says:

    My thoughts, precisely.

  2. Dany Sobeida says:

    Me incline por por que sea una cuestión voluntaria, pero al leer el ultimo párrafo cambie de opinión. Eres un caso serio.

  3. crazmc says:

    I pretty much completely agree with you. I want to pay the price I see on the menu. I especially dislike it women you buy something in a store and there’s a prompt for a tip on the pay terminal.

    I will point it though that many restaurants, at least here in Canada, require servers to share tips with kitchen staff and hosts.

    • If the tips go into a general pot, that’s much fairer at least. For otherwise, the people in the kitchen, let alone the cleaners, never get anything.

  4. AirGap Anonymity Collective says:

    Hey Andreas, I am a bit conflicted about your strategy for tipping :) I guess my tipping falls into a few categories. Normally I would always tip in a restaurant (10-15%) but like you and some of your followers I much prefer this to be at my discretion rather than “service charge” at the bottom of the bill – that immediately gets my back up. I will not tip out of habit or “fear” if the service or food is poor. I never tip at a checkout or in a tip jar in a store that is not food related. However the most important form of tipping is “strategic tipping” ! When I check into a hotel I ALWAYS tip the first room service server, the first bar bill, and the person who assists checkin – sometimes I find it expedient to over tip on these occasions – it normally focusses the property and its employees – a bit utilitarian maybe. But most importantly I think that tipping is a poor substitute for respect, manners, politeness, and gratitude. Basic human skills and genuine interaction are a far superior demonstration of one’s gratitude than a few brown coins on the receipt. Having worked in the hospitality industry as a McDonalds server in my teenage years I can confidently tell you that no amount of free burgers and measly tips made up for the appalling uniform and the trauma from seeing what people are capable of doing with their food. :)

    • I think they have new uniforms now, which look better. ;-)
      Good point about having to put up with customers’/guests’ behavior. I can imagine that people working in hotels also see a lot of gross stuff.

      Your tipping strategy is almost like bribery, in a way, then? ;-) But I absolutely agree with you on respect and gratitude. (I hope that) I try to treat waiters, receptionists, bus drivers etc. with the same respect as I would judges and members of parliament. In fact, when I go on a date and the girl behaves snottily towards cab drivers or waiters, I know I won’t want to see her again.

  5. I never tip and people who I hang out with tell me that I’m a jerk for not doing it. But sorry, I haven’t received an extraordinary experience while consuming whatever at that place by xyz person. The tipping culture is bad for the whole industry and it’s a way for companies to get away with shitty conditions they provide to their employees.

  6. Tipping is bullshit.

  7. Egypt is weird when it comes to tipping. Guy takes a photo of you, tip for the favor. Give a pound and they act all insulted and give it back to you. I don’t complain about the giving it back part but they yell at you for walking away…

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