How much should I tip? This question presents a dilemma for many. For others it is just a cause of irritation, they would like to do away with the whole tipping culture. If this is your desire, don’t hold your breath.
For most of us the dilemma is not whether to or not, but how much? Other complications arise when the food is not up to standard; will the waiter lose out? What do we do when the one serving us is the restaurant owner? How about when there is a service charge included? What is the tipping custom in the country we are visiting? Yes I know, life would be so much simpler without all these questions, but they cannot be ignored.
For those of you who are reluctant tippers, I feel I should clarify the purpose of a tip. It is a reward for the service given. Therefore, when food is not up to expectation, it is not the server’s fault. If the service is inefficient or overly casual, that is the server’s fault, thus a tip may be reduced accordingly, or withheld. When inefficiency is accompanied by rudeness, any reward would be an act of weakness.
When being waited on by the restaurant owner, the difficulty takes on a different twist. Would the owner be insulted by a gratuity? While this question cannot be answered with individual certainty, it can be answered. If we leave a tip the owner will be grateful, it tells him that we enjoyed our visit. If we don’t tip, tell him we enjoyed our meal and look forward to returning to his charming restaurant. On the other hand if the service was poor or ill-mannered, the guidelines already mentioned will apply.
The added service charge is a source of annoyance to many. To my way of thinking it displays a lack of confidence in providing quality service. When a service charge has been added to the bill, regardless of whether or not this was stated on the menu, should the service given fail to satisfy, we can probably legally refuse to pay it.
When visiting another country customs obviously will vary and most of us will want to fit in. Should there be any uncertainty regarding gratuities, enquire at your hotel reception desk. Ignorance in this matter may cause more than mild embarrassment; there is the possibility of an ugly scene; is it worth it, when far from home?
Read More Tipping Culture in Thailand
For the sake of simplicity I will put people into two categories: those who are content to tip, and those who object. Starting with the objectors, even among the professional ranks, there are those who at one time of their life worked in a restaurant waiting on tables. I have often thought that it should be compulsory for everyone to spend six months as a waiter or waitress (it would improve restaurant manners in general). It is all very well to say “these people should be paid a proper wage,” but in most cases it is not going to happen; besides, if it did we can be assured of two things-the cost of the meal will go up, and the quality of service will go down. Therefore, assuming you are not tight-fisted, try to be realistic.
When dining regularly at the same restaurant, will a missing tip improve service on the next visit? Another way of looking at it is leaving a tip represents a good investment?
For those who hate the very idea of tipping as a matter of principle, spare a thought for your dinner companions. When their feelings are contrary to yours, and they are your dinner guests, varying degrees of embarrassment will be felt as they “slide” out of the restaurant because of a missing tip. The end of what might have been a most pleasant evening will be tarnished.
Those who are content to give gratuities have clear advantages-one being we can walk out of a restaurant with our head held high. When at times we are a little over-demanding, a decent tip will smooth things over. Those known for their generosity can expect their excessive demands to be met with a smile.
Ultimately, tipping is a way of being generous and saying thank you. Generosity makes us feel good about ourselves and that must contribute to a pleasant relaxed evening out.