A personal post from Graham Ellis
Lisa and Graham live in Melksham, Wiltshire, England

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On tipping - and the expectation of a tip

I remember going into a cafe in the heart of New York for a traditional New York Cheese cake ... and the main memory is not of the cheesecake itself, but of the laminated sheet I was handed with the bill which told me that an 18% tip was the norm and giving me a table of example amounts.

As it happens, I was / am very much aware of the Amercian tradition of routinely tipping high and tended to stick to that convention even where service was / is seriously lacking. I've better things to do in life than cause upset and a scene in places like the New York cafe, and I won't be going back to that one. Yet curiously it's on the principle of it being demanded, not on the amount.

A blog post from "the bitchy waiter" [here] brought that back and shows a deep, dark undertone. Bemoaning promotions - "Don •[99]t worry about the server not getting tipped by people who are eating a lot of food but not spending a lot of money ..." and doing so while descibing a 14% tipping level ... "When the four teens are finally too bloated to stuff one more cheese stick into their bodies, they get their check which is for $21.65 and they leave the server three dollars. Hurrah." And how about "No Tip Tuesdays: Come in on Tuesdays and order whatever the fuck you want and then stiff your server. We don •[99]t care. (This offer is also good on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.)"

Sorry - a tip should be for good service in my books, and an exceptional tip for exceptional service. It shouldn't be (but I know it IS) an expected part of the wage at certain establishments; really the establishments should look after their staff. Maybe this is a cultural thing, though - one of the conundrums while travelling to different countries is to know when and how much you should tip.

Looking to the UK ... I will almost inevitably tip very close to the country's traditional 10% on restaurant meals where the order is taken at table. Not for food ordered at the bar and just delivered. In a restaurant, I have been known not to tip [much] on the wine element - I simply don't buy expensive bottles these days, or indeed much alcohol at all, but why does / did it merit more extra for the server just because they happen to have a more expensive bottle in their hand when pouring? Hotel wise, the tradition in the US is to leave money for the room cleaning staff. In the UK, travelling on business especially, that would be - I think, extraordinary.

But we don't talk as much as we might about tipping. So am I about right, old fashioned and overgenerous, or mean in my habits?
(written 2014-07-10, updated 2014-07-11)

 
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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