Bitch on the Blog

April 2, 2014

Tripping up

Every so often the subject of  “tipping” for services rendered will crop up.

A blogger who I admire for his eloquence put forward, some time ago, that if you can’t afford to tip (20 %) you shouldn’t eat out, visit a restaurant. Come again? You know how you form an idea about a person only to be slightly taken aback at some point? I believe him to be Canadian, thus Northern America informed. Not that that is an excuse.

A little while ago, in the same vein, I commented on an article in the press, the argument running along similar lines to the above blogger. My response (how cute is quoting yourself?), and please do remember the subject of the article being ‘giving tips’, context flagging down a taxi:

“I am a generous tipper. People often think me too generous to the point of stupid. Maybe so. Money is fluid.

Yet, you saying “if you can’t afford 20 %, ride a bus or the subway” I find offensive. I once fell on truly hard times – and walked. Everywhere. Miles. No bus or subway for me. And one day, I only had five pounds on me, I needed a taxi – urgently. I knew the fare (ie £5.00). Told the driver before he accepted my custom that I wouldn’t be able to tip him. You know what? There is actually true kindness in the world! Enjoy the ride. U”

And it is offensive. Hugely so. You are down and out. On top of which you get slapped by those who can afford the 20 %. Let’s leave aside the issue, taken up by most commentating on the article, that the customer shouldn’t be expected to make up in wages what the employer doesn’t pay. What left a bad taste in my mouth on both the above sample: If you can’t tip become invisible. Stay in.

I could expand on the above ad nauseam. So many facets: The etiquette of tipping according to country and culture. How easy it is to trip up, a tip being seen as an insult to the being tipped.

Think about it. Let me know. From as many corners of the globe and personal takes as possible.

Word count 360. 20 % What’s 20 % of 360? 72. It’s ok. Don’t worry. Do keep the change.




  1. I agree, if you’re short of cash but need to eat out, are you supposed to not do so because you can’t tip? I also agree that tips wouldn’t be needed anyway if employers paid a decent wage. Personally, I also tip quite generously, I only refuse to tip if the service or the food was downright atrocious. Otherwise, I like to tip because I know the person might be depending on their tips to afford something absolutely basic.

    Comment by nick — April 2, 2014 @ 13:58 | Reply

    • Good on you that you are generous, Nick, when tipping. However, your comment throws up a few conundrums. And please do see my reply to Friko

      Thing is: As long as employers in the service industry rely on punters to make up the deficit of the minimum wage they pay nothing will change. It’s a vicious circle. I suppose most of us will have done a stint in a pub, a cafe, a restaurant at some point in our youth – to subsidize pocket money. I was lucky. I was only fourteen, after school hours, paid well in a country where employers do not short change you, plus being tipped generously – I’d like to think because of my service with a smile rather than other assets.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 2, 2014 @ 14:34 | Reply

  2. What happened to the idea of tipping being a reward for good service?
    Service in the UK is too often resentful, absent-minded, slapdash, downright rude, that tipping anything at all, much less 20% is an insult to the tipper.

    I am happy to reward friendliness (although that should actually be understood anyway), helpfulness and efficiency, but feel put upon when a tip is expected regardless of the quality of the service.

    Comment by friko — April 2, 2014 @ 14:02 | Reply

    • Yes, Friko. But that is the difference in culture where you and I come from. As you say, you “reward good service” on top of the actual deal (say a meal). Never shall I forget first time I checked into a five star hotel, in the room with the porter hovering. What was he waiting for? Till my (worldly wise) husband pressed some money in his palm. That’s when my penny dropped. And how I learnt to always get on the right side of a concierge.

      Tipping is a minefield. And I think the article made the point that it should be abandoned. Yes, Service Charge. And if you put it on your credit card you damn well know it will not hit your waiter’s pocket. Which is why I tend to carry cash. Even when I haven’t got any.

      One rule I observe that you don’t tip the owner of a business (say, a hairdresser). Only the minions. By the time they have all washed your hair you wish you’d just let your hair grow.

      The 20 % rule is peculiarly American. I find it ridiculous. Give what you want to give and leave percentages out of it.

      Other than that, Friko, walking into town yesterday, the scenic route (through the park): By all accounts – spring has arrived here too.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 2, 2014 @ 14:25 | Reply

  3. If I can’t afford to tip, I go to places where tips are not expected like our ubiquitous street food vendors. Believe me I have done that more than most people do in a life time. I do tip now. I can afford to. The only exception is where on the bill there is an item called service charge. If I see that, I don’t leave a tip.

    Comment by Rummuser — April 2, 2014 @ 14:26 | Reply

    • Yes, Ramana. Service charge stinks. It’s an add on. Price your menu so you make the profit you hope for. I don’t like jumping through unnecessary hoops. And let me be the judge of how much on top I’d like/am able to/can/will give in recognition of service.

      I do suppose – just widening the argument slightly and you, as a businessman, will recognize this – one might say that tips are the lower class equivalent of the mighty BONUS given to members of the higher echelons of industry.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 2, 2014 @ 14:43 | Reply

  4. According to Trip Advisor, for the United States, “10% usually means you aren’t totally happy, 15% usually means all was acceptable, 20% for excellent, over 20% for outstanding.” We generally tip at the “all was acceptable” rate, even if it wasn’t. On a very rare occasion, we will leave without tipping, generally when we are quite unhappy with the service. Very seldom do we run across poor service or outstanding service. The worst we’ve seen is occasionally, the host or hostess seats us and, for some reason the server never gets informed that they have customers. On a couple of occasions, it became obvious that the server for our table was either late or hadn’t shown up for work at all.

    Comment by Mike — April 2, 2014 @ 16:09 | Reply

    • Mike, the main thing, and I am not being funny here – having it on good authority, if you plan to return to the same venue make sure you tip well. Otherwise, second time round, there won’t be so much as a fly in your soup as undetected spit, or worse. I tell you, like with most industries, once you are taken behind the screens you run for the hills. And eat a carrot. Raw.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 2, 2014 @ 16:38 | Reply

  5. friko appears to meet an awful loy of )possibly) autistic service staff, like our postman. He said good morning today when I met him down the road. I’m winning.
    I tip if I have enjoyed myself…..and that means that I have to do my part. Some people seem to think that service staff are not actually humans. Having been on the other side I can assure you that they are human and like most humans they appreciate being appreciated. Interestingly thier bosses also appreciate being informed about the service, politely informed that is.

    Comment by magpie11 — April 2, 2014 @ 19:11 | Reply

    • Apart from cleaning other people’s toilets I do believe waiting on tables or sitting at a till to be the toughest jobs. You are always on show, having to smile through gritted teeth whilst treated as if you didn’t exist. Upstairs, downstairs. I judge people on how they treat those who ‘serve’ them. Dear dog in heaven. Many a story there. Hot tip of the day: Become a Sommelier. The diner who doesn’t have a clue will take take your advice and be quite humble as he mumbles, sniffs and nods.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 2, 2014 @ 21:40 | Reply

      • Youngest, having various oenological qualifications and working in the wine trade,, has a pet hate. It’s the customer who opines” I can’t stand Chardonnay. It’s so (bla bla). When t comes to white wines give me a good Chablis.” I suspect that he is tempted to crown said poser with the nearest bottle……

        I guess that I have done the toughest jobs… I have sat behind a till, served at table and cleaned toilets. Not simultaneously you understand.
        I spent a summer (1964 I bellieve) as a groundsman on a caravan site…. one of my jobs was to clean the toilets. my mothe warned me that the graffiti in the women’s toilets would be much worse that any in the men’s. She was right. I learned a lot. One thing still puzzles me. How did she know?

        Comment by magpie11 — April 4, 2014 @ 11:13 | Reply

        • As it happens, not that it contributes to the subject in hand: I can’t stand oaked Chardonnay. As was drunk by everyone and by the gallon (oh, so sophisticated, in the late Eighties, early Nineties). Even the smell makes me retch.

          I think men who know their wine list most charming. No, not the one who throws money at a bottle. That’s just vulgar. But one who quietly knows what goes with what, and does take the sommelier’s advice into consideration. Tells you, doesn’t it, Magpie, what an old fashioned consort I am. However, when it’s just female friends and me they always leave the wine list to me. Make of it what you like. Alpha to their Omegas. Or maybe they are just too lazy to think about it.

          As to graffiti in women’s toilets, and you mentioned it before. I am not convinced – but then I do avoid public toilets like the crabs. I dive into a hotel and use their facilities if and when my bladder gets desperate.

          Nevertheless, I do get your drift: I am sure women can be smutty. It’s not my scene. So can’t contribute anything to the subject. Hats off to your mother that she warned you before you walked into what might have shattered your romantic notions of the divine and innocent. Hope it didn’t blight vision of your ideal female. How did your mother know, Magpie? Well, she must have been pregnant with you and, faced with a pressing issue, had no choice as to the venue.


          Comment by bitchontheblog — April 4, 2014 @ 11:50 | Reply

  6. My attitude is such that I am so sorry for the servers knowing they do NOT (in my most cases) have anywhere near a living wage. This whole tipping thing is self perpetuating.

    BUT on the other hands, being a tax accountant, I know that most if not all, tippees do not even declare 25% of their gratuities in this basically cash business. So it is all overall a lose-lose-lose situation.

    And Yes, I do tip based on the service I’ve received. And will not tip for outright disdain.

    Comment by wisewebwoman — April 2, 2014 @ 19:27 | Reply

    • WWW, I probably shouldn’t put this in writing – however: I am a great believer in cash in hand. No questions asked. No receipt necessary. The tax man wrings enough out of us as it is. Whether the builder, plumber, cleaner, prostitute declare their income or not is their business once money has exchanged hands.

      And if the above mentioned don’t [declare their earnings] I hope they won’t get caught.

      Not so much by temperament but because I have an eye for detail I am supremely suited to be an accountant. As tedious as it is. Yet, WWW, there needs to be a Robin Hood justice in the world.

      I’d be interested to hear more about your take on the subject.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 2, 2014 @ 21:25 | Reply

  7. On tipping…. where did I hear abotu the Bible Thumpers who left religious tracts with an explanation as to why their “tip” would be more useful to the tippee?
    Or amI just becoming more confused than usual?

    Ooh! Look what I found?

    Comment by magpie11 — April 4, 2014 @ 11:28 | Reply

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