The rapid rise of paying for services with cards and phones and the demise of cash has resulted in a marked decrease of tipping. Traditionally floor and bar staff were paid poorly enough so adding fifteen or even twenty percent onto a bill was a way of bringing their wages to a decent rate and keeping your meal more affordable. After all it’s a physical enough job, long unsociable hours on your feet and sometimes putting up with us grumpy customers. Kitchens being deemed more skilled would be left out of the tips as they were paid more but lots of places do include the younger chefs and pot washers which I agree with. I received a few good ones myself over the years which I would always share out.
The introduction later on of a ten or more percent official service charge confused customers as then there was an automatic additional cost on your bill which was meant for the servers of course and did that mean the servers then got double tips? A lot of places held onto the service charge anyway and some added it to wages so it is never clear to the customer what to do. A new law coming in here will force places to make sure service charges are given to staff. Restaurants always have their own policy anyway and owners are not meant to be involved regardless with cash tips as servers are meant to declare the tax on it themselves which rarely happens so that law is futile.
The whole tipping culture varies from country to country too with North America passionate about it and Asia not so keen on it and Europe somewhere between the two. The difference now is that minimum wages and work regulations are far more favourable to servers so things are not as bad as the olden days at least in Europe and less so stateside. In fairness I have never had a bad service in America so I would never begrudge a tip there; they really put on a show for a customer no matter what the sector but it can get overbearing. Customer service really is taken seriously there for sure. Now in Europe it can be hit and miss with a server sometimes giving the impression they do not want to be there, hate their job anyway and the customers too and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you come across this scenario. Then having to tip for this, well I don’t think so; I often berated a bad server at the end for their attitude or terrible service and left them reeling with my dressing down, their boss got it in the neck too while I was at it. It is important to have the option then if you have not had the best service experience.
So what can we do now that cash is no longer king? Some of the tech wizards have created lanyards now so servers can just be zapped a tip straight to their digital account from the customers card which is a great way of maintaining the reward that a customer might want to give a really good server. If a server has been extra good, really going the miles then I always make sure they get a personal reward on top of the normal tip or service charge.
My first hotel summer job was as a waiter at fourteen so I know what it’s like to work the floor and later while backpacking in Oz I stood in for a sommelier for a weekend in an emergency while doubling as the pastry chef in between opening wines, now that is multitasking. I sure appreciated the tips. So the message is to keep tipping and try to bring cash with you if only for this purpose. It means a lot to students just trying to earn a few quid and as technology has dealt a blow to the traditional way of paying for services our gratitude should not be compromised.
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