Tuesday, 21 December 2010


A fair wage should be paid for a fair job. In most jobs this happens – with 'fairness' decided by market forces, as well as by someone's judgement.
I'm sure you would agree that people tip more if their food arrives in reasonable time, and they aren't kept waiting. This wait time is decided by the kitchen staff, not the waiting staff – so why should it affect the tip. If I order a £50 bottle of wine instead of a £10 bottle, why should the waiter get more money for pouring it into my glass?

Tipping is understandable when someone has gone out of their way, gone beyond the call of duty, to help you out. What I cannot stand is someone expecting a tip just for doing their job. “But”, I hear you say, “a waitress cannot survive on just her basic wage”. That may have been true before minimum wage laws came into force, it is a much weaker argument now – all that needs to be done is for governments to stop exempting service staff from minimum wage laws. Restaurants would raise prices but customers would pay the same on average, and a better career structure and self image for waiting staff would emerge.

If someone in a normal job performs better than their colleagues, then they get a raise, or perhaps a performance related bonus. This system seems reasonable; the prospect of a raise or bonus serves as an incentive to put in the effort.
If there were no tips, but the service industry raised prices enough to pay a fair wage, and gave raises/bonuses to the better ones, then this would benefit the employees and simplify the transaction for all involved.

To me the issue of tipping is confusing, often unfair, patronising, and bad for the service industry. Every time you tip a waiter, or taxi driver, or hair stylist you are contributing simply due of tradition or out of guilt that are being given a service by someone else. I do not view “because that's the way it has always been done” as a valid reason, and I don't feel guilt, so perhaps my view is not mainstream, but think about it.
And if you are worried about waiting staff being nasty to you in any way in the future if you don't tip, ask yourself if someone capable of petty retribution deserves a tip.

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