I’ve just got back from a holiday in America. I fulfilled one of my dream wished and visited Tupelo where Elvis Presley was born and Graceland, the home where he lived. Both trips were great.
However, what I wanted to write about was tipping or gratuities for services given.
It became a big source of debate and discussion with other members of my tour group. All were British and all had the same viewpoint; mainly that you give a tip for good or exceptional service not whenever you are served something.
With the Americans recommending from between 15% - 20% every time you were served there were obviously a few grumbles.
Tipping is actually a wage supplement and Americans expect us to pay this. It is like adding a service tax to your bill every time you are served whether it is in a bar or restaurant.
Some waitresses only earn about $2 an hour which is an abysmal wage and they rely on tips to make up their wages to an acceptable amount but I honestly don’t see why I should subsidise their earnings. Surely this is the responsibility of their employers. They should be paid a living wage. One waitress told us that her shift started at 5pm and she worked until 3am the following morning.
This was $30 dollars plus the tips that she was given. Now she did provide us with exceptional service; willing to discuss the menu, talked about the baseball on the TV and genuinely made us feel welcome, so we tipped accordingly.
However in some places the servers did nothing out of the ordinary and some were downright rude and not interested yet they still wanted the same gratuity. Believe me when I say that they didn’t receive it!
I wondered if this was the same for Americans so the next time we were in a restaurant I looked at the tip that was left by an American family. Their bill was about $35 and they left a $2 tip. This is nowhere near 20% so that is what we left as well.
Call me a cynic if you wish but could these recommendations be directed only at gullible tourists especially the British who are from a nation that doesn’t see tipping as part of their everyday life. The stress that this caused some of my tour group was surprising spilt their enjoyment in a little way.
I also spent a week on a cruise and decided to ask for the gratuities to be taken off our bill so that we could tip when we wanted to and choose the amount that we wanted to leave. This took a staggering £168 off our bill!
We also had to watch out when we signed for drinks ordered on the cruise as the gratuity was already added and some of our tour group didn’t know this as they hadn’t been on a cruise before and so they were adding an extra tip as well.
What made the situation worse was that the servers in some restaurants and bars reminded you that paying a gratuity was recommended and that they even suggested the amount. I found this disgraceful and again was reluctant to tip at all. This was also done by guides who took you round on tours etc. although to be fair their service was in many cases deserving of a tip because of the information that they gave you and their pleasant manners in delivering it.
Now, some of you may be thinking that I am just tight with my money or that I am being petty but I honestly don’t feel that way. To me the employers of these types of establishments should, in my opinion, pay their workers the correct amount for the work that they do.
I am happy to thank someone, with a monetary tip, who has been helpful, courteous and who has tried to make my experience pleasant and enjoyable.
So now over to you; what do you think?
Thought for the day: Choose your own path!