I am all for rewarding service that goes beyond the call of duty, but last week when I was in New York everyone expected a tip.
Gruff cab drivers who didn’t utter a word to us, or run-of-the-mill waitresses who plonked down our meals and sauntered off all expected us to tip them somewhere between 15 and 25%.
One even had the gall to ask me if I was going to pay the tip in cash or on my card – without even asking me if I wanted to leave a tip.
When I told her I wasn’t planning on leaving anything extra full stop, she wasn’t happy.
I understand that workers in the service industries in the US get a tough deal. While the minimum wage for workers is about $8, the minimum wage for tipped employees like bartenders and waitresses is just $2.13 per hour.
I get it, they are lowly paid so need good willed customers to boost their pay packets. But it’s a bit a much to ask, if you aren’t actually providing good, let alone great, service. It grates with me that something which should be voluntary – and given – is assumed.
Even if you order a drink in a bar you are expected to tip the bartender – it all starts to add up after a while.
I can’t help but think it would be a better system to just up the pay of service staff.
Restaurants and the like might have to increase their prices a bit to make up for it, but in the long run it might actually work out cheaper for the punter.
It all started, apparently, with us here in the UK back in Tudor days (we invented everything didn’t we?). When people stayed in private homes they would leave a little something for the servants.
Since then, particularly in the US, the practice has just got out of hand. But then the Americans always do take things to the extreme, don’t they?