Sunday, 19 March 2017

Twenty-five percent gratuity


Tips (or gratuities) can be a controversial topic.   Some parts of the world, like Australia, don't subscribe to this custom which is viewed as something Americans dreamed up.   Others, like France, include an automatic service charge of around 20%.   Watch out that you don't add an additional tip if you are visiting.    Some travel guides recommend that in addition to the included service charge you round up the bill so that if it is 18.20 Euros (probably not much of a meal in France) you leave a 20 Euro note.

In Scandinavian countries tips were called drikkepenge or drinking money.   It was often the coin change from a bill and the idea was that the server would accumulate enough over the course of an evening to have a few drinks himself after work.  Wikipedia has a country by country guide which can be useful for world travellers.

Some jurisdictions justify a lower minimum wage for servers under the theory that they will end up with more than that by including tips.    Generally, servers in mid-range eateries expect to double their wage with tips; higher end restaurants and bars and expect exponential returns.   Most only declare a portion of the tips received - 10% is standard.   The tips received are distributed by an internally decided formula so that bussers, hostesses, cooks and dishwashers share in the largesse.  Some establishments have servers tip out on their gross sales which can be unfair if a large table doesn't tip at all.   The tip portion for the rest of the staff comes out of her other tips.   In a less than friendly restaurant there's room for abuse and revenge.  

Cruise ships add standard amounts to each passengers bill--something like $14. per person per day.   On a two week cruise a couple would pay almost $400 in gratuities.   An additional 18% is charged on bar purchases.   Most people appreciate the service provided by staff but there can be some resentment at feeling that customers are making up for low wages paid by ships flying flags of low wage nations.

I've read that in New York City, twenty-five percent is the standard gratuity in restaurants.

One objection that is raised concerns the many low wage occupations that do not receive tips.  What is the solution?

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