Hmmm… a thorny question in the sometimes difficult world of tips and tipping.
There have been various moves by the government to regulate tipping by making people declare the extra income and tax it… best of luck with that one, HM Arsy… and businesses regularly add on service charges as well as us, the poor punter, giving a tip to the person who actually deserves it.
But my blog this week comes because I was faced with a very peculiar situation whilst on my recent holiday.
A warm late summer Sunday in Cape Town meant many of the beach front bars were busy. But we found a table with no difficulty and sat down. It took a good ten minutes for the waiter to take our drinks order so we ordered food at the same time to save a few minutes later on.
My drink came but not my husband’s. In explanation, the waiter shouted over the heads of several tables that they had run out of Castle beer, but he was going to give my husband Stella for the same price. It didn’t turn up, though.
Our food arrived and was banged down in front of us, on top of the menus that had been left. Cutlery to eat it with arrived later. The beer arrived later still.
Never mind. The food was nice and we enjoyed our lunch.
We called for the bill, which came to Rand 131. My husband was paying by credit card, but was going to leave a cash tip (why, I’ll never know). But the waiter said to him: ‘shall I make that up to 150?’
This got my back up so I said, no, just for the amount of the bill. The waiter started getting angry and said that it was customary to add 10%. Well, I’m pretty good with numbers and even my husband, who can’t add up a column of figures and make it the same twice, could work out the waiter was asking for 15%.
When I pointed this out, the waiter got angrier still, saying that is was outrageous that we weren’t going to give him a tip until I pointed out that it was outrageous that he left us alone for 10 minutes when we arrived, got the drinks wrong, didn’t give us cutlery or take away the menus and generally screwed up all along the line.
I’m still pretty sure he thinks that I was being a git and that it was his right to get a tip, no matter what the service level was.