Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hot Tip.

In an effort to earn some extra cash and stop spending frivolously on eating out, I recently crossed the dining room floor and joined the ranks of tippees. No longer do I while away my evenings drinking, eating, having my plates cleared, and doling out tips. I watch others drink and eat, I clear their plates. The tips, however, have proved to be few and far between.

Living in a small city (Perth, a glorified country town, darling as it may be) my diners are perhaps less cosmopolitan than those in larger cities, where people may be more well-travelled and aware of tipping etiquette. Nevertheless it astounds me that investment bankers, lawyers, engineers, ladies-who-lunch and business owners will happily spend $100 a head on dinner, another $60 on a bottle of wine, and then think it acceptable to scrawl in a $2.40 tip on the credit slip at the end of the night. In the words of Super Nanny, “that is NOT asseptable.”

I suspect that stingy tippers suffer from extreme self-focus. Anyone who has considered what it might be like to walk a mile in the shoes of the person serving their meal would surely go red at the very thought of tipping anything less than a good 10% for their efforts. After all what is a waiter going to do with Scrooge’s loose change at the end of the night? Save it up and buy a loaf of bread? Excuse me while I scoff.

No one likes a Scrooge

I personally have a rule of thumb that I reserve a minimum 10% of my dinner budget for the tip – so if I budgeted $100 for dinner (sides, water, and wine included) then I will order up to $90 worth and the last $10 is the tip. On a table of 4 people that’s a fair $40 tip for the waiter.

As Australia doesn’t have clearly established guidelines for tipping, it really comes down to common sense. It’s kind of like the whole ‘should men open doors for feminists?’ thing. Always better to err on the side of goodwill and manners. Let the feminists (or in this case anti-tippers – not that I have ever come across anti-tipping service staff to date) have a tantrum if they will; at the very least the money goes into your karma account . . .