Tipping.  Gratuities.  What are your thoughts?

This one has come up for us recently in a slightly different sense.

As in tipping people for services that may not historically lend themselves to ‘tipping’.

Of course, tipping goes back many years.  Historically a tip was given to employees in service industries.  Those that were on a lower pay perhaps.

Hairdressers, Taxi’s, Porters, Doormen, Barbers, Beauty Therapists, Waiting Staff to name but a few.

Traditions tend to roll on but I do sometimes wonder whether some of these kinds of gratuities are more habitual and expected rather than relative to a service we have received.

Back in the day, my parents always gave a tip to the Milkman, Postman and Dustmen at Christmas time.  In fact, this was generally a done thing and they would knock and wish a Merry Christmas and the tip would be given.

Because of this we do still tip the Dustmen and Postman at Christmas.  It is always well received and we feel happy to do this as they always do a good job here.  I’m not sure whether people still continue this tradition or whether it has completely died out.  I would love to know.

But let’s fess up and think about all of the tips we shell out on that we would really rather not.

Because we feel obliged to or because we feel it is expected.

How many times have you tipped when actually you haven’t been pleased with the service.  Like your hair for instance – or when the the cab didn’t take you the quickest way.  Maybe your food was slow getting to the table.

Yet at the end you get the bill with a big smiley face drawn on from the happy server highlighting the fact that tips are discretionary.  Discretionary but expected.

But you still do it?

I know I have many times.  And begrudged doing so.  Yet I’ve still done it.

But we do have a choice.

And then there is the Service Charge.  An enforced tip if you like.  You are told how much to pay.

If it’s a restaurant then you are basically paying for what the establishment is there to do – ie serve you.

Of course that is all well and good if it’s been a wonderful evening with fabulous food, staff, service and attention to detail.

But it often isn’t.  There are times when you are actually paying someone to do what you do yourself every day.  Put a dinner on the table.  And it may not always be done with a song in the heart.

The onus is on you as a customer to state that you wish to remove the service charge. As opposed to the staff justifying why they should get it.

That always goes down a treat.  Providing you are brave enough of course!

For anyone that has been to the US, you will know that IT IS EXPECTED.  You will also know that probably half your holiday budget again will go on tips.


On our recent visit to the US, we noticed that they now suggest percentages and amounts. Helpful but cheeky at same time.

Woe is the person that has the front to walk away without paying it.

My favourite is the service charge at the bar (at home and abroad).  When you get charged 15% for someone to push a drink across the bar.  OK sometimes you might get a decent plate of olives for your trouble.  But not always.

I find that one a little unpalatable (especially if there is no olive of which to speak)!


And at the risk of sounding contrite, it really isn’t about the money as far as I’m concerned.

We are not mean people and will generally be the first to put our hand in our pockets.

So what’s it all about then?

Recently we have had reason to want to give a tip or ‘a drink’ where we felt that a service had been done over and above expectations.

We wasn’t sure if it was ‘appropriate’ or ‘the done thing’ but we did it nevertheless.  It certainly wasn’t expected.  And it was appreciated.

And do you know what, if felt really good.

To be able to do show that we had really appreciated a job well done was actually a really nice feeling.

There was none of this feeling obliged or under pressure to do the right thing.

And really that’s how it should always feel.

Because tips don’t tend to be about small change now do they.  It’s more a question of how much is the right amount.

Fifty Pence

Tipping the hairdresser 40 years ago might have amounted to 50p, but you wouldn’t be comfortable handing over anything less than a few quid at least today.

I rather like the idea of the feel good factor of tipping.

I wonder if many miss out on a bit of extra cash from us because we get fed up with giving it to those where there is an expectation to do so.

What are your thoughts?

Do you put up and shut up or do you hold back if you are unsatisfied with a service?



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