What happened to tipping just because the service was particularly good?

Although it’s illegal for restaurant owners to use gratuity to bump their employees’ wages up to minimum wage, enforced tips are clearly still being relied upon

Share

It all started out as a bit of harmless fun, a couple of quid here and there after a particularly enjoyable meal. Tip what you like, when you like - those were the rules.

But before long, some restaurants got a bit too big for their boots and the cheekiness began. Quite often now, huddled away in size eight font at the bottom of a menu, lurks the line: “A 10 percent service charge will be added to the bill.”

What was previously a way of showing appreciation for good service is now not only expected, but enforced. Of course you could just refuse to pay - and you’d be within our rights if the service was subpar - but, being British, the economic shortfall would be more than made up for by the level of embarrassment involved.

This irritating trend of mandatory tipping takes the p*ss most spectacularly in two situations.

The first is in self-service restaurants. SELF-SERVICE restaurants. Fancy something to drink with that MSG? Of course you do, but it’s going to set you back a pound for someone to pick up that overpriced coke and bring it over. Imagine if that level of guilt-fuelled generosity existed in other aspects of life too. Pass the salt? Show me the Benjamins.

The second situation came along the other day when I was enticed into a Camden restaurant by promises of half price dim sum. Being a) a debt-ridden recent graduate and b) absolutely tragic for dim sum, imagine my dismay when the compulsory service charge was double what I had anticipated. You see, it had been calculated before the discount was applied, effectively putting it at 20% of the bill.

“I have to pay my staff,” came the manager’s reply when I picked him up on the matter. And therein lies the problem.

Although it’s no longer legal for restaurant owners to use gratuity to bump their employees’ wages up to minimum wage, enforced tips are clearly still being relied upon when it comes to staff pay packets.

Of course, the majority of waiters work incredibly hard and are often on their feet for hours at a time, so they shouldn’t stand to lose out from any change. Instead, let’s just be upfront about it - price staff wages into the food and leave the small print to the mortgage brokers. That way you know right off the bat exactly what you’ll be paying, without having to cough up more to subsidise one of the manager’s overheads.

What’s more, once waiters are properly paid, the prospect of a discretional tip acts as a sort of incentivised bonus. Out for a meal in Leicester Square for my mother’s birthday earlier in the summer, our waiter was not only competent, but took the time to have a laugh with us and - most impressively - responded well to my dad’s inevitable attempt at banter (explaining to the Geordie, in his best Newcastle accent, just how much we loved watching Ant and Dec as children). The willing tip payment that followed was somewhat dumbed down by the fact that, had our waiter been grumpy and useless, he’d still be pocketing the same amount.

So, with claims that Londoners are dining out nearly four times a week, let’s pave the way in the opposite direction to the US where every tiny deed done for someone comes with a cash reward. Waiters would get a decent wage and a little bit extra if they impress, and I’d get my dim sum guilt free, at least until I start thinking about the calories.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Mr. Cameron is beginning to earn small victories in Europe

Andrew Grice
Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar  

The Only Way is Ethics: The paper’s readers and users of our website want different things

Will Gore
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'