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

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

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
 

Thatcher as a role model for young women? It may not be as desperate as you would think

Rosie Millard
Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road