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

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The rules were simple: before the results are announced, don’t mention the S-word

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Howard Jacobson has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for the second time  

In praise of Howard Jacobson

Simon Kelner
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week