LETTER:Tips are accepted with gratitude

From Ms Hermione Ainley

Sir: While I entirely agree that it is iniquitous for restaurants to mislead customers, no one is obliged to eat in them and those who object to what they have to pay can vote with their feet ("Restaurants 'should abolish tipping' ", 22 November).

Like many restaurateurs, we do not pay a full-time staff a living wage. We rely almost entirely on part-time students to whom we pay a pittance. A service charge is not included, is absolutely discretionary and is not solicited. Tips are most welcome and are accepted with gratitude; I think I can honestly say that non-tippers are given equally friendly service and their decision to leave nothing - based on drunkenness, meanness, principle or whatever - is greeted with good humour. However, our students know that the way they treat customers can directly affect the amount they take home, and this increases both incentive and enjoyment.

As a result of this policy, on busy days both we and our staff make money and are happy, while on slack days - not yet a thing of the past - low wages minimise the damage. I hope I am right in saying that there are people out there who would wish us to survive. One of the reasons we have lasted 10 years is our clear statement that our prices include VAT but not service.

The Consumers' Association's long-waged campaign against tipping is merely an irritant. Legislation would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut, and as nuts we would not welcome it.

Yours faithfully,

Hermione Ainley

Edwards of Crick

Crick, Northamptonshire