A note on tipping
The government’s proposals on restaurant tipping, announced today, are long overdue. That they appear at a time when the industry is facing both haemorrhaging customer demand and rising costs in raw foodstuffs is of no importance. For years, certain restaurants – including favoured chains like Strada – have brought wages for front-of-house staff to statutory minimum levels only by hijacking the tips; a form of candlelit robbery. A ‘gratuity,’ that is, given freely, was once a means of expressing appreciation and acknowledging good service. It was never supposed to fund a waiter’s basic subsistence. In its debased modern form, the tip functions as an effective cover charge, with an ‘optional’ twelve-and-a-half per cent tacked on to everything from a bowl of olives to a magnum of Dom. It thereby does nothing to incentivise better service. The English, with a cowardly reluctance to complain to restaurateurs, swallowed this ‘table tax’ (itself a VAT dodge) like a teaspoon of arsenic-laced Petits Filous. In America, where service is typically far better, tips are wholly discretionary, with good performances well rewarded. It’s time we followed that example.
Posted by Oliver Thring at 19:21