Saturday, September 17, 2011
Tipping is usually a matter of personal choice. But I noticed on my recent travels that several restaurants in the UK list a “service charge” of 10 per cent. When I asked about it, I was told it was the “gratuity tax” imposed on the credit card bill by the restaurant. When I asked if there was a choice in the matter, the waiter was a bit red-faced and explained that if I insisted, they could remove the tax. I said no, I was pleased to give a tip… but added that I usually tip more than 10 per cent. Terry, Jennifer and Neil have all convinced me that tipping is good. If one decides to go out for drinks or food, one must be prepared to offer a tip for the good service that usually follows. As my conversation with the waiter went further, he explained that the 10 per cent service charge is collected by the restaurant which takes a tiny share of the money collected and then splits it among all the staff, servers, host and kitchen staff. He admitted he didn’t really like the system. I asked what if a customer wants to make sure the tip goes to the server who provided good service. He said the customer then has to make a point of giving the cash tip to the server and deleting the tip from the credit card bill. So that’s what I did. I also noticed that virtually every restaurant I visited used the hand-held credit card device so that you deal with your bill right at the table… the waiter doesn’t walk away with your credit card for several minutes, something I am always suspicious of.