To pits with tipping


My first experience with tipping happened many years ago when I was a schoolboy. My cousin and I had gone to a hotel, and he left behind the change. Promptly I picked it up, walked up to him and gave it saying, “You had left this behind.” He smiled and said, “It’s for the waiter.” Many years later when I was doing my CA internship, a friend left behind a tip. The waiter picked it up, walked up to my friend, and handed it back. So, “Should we tip or not?”

If I walk out of a restaurant without tipping, I get the feeling that I have walked away with someone’s money!  But in the deep recess  of my mind I keep asking, “Haven’t I paid for it in the bill?” If someone were to say, “It’s gentlemanly to tip,” I get pissed off. I ask, “I go to a restaurant, have food, pay for it, then why should I tip the guy who in any case is getting a salary.” If you are tipping because you expect a better service next time around, aren’t you bribing? If you tip because you are happy with the service and are proffering a gift, then the same goes when you pay money to the tax department.

If you are tipping because you expect a better service next time around, aren’t you bribing? If you tip because you are happy with the service and are proffering it as a gift, then the same goes when you pay money to the tax department, or the railway TTE, or the cop on the road.

Then there are many other issues. If I am happy with the service it’s not just because of the waiter.  It could also be because of the ambience or because of the quality of the food  In that case, why should the waiters alone pick the mullah? If you say, hotels pool money and pay everyone, well may I ask why doesn’t the hotel pay them a far more handsome salary.

I also have another problem. How much do I tip? At college, I was told it was 2 percent. It then moved to 5 percent. The other day I read in a book that is should be a whopping 20 percent. If 20 percent is what I  have to tip, then I might as well become a waiter in a hotel. It would pay me for more than my day job of a CA.

Now do you go about tipping everyone who does a service: the pilot who flies us out, the doctor who cures us, the stylist at the salon, the cab driver who drives you home, the article trainee from the audit firm who files your return? Boy, no way. I hope that sometime soon this practice of tipping disappears, just like we wish the practice of speed money or bribe disappears.

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About Pattabhi Ram

A chartered accountant by profession, a writer by passion and a teacher by accidental choice.
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One Response to To pits with tipping

  1. Kandhas says:

    Apparently, you haven’t even spoken to a single waiter about it. Nor have you researched about it. In many western countries, there is no salary for waiters and it’s just the tipping that sustains their livelihoods. While your blog is so detailed about the questionable ‘logic’ of tipping, it conveniently ignores the other side of the story. Speak to any waiter and he would tell how nightmarish guests could behave in a restaurant. I always speak to them – from Saravana Bhavan in India to Michelin star restaurants in London – they all have stories to tell. And never have I questioned the logic of tipping. Only exception being when they charge service charge.

    Next time around, please try to present both sides of the story. Of course you could have your own conclusion but it’s important that impressionable readers are presented with all aspects of reasoning.

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