Good Food Blog
Tipping upPosted at 9:53AM, 04 November 2009 by Lily Barclay - Writer, bbcgoodfood.com
Eating out is supposed to be a treat, but the last meal I had out with a friend felt much more like a trick - only I wasn't being framed. The cutlery was dirty, the food was terrible, and the waiters looked about as happy to be there as Naomi Campbell doing community service.
He decided he wasn't paying the service charge - I decided to go and hide in the toilets
When the bill did arrive (after a 40-minute wait and a lot of averted eye contact) the 12.5% add on looked about as appetising as the food. But I was still in awe when my friend decided he wasn't paying the service charge - I decided to go and hide in the toilets. Unluckily for me I arrived back just as the drama was beginning...
A small congregation of waiters had formed around the table, the heads of curious diners were turning in our direction, and after much huffing and puffing the manager was called, a new bill was produced and at last sweet freedom was once again ours.
Being British, I might have preferred to pay the tip as expected and save my complaints until we were safely out the door - but as it turned out I felt a lot better about the experience knowing that we (well ok, he) hadn't caved in. But it did make me question the way our whole tipping system works.
If you've remembered your magnifying glass it might be possible to see the word 'optional' printed above the service charge, but when you have to go through the hassle of asking for a new bill and facing the hostility of the offended staff - not paying out the extra 12.5% doesn't feel very optional at all. Surely it should be the customer's decision to decide if and how much we would like to tip, depending on the quality of the service.
I'm all for restaurant staff getting a decent wage, but unlike America, eating out in Britain generally isn't cheap, and I do think it should be the employer's responsibility to ensure staff are fairly paid. Tipping should be a show of appreciation for good service - something I am normally only too happy to do.
What are your views on tipping?