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Why do we still submit to tipping being forced on us in a restaurant


My hope is that tipping will disappear in the near future.


Today when you go to a restaurant if the menu shows £15 for a meal it actually means £16.50 or more. I think that restaurants should be made to include at the top of the menu the comment “The prices shown on this menu are lies and will be inflated on your bill by an arbitrary percentage”, and the note should continue with “A small portion of the additions to your bill will be paid to waiting staff, the majority to the management but not kitchen staff.”


This antipathy to tipping has in fact been going on for hundreds of years. A letter published in the 1768 London Magazine argued for staff to be paid properly and that tips should be voluntarily paid after the meal rather than a compulsory service charge. As far as I can see tipping was started by the rich upper echelons of society to recompense family members of roadside hostelries. It was largess from the upper classes to the lower classes. This was then taken up by the rising middle class. I think that it is demeaning and patronising and the fact that it usually goes to the waiting staff only is plainly wrong, what about the cooking, cleaning, admin staff as well. And it is even worse if it goes to the management only.


Tipping has been adopted all over the world. I understand why that on the continent service charges are included for those customers who chose to use table linen, or a table rather than stand at the bar – both imply additional expense to the restaurant, and I think it seems reasonable, but no such choice is provided here. In the US it is so ingrained in the culture that to leave without paying a tip is regarded as theft.


To me this means that most restaurants are badly run and operated and that they expect their staff to be rewarded for doing their job. It is an employer’s means of controlling their employees using money, so if you are good the customer will give you a gift for doing the job you are employed to do, but if you are bad the customer won’t come again, and the restaurant will lose money. Restaurateurs should stop paying their staff so little that they are essentially forced to beg. They should also train them properly to do a good job, not leave them to self-train to get the best tips.


Surely, as in any other rational business, the prices should be calculated to cover all the expenses of the establishment, including its profit, and the payment of good wages. You don’t tip the librarian, the builder, the bus driver, the bank clerk, the grocer, or at the check-out. No other business behaves in this way, why should restaurants. If the staff are good customers will go back, if not they will go somewhere else.

The Well Tea Room Cheltenham October 2014 i.jpg
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