DUNCAN BARKES: What tips the balance of your generosity?

A FRIEND of mine was telling me recently how her Dad tipped the milkman twenty quid because it was his birthday. It made me ponder on the subject of tipping: who, these days, deserves a decent tip?

Before any milkmen get excited, I should point out that Ralph, my friend’s Dad, lives in the depths of the countryside, and that Milko also fulfils the roles of Bringer of Bread (delivered weekly along with a copy of Private Eye magazine) and is sometimes the only human Ralph sees from one day to the next. But twenty quid is twenty quid, and apparently the milkman also gets the same amount in his ‘Christmas Box’.

As we rapidly approach the festivities I wonder how many of you still chuck a few quid to the milkman (if indeed you still use one) or the bin men.

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As a boy I clearly remember money being set aside for the milkman, postman and the bin men by my parents at Christmas, but when I did an informal straw poll of my colleagues about whether or not they tip the blokes who empty their bins, they looked at me as if I‘d just donned a pink frilly frock and insisted on being called Marjorie.

Their view was clear: We pay our council tax and that’s that.

It is not a dissimilar stance to the one taken by some people I know when it comes to tipping in restaurants. They feel that they have paid for the meal, the business pays the staff and that should be the end of it.

Personally I believe that if you receive outstanding service then you should reward it accordingly. Some restaurants have a service charge included on the bill, but if you pay by card does the cash end up in the pocket of your server? I would rather slip them a tip directly, just to be sure.

Once in a restaurant in Daytona Beach, Florida, our party was pursued out of the building by a very aggressive American who wanted to know why we had not left a tip for him. Culturally, these things matter to the Yanks.

Ironically, after witnessing his thoroughly unpleasant attitude, we were less than keen to make amends for our mistake.

I think that tipping for good service is the right thing to do, but do you? Did you ever tip your milkman or postie? And if you did but don’t any more, why did you stop? I’d be very interested to hear your views.

My top tip for festive bargains

From tipping to a top tip: The National Childbirth Trust’s Nearly New Sale of baby and children’s toys, clothes and equipment takes place at Chichester College Sports Hall on Saturday 10 November from 11.30am – 1pm (11am for NCT Members). A great opportunity to nab bargains for Christmas, money raised from the event also helps this brilliant parenting charity.

Not to be missed.