Almost 30 years ago, on my first visit to America, our Thomson holiday rep opened the welcome meeting with the line: “Tipping is not a town in China, it’s a way of life in the USA.”
And that it is. It’s basically what makes the world go round across the pond – from a visit to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and a 50 dollar bill inserted in the passport, resulting in an impressive room upgrade, to the obligatory decent tip to the bartender on the first drinks order, which will usually be followed by impeccable and attentive service.
Apparently, the overwhelming majority of bar/waiting staff in the USA are on minimum wage and tips are an essential part of their incomes rather than a welcome bonus.
Obviously, good service is a prerequisite – although in the case of the bartenders it’s almost a case of the cart before the horse – but most eating establishments in the States will either put on a standard 18 per cent when the bill is produced or, alternatively, will put the suggested gratuities at a rate of 15, 18 or 20 per cent at the foot of the bill.
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All this got me thinking – when it comes to tipping in the UK, as a nation of diners, are we actually short-changing our own waiting staff when compared to what the US labour force virtually expects?
If you receive good service, should you leave a minimum gratuity of 15 per cent or upwards, as we all seem to do when we cross the Atlantic?
Pardon the pun, but certainly food for thought if you’re going out in Worthing this weekend.
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