Tipping is a funny thing isn’t it?  In America most of the service industry work for tips, waitstaff being the most common I think.  The thing is that in America it is totally expected whether you give poor, adequate or good service.  I am the ultimate over-tipper, but I sometimes wonder why on earth I should tip for poor, unsatisfactory service.  I get everyone has bad days; however, this should never be taken out on the customer.These days the standard is 20%, and I am seeing more and more the 25% and 30% for very good service.  That’s a lot of percentage!  Not that I am against it any way at all, I am only against bad service and then an expectation of a tip.  Am I wrong in this?  That said I don’t think I have ever not tipped a person even though I have talked about it a few times.

There was a particular wait person in a Boston restaurant that was so unbelievably bad and quite rude, the group of us at the table talked about not giving a tip or giving a very poor tip.  In the end, we still gave her 20% that she absolutely did not deserve on a $200 bill.

There was another time when I was with my friend Colette and we went for an Italian in the North End where the waitress was so awful, dismissive and incredibly unhelpful that we discussed it and only left her 10% – really, we felt so bad and a little brave.  Well, wouldn’t you know, she chased us down Hanover Street to ask for the rest of her tip… she was very scary.  I think we stood our ground but I can’t remember.  We may have caved and gave her another 10% actually.

So, why am I talking about tipping?  Well, in the UK people don’t really tip.  I think it is happening more these days but certainly not to the extent of the US.  Tipping is not an expectation in a regular bar or restaurant in the UK, but I do it any way.

Last week I was having lunch with my family in Manchester and we were being ignored for the longest time and then the waitress was really surly when she finally came to serve us.  I said to my sister “she is going to get a really bad tip” to which my sister said “you don’t have to tip her at all!” What a revelation… Don’t tip for bad service?  I still left her a tip… I just cannot help myself!

The opposite of this was when I took my family out to a pizza restaurant, a bit like a Pizza Hut.  The waitress was lovely, attentive, patient with the kids and generally checked in on us throughout the evening to see if we were okay.  The bill was about £100 so I left her £10.  My family thought I was nuts but anyone who can put up with a table of adults, teenagers and kids (well, basically my crazy family) and still have a smile on their face deserves a tip.  Well, wouldn’t you know after we left the restaurant, she came running after us to say I had left money on the table.  When I told her it was for her, she nearly started to cry right in front of us!  She said “I can now go out with my friends tonight.”  To me this was worth the £10.  My family just laughed at me and said “you are so American.”  Well, if being a little bit generous to someone who was good to me and my family means being “American” I will take it.

I still don’t think I would never not tip in America even for bad service but it does cross my mind every now and then.  What do you think?