Friday, 4 March 2011

Gratuity, tip or service charge

Had the pleasure of lunch at a plush West end establishment yesterday to celebrate my wife's birthday. The food was outstanding, but I have to say although I was neither impressed nor displeased with the service it was something of a surpise to see a 10% service charge on the bill, but hey ho! 10% is pretty much the standard for tips in restaurants isn't it? Actually I've no idea what is expected these days, but I tend to run with 10% because I can, but more often than not the actual sum will depend on the cash I have in my pocket, and that's an important point actually, for usually I pay by card unless we're in a group, but having worked as a waiter myself I know I much preferred a wee spot of cash between me and the customer without any need to bother the exchequer about the outstanding service I'd just delivered.

So, fair enough if the restaurant want these things formalised, who am I to quibble - I offered to pay the bill as it was and let them sort ot all out for themselves. What I really didn't like though was the waiter then handing me the card machine at the point where I'm expected to say whether I want to add a gratuity or not - to the bill at which they've already added my expected gratuity!

I didn't appreciate that at all - and if you've got a restaurant you should know this. It's the little things that make the difference between a great restaurant experience and an average one. Leaving the place feeling like the staff are trying to hoodwink a wee bit extra from you isn't the sort of thing I equate with a 'great' restaurant experience.

On the point of tips though, what's the story with taxi drivers? Why do they expect a tip at all. I don't mind rounding up to the nearest pound, but to have to deal with their surliness when I expect my change is a disgrace. They've got a meter running and must get a fair price for the service I'm after and which they provide. Why they should expect any more is beyond me.

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