So, who should you be tipping – and by just how much?
As tipping culture becomes more prominent, Aideen Sheehan offers a rough guide to its etiquette
Published 04/04/2014 | 02:30
To tip or not to tip, that is the question. Followed hot on its heels by the thorny issue of how much should you give if you do tip, Smart Consumer took a look at the practice of tipping in Ireland to find out what's expected, how much people give and how they feel about it.
And, boy, what a minefield of uncertainty and embarrassment it is.
In a strawpoll of friends, colleagues and professionals in the service industry we discovered there's no consensus about what and when to give.
There's a huge range of different practices and strongly held views with some describing the process as "fraught" and "embarrassing" while others were strongly opposed to automatic tipping.
Tripadvisor notes that there "is not a strong tipping culture in Ireland" though people tend to tip for some services with 10pc a good rule of thumb if you do choose to tip. However, it notes that tips are not needed for counter service, barmen or B&Bs
Often people's own work experience informs their tipping policy making them more (or sometimes less) likely to give.
Restaurants were the one place where most people felt you should tip, though it was not universal how much.
Many people tip around 10pc but several said they gave more or less depending on what the service was like.
One person says she usually, but not always, leaves a "small tip", but having worked as a waitress feels it's reasonably paid already and not too tough a job.
She finds it presumptuous when guests, calculating a restaurant bill, build a tip into the total owed instead of leaving it up to each individual to decide.
"I think whatever each person does or doesn't want to leave should be their own business," she says.
Another person takes the opposite view describing how much she hates it when someone in a group "undertips".
"I will now often act like a bill Nazi and grab the bill to work out a per head rate that includes a decent tip," she says.
Another says her pet hate is when restaurants impose a service charge and then also ask on the card machine if you want to leave a gratuity "making you feel like a cheapskate if you say no even though you're already paying 12.5pc".
Restaurant Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins says that he finds tipping is the norm in Dublin but much less so in other areas.
Where there was a service charge restaurants generally divided this up among the staff as part of their wages.
"The bottom line though is that if there is a service charge the restaurant should state this in advance on the menu, and it is always at the customer's discretion not to pay it if they're unhappy with the service," he says.
For discretionary tips staff often operated their own "trunkage" system of pooling tips and dividing them up so kitchen staff also get a share.
Opinion was very divided here, with some people tipping up to 10pc and others not tipping at all as they feel the cost is already high. One woman says she doesn't tip in hairdressers because she's already keeping them going in business.
Several say they don't tip if it's the salon owner but will often give something to the trainee washing their hair.
Some give around €5 for a €50 cut, but will give proportionately less for a more expensive cut and colour.
Men are less likely to tip the barber though one gives €3 on a €12 haircut because he reckons it's pretty good value.
Hairdresser Rossa Danagher who owns award-winning Rossano salons in Sligo and Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, says that most people tip but not everyone, and as the salon owner he would get less than other staff.
"Generally, if people are happy with their hairdo they will leave something. But there are some people who never tip and it's entirely at their discretion," he says.
"Our average price for a haircut is €46 and people will generally round up to €50 on that, but, if they don't, it doesn't make any difference to the service we give them the next time," he says.
Some clients gave a general tip to the salon when paying the bill, and those kind of tips were generally pooled towards staff nights out.
For beauty treatments most respondents say they don't tip as "these are high-priced already so why would you add to that".
Several respondents – including myself – had worked as chambermaids and feel they're unfairly overlooked for tips compared to other service areas because it's a real graft, but usually out of sight.
One person makes a point of tipping the chambermaid every day as she feels if you wait till the end of a stay, then it's likely the person who's done most of the work won't benefit from it.
Another says that she'd tip €10 at the end of a multi-night stay, while someone else says that she'd give around €2 each day.
One man was astonished to hear you might tip the chambermaid "as it simply never occurred to me" though he vows he will in future.
Several people say they hate when someone carries their bag in a hotel as they then feel obliged to hand over money which could be up to a fiver if they don't have small change.
For room service, most people felt you should hand over something small like a euro or two.
Here many people say they round up to the nearest euro while others say they'd aim for a 10pc tip. Another says she feels "the price is the price" but where the taxi driver rounds down the fare on the meter, she'll usually add a couple of euro to thank them.