Thursday 25 December 2014

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

Rossa Danagher of Rossanos in, Rossanos, Main St, Ballyshannon
Rossa Danagher of Rossanos in, Rossanos, Main St, Ballyshannon

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

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.

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.

Irish Independent

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