Why I love no-tipping policies at restaurants
I believe people should get paid properly to begin with by their employers.
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It’s breakfast time in a village in the Overberg near Cape Town. The bill comes, and we’re paying by card, but I’m also digging in my wallet so I can pay the tip in cash.
Everyone who has ever waited tables knows cash is king: it’s instant, you don’t have to wait for the end of the month for it (if you get it at all), and you don’t have to stand stoically by while it’s split among “all the staff” which happens to include the chef (already far better paid than you), the management, the owner and their families.
Or maybe you don’t get it at all because it’s used to “make up the wages”, which already feel like they were made up by a child who thinks wedgies are funny. So, 10% of R450 is … 45? Then double it, because I was a waitress for far too long and I know how it feels, so … R90?
“We have a strict no-tip policy,” says the man serving us, looking rather pleased with himself. I’m not surprised he’s smug because I punch the air. I bet all his customers do. No, not because I don’t want to pay for service, but because I believe people should get paid properly to begin with by their employers, a fair wage for fair work.
I want to pay what I see, with service as part of service. And I loathe the tipping system, the power-play of it all, the servility.
Once I served a table of 12, took their children to see the fish pond, jogged with the baby while they ate, and was rewarded with a handful of coppers. People like these are why that mandatory 10% “service charge” is sometimes added to the bill – but a no-tipping, charge-what-it-costs system works for those customers who don’t tip, too.
And tipping seeps across a culture: I was once having my roof fixed and when it was finished, when I’d paid, the foreman asked why I hadn’t tipped his workers “for a good job”.
Dammit, I had paid the agreed amount for a good job, hadn’t I? And yes, maybe R450 for our breakfast seems a bit steep but take off the R90 I was going to tip on top of it, and suddenly our fancy breakfast cost us just R360.
Call it “girl maths” if you want, but it works.
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