My tip: get rid of gratuities in restaurants

My tip: get rid of gratuities in restaurants

Nice pouring – but shouldn’t your employer be paying you for that?

I love Japan. For lots of reasons, including the fact they have a soft drink called Pocari Sweat.
But one thing I love it for, having visited, is that they don’t have tipping in restaurants.
Isn’t it time we got rid of this nonsensical practice?

Think of all the social awkwardness and angst involved in tipping – is that enough, do you think…? Where do I leave it – under this bottle? What if someone else gets it… Damn, I’ve only got a £20 note, is it wrong to ask for change?
All this would be avoided if we just got rid of the whole custom.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying waiters don’t deserve their tips. Of course they do – or rather, they deserve a decent salary in the first place.
Good waiters shouldn’t have to draw a smiley face on a bill to get what’s due to them. But most importantly, they should get paid by their employer, like everyone else does.
They shouldn’t have to rely, either, on the honesty of their fellow waiters (not to mention their managers) in sharing out the tips fairly.
Being paid extra by the customer only happens in one other field I can think of and that’s lap dancing.
Waiters are forced to become the non-sexual titillators of the service world, trying to give that little bit extra of a wiggle to get their tip, rather than being allowed to do their job with dignity and get a fair wage for it.
If I bought a fridge from Currys and they asked me to top up the salary of the person on the till with an extra payment on top of the cost of the fridge – or, worse still, if they didn’t even ask and just added 12.5 per cent to the price – I’d tell them to get lost and to pay their employees a decent salary.
So why are restaurants still getting away with it? Why do we let them?
In the USA, the tipping culture is even more demented, with people having to hand over fistfuls of extra notes just to get a drink in a bar.
I was heartened, therefore, to read the other day about Scott Rosenburg, the owner of a New York sushi restaurant. He’s banned tipping in his establishment, in accordance with the Japanese tradition.

The future of tipping? I hope so…

Let me emphasise: this guy doesn’t merely suggest you don’t tip. He actually won’t let you. If you try to tip, he’ll give you your money back.
Prices are a bit higher, he says (the premium, one would hope, is going on providing his waiters with a proper salary) but everyone knows what they’re buying and there are no hidden surprises.
Make no mistake, this man is a hero.
Scott Rosenburg, I salute you!

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