Tipping is an interesting cultural aspect which is different in many countries and often leaves the unwary Brit feeling somewhat awkward and unsure of him or herself.
I know people who refuse to tip and I used to feel them mean. I know people who when you discuss giving a tip will say something like “OK, how about “don’t eat yellow snow”?”. It never ceases to be unfunny.
In the UK, we often tip based on the numbers of people being served…and to be frank we often tip for pretty poor service which amounts to simply putting a plate of food on your table – barely a smile or even a “how is your food?” is received…unless of course you genuinely go to a place with great service. More often that not, you are tipping because you enjoyed the whole meal so it is to be hoped that the chef gets a little of it. Also, generalising a bit, waiting on tables can often be a part time job for a student who really doesn’t care about their work.
I suppose that the UK is playing catch-up with many European nations where tipping is almost expected – even if a rude French waiter is involved…time we stopped tipping for average or poor service! Simple. Give waiting staff a respectable basic wage and let us move on…and why on Earth do we tip taxi drivers? I do not know.
In the USA and Canada, you do actually feel like waiting staff deserve any tip they get because they actually seem to take pride in their jobs and work hard to earn any additional tip you provide. I have rarely seen waiters write down your order in the USA – they remember it – they seem to care. Something which as a customer is great.
So how about New Zealand? Well, I am delighted to say that tipping is not expected and culturally, you tip when you receive great service. Pure and simple. No awkwardness or otherwise. And the best bit? I have yet to be served by anyone who wasn’t friendly, attentive and wanted you to have a good meal. Have I tipped yet, I hear you ask? Not yet…because My wife has looked after paying the bill most of the time! Seriously though, we have had great service when compared to the North American standard on a couple of occasions and have left more which is all good.