The Tipping Point

A while back on twitter I asked what people thought was an acceptable tip to had over to a bar hand.

I raised this question because people had long told me the unwritten rule was 20 pence (it’s how much Leigh fans bought a flute for when they had some sense and about 50 cents in US monies).

The answers I got back ranged from confirming the 20 pence “standard” to saying that some might go up to a quid, but would usually expect about 50 pence as a maximum.

My mum (a former bar maid) and a friend who is one also confirmed they would take 20p, though my mum would point out that 20p back when she worked was worth a hell of a lot more than it is now.

There are of course stories of customers putting an actual drink on behind the bar for the staff once the shift has ended and other such pleasantries.

I hate the 5 pence coin, so if I ever get a drink that is between 5 to 15 pence short of the whole pound I’ll let the staff keep it.  But in my twattish way I won’t actually say “round it up” or “call it £X,” I’ll just walk away from the bar and hope, as has happened, that I don’t get chased down by some worried employee determined to had over the loose change, which in this day and age of the easily offended and of litigation-happy people I can quite understand.

There was also a discussion about how let the bar keep know you wanted to tip them.

“And yours” seemed  most popular, I go with “(and) one for yourself” – which last year in London lead to a novel situation.

Having spent about 4 hours in one bar marvelling over and obviously massively indulging in the beer selection I felt it only proper to tip the bar staff.  As an aside I don’t wait four hours, I have no set time of when I tip or indeed if I do, this is not some moralist hang-wringing piece nor is it a rant worthy of Mr. Pink.

So I got my final drink(s) and said “one for yourself,” to which I was then surprised as the bar (man in this instance) picked up his clean glass and proceed to inspect what he had been selling before informing me he’d have a half of one of the drinks I just ordered, he then gave me my change.

However I didn’t find this to be a giant piss-take.  It was a first and it has never happened since but the guy could have gone full on £11-a-pint if he’d wanted to but instead merely matched my drink.

Which also married up with a lot of “warnings” about how people take the inflections of the phrases used to instigate a tip in different parts of the country.  Not that I wish to infer that this practice is either common or exclusive to London.

But back to my original light bulb moment, I asked about tipping because I was in a Greater Manchester pub and after sitting down with my first drink I could hear the distinct sound of pound coins hitting the tip glass (fashioned out of a pint nonik rather than the usual half or shorts glass).

Now either the punters were very generous tippers or that was how much the bar (maid in this instance) thought that is how much the tip should be.  Whether this was a conclusion she had come to herself or it was a direction from the pub got me thinking about who informs on bar staff how much to take for a tip.

When you think about it, given that a pint in this pub was an average of about £3.50 that works out as approximately a 30% tip.

Then also a while back (as I do take far to long to write these posts), in between a lot of tweets by people with sand in their vaginas I can across this post by Benjamin Nunn and though it wasn’t anything related to the post’s rant it did ring my alarm bell:

“To my mind, this is the equivalent of a 20 pence tip – more insulting than ignoring it altogether!”

With all that has gone on recently about companies taken employee tips either in the full or at a charge if the payment has been made by card it does make you wonder that if 20p is seen as patronising and maybe it is in places where living costs are higher it is, perhaps  we shouldn’t begrudge those taking a bit more than the “standard.”

Would appreciate comments and opinions on this, stick them below…

Mr. Pink, for those who don’t get the reference

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4 thoughts on “The Tipping Point

  1. Still varies very much between different regions – I don’t think the characteristic North-Western “and one for yourself” is widely understood in That London. I would still expect 20p to be taken if it’s just one or two pints, and anything more than 50p would come across as a touch greedy. If I wanted to tip more (for example at the end of a long and busy evening) then I would give it directly to the barperson concerned.

    A few years ago I was in a Belgian restaurant (in the UK) and objected to a service charge being automatically added to my bill, as I had experienced very poor service. They gave it me back in shrapnel!

    • I don’t like added service charge.

      I’ve also found some restaurants keep change. I may be giving it as a tip but I don’t want it assumed it is. I like to leave it – fickle but polite process I feel.

  2. In general in restaurants I pay in cash, get the change back and then leave what I think appropriate as a tip – generally about 10% unless the service has been particularly good or bad. I can’t say I’ve ever had one keep the change, although I might have said that if the difference was about what I was going to tip anyway.

  3. Once a long time ago in a pretty village near “That London” I purchased a pint and a half and offered “and yours” to the squeaky bargirl who excitedly accepted a gin and tonic which cost more than my round… Never said that again. I almost always tip though and I’d generally give minimum 20p up to £1 for a larger round (6 drinks ish). I live in France now and people tip a lot less.

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