Tipping and Tipping Etiquette in South Africa
I am sure we have all experienced at some point the fumbling when the bill arrives after a pleasant meal, not quite sure the correct amount to tip. Should it always just be the standard 10%? Or perhaps you have thought that as your meal was astronomically expensive, you dont need to pay any extra towards a tip. Perhaps we have entertained the thought that waitrons receive a basic salary from the restaurant, and tips are just extra. And what if you have just had a cup of coffee for R16.00 surely you arent expected to tip R1.60 but any more than 10% seems like an expensive cup of coffee? An internet sweep on this topic suggests Tipping and Tipping Etiquette in South Africais a standard 10%, with some travel sites suggesting 10%-15% guidelines. I decided to ask an experienced waitron, Luanne Pawson, for some feedback from the other side of the table.
- Do waitrons receive any other payment from the restaurant besides tips?
Depending on the restaurant, waitrons either get a percentage of what they sell or they get an hourly rate, but its very low. Mostly waitresses depend on tips.
- Do most customers still stick to a tipping etiquette of 10% of the bill?
We hope for ten percent but the higher the bill, they tend to tip less, again depending on the type of customers. Generally people tip either ten percent or just under. Sometimes out of the blue they tip very well.
- Have you found that the tip given is influenced by your service or attitude in comparison to others working the same shift?
Yes, the service has a lot to do with the tip. However some customers also dont tip because of the lateness of food or if the food wasnt good. Things that are beyond our control but our tip gets affected. Customers can be incredibly rude and we take a lot of abuse sometimes, but we take it because of the tip. When you joke with your customers, it also helps set a friendlier atmosphere and they tend to tip more at the effort.
- Have you had customers who dont tip at all? Is this an exception or does it happen often?
There are always customers that arent going to tip no matter what. Sadly this has a ripple effect, other tables tend to pick up your disappointment and think you dont want to serve them… It can set the tone for the night.
- Some restaurants build in the 10% service fee for larger groups have you found that customers still tip over and above this?
Some restaurants add 10% and some dont and some only add when its a table of ten or more. It should be compulsory because even after they leave, we are still cleaning the table etc. Theres a lot of background that people dont think of, like singing for birthdays or paying a kitchen staff to make sure you get your food on time and ensuring your tables get their drinks by tipping the barman and still we have to pay breakages.
From this, it is evident that unless you have ever been on the serving end of the table, its difficult to have an understanding of all that goes on in a restaurant to make sure your experience is a pleasant one. A lot more goes into service delivery than merely carting food from the kitchen to your table. Its worth considering next time the bill arrives to work on a 10% minimum and round up instead of down, and to reward service excellence where it is due.