plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

March 11, 2009

tipping in a group

Filed under: shopping — Tags: — plonkee @ 1:02 pm

When I was a student, I spent 3 months living in the United States on a J-1 exchange visa, and it was there that I learned to tip. Americans are profligate tippers in comparison to most other cultures, and we were instructed that the *done thing* is to tip around 15% in restaurants (round up to the nearest $). We were also given a list of other people that expect to be tipped in America, who we wouldn’t normally tip in the UK, and warned that the British sometimes attract a reputation for being stingy tippers.

As a result of this experience I am now considered to be a generous tipper at home. I like to leave at least 10% in a restaurant. Recently, I went out for a meal with some acquaintances. The number of courses, and types of drinks that we were having varied quite a bit, so we all (without disagreement) contributed enough to cover our own bills. I put in £12 to cover £7.95 set menu and £1.75 drink, which leaves a pretty generous tip. One or two others also gave more than 10% extra to cover their tips. Still, the final bill was £96 between us, and we left £103 to cover that and the tip, which felt a bit wrong to me.

Fairly often, in similar situations, especially if I’m the person collecting the money, or sitting next to them, I’ll add more so that tip is at least reasonable. In this case I was at the other end of the table, so that wasnt’ possible (I also didn’t have any more cash on me). I didn’t want to say anything because I don’t know these people well enough to effectively call them misers. I swear that more than a third of the group must have been freeloading on the tip.

What do other people do when this kind of thing happens? How much do other Brits normally tip in restaurants? Stuff like this is why lots of places add on an automatic service charge for groups, which seems to annoy people a lot. Personally, I quite like it when service is included in the price of the food, which is become rarer and rarer these days.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

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