An Outsiders Thoughts on the American Tipping Culture

So America is well know for its tipping culture. Even if you’ve never been you’ll have seen it on the sitcoms or in the movies. In Scotland leaving a tip has crept in and the amount somewhat crept up in recent years but really the only place you tip is a waiter in a restaurant and it’ll be 10% if you recieved good service.  In American you tip everyone for everything irrespective of service!

This is a system I really don’t understand. It works out well for businesses -underpay service staff so they rely on tips and make it culturally unacceptable to not tip at least 20% and you’re in profit. With everyone working for this tip you think people would work hard for it but actually, for me, the US had the worst customer service of anywhere I’ve been. There was certainly no “Have a nice day” stereotype but there was a lot of rudeness and hands out waiting for money.

One of the worst cases is of course my driver on my booked camping tour stating “you must tip me and tip me lots” within minutes of meeting her. Surely, if you’re going to see her everyday for the next two weeks it doesn’t need to be the first thing she says to you. “ Hi I’m Megan, give me money!” In my opinion you never mention a tip.

Another was a sailing trip in San Francisco where we had to pay a set mandatory tip for the crew up front before even seeing the boat. How does this promote good service if the staff  have the tip beforehand? Of course said staff also had a little bar on board to make extra money and you must again tip at least $1 per drink purchased.

It’s not only that tipping is often forced on you irrespective of service quality it’s that everyone expects a tip.  From the hotel receptionist, bar staff, taxi drivers oh and you should leave a tip in rooms for the cleaners too. I did not always obey these rules. Which to many would have made me one of those horrid tight foreigners but I’m also on a budget. Luckily, I was not frequenting many restaurants or hotels.

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