I am sick and tired of the debate over tipping for restaurant service. It’s been going on for years and all that happens is the debate goes round and round without anything changing. The more people discuss it, the more you get to see who’s a cheapskate and which restaurants are abusing their staff.
Restaurants pay their wait staff unbelievably low wages because it’s assumed they will make up their earnings with tips. This is usually the case in the top restaurants where patrons are classy individuals who tip and tip well. But there are only a few of those restaurants, the rest are run-of-the mill and patrons range from good tippers to mean buggers who refuse to part with a cent that they are not obliged to part with. Restaurant owners ignore this and quote the good tippers as the norm.
Now, we live in a city that is fast becoming the hottest tourist destination on this continent and during summer it’s packed with tourists. After a bleak winter of poor earnings, waiters and waitresses (I refuse to use that other ridiculous name) are positively drooling at the thought of tourists enjoying the benefits of the exchange rate.
But some diners don’t tip or they tip badly. Instead of just accepting it or changing jobs to a restaurant with a better clientele or better working conditions, or, god forbid, improving their service and skills (which, yes, is often abysmal but that’s another story) … waiters/waitresses have found a new way to get good tips from their customers : they simply demand it. This is completely unacceptable. It happened to my clients this week at Karibu restaurant in the Waterfront. The waiter didn’t like the tip so he came back and demanded 10% !!! I’d like to see them try that with a table of South African diners.
If restaurants really want to do something for their staff (which we know they don’t – let’s be real here, they care zip-all for staff) they would get their act together, speak out as one voice and motivate for the entire industry to include service in all bills, in all restaurants. Obviously this is a large undertaking but if they cared, they would start the ball rolling.
While on that topic – when are we going to take the job of waiting on tables seriously enough to train people globally and pay them properly? Tourism is such an important industry, shouldn’t this be happening?
UPDATE 20 Jan/15: The restaurant in question contacted me about this. They advised that this is unacceptable and they will deal with the waitress in question. It’s a huge pity that she may lose her job but my clients will, I hope, go home knowing that we don’t accept such behaviour. It’s bad enough that it happened in the first place so let’s at least show we don’t agree to it! This particular group of people (5 of them) are all going home to share with their friends who have indicated an interest in coming to this country so the last thing we need is for them to remember only how they were ripped off!