Let’s face it (and here the English heritage in me cringes): the English are known throughout America (and possibly the world) as being bad tippers. The range is a laughable 0% to a modest 10%.
Americans tip a standard 15%, less if the service is terrible, more if it’s great. In New York City it’s easy: just double the tax. Elsewhere it’s more difficult, relying on higher math of taking 10% of the bill, then adding half of that again to get 15%. But it can be done, and in fact, is done quite frequently, even in a country that’s in twenty-fifth place in the world in terms of mathematical ability, behind such math powerhouses as the Slovak Republic.
Even Starbucks, which everyone can agree is overpriced to begin with, can get up to $1 in tips per customer in the more affluent demographic areas in the major American cities on the Coasts.
And as evidence that it’s not just Starbuck’s where the tip jar runneth over in the US, here’s a photo of a tip jar in the Diesel Cafe, a student/artsy cafe in Davis Square, Cambridge, MA, where earlier today I met two friends from my Boston-based writing group. (In case you missed earlier posts, I am here in the Boston area with my mother and daughters for two weeks over Easter but will soon be resuming our lives in Cambridge, Eng.)
In contrast, below is a tip jar from The Orchard, a lovely place in Grantchester, UK, a mile-and-a-half from where I live in Cambridge, and where Rupert Brooke, Virginia Woolf, Maynard Keynes, and other Bloomsberries dallied. The food, while simple, is excellent, and I believe their scones with cream and jam are among the best that can be found in England. Plus you get to sit out in the orchard and read, talk, or doze in a comfortable deck chair while apple blossoms fall gently about your head. Sigh. And is there honey still for tea? I really must do a post on this place . . . But I digress. Back to the matter at hand: tipping.
When it comes to the two tip jars, do you see the difference?
The Cambridge, US, jar is crammed with dollar bills, with another on its way. The Cambridge, UK, jar is crammed with . . . well, it’s not crammed with much of anything. What is has is a twenty-pence piece, a ten-pence piece, several other coins, and two two-pences (tuppences in the language of pre-decimalization). Put it all together, and you don’t even reach fifty pee. I went back to check half an hour later, and well, it looked just about as it does here.
And that’s a shame, because the average wage for a waiter/waitress in the UK is 5,660 pounds, and tips could go a long way towards a living wage. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2065339/Best–worst-paid-jobs-Waiters-11-pay-cut-chief-execs-15-raise.html
The average wage of a US worker is not much better, but the tips are.
So, when the English get to the tipping point, they should think about raising the tip!
Actually, full time waitresses in the UK earn a lot more per year than the amount you mentioned above. In America, the minimum wage for service workers is extremely extremely low, hence the tipping. However, in the UK, service workers have the same minimum wage as everyone else in the country, and will often be paid above the national minimum wage so there is no need for tipping unless the service is really good. In my opinion, it should be up to the employers to pay the employees properly and not up to the customers to make up the wages.