Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Leave A Tip, You Bum!

I just updated to both a brand new wireless-N network router and a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, and was on the phone with the cable company to register the latter. After the exchange of information was done, I was put through to an automated survey asking to rate the performance of the operator who assisted me.

I did so happily, knowing that these people depend on their customer satisfaction ratings. And, anyway, how hard is it to spend 60 seconds pressing "1 for very satisfactory" over and over again? Unless of course the customer service rep was horrible, in which case that's even MORE of a reason to participate in the survey, no?

So why do most people ignore these things? Is it really that hard to exercise a little empathy for the person assisting you?

It got me to thinking about tips, and how nasty folks can get over giving their service person the due appreciation he or she deserves. On our recent European vacation we witnessed some of our fellow cruisers routinely leaving out tips for services rendered. Services, I might add, that were delivered with the utmost courtesy, professionalism, and skill.

WTF? What is that all about? I'm not talking about on the ship, which had a mandatory gratuity already built in for each cruiser anyway, but on shore excursions mostly. We just couldn't believe it. You might as well slap the tour guide in the face and spit on his shoes!

Why are people so miserly when it comes to money? When I plan the budget for our trips, I do so with the knowledge that tips will have to be factored in. To me, it's part of the cost of travel. So when it comes time for it, I'm not surprised or put out at all.

Why is this so hard for others to do? Given how readily a lot of people accept services but don't tip for them . . . it becomes a little easier to understand the human penchant for enslaving their fellow man. No one wants to do the dirty work, but they'll happily let others do it and not pay them to do so.

Yeah. That's the kind of role model *I* want to be for kids.


Botanist said...

Interesting thoughts, David.

If you are talking about countries where tipping is customary then fair enough, but it's worth remembering that tipping is one of those many behavioural things ingrained into culture rather than a universal truth. It is a custom with all the accompanying pitfalls that have to be learned.

Americans have certain expectations around what constitutes "good practice". Europeans tip too, but not to quite the same level. In the UK we considered 10% to be normal, here in Canada it is more like 15%. We learn and adapt to the culture we're in. In some countries it is not expected, considered rude, or even illegal.

The moral is: learn the customs of the place you are visiting, and abide by them. And if those customs include tipping, then, yes, leave a tip you bum :-)

David Batista said...

Well, for restaurant tabs and taxi cabs, sure -- when in Europe, tip as the Europeans do. Which is to say, not much. When we were in Paris, for instance, we typically only tipped our exceptional waiters 1 or 2 euros since their salaries are not based on tips.

But I'm talking about some of the tours we went on. If the guide was very good and went above and beyond normal duty to entertain and educate us, rounding up the 33 euro per couple fee to 40 euros shouldn't be that difficult a thing to do. Especially when everyone in the group is from the U.S. where tipping for exceptional is built into our culture.

It especially irks me when the other couples spend the whole tour raving to the guy's face about what a phenomonal guide he is, only to stiff him out of a tip in the end. That's a low blow, if you ask me.

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