A bit on the side

To tip or not to tip
To tip or not to tip

KNOWING how much to tip and when can be a social minefield, especially on holiday.

Features editor Joni Ager looks at the debate and offers some guidance on tipping customs abroad.

To tip or not to tip? That is the question.

Deciding whether or not to leave a tip can be a social minefield, but knowing the custom for tipping abroad can be even more confusing.

In the USA, for example, a 15 per cent gratuity at a restaurant will show that you were happy with the service, while in some countries like Thailand tipping is generally frowned upon.

And to complicate matters further, a new survey suggests us Brits are giving fewer tips while on holiday because of the tough economic times.

As many as one third of British holidaymakers are giving smaller tips or have stopped tipping entirely, according to the poll by TripAdvisor.

Emma Shaw, of TripAdvisor, said: “It’s been a challenging year for the British economy and Brits are spending very carefully.

“While the majority are still rewarding good service on holidays with tips, many Brits are giving smaller tips as cost-saving continues to be a priority.”

The survey also revealed that only 46 per cent of Britons always know what is expected in the way of tips in other countries and 29 per cent tended to give the same amount in tips whatever country they were in.

Twelve per cent of British tourists said tipping on holiday made them nervous, while one in five said the US tipping culture put them off travelling to America.

The social etiquette ‘bible’ Debrett’s says people should make an effort to find out the local custom on tipping before they go on holiday.

It says: “The practice of tipping varies from country to country according to legislation and the prevailing wage structure. Before travelling, it is worth consulting a guide book to ensure that you are familiar with the custom and do not cause offence.”

But should we really be so concerned with tipping or is it time to abandon the custom altogether?

Mick De Rosa, from Kettering, said: “Tipping is old fashioned and should be stopped. As this recession bites harder all these restaurants, taxis and so on have put up their prices to compensate, so us the public are forced to pay for it, or go without.

“I go to work every day so should I look for a tip on top of my wages?”

But Stacie Cull, of Rothwell, who works in a service industry, says tips are vital to supplement her income.

She said: “As a hairdresser myself, the wages aren’t that great and we do rely on our tips to top up our wages. I’m grateful for anything that I get.”

What do you think?

Is it right that we tip for good service or is it time to ditch the custom of tipping?

Do you feel confident in tipping the right amount abroad?

Tell us what you think by emailing editor.et@northantsnews.co.uk or writing to Viewpoint, the Evening Telegraph, Newspaper House, Ise Park, Rothwell Road, Kettering, NN16 8GA.