The topic of tipping in a restaurant has always been a contentious one. Read our article about the appropriate standard for tipping in South African restaurants. The reality is that very few SA restaurants (if any), pay their service staff a fixed salary, meaning that much of their earnings come in the form of tips based on guests’ experiences. Which has thus lead to the argument about who the individual is working for at the end of the day; the restaurant or the customer?
And while it’s not uncommon for tables to exit a restaurant without leaving any tip on the bill, when you start playing a sick game with the person who is bringing you your food, then you don’t deserve to be eating out. At all.
A post made its way onto Facebook about a tipping ‘hack’ a man had tried after going to dinner with his wife. “You put 5 singles out on the table at the beginning of dinner for the waiter/waitress to see (don’t say anything to them). If they mess up, you take a dollar away and so on. At the end of dinner, how much is left is their tip.”
As a former waiter, please don’t ever do this. Ever. pic.twitter.com/X2i8MtrUb1
— Mark Arum (@MarkArum) August 2, 2018
There are two things that are concerning about this. Firstly, the fact that someone would engage in such demeaning and stultifying behaviour and secondly, the fact that he felt it appropriate to share on social media and encourage others to “try it”. Working as a waiter is often seen as a ‘lower’ job, but these people are not serving robots or animals to be cajoled with the promise of R20.
It didn’t take long for the post to go viral with subsequent backlash from the (understandably outraged) restaurant service industry.
“The system of wages and tipping is broken. Both guests and staff need to have a public debate about how hospitality workers are paid. It creates a deeply divided power dynamic that leaves staff open to exploitation”, says Food24 writer and ex restaurant manager, Katy Rose.
“The minimum wage in South Africa for a waiter/server is R19.35 per hour or a monthly rate of R3772,65 per month. I know of many high-end and respected restaurants who only pay their waiters this amount, and not a scrap more. Waiters are working for their livelihoods every single time they interact with a customer, which puts the waiter at the mercy of the customer. Additionally, sexual harassment or bad behaviour is often condoned by waiters and servers, in the fear that if they say anything, their tip will be affected.”
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