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Tipping Blues

December 22, 2008

I went for a haircut in my new metro of residence. The place was an independent saloon. It was reasonably well to do, air-conditioned, plush sofas in the waiting area with latest magazines, and neat and clean. I was asked to wait for a while. After about 10 minutes I was asked to go inside and take a seat. A nice big mirror greeted me as I sat. The man came and wrapped me in a black robe.

“Short Medium?” he asked curtly

“Medium” I said.

And we went about his job of cutting my hair. It was surprisingly fast and clinical. No conversation. No powdering my neck at the end to make me comfortable from any residual hair left on my neck, no clean towel to wipe any hair on my face. No asking me if the cut was alright. No attempt to tell me how there are many black-heads on my nose and that a facial would probably be good. Mind you I have never bought any up-selling in the past but it has always felt good to be asked.

So in about 10 minutes I was out at the counter paying for my haircut. They included service tax in the bill. And the guy who cut my hair kept standing there waiting for tip. I have given tips as much less swanky places but somehow I just felt this guy was really pushing his luck for a tip. I mean he worked as if he was on work-to-rule mode. So I will pay-to-rule. I see no reason to tip if the guy makes absolutely no attempt make me feel nice, makes no attempt to go out of the way to do something extra, heck not even a smile and good morning or a welcome. Why is being nice so difficult? Why do they assume that they will get a tip without making any extra effort?

On the topic of tips, have you noticed how all restaurants are beginning to add “service charge” to their bills? It really pisses me off. I mean if I am paying Rs. 250 for say Shahi Paneer, I am paying that amount because of the service provided. And the service charge varies from 5% to 15%. Worst, in some places, even take-aways have service charge included. Oh man, they really take away the pleasure of tipping. I just don’t leave a tip is service charge is included in the bill, irrespective of the amount, irrespective of how happy I may have been with the service. Why don’t they let the customers decide what they should pay for the service, in form of tips? I am sure if they do a good job, they might make more than what they are charging as service charge.

My worry is very soon the government will start charging “service tax” on the “service charge”. That would really really push things. Hope that doesn’t happen. And I really hope that the service charge is indeed shared with the waiters and other workers in the restaurant. It would be a shame if it is otherwise.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 23, 2008 9:40 pm

    I enjoyed your blog…excellent writing.

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