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The worst tippers

The worst tippers

Andrew J. Linn

Friday, 31 March 2023, 12:47

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Bearing in mind the most common complaint in Spanish restaurants is bad service, and that tipping is almost non-existent (at least among Spaniards), is there a link between the two?

Nobody wants to see tipping get out of hand as it has in the USA, where not leaving 20% can involve running a gauntlet of insults on departure. Nevertheless, in Spain there are never-ending comments from waiters and barmen on social media complaining that the Spanish are the world's worst tippers.

Actually it is all about the salaries of the staff. In the USA, they normally get a minimal living wage and customers are expected to subsidise that, which is well and good once you accept the system.

In Spain, as a rule of thumb, catering industry employees must wave goodbye to more than half their net income for rental expenses, so unless a young person lives with their parents nothing will be left over for luxuries or even a night out. And caught in this sort of trap the chances of getting onto the housing ladder are virtually nil.

But maybe we get what we don't pay for. In a non-tipping country employees embrace borderline poverty, while in another across the oceans, they can become rich on tips.

A friend sent me a bill from a restaurant in Milwaukee, stating 'To the prices shown must be added 10% tax, plus tip @20 % expected.'

That amounts to a 33% uplift on all menu prices. A rip-off or just a different way of billing the customer?

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