SL’s Official Guide To Tipping

SL’s Official Guide To Tipping

The art of tipping is a matter that confuses even the most generous among us. In a world of cardless payments and in-app purchases, who do you tip? How much? And when? To help you avoid any awkward moments, we’ve compiled an official guide on tipping in 2018 – and just remember, if in doubt, never (and we mean never) offload all your coppers…

Restaurants & Bars

According to the modern manners experts at Debretts , tipping in British restaurants is usually ‘discretionary’, however it’s more discretionary in some places than others. If your bill says ‘service not included’, it means just that, and you should offer at least 10% of the final bill – up to 15% is now commonplace for good service. On the other hand, some establishments add a discretionary percentage automatically – you’re not obliged to pay this if service has been noticeably poor, and in some circumstances it’s acceptable to ask for it to be removed.

Debretts also suggest that if you’re paying by card, it’s still better to leave a cash tip – although some restaurants allow diners to add a tip before entering their PIN number, there’s no guarantee that the waiter will actually see any of it. According to the British Hospitality Association, there are currently laws requiring restaurants to turn over the service charge, in full or part, to the waiting staff.

Research by OpenTable suggests the average restaurant tip in the UK is on the up– currently standing at £4.51, while London diners give an average of £5.01 per meal – and often in cash too, despite the rise in cardless payments.

In pubs, Debretts say you’re not expected to tip with cash, however if the barman gives especially good service or fills big orders, it’s acceptable to say “buy one for yourself” or something similar. However, if you’ve eaten in a pub and received table service, it is appropriate to leave a tip.

In many upmarket bars – cocktail bars especially – it’s now quite standard to find a discretionary percentage added to your bill. If not, tipping for table service is polite, and tipping your mixologist directly may help you get served quicker next time. Leaving a few coins for cloakroom attendants is also good manners, Debretts add.

Hairdressers & Beauticians

Debretts state that tipping is commonplace in hair and beauty salons and in hotels, with their experts advising: “Use discretion, but err on the side of generosity.” That translates to around 10% for your stylists, and £1-£2 per customer for juniors.

SL spoke to Hilary Hall, Chief Executive of the National Hairdressers Federation, who confirms that tipping is a nice way to express appreciation for the ‘feeling fantastic’ service hairdressers and beauty therapists can provide, but stresses that it’s entirely optional.

“There are no hard and fast rules on how much to leave as a tip, or whether to leave one at all,” she says. But Hall does stress that if clients are paying by card, most salons prefer to take tips in cash at the till so they can be passed on directly to the stylist or therapist: “That avoids messy calculations to separate out tips from salon income.”

Taxis & Ubers

Getting a black cab? Debretts say the going rate for tipping is 10%. On the other hand, rural taxis and minicabs usually charge a pre-agreed, flat fare and many people do not add an additional tip.

Booking an Uber? It’s a little more complicated. As Uber is largely considered a ‘cashless experience’, tipping was once unexpected – but the company has since launched an in-app tipping feature in the UK, giving passengers the option to tip their driver with the same payment method they used for the ride itself. The option to tip flashes up on the app’s screen after a journey is complete – but you can leave a tip at any time over the next 30 days.

“Tipping is up to you,” Uber state. “It’s completely optional, but always appreciated.” The company says it charges zero service fees on tips, meaning everything you give goes directly to the driver. Giving cash to drivers is also “still an option”.

So, should you tip? Business Insider suggests to consider tipping if you’ve caused your driver any inconveniences, and if they help with luggage or packages – around £1 or £2 for short journeys, or 10% for long rides.

Grocery Delivery & Takeaways

Both Uber Eats and Deliveroo allow for easy in-app tipping. Deliveroo told SL they “encourage” customers to tip, but that it’s “at their own discretion, as with most service-based business in the UK”. Takeaway service Just Eat says it appreciates both sides of the tipping argument,but says that tipping is “pretty standard practice” in the food industry, and that “someone bringing food to your doorstep is definitely something of a luxury”.

Just Eat suggests tipping 10% of the total bill – and keeping a jar of loose change near your front door for easy access. They also advise using “common sense” – if you live at the top of six sets of stairs and it’s pouring with rain outside, it’s pretty impolite not to offer a small gesture.

It’s also worth noting that the ‘delivery fee’ added to your final bill either goes directly to the company (i.e. Uber) or the restaurant itself (in the case of Just Eat), rather than the driver. Of course, drivers are paid a part of this – but it can vary significantly, and many contracted delivery drivers struggle to make minimum wage.

As for grocery delivery services, Business Insider says Ocado specifically recruits delivery people who are polite and friendly – so if someone offers to carry your shopping to your kitchen, it’s not just because they’re hoping for a tip. However, using common sense is also key here – tipping isn’t expected, but if you’ve ordered tonnes of heavy items and don’t have a lift in your building, giving a tip is considered polite.

UK Hotels

Staying in a smart hotel? Debretts stress that tipping will be expected. They suggest giving a small gratuity of one or two pounds to bellboys or porters per piece of luggage if they take your bags to your room; tipping doormen upon checking out if they’ve helped with taxis or luggage; and leaving a banknote in your room for housekeeping.

Finally, they recommend checking whether a service charge is included in your room service bill. And if not, adding 10% at the end of your stay and asking that it be given to the appropriate staff members.

Christmas Tipping

Debretts also offer clear guidance on Christmas tipping, which it recommends for those who are happy with service they have received throughout the year, and suggest the following:

Nannies/au pairs: The equivalent of a week’s wages – and a present, perhaps saying it’s from the children.
Cleaners: At least a week’s extra wages.
Milkman: A fiver wrapped up in a note saying ‘Thanks and happy Christmas’.
Postman: If you feel obliged to reward your regular postie, £5 would be generous.
Dustmen: Some councils have banned it, but it’s still common to give a £5 note.

Tipping Abroad

According to Travel Money Club, just a third of Brits leave a tip whilst abroad and more than half confess to being confused by local tipping customs. Luckily, the foreign currency provider has shared a guide to how and what to tip in different countries:

0% in Japan: Tipping in Japan is frowned upon, in fact it can be insulting – good service is considered part of the job – and staff will rarely accept it. However, tour guides are the exception, as they often rely on tips to contribute to their wages.

5% in Australia/New Zealand: Tipping down under is discretionary and not expected as waiting staff get paid a relatively higher wage than those in other countries. Rounding up the bill at the bar or in a taxi is a common and polite gesture.

5-10% in Spain: There isn’t a strong tipping culture in Spain, as service is typically included in restaurant bills. Around 10% would be appropriate in high-end restaurants, while a small gesture of 5% is more appropriate elsewhere.

10% in Germany: Customs differ in Germany; the tip should be given directly to the member of staff, not left behind. A service charge is not included in the final restaurant bill so it’s up to you to reward good service, typically 10% of the final bill.

10% in France: 'Service compris' is included by law in France so tipping isn’t expected. If you do want to, a tip of 10% is adequate for both restaurant staff and taxi drivers.

10-15% in India: Tipping is part of the culture in India and everyone expects to be tipped, although not large amounts – if you’re travelling with a local guide it may be helpful to discuss it with them and agree how to approach rewarding each person.

15-20% in America: The USA is famous for its tipping culture – substantial tips are expected and there’ll often be trouble if you don’t. Restaurant waiting staff, housekeepers, taxis and tour guides will expect a 10%-20% tip in addition to the normal price. And if you want to be served again at a bar, tip your bartender at least a dollar for every drink you buy.

20% (or 0%) in China: Tipping has never been a part of life in China. The exception is in the modern tourism indusry – for example, tour guides have now come to expect to be generously tipped.

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