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Tipping is in the culture


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#21 DeanB

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 10:47 AM

I have always left a tip with the cleaners at hotels etc.. As my mum was a cleaner for a few years and I know she worked hard.

I also remember giving our guide in Chuuk a load of spares for his kit and he was happy with that. We also gave him $40 as well because we enjoyed ourselves so much. They did not ask, we just felt 'customer satisfied'. I was told one guide who took a team of ten techie divers from the UK was given a $30 tip from each. I do not know how much those boys get paid but that was not bad for a week.

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#22 Stewart L. Sy

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 12:12 PM

Perhaps I do not understand how tipping would make any of us a "brass westerner looking down on his little brown brother/sister" and "throwing money around".


Silvio,

I didn't say that tipping meant that you were a brass westerner, but acting as a brass westerner then tipping certainly promotes comments and thoughts of derision rather than affability and eagerness to provide service. I don't tip as much as some of the other folks on my trips but I do treat the staff as equals and my tanks are usually the one's that have the best fills, my camera get's to the rinse tank first and my gear washed out before I leave.

On my last trip, one of my guests made me feel that way, though I probably stood at least a foot taller than her. She rarely if ever called me by name, simply waited for me to look at her and waved (or rather summoned) me over. I'm sure if she had a silver bell by her side she'd have used it.

My point is that "Yes", tipping is most certainly appreciated by the staff, it's money for goodness sake! Who wouldn't like being given some cash these days? But, tipping is no excuse to rude behaviour towards dive staff, the old adage of flies to honey coming to mind....tips just makes the honey all the more sweeter! :D

Davichin...PG in this sense is Puerto Galera, a very popular dive destination in the Philippines.

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#23 FlyingKiwi

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 12:16 PM

I'm a New Zealander who has been living in the USA for about 9 years. After never having paid a single tip in my life, it was quite an education learning the complex and rather illogical "dos and don'ts" of when and how much to tip.

I actually found, and still consider, tipping an onerous and unpleasant chore. It's not so much parting with the money, rather I feel that I'm passing a value judgment on the person receiving it. Since I'm something of a people pleaser, I find it extremely difficult to give a small tip (sort of like the previous poster who mentioned that Brits won't complain even when things are very bad). I remember wondering how much I should be tipping the waiter in Baltimore who spilled beer on my father and made things even worse when he was cleaning it up. Of course the built-in tip which is becoming much more common here is the worst of all possible situations.

As far as I'm concerned, people should be paid a proper wage and tipping shouldn't be required. If you want to see where inadequate wages and tipping lead to, just look at the "baksheesh" situation in Egypt, which is a total nightmare with almost all the locals running around and asking for money all the time. Of course, if you're on a liveaboard on the Red Sea you'll be sheltered from that, but on land it's a different story.

Finally, we need to be aware that tipping actually runs counter to some cultures and is an entirely inappropriate thing to do. I'm thinking particularly of Melanesian cultures - Vanuatu, PNG and presumably other places in Melanesia. In those societies, if you give something to someone then it places the other person under a burden of obligation back to you. Saying "I gave them a tip for something they did for me" doesn't fit in with the way they think. In these cultures all goods are fixed price, there's no haggling, and the person's wage is their recompense. Anything additional we give to them is an obligation they have no way of repaying.

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#24 SilvioMarchena

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 01:57 PM

[quote name='scubastu' date='Aug 2 2006, 04:12 PM']
"Silvio, I didn't say that tipping meant that you were a brass westerner, but acting as a brass westerner then tipping certainly promotes comments and thoughts of derision rather than affability and eagerness to provide service."

Mea culpa, I was making a relationship between your comments that apparently wasn't there. My spoken/written english is not always spot on but my comprehension of what I read in English often suffers more ;)
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#25 SilvioMarchena

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 02:52 PM

[quote name='FlyingKiwi' date='Aug 2 2006, 04:16 PM']

"Finally, we need to be aware that tipping actually runs counter to some cultures and is an entirely inappropriate thing to do. I'm thinking particularly of Melanesian cultures - Vanuatu, PNG and presumably other places in Melanesia."

In my 5 visits to PNG, gratuities were as welcomed and maybe even as expected as they are at Del Frisco's in Dallas.

And at this moment I can't seem to recall the last liveaboard I was on that did not leave a fare-thee-well card, signed by the crew, along with an empty envelope (I wonder what that could be for ;) ) on my bunk, on the last day of the trip.

I don't believe I have been anywhere in the world over the past 30 years in which a government issued standardized currency is used, where anyone ever exhibited offense at receiving a gratuity. But when leaving contemporary environs and visiting indigenous or historically cultural locales, where standardized currency is available yet seldom used, I have found that reserach into proper behaviors is specifically important because in some cases gratuities are inappropriate. Still, these instances are almost always overtly evident anyway, as well as few and far between.

In the Americas an offered left hand for shaking would have signaled insult and maybe danger a 100 years ago because that leaves your right hand free to draw a weapon. Today it might seem odd, but would not offend anyone. In the same way I think the notion or idea of gratuity has long since passed the point of being offensive to anyone except in the most historically and culturally strict micro-societies.

Yes, in some situations you might be the queer bird for leaving a tip, but almost anywhere that a standardized currency is used, so also is the knowledge that some visitors come from societies where a gratuity is not intended as an insult.
Cheers,
Manaul


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#26 FlyingKiwi

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 03:21 PM

In my 5 visits to PNG, gratuities were as welcomed and maybe even as expected as they are at Del Frisco's in Dallas.



I'm not at all surprised - everywhere that tourists habitually tip, local people in that area will get used to it and start to expect it. But this is a case where we tourists have modified the local culture, and if we're not in the resort or on the liveaboard then giving a gratuity can be viewed very differently than in the little slice of America that we have grafted onto the local culture.

Exactly the same thing has happened in New Zealand - waiters and other workers in large international hotels have become accustomed to Americans tipping and now expect it, even though they're paid sensible wages.

I just don't see this as a positive outcome, that's all.

Richard.

#27 SilvioMarchena

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 04:07 PM

[quote name='FlyingKiwi' date='Aug 3 2006, 07:21 PM']
"I'm not at all surprised - everywhere that tourists habitually tip, local people in that area will get used to it and start to expect it. But this is a case where we tourists have modified the local culture, and if we're not in the resort or on the liveaboard then giving a gratuity can be viewed very differently than in the little slice of America that we have grafted onto the local culture."

Respectfully I disagree. Tourists cannot modify the local culture. They can only create exposure that the local culture either accepts, denies or in some form makes an accord with. It is totally encumbent upon the local culture to determine what they find acceptable and what they find unacceptable. This is precisely what defines a standard of behavior as a cultural. The world has gone flat. The ends of the world are no longer distant or culturally uncontested, and you cannot blame the visitor for what the local culture determines to assimilate.

I also don't believe you can treat any country or peoples as duty-bound to live your interpretation of what their culture should be or remain as. Unless your name is George Bush ;)
Cheers,
Manaul


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#28 Drew

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 08:59 PM


I also don't believe you can treat any country or peoples as duty-bound to live your interpretation of what their culture should be or remain as. Unless your name is George Bush ;)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Bingo Manaul! It's not the interpretation of the local culture, it's the intrusiveness of tipping culture. I'm not saying tree people should stay in the trees for eg. It's the fact that knowing where your money goes and how it affects the local attitude vs blindly giving money thinking the "market' will sort itself out.
The lack of local cultural sensitivity is the point. As flykiwi said, some cultures don't like tipping and is seen as an insult. Big tips by foreigners "who have more" also make it difficult for local customers to keep up, making a distinct level of service between locals and foreigners (prime example: I've seen resorts feed the foreigners who pay more and tip more with better food than the locals). Many places I've been to over the years have changed because of heavy gratuities from certain countries. Where it use to be a great thing to serve with a smile, now more than a few places ask for the tip because you're an american and is expected. And other tourists get the cold treatment because they're not american.
Ever seen kids beg for money in the streets and fight over what is given? Yet tourists continue to give cos they feel like bettering their lives, feel better etc. It's none of our business how the local culture evolves, but it is our business how we give our money.

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#29 pmooney

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 09:53 PM

I do find the tipping culture a little onerous irrespective of which part of the world it is in.

Coming from a non tipping culture I have found having a tip bucket placed in front of you when settling an account on a boat is down right offensive, if not insensitive to someones position.

I was recently on a boat where each passenger had a short thankyou note along with an empty envelope from the Captain and crew placed on their bed at turndown on the final evening - at least it was discrete.

#30 SilvioMarchena

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Posted 04 August 2006 - 03:35 PM

[quote name='scubadru' date='Aug 4 2006, 12:59 AM']
"some cultures don't like tipping and is seen as an insult."

I have seen that comment made 4 or 5 times here so far and I do not know which cultures it is, that provide diving services as a form of business, you are referring to.

Where is it you have been where tipping the crew on the boat, or the workers at the dive resort, the photo pro who helped you out of a bind, or the workers who toted your bags was seen as an insulting, offensive act?

It seems to me, because of the fusion between wages and tips upon which the entire scuba destination industry from the beginning has been premised, and that includes the PNGs, the Vanuatus, the Solomons etc., that the contrary is closer to the truth.
Cheers,
Manaul


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#31 Drew

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Posted 04 August 2006 - 10:09 PM

Manaul
What I'm saying is there is a bigger picture of local culture besides just the dive industry in any particular place. Tipping is a cultural trait. It allows someone to show gratitude for some special service in certain cultures.
However in the general culture of say southern western pacific islands, tipping is seen as an insult. They just do their jobs. The Ozzies and Kiwis don't have a huge tipping culture and they've been the backbone of the dive industry in that area. They are not tipped a standard 10-15% by the general tourists. That only occurs with a certain few nationalities.
Gratuity is a cultural thing. It's just nicer to be sensitive to the local cultural system of gratuity giving, that is what I've been saying. More isn't always better.
As for which countries with diving have I seen my tip looked at with a certain amount of disdain (and yes it was ample enough)?
Indonesia, Thailand, PNG, Mozambique, Tanzania and Australia to name a few. Many times, doing a good job is reward enough (now where that credo came from is another cultural issue) ;)

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#32 DeanB

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 12:36 AM

We dropped into a pub for a meal the other lunch time and the serviced was non intrusive and prompt. the food was good and the beer was excellent.

The bill came (£22) and we paid by credit card without thinking of adding a tip because we always do that in cash...

Horror of horrors the only cash we had was 5 pence :D

I felt really bad as it was all so good and the pretty young waitress even gave us idea's about what to do in the area we were visiting.

I went to the bar and told her our situation, but she said not to worry it was not compulsary and she was glad we enjoyed our meal. Then she joked that she'd have to stay in and eat her cats food tonight ;)

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#33 SilvioMarchena

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 09:10 AM

[quote name='scubadru' date='Aug 5 2006, 02:09 AM']
"What I'm saying is there is a bigger picture of local culture besides just the dive industry in any particular place."

I understand that as well as the remainder of your comments, but I was speaking to, and I thought you understood, the suggestion premised on the scuba workers made earlier in this subject. There are two different issues and the discussion becomes somewhat muddled if the distance is not maintained.

On the subject of tipping as an ugly American behavior, the non-American may want to consider that "our" culture is one of personal largesse. We are raised to be unreliant on the system. So as opposed to some countries where the social mechanisms are the source of some relief, assistence ownership or care, and everyone shares in the same bounty, we live in an "eat what you kill" environment and if you have a mind and a heart you recognize the inequality this impresses on a fair number in our society.

In my opinion our government gives very little to others, but as individuals we give in high multiples that which Washington allows to leave the US coffers. It's just the way we do it. And it is why so many independent relief, assist and medical agencies work the US population so fervently. From this is borne the notion of personal largesse and tipping is a rather natural extension.

It is not the same kind of giving, but rather a sharing borne of the same personal dynamic. It is quite natural and unassuming for us to share in this way. So while it appears to some on this forum that tipping is an arrogant gesture, I think it is important to understand our culture and how the entire concept of remuneration and giving is seen. For us gratuities are somewhat a cultural responsibilty, rather than some indicator of our desire to haughty and superior posturing.

Yes, our habit of tipping must be applied appropriately or appropriately held back, but within a situation where tips are inoffensive I see nothing wrong with the American desire to leave some money along with their bubbles. And i see nothing wrong with an Asian, European or New Zealander leaving nothing if that's their choice.

Honestly, it sometimes appears to me that the suggestion it was always offensive anywhere and everywhere outside the United States, until we came along and sullied the local culture is something of an excuse.
Cheers,
Manaul


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#34 John Bantin

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 09:25 AM

I believe that the trick to tipping is to give the amount that is customary in that place. Too much is as bad as too little. I was once so pleased with the efforts of a little boy who cleaned my shoes (renovated might be a better word) in Instanbul that I gave him $10 tip. He looked at it, snatched it and ran leaving his cleaning kit behind. Why? Because he was pursued by his colleagues who probably beat him to a pulp in order to take it from him.
Largesse can often cause unhappiness. However, if you want to send some dollars to my children, please feel free - although I might snatch it from them!

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#35 Drew

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 10:24 AM

;) John, that's a good one. This is one subject I fear is more controversial than digital vs film, superman vs the hulk or worse canon vs nikon. As for pilfering from your kids, my father always kept money I was given by other adults... I haven't seen a single cent yet!

Yes, our habit of tipping must be applied appropriately or appropriately held back, but within a situation where tips are inoffensive I see nothing wrong with the American desire to leave some money along with their bubbles.


Manaul, that's all I've been saying.Being culturally aware is something that is lacking in many cultures, plenty to pick on, tipping just happens to be the subject of the day. And I personally believe that the onus of learning the local culture is not the locals but the tourist's burden.

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#36 SilvioMarchena

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 11:01 AM

[quote name='John Bantin' date='Aug 5 2006, 01:25 PM']

"Largesse can often cause unhappiness."

Nah, only the improper application of it can....as your example indicates. It doesn't appear the act of tipping was at fault, but rather the amount for the locale it was given in. And recognizing when a tip is appropriate is part and parcel of recognizing what amount is neither harmful nor offensive.

Why were you tipping in greenbacks by the way?

"However, if you want to send some dollars to my children, please feel free - although I might snatch it from them!"

You wouldn't expect me to believe that an Englishman who throws dollars around Turkey like a Culture-Slayer from the US would, doesn't provide the same generosity to his own :D

Besides, I keep being told that no culture other than the deviant one I live in, has any regard or acceptance for expressions of giving or appreciation in the form of money.

Perhaps I could instead send some pencils, paper and crayons? ;)
Cheers,
Manaul


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#37 SilvioMarchena

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 11:42 AM

[quote name='scubadru' date='Aug 5 2006, 02:24 PM']
"And I personally believe that the onus of learning the local culture is not the locals but the tourist's burden."

It is the comment above that illuminates my difference of opinion.

I believe that cultures which invite visitors and tourists have an obligation to not change their beliefs and cultures, but to have a patience with those who cannot possibly injest centuries of cultural mores disparate from those in which they live and were raised. For sure we must make every attempt to learn what is appropriate and to act thusly, but unless one believes we impose ourselves on these countries, towns ,villages and societies univited and largely unwanted, to suggest that they have no understanding and patience is to sell them far to short of the graciousness I have experienced almost anywhere I have been.

In 2002 I visited the East African Savanah to run for a few days with the Masai. They are, without a doubt, the most culturally rigid society I have ever been with or around. No one else in my experience compares. But my every faux pas was met with neither humor, which would have been rude in their sense, or taken as an offense. They understood I didn't and couldn't know it all. In most cases I came to be told they overlooked them, but in some I was advised of the difficulty it presented with a wave of a hand or a shake of the head. But they understood intent, and recognized mine was not to offend and therefore they were gracious in the face of my impolitic actions.

If the Masai understand patience when a visitor like myself is in error with their culture, well.. I simply believe that within reason that is what a host country/culture does.
Cheers,
Manaul


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#38 Drew

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 12:30 PM

Manaul, I'm fully aware of where your opinion is from. And I respect that. Nor is it my business to convince you otherwise. This discussion brings out very interesting points about travelling to foreign places.
To expect someone to overlook cultural faux pas because they are making money off those misinformed people can be perceived as insensitive or even rude, in fact very GW. Then there's the reason why many of us travel to other places in the first place, to see and experience different land, culture and people. What's so hard about reading a bit about the culture, esp in common things like greetings, gestures and even tipping? It broadens the mind and makes the locals feel like their culture means something to someone other than themselves. To say the foreign culture is too intricate to fathom for whatever reason is trite and , as you put it, too convenient an excuse.
You are right, however, that being in the business of tourism, host countries must take the bad ugly tourist with the good. I just want to be one of the good ones. ;)

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#39 SilvioMarchena

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 03:38 PM

To say the foreign culture is too intricate to fathom for whatever reason is trite and , as you put it, too convenient an excuse.
You are right, however, that being in the business of tourism, host countries must take the bad ugly tourist with the good. I just want to be one of the good ones. ;)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


When I have traveled to a place for the first time I am never, ever, completely in tune with each and very local custom or social more. I try, but it has proven quite impossible to cover it all. If stating that as the truth seems trite or convenient to you, well I'll just allow your insult to stand.
Cheers,
Manaul


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#40 Drew

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Posted 06 August 2006 - 04:50 PM

Manaul
I apologize if you took my opinion to be an insult directed at you. It's not meant to be anything but a statement of my take of cultural awareness, which I feel very strongly about. It is of course impossible to be knowledgeable in all the local social norms. That said, finding out simple things like greetings, tipping and major dos and don'ts, like dress codes etc, BEFORE going to a place, goes a long way in discovering the local culture and also showing the respect to the hosts in each respective country and culture.
I'm sure you'll agree that isn't too much trouble for the privilege of visiting another country. As was said before, the dive industry may have multinational roots but in the end you are in another country where tips may not always be a simple percentage but requires a bit more research and understanding, which isn't always easy to do.

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