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Tipping is in the culture


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#61 loftus

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 06:16 AM

Bartus,
As hard as it may be for you to accept, right or wrong (I happen to think it's OK), most people are driven by money, simply because they can then generally do more with their lives, and not just go and buy another drink. I happen to think it's quite condesciending to think that your literal translation of the word tip is actually what most people do with their tips.
I happen to be a physician too, and even in my office, there has been a sea change in efficiency and attitude since I introduced a bonus program a few years ago.
If dive operators increased salaries accross the board, there would not be one iota of improvement in service, in fact if salaries were increased, and tips were stopped, you could guarantee that service would actually deteriorate, as the crew would have no incentive to do any more than absolutely neccessary.
Furthermore if dive operators increased salaries, it would simply be passed on to you, the customer.
Think of it another way, your quoted price for the trip is simply the rock bottom price for the trip, and any tips, be they 5%,10%, or whatever, are simply the you, the customer's, way of honestly assessing the value of any services recieved above and beyond what is fair. Getting value for any product or service in life costs money as determined by the local market, getting more, costs more - a fact of life.
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#62 bartusderidder

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 09:05 AM

Bartus,
As hard as it may be for you to accept, right or wrong (I happen to think it's OK), most people are driven by money, simply because they can then generally do more with their lives, and not just go and buy another drink. I happen to think it's quite condesciending to think that your literal translation of the word tip is actually what most people do with their tips.



Hi Loftus,

I have no problem with people being driven by money whatsoever...if I were in the business I'd probably try to earn as much as possible too.

I didn't mean to sound condescending with my translation of the word tip...I don't care what people do with the tips they received...with that translation I wanted to focus on the amount of money rather than the purpose it's spent on (it allows you to buy something in the magnitude of a drink, and not let's say a car..to put it in extremes). Before anyone starts shooting again lol...that literal translation dates back many decades ago...so you shouldn't take a "drink" (or it's equivalent in money) too literally, nowadays it would be a multiple of that original "drink"....

Again, I have nothing against tipping, far from, but my comments come as a reaction to what I've been reading in this thread and which almost make it the "norm" that you tip 10-15% and if you don't you'll be marked as cheap (as someone else mentioned)...and I certainly didn't mean that one should stop tipping at all.
Last time I asked a resort manager how much was reasonable to tip he said:"If you give too little it's an insult, but if you give too much they'll start thinking that that's the norm"...

Getting value for any product or service in life costs money as determined by the local market, getting more, costs more - a fact of life.


So, does that mean next time a patient comes into your doctor's practice, he'll have to tip (pay you extra) to get excellent (not just good) care. Do you have to tip your secretary each time you want to have a letter typed urgently? Do you pay your plumber extra for doing his job perfectly?
That almost creates the mentality:"Well, I can do the job just OK for 100$, but if you want to have it done perfectly you'll have to cough up 250$" :D

Why would you be opposed to local staff getting a proper salary from their employer? I honestly don't think that for the majority of people a raise in salary would mean a deterioration in the level of service they provide.

=========


Anyhow, having read this whole thread from in the beginning...the world comes with many different cultures and hence different views upon issues like tipping....but me paying a 10-15% tip, no way, Jose lol :D

#63 davidrodkeller

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 04:23 PM

Why would you be opposed to local staff getting a proper salary from their employer?

A higher salary will not remove the expectation of tipping as the "norm" nor will it keep the service level high if tips are reduced or eliminated. It will only increase the divers costs. I am all for higher wages for those being treated unfairly, but not because I think it will eliminate tipping as the "norm" as you seem to be suggesting. Higher salaries will simply increase divers costs and many of us (the same ones who carry the tipping burden today) will still tip to ensure the service level stays high.

We are as much slaves to the culture of tipping as are the workers.
Thanks,
DRK

#64 bartusderidder

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 03:10 AM

I am all for higher wages for those being treated unfairly, but not because I think it will eliminate tipping as the "norm" as you seem to be suggesting.

Sorry, but in each of my comments I made it clear I have NOTHING against tipping (I even tip myself)...what I do have a problem with is that 10-15% would become the norm simply because that's the way it goes in the US. So, in my previous comment the stress was on the "percentage", not on tipping as common practice.

Higher salaries will simply increase divers costs...

maybe, probably...
But I'd rather have all the costs included initially when I book my trip, than arriving on location and being faced with an additional cost. Then diving agencies or liveaboard operators should simple state on their website "rates are for accommodation and diving only, service not included". It's just plain greediness from those on top in the tourist industry in general wanting to make the biggest profits by keeping all costs as low as possible e.g. by giving their employees an unworthy salary. Should I, or rather my tips, be the solution to a problem (boss vs employee, profits vs fair salary) that is in essence not even mine???? Would you be paying the car mechanic extra because you know his boss isn't paying him a proper salary, but yet you want to make sure your car is serviced properly?

To make the comparison to other fields of industry: Oxfam is trying to bring awareness about fair trade, trying to convince people to buy coffee that has been grown by farmers who get a fair price for their product rather than buying coffee from a big compay who pay the local farmers peanuts. Ok, this "fair" coffee is a more expensive.
So if other industries can re-distribute profits, why not the dive industry...? Yeah sure, it'll be a tough,
time-consuming process....

....and many of us (the same ones who carry the tipping burden today) will still tip to ensure the service level stays high.

I think it's a scary evolution if tipping is to ensure that service levels stay high. Being European I'd go for a proper salary to keep the standard high, and then a tip becomes "an extra" when you do something "extra".

We are as much slaves to the culture of tipping as are the workers.

Eventually the slaves broke free as well.....it's never too late to try and make a change...

Edited by bartusderidder, 08 January 2007 - 03:40 AM.


#65 davidrodkeller

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 04:46 PM

Sorry, but in each of my comments I made it clear I have NOTHING against tipping (I even tip myself)

Then your comment "But I'd rather have all the costs included initially when I book my trip, than arriving on location and being faced with an additional cost" confuses me. Because today tips or gratuities are not mandatory, and if you'd prefer not to have additional cost after reaching your destination I don't know what you could be speaking about....other than tips.

To make the comparison to other fields of industry: Oxfam is trying to bring awareness about fair trade, trying to convince people to buy coffee that has been grown by farmers who get a fair price for their product rather than buying coffee from a big compay who pay the local farmers peanuts. Ok, this "fair" coffee is a more expensive.
So if other industries can re-distribute profits, why not the dive industry...?

I think this is an invalid comparison, if for no other reason than we can tip the dive guide but we cannot tip the farmer. But to take it at face value: the profits haven't been redistributed, you have only paid more money for your coffee so the farmer could receive a better price for his crop. The company or buyer is certainly reaping the same profit or more (probably more because it is inconcievable to me that all the extra money would go thru thier hands and onward to the farmer). In both this case and the case of tipping, nothing fundamental about the relationship between consumer and worker has changed. For the worker to receive better pay the consumer is paying more money. It is no different than a tip being paid to a dive guide in order for him to receive more money.

I think it's a scary evolution if tipping is to ensure that service levels stay high. Being European I'd go for a proper salary to keep the standard high,

For me, being a capitalist, I'd go for the best worker, the hardest worker, the most accomodating worker, having the opportunity to be remunerated according to his/her level of service. Forgive me...but I don't quite agree with unions or social-style economics ;) I realize that this **eat what you kill** philosophy isn't preferable to the European sensibility, but it does generate an incredibly malleable workforce (of course at the cost of a classed society).

And while I certainly wouldn't argue with your personal preference, my experience is that service in Europe, or better said certain parts of Europe, is not high. That's not a criticism but rather an example where the extra cost is not returned in service. In other words I think it is very important how the money is translated to the worker where the service or hospitality industry is concerned. We are going to pay the higher cost one way or the other, so my preference is to have some control over how and when it is applied.

Eventually the slaves broke free as well.....it's never too late to try and make a change...

Well, there is "free" and then there is "free", but that's a discussion for another time. In the end I don't disgaree with your sense of generosity but rather I disagree with what you believe will be the resulting level of service if regular tips are eliminated and instead only applied in special or "extra" circumstances.
Thanks,
DRK

#66 Drew

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 05:09 PM

A higher salary will not remove the expectation of tipping as the "norm" nor will it keep the service level high if tips are reduced or eliminated. It will only increase the divers costs. I am all for higher wages for those being treated unfairly, but not because I think it will eliminate tipping as the "norm" as you seem to be suggesting. Higher salaries will simply increase divers costs and many of us (the same ones who carry the tipping burden today) will still tip to ensure the service level stays high.

We are as much slaves to the culture of tipping as are the workers.


DRK, you are assuming that the local culture is about tipping. Many countries don't have tipping in their local culture, yet service is good. The most cordial and pleasant service can be found in many parts of asia (thailand, philippines, australia) yet it is not a 10% minimum area. Been on any boats on the outer GBR in Australia? Top notch professional boats which appreciate tips (and now expect it from US customers) but provide professional service because they are well trained and also compensated for their expertise by their employers. Been to a 5 star hotel in Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand? Same service with a smile and well trained but again, no need to tip for excellent service, and they don't wait at the door or clear their throat for the tip. Sure in some restaurants, they include a service charge of 5-10% but that really goes to the restaurant (ever try saying the service was so bad I don't want to pay?) and not the staff.
We in the US are slaves to the tipping culture, no doubt. However there are cultures which are still '"free" from it, and as a visitor to a foreign culture, respect is for me an essential part of the experience.

Graham
You didn't like the wages the ol' Swiss bag was paying you? :) How shocking!

To be fair, foreign investment is about exploitation of the cheap labor/resources found in the host country. Dive companies are no exceptions to that rule. They know they got you since they are in a prime area and you need them. Capitalism is about maximizing profit, and that includes minimizing wages. What many of these countries need is a union for the staff for better wages. Now that would be fun to see.

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#67 loftus

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 05:32 PM

This is like the Mac vs PC argument. :)
Everyone should do whatever they feel comfortable with. I personally enjoy tipping, it's my way of saying thank you or screw you, depending on the service received. Just because some cultures provide great service without expecting a tip, does not mean I should not tip them in my opinion. In fact they are probably more deserving of a tip, because good service is not contingent on getting one.
And capitalism is also about 'what the market will bear'. Prices too high, people won't buy, whether the system is socialist or capitalist.
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#68 Drew

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 07:28 PM

Loftus
It's not an argument but a discussion on people's views on gratuities and how it affects various local cultures. In discussing it, hopefully it'll bring a new understanding of various cultures.
I do however find fault with your view regarding the "screw you" aspect. :) If the culture doesn't generally expect tips, then there is no 'screw you' effect that you would get in, for example, in the US. So instead of the tip, it's the complain to the manager system that works better.
The gratuity system is less effective in many cultures and often creates imbalances as I've mentioned in my previous posts. And the most important aspect is culture, in my opinion. Some cultures are just more courteous than others and it shows in the service. They may not be as polished and trained but a genuine demeanor is part of the individual and culture. And I hope something tipping will not change that.

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#69 loftus

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 03:35 AM

Drew,
Having travelled a fair amount; I have yet to travel anywhere where a tip was not happily received. Granted, I will tip in general in a manner that is proportional to the cost of living in the area I am travelling, but I think it is rather condescending to the individual to think that they will not appreciate a little extra cash that they can use for themselves and their families. I just like to say thank you; with a handshake, and a tip. Others may not.
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#70 Drew

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 09:14 AM

Drew,
Having travelled a fair amount; I have yet to travel anywhere where a tip was not happily received. Granted, I will tip in general in a manner that is proportional to the cost of living in the area I am travelling, but I think it is rather condescending to the individual to think that they will not appreciate a little extra cash that they can use for themselves and their families. I just like to say thank you; with a handshake, and a tip. Others may not.


Loftus, again I'm not saying you are doing anything wrong in tipping if that's what you want to do. All I'm saying is consider certain cultures are not into tipping and sometimes even forbid staff to accept a direct tip (I've seen this in quite a few places). So besides the consideration for locals who don't tip as a culture (thus possibly adversely affecting the service for the locals), such a "generous" gesture could get a person in trouble. Awareness of the local customs is obviously what this discussion is really about.
In my own travels, I've tried tipping people only to have them refuse it because they were just doing their jobs. Respect, cordiality and showing interest in the local culture often make the locals happy too, sometimes more so than money. Too many people use gratuities to offset manners and respect.
Obviously there is no absolute way of tipping. Being aware of the local customs and not applying our own cultural biases is a wise way to avoid insult and offense.

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#71 loftus

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 10:02 AM

Point taken; which countries and / or areas would it be considered offensive to offer a tip?
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#72 Drew

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 10:46 AM

Off the top of my head, several places stand out. Singapore frowns on tipping. It is a well known policy. A few private clubs forbid tipping of staff, instructing staff to refuse or get in trouble, same at Changi Airport for porters and ground staff. Hotels discourage it except for maybe bellhops delivering bags.
Northern Vietnam really stood out as a few hotel staff in Hanoi and Haiphong plan refused my tip whereas in Ho Chi Minh, it was acceptable to tip. Dive staff in Haiphong and Hongai(sp?) were great but didn't expect a tip, but the foreigner dive manager did (in his dreams!).
There's also the false modesty vs real refusal to consider.Then also consider the methodology in tipping. The Japanese prefer the envelope with a minimal gratuity for "beyond the call of duty" service instead of the "crude" handoff. Diving in Poor Knights, the dive guides accepted a small tip while the dive guide on the liveaboard looked at my friend with disdain, when offered a tip. Maybe it wasn't enough or maybe too much, or just maybe it is not in the culture. :)

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#73 davidrodkeller

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 11:57 AM

DRK, you are assuming that the local culture is about tipping.

Of course I'm not. You know Drew, I really have been off my old Nebraska farm :)
Thanks,
DRK

#74 Drew

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 12:38 PM

David... tipping cows just isn't Baksheesh (esp in India). :)
But no insult was meant with that statement, just how I read your post about slaves to tipping culture, which is quite widespread although not entirely standardized. Baksheesh isn't just a simple number but a heavily nuanced burden.

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#75 loftus

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 01:15 PM

Here in the States, we cannot tip the folks at the Publix grocery store who wheel the grocery bags to the car! :)
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#76 antacid

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 02:23 AM

Off the top of my head, several places stand out. Singapore frowns on tipping. It is a well known policy. A few private clubs forbid tipping of staff, instructing staff to refuse or get in trouble, same at Changi Airport for porters and ground staff. Hotels discourage it except for maybe bellhops delivering bags.



Hi, I'm from Singapore, and I'm not sure if there's a "no-tipping" culture. We don't frown on tipping; it's just that nobody ever does! (Other than tourists, I suppose)

I think there's a distinction between tipping the person, and tipping the establishment. Some of the places you mentioned might have this policy of giving a general tip (like restaurants with a tip box where all service staff get a share of), rather than tipping an individual waiter like in the US.

I guess it's also a way of avoiding sticky situations where the tip becomes a potential bribe when it comes to age limits and airport clearances.

As a dive professional with a local dive shop in Singapore, I have yet to receive a tip, nor hear of any of my colleagues or friends in other dive shops getting one from any of our customers. However, these same customers go somewhere else like Thailand or Indonesia and tip generously. It really makes me wonder if our service really stinks that much?

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#77 Drew

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 06:12 AM

Antacid
Actually I'm very sure those establishments I am thinking of do not encourage tipping at all. They have no tip box at all. Only the better restaurants actually share that 10% service with the staff to keep the good staff (and we all know how hard it is to find good service staff in Singapore :))
I believe it was a conscious decision to discourage tipping in Singapore. Still many restaurants serving the expat population tallied the tips for the staff. However, it is still a non-tipping culture as you bewilderedly still experience. :unsure:
Actually you bring up a good point, that tipping culture has caused rifts in the local culture. If there was no tipping in other cultures, you'd be none the wiser and providing good (or bad) service as usual. :lol: :)

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#78 pmooney

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 07:00 AM

"Work hard and be kind to your mother " !

That's a good tip. :)

#79 bluga

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 08:47 PM

I am going on my first live board trip and I was wondering what is the typical tip for the crew at end of trip? Thanks.

#80 bvanant

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 08:52 PM

I am going on my first live board trip and I was wondering what is the typical tip for the crew at end of trip? Thanks.

Somewhere between 5 and 10% of the trip price I think is customary. For a $3K trip per person, I tip between $250 and $400 depending on service and other aspects of the trip.

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