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October 6th, 2009:

American style tipping comes to London [progress]

03 Unjustified Service ChargeAs anyone who has dined out in Europe knows all too well, service in European restaurants is not exactly the same caliber that it is back in America.

Waiters are uniformly rude, slow to take your order and seemingly determined to serve you cold food. Once you do get your meal, they avoid checking in on your table like the plague. And if you’re thirsty, good luck. It is nearly impossible to get a refill, even if you’re willing to pay for it!

All of this stems from the fact Europe doesn’t have the institution of tipping.

Instead of wait staff being compensated partially based on the level of service they provide to customers, they are simply given a portion of the “service charge” that is tacked on to every bill. Thus the only incentive waiters have is to coax customers into ordering the most expensive things on the menu.

But according to The Guardian, the era of bad service might be coming to an end, at least in Britain. The left-wing British daily reports that twenty high-end restaurants owned by Terence Conran will stop adding the customary 12.5% service charge to bills. Instead, they will ask customers to tip their servers in the American fashion.

A spokesman for the restaurant group told The Guardian that the move would lead to better service by “re-establishing the relationship between the customer and the member of staff.”

I hope so.

Here is some free advice for those newly accountable British waiters: keeping a customer’s water or soda full is the surest way to a big tip.

Previous topics mentioned in this post:

#1. Ice

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