03 August 2006

Gratuitous comments about community standards

In today's Crikey (not online) Misha Ketchell reports that The Age's policy of reimbursing the cost of meals consumed by its restaurant reviewers no longer extends to the reimbursement of gratuities paid by the said reviewers.

After pointing out that The Age is the odd person out in the Fairfax media in this respect , he goes on to argue that in Australia there is a "community standard"of a "modest tip, usually of between 5 and 10%.
To unilaterally absolve oneself of this obligation is a bit like declaring you're no longer obliged to stand up for the elderly on public transport."

IMO this is balderdash: the Australian practice, custom, community standard, call it what you will, is that tipping in restaurants is not obligatory, though it may be voluntary eg where a higher standard of service than expected has been provided , or where a group of people have chipped in to cover the cost of their meal and there is some change left over. If tipping is accepted as a "community standard" we won't be far away from the situation common in UK, and perhaps other countries, where an "optional" or "discretionary" service charge (in my limited experience usually 12%) is added to bills.

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