The painful act of tipping

I said before I work in the IT field as a software tester. I have been doing that for a few years now. Currently I am not working only for one project – in fact I support more than 10 different projects running on various platforms and with different managers.

Each manager requests a different service. Some of them want me only to have a look in the application and do some exploratory testing. The other one might request me to validate fixed issues. The more methodical will ask to write test cases and prepare testing results documents

I am involved with a number of tasks that require fast and efficient results. I am going to do anything I am asked with the best quality within the shortest amount of time. I think that when you work you should try to give your best – even when you are not really happy with your job (which is my case).

And for this I never been tipped.

At this point readers are probably thinking how ridiculous I am – mainly my few American readers. Let me remind you that I live in the Soviet Socialist Kingdom of Belgium. Most people working in a restaurant or a bar are receiving salaries that are equivalent to mine after tax. In Belgium you cannot pay someone less than the minimum wage that is a bit more than € 1.400 a month.

There is a very weak culture of tipping in Belgium. Most people will probably round a bill or a taxi fare. So, if your dinner bill was 47 euro, you will give 50 euro and that´s it. There is no pressure on leaving any extra money. If you want to give just the 47 euro,  this will not be a problem. Among my friends the only ones tipping are the non-Belgian ones and I do tell them they are ruining our tip-free society.

In Brazil the tip is almost always 10% and is added to the bill directly. Keep in mind that in Brazil most people serving tables will be getting less that R$ 1.000,00 a month (around 400 euro). The good thing is that this a fixed value and nothing more than this is expected.

Last December I was in Mexico. I spent some days in Cancun and in Playa del Carmen. Both places are very beautiful and the beaches are great, but I will probably never return there. First because it´s too far away and second because of how unpleasant is the tipping culture.

Keeping in mind that 90% of the tourists there are Americans, the act of paying for service was obligatory. The barman in the hotel expected a tip for giving me a beer – really! I ask for a beer, in the bar, he works for five seconds and makes it clear that he is unhappy that I did not tip him.  The other night I went out to have dinner in a restaurant and when receiving the bill I pay in cash + 10%. Very weirdly the waiter counts the money in my front two times and mentions something like “just this”.  I spent 10 tense days on how much should I tip to avoid unhappiness from the service providers.

On the opposite end of the scale is Japan. In Japan you don´t tip. You never tip. They simply don´t understand the concept of paying extra for something you should be doing in the best possible way. Result is that I spent 10 days in Japan without having to worry about this and had a relaxing vacation.

This may sound silly, but I am one of those people who is very worried about the others satisfaction. At the same time I can not just ignore my feelings that tipping makes little sense – and that tipping at 15%-20% levels is crazy.  I would rather pay more for my food in a restaurant than being pressured to guess the magic tipping amount. I guess I have to stay away from the United States.

This entry was posted in Belgium, Brazil, Food, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The painful act of tipping

  1. tokyo5 says:

    I know what you mean! I’m an American … but I’ve been living in Tokyo since 1990.

    I’m no longer used to America’s culture. I visited there a few years ago … it was stressful trying to decide who I was meant to tip and how much!

    As you said, Japan doesn’t have the “tipping culture”. Much better!

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