Re: ECON: The Case Against Micropayments

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Sat Feb 24 2001 - 12:58:26 MST

On Wed, Feb 21, 2001 at 05:05:08PM -0500, Michael Lorrey wrote:
> Keep in mind that 'reported' tips are those reported to the IRS. In my
> experience in the restaurant industry, people typically report only 50%
> of their tips (at best), and wait and bar staff who are skilled,
> effective, and likable can easily make several hundred dollars a day

Depends on your country, of course. The USA seems to run on tips, but
a normal restaurant tip in the UK is 10% for good service (nothing for
bad!), and you don't tip taxis, hotel or bar staff, or anyone else unless
you have a particularly good reason. Note that all these people are on
salary or hourly wages -- I understand that some American waiters work
for free (taking their income in tips).

In Holland, it's unusual to tip, almost considered an insult; really good
restaurant service might be worth 5-10%.

Personally, I find tipping somehow creepy -- patronizing, almost -- and
on my visits to the US, I found it seemed to encourage really annoying,
obsequious behaviour by waiters and bar staff. (I don't like waiters
stopping by every five minutes to ask if everything is alright, if I'm
having a wonderful meal, and is there anything they can do to improve my
general happiness! It's intrusive. All I want is to be able to catch their
eye if I need something, and get reasonably prompt and accurate service.
For which I'm quite happy to see a 10% surcharge on the bill and avoid
having to figure out if that's the going rate or not, and to make sure
I've got the change in my pockets along with my credit card.)

Of course, tipping on the net is a somewhat difficult beast -- being a
voluntary donation for use of intellectual property, rather than for a
personal service. (Usually.)

-- Charlie

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