Top Tips

I notice that the Government is just about to launch a review into the way that restaurants handle tipping to waiting staff. It ranges from the mildly cross-making Pizza Express keeping 8% for administration charges (to which I say sort-of fair enough) to the boycott-inducing Carluccios who keep all the gratuities to top up the minimum wage – which is frankly disgraceful. In between these companies there are all sorts of versions – some of which, I am sure, actually allow the waiters to keep their tips.

I have long asked in every restaurant I eat in what their policy for tipping is – and usually end up sending the bill back with a request to remove the ‘service charge’ from the bill, to pay in cash. But even this could be futile.

According to the BBC Website not even paying cash tips helps ensure it goes to the people who have served you and added service charges sometimes go nowhere near the staff at all in some cases. Now there is the system where the tips are shared by the whole kitchen – which is another issue – but even so, some restaurant owners divvy it up and include themselves in the share-out.

So I think it’s about time we named and shamed in Greenwich. I’ll start.

Greenwich Inc. I got so fed up with the staff telling me that they never saw their tips that I called a manager over one day and asked him to explain. He told me that it went towards a company incentive scheme, whatever that is.

Now excuse me – but I am not here to subsidise Greenwich Inc for trying to bribe their staff to arrive on time, help with the washing up, stay late to sweep the floors etc. I am paying a tip to a particular person who has given me good service. Swiping my money to use for another purpose is not acceptable.

Of course it’s more acceptable that making up the already pathetic minimum wage with tips a la Carluccios (yes I am still banging on about him…) but it’s still extremely poor.

BUT – and this is a big but. I don’t believe that Greenwich Inc are in any way lone villains here. And I want you lot to help me out.

When you go into a restaurant in Greenwich, I want you to ask the staff what happens to your tips – preferably a) those included in the bill as service charges, b) those that you add on as part of your credit card payment if you don’t have any cash on you and c) cash tips.

Then report back here. And folks – do sign up to hear updates on the comments. We need to work on this together. To find out which eateries need to be avoided from now on (thank God we don’t have a Carluccios – and he seemed such a nice, roly-poly sort of man, too…) those we need to give cash at, those we can safely tip within the service charge or a credit card option – and those lovely restarants/cafes who actually give a damn about their staff. I especially want to know about them. This should be a positive, not a negative thing.

By the way. Legend has it that the word “tip” comes from an acronym “To Insure Promptness.” Maybe that’s why some of our service is so damn slow…


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