The practice of tipping or giving gratuities is a very nasty habit, perpetrated mostly by Americans and has spread like a virulent disease to many first-world nations. These days, tipping is based more on emotional blackmail than the showing of appreciation for good service. In fact, in many places, such as US restaurants and cruise ships, compulsory gratuities are added to bills, whether the service was deserving of accolades or was abysmal.
Tipping has been corrupted from being a token of appreciation to a mechanism used by unscrupulous employers to pay a pittance to their workers and make them rely on tips, whether voluntarily given by customers or coerced from them by the application of compulsory gratuities.
In many American - and now some Australian establishments such as so-called "fine dining" restaurants, gratuities are added to bills automatically and on top of that, patrons are expected to tip their waiters as well. This is the height of extortion by emotional blackmail.
Some cruise lines have done exactly the same. For instance, a number of cruise lines have imposed compulsory gratuities on passengers on cruises out of Australia. One well-known line indulges in a real piece of bastardry by placing envelopes in passenger cabins stating the following:
Really? Passengers who have already been extorted by this cruise line into forking out around $15 per day per passenger are then being hit with some more emotional blackmail to throw in some tips for cabin stewards and dining room waiters as well.
But let's look at tips for personal service. Probably the most personal of services is offered by one's doctor. Who has ever tipped their doctor, who may have saved their lives or cured them of terrible diseases? Nobody does that. Who tips the pilots on the airliners that they are flying and keeping them safe with their skills? Or the cabin crew who wait upon them? Nobody does that.
There are many people who perform very important services for us, yet we wouldn't dream of tipping them and it would be insulting if we even offered to do so. We do not tip store salesmen when we buy articles. We do not tip many people who perform services as their jobs. Yet we are expected to tip waiters, ship's cabin stewards, taxi drivers, bellboys at hotels and the like.
So why do we tip those people and not others? Do waiters and cabin stewards offer us life-saving services like doctors and nurses do? Of course not. Waiters merely deliver food to our tables - food for which we paid and where the delivery is part of the cost of that food. Waiters get paid wages by restaurants to do those jobs.
Do cruise ship cabin stewards offer us anything that is so extraordinary that it requires an extra reward to be granted to them? Of course not - they are paid to clean cabins, make beds and change towels. They are merely doing their jobs and not only that, they require no qualifications or skills whatsoever. You could train a chimpanzee to do those tasks.
But this whole business of gratuities is not to reward people for their service. It is to enable employers to exploit people in low-paid jobs in order to pay them even lousier wages and use the lure of gratuities to entice them to take crappy jobs for crappy wages and on ships, crappy living conditions.
This is why major cruise lines employ people from third-world nations such as India, Philippines, Indonesia and some South American countries or people from the former communist eastern bloc nations to be cabin stewards, waiters and cleaners, simply because Americans and Australians would not do this work for a pittance.
People who patronise restaurants or cruise ships where gratuities are compulsory should make a point of not giving anybody any tips whatsoever and most importantly, tell those service people that as they have already been slugged with compulsory gratuities, they are not going to give one cent more in tips to anybody.
And those service people need to be told that if they don't like that situation, they can damn well complain to their employers until those employers stop extorting compulsory gratuities from their customers.
Tipping in Australia is not necessary. This nation has decent basic wages and people are paid reasonably well for doing their jobs. The point is that they should be doing their jobs without expecting gratuities for this. There are so many people working in professions and jobs that involve dealing with the public, yet there are no expectations that they will receive tips for doing their jobs.
A nice "Thank You" to waiters should be enough and if they bitch about not getting a tip, tell them that you deliver services to people and don't get tips, so what is so special about them, that they think that you should pay over and above what you paid to purchase meals?