a blog with cultural bulimia.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The discussion on tipping.

 "Thomas Keller is one of the world’s most respected chefs, a best-selling cookbook author, and the owner of four successful high-end restaurants. Until a few weeks ago, he seemed a model of entrepreneurial rigor. Then news broke that Keller had decided to abolish tipping at his New York restaurant Per Se, starting this month, and replace it with the kind of fixed service charge that’s common in Europe. Now some people are calling him un-American for scrapping a system in which waiters are rewarded on the basis of their individual performance." [The New Yorker]

"So why tip? When people are asked, they usually say that they tip to reward good service. Yet how much people tip is determined mainly by how much their meal cost, and the cost of a meal at a given restaurant is usually only tenuously connected to the work required to serve it. (It’s just as easy to open a hundred-dollar bottle of wine as it is to open a thirty-dollar bottle.) In an extensive survey of tipping studies, Michael Lynn, a professor at Cornell, found only a weak correlation between the quality of service that people report receiving and the tips they give. On average, exceptional service raised tips by about 1.5 per cent, which, Lynn argues, is too small for waiters to notice. And countries where there’s no tipping—like Australia and Japan—don’t have worse service than the United States."