Should you tip in Dubai? We start the great debate...
Time Out Dubai staff
Time Out Dubai restaurant editor Daisy Carrington says you should always tip... ‘Some find tipping an American affliction. I think it’s one of the few things we do right. People don’t stop to think about how difficult it is to do service-sector jobs, and they don’t stop to think about how little the workers get paid.
‘In New York, where I’m from, waiters basically only earn tips, and a negligible hourly wage that’s just enough to cover their taxes. Here, some barely earn that. Add the fact that many taxi drivers and waiters not only earn minimal wages (half of which usually goes to a family in India, Pakistan or the Philippines), but they work extremely long hours, and can sometimes face torrents of abuse. I can’t count the number of times I’ve personally witnessed entitled expats treat these people like their personal (albeit vocal) punching bags. Is it really asking that much to hand over a few extra dirhams? And if you’re willing to drop Dhs60 on a cab ride from club A to club B, what’s an extra Dhs5 for the man who got you there?
‘If you’ve got the cash to spend on a Dhs350 meal, you can afford to drop an extra 10 per cent. Remember, you probably make more money than they do, and here you’re not paying taxes that go to give workers healthcare or social benefits, so you might as well give a tip.’ Daisy Carrington is our Food editor.
Click the next page to hear the other side of the argument.
‘Only tip if you’re impressed!’
Time Out Dubai nightlife editor James Wilkinson says you should tip when necessary... ‘Daisy may be all in favour of tipping, but that’s not her fault – as an American, she’s been conditioned like one of Pavlov’s dogs. But the US practice of expecting the customer, not the employer, to give the service staff a living wage is a venal, greedy and deeply unfair practice for everyone but the money-grabbing restaurant owners. And by participating in that practice, rather than seeking to replace it with something more fair, we only prolong the problem.
‘There are other reasons, too: tipping shouldn’t be a standard part of the dining ritual or something done out of guilt, it should be a way to show your appreciation for a job well done.Exceptional service should be rewarded; if we’re forking out tips for everything, where’s the incentive to put in that effort?
‘Many will bow to societal pressure to cough up the cash for anything short of a fist fight with the waitress. Nobody wants to feel uncomfortable when they pay the bill. But let’s face it: Dubai doesn’t always have the best, most polite or efficient service in the world. Using the tip system in the way that it was originally created will encourage better service, make payment less stressful for punters and improve the entire dining experience.’ James Wilkinson is our Music and Nightlife editor.
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Dianne Feb 14, 2011 08:27 am
I have no objection to tipping -good service deserves a tip! which all who go out for a meal can afford . .I do however object to the 10 or 15% automatically being added on to the bill and that going directly to the management .I would like to encourage you to refuse to pay this as i do ,simply deduct the add on and give it directly to the waiter/ess.The management can not force you to pay this .They know this and do not challenge you .If everyone did this ,the restaurant management would have to change their policy so that their cash and receits tally at the end of the day .
Vishwanath Feb 16, 2010 01:29 pm
Whats to debate !
The waiters in Dubai get paid monthly salary's. They are not students working for pocket money or to pay their fees. Most of the staff in decent hotels even have Hotel Management degrees.
By Daisy's logic the first guy to be tipped should be the farmer for producing veggies, the chef for cooking the meal, the dishwasher for cleaning the cookware and even the owner of the joint as they are all help in performing "service".
Why discriminate and pay only the guy serving, what is actually the effort of so many people behind the scene. Dose daisy imply that the cooks are well-off individuals who would not want a share of the spoils i refer to as rip-off and people like Daisy as tipp-off.
Daisey also do remember people like the counter girls at the Malls, the ushers at the cinemas, the pharmacists or for that matter the maintainance crew in your apartment probable earn lesser if not equivalent to the waiters in restaurants.
Its just a matter of how you look at it.
In the end its just your choice.
Dominik MJ Jan 17, 2010 06:51 pm
>>The whole concept of tips as wages is faulty.<<
Dear Sean - you might be right! It really might be, that the whole concept is wrongly - even from the beginning. But said that, you have to go on and claim, that also the whole concept of restaurants and bars nowadays [at least those in markets like Dubai] are wrong.
The service and quality, what more or less everybody can experience & savor, was never meant for the mass market. Luxury was never intended to be targeted to the average Joe! Once upon the time, diners: Ladies & Gentlemen knew their book of etiquette - which obviously included something as archaic as giving tips!
In these times, nobody could complain about bad or unversed service - due to the tips, people could do a job as a waiter or bartender until their retirement and let their guest benefit of their expertise.
People who hadn't got the resources to dine and drink in such outlets, found other restaurants, which were less ambitious, simpler and required less tips [though tips, as I know were always a point of etiquette]. People with no etiquette would go to pubs and taverns.
World changed. But can't you expect, that despite of the democratization of luxury hospitality, the new guests would adapt as well?
The real problem is, that people would like to have everything, but would like to pay for it nothing!
The competition between restaurants are so fierce, that prices are dropping but the quality of the food stays good or even raises. Though this is not only for the good of the customers, as there is always a point, where you have to save money. At the end, hotels are not communal properties, but businesses with owners and financiers, who want to see their return of investment.
The management [which most here are allegorize as money raking...] needs to find a way, how to train unversed and often very simpleminded staff, that they can work in the guest service.
The community [or the majority of guests] is responsible for the service it gets.
If everybody would spend in average 15% in [serious] restaurants, I am sure, that soon much more trained staff would like to come to Dubai - because then Dubai would be competitive with other destinations.
As long as the tips rate low [and you have to see: the decreased prices also means lower tips] discourage good people to work in Dubai!
One more thing: If you say, that the system is faulty [from which perspective] - it is quite unfair to the staff - because staff in hospitality are also told, that the salaries are quite low, but they can do good tips. Not necessary an proper argument, but if you are comparing the jobs with other guest service businesses, where it is and was not usual to pay tips, it is a point of consideration.
Important is: Especially in luxury hotels, tips were always a sign of good manners.
Sean4223 Jan 16, 2010 10:39 am
The whole concept of tips as wages is faulty. The diner is already paying for the food,ambiance,service,rent etc etc when he pays his bill. To expect the diner to pay wages for the waiter seems foolish. This seems to be a practice only in a few countries. In most countries the waiters get a minimum wage.
Regarding tipping, why does it have to stop at only restaurants and taxi cabs? I work in the customer service team for my company. I worked more than 5 years in this industry and I have never got a tip. My clients are happy with my service most of the times. But if they tip me, it would be considered taking a bribe. Now why does the tipping rule hold good only for low income groups? Are you tipping for the service you received or is it charity. If it is the former, then why the double standards? Do you tip the customer service representative who facilitated the property deal for you? do you tip the customer service rep who opened your bank account?
btw, I tip around 10-15% (only if I am happy with the service and if the isn't a service tax added to the bill) I am a part of the blind flock too...
Dominik MJ Jan 16, 2010 03:26 am
First: where do you have the information from, that waiters don't get service charge and don't get tips?
I worked in two different hotels the last 6 years and have quite a lot of friends in the industry [they are working in decent hotels...].
Everywhere, the staff are getting 100% of the tips [and sometimes the managers and assistants getting the same share - however, they are also earning quite a ridiculous amount of money].
The service charge: first it is legal for tourist restaurants [means hotel restaurants] - second: tit is also distributed to the staff. I don't know anyone from free standing restaurants... but you shall post an differentiated picture!
Now to the main part. I think, people who are refusing tips are kind of greedy and don't have any idea of service to customers, good life or dining culture, really!
The waiters and bartenders getting this ridiculous amount of salary, because you are always complaining about high prices.
This is because hotels have to resort to untrained staff, from countries, where people are happy, to get a comparable decent salary [in relation to their home income]. Because of your avarice [always hunting for lowest prices and always complaining about high prices, and refrain of giving tips] you are not only worsen the situation of the service staff, though you are also responsible for the bad service!!!
If everybody would give more tips, more properly trained people would consider to work in Dubai [also as waiters, bartenders] - like those in the US: service staff gets a ridiculous amount of salary, which is often not even enough, to pay for their rent - though the tips makes the life - and good service staff, can encounter you [the guest] on the same eye level.
But wait; this is maybe not what you and most other people really want in Dubai!
It is always comfortable to complain about high prices [especially not considering any cost or quality], not efficient and not professional service, of staff which is comparable to most other countries unbelievable friendly and courteous; it would be more comfy than to tangle with an employee, who is confident and undeceived and who knows that we are in the 21st century rather than in colonial times.