My tipping strategy in Dublin is pretty fucking simple...If the service is horrendous I'll leave nothing and snarl on the way out. If it is bad to average I'll round the bill up a small bit. Mediocre gets 10%. Outstanding gets 15% and if the waitress if hot I'll round it up a bit more at my own discretion (before any women readers go mad all my female friends will go to bars that have hot barmen all the time so it cuts both ways). Tipping is a strange practice though where nobody seems to know all the rules and it was this article and in particular this quote in the NY Times that got me thinking...
Tipping "is irrational, outdated, ineffective, confusing, prone to abuse and sometimes discriminatory," writes Pete Wells. And since it has no effect on the service, why do it at all?
Now It's an interesting article and a good starting point for discussion but I don't agree with it. Most people like tipping. It makes you feel good. Staff remember good tips and I can tell you from being on the other side of the counter it can make your entire night. There is no feeling like going shopping or for a few drinks with some "free" money on top of your wages. Wages in Ireland aren't quite as bad as those in the service industry in the USA but many staff are part time and they aren't going to be getting mortgages on their salaries. Chefs often get paid way better than front of huse staff but given that the service makes up at least 50% of the dining experience how much should we be tipping the waiting staff?
The View From The Streets
I asked the question on Twitter about tipping in Dublin in particular and although the answers varied the main consensus was that poor service equated to no tip, the vast majority do 10% and maybe a little more if the service is really good. So if you are a tourist or not used to eating out in Dublin now you know the norms.
@NiallHarbison I tip 10% for good service, but I've no problem tipping nothing if service is bad, or up to 20% if it's amazing
— Rosemary Mac Cabe (@RosemaryMacCabe) September 5, 2013
@NiallHarbison Used to tip as a norm but now only tip when service is good and worth it. In Dublin thats rarer than we would like.
— Gary Fox (@garethfox) September 5, 2013
@NiallHarbison I always tip, usually in cash. 10% normal of full amount including drinks, regardless of any discount, rounded up.
— Brian Connell (@BrianConnell67) September 4, 2013
@NiallHarbison 10% standard, more for above and beyond, none for shite service.
— Stewart Curry (@irishstu) September 4, 2013
@NiallHarbison last tip was Bunsen Burger 24 quid odd rounded up to 30. But generally 15%. Couldn't leave 6e on 60 quid tab. ie. 10%
— Peter Donegan (@DoneganGardens) September 4, 2013
@NiallHarbison generally yes but not if 'service charge' included or service poor. 'How much?' depends on quality of service up to max 15%
— Padraig McKeon (@PadraigMcKeon) September 4, 2013
@NiallHarbison 10-15% average, 0% if service is really bad, more if its really good. And only table service, so no for takeout coffee!
— Jessica Hickey (@jess1hickey) September 4, 2013
@NiallHarbison Only ever in restaurants and if the service isn't poor. Usually 10% - 15%
— Ken Stanley (@Ken_Stanley) September 4, 2013
@NiallHarbison typically about 10% - higher if service is senfuckinsational
— Ciaran McLoone (@ciaranmcl) September 4, 2013
So What Should We Be Tipping?
This isn't an exact science but based on all the feedback I've had asking the question on various channels I think the little table below will help. At the end of the day it is up to you and each country has many variables but when in Dublin the following is pretty acceptable...
The table really is only a guide. Sometimes the levels of service vary so much that you'll have to use your own best guess and don't be scared to reward people who go above and beyond. Would love to hear in the comments what you think makes a good tip and any examples of horrendous or amazing service you've experienced over the years.