Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Tip Culture

The beauty of having a life blog is that you can talk about any old rubbish that you like and today, my friends, that thing is tip culture.

I contemplated the idea of tip culture after a recent trip to the hairdressers. I went on the spur of the moment and took up the offer of a stand-by appointment at a nearby salon. For those who don't know a stand by appointment is offered at salon's for a discounted price, on the day, if they are not fully booked. The hairdresser was one of those hairdressers who just did not want to chat - fine by me - but left a slightly awkward silence apart from when she humbly declared the following: "You're lucky with a standby appointment that you got me, a senior stylist. It's luck of the draw with a standby. A lot of people won't tell you that - but I will" most matter of factly. She seemed annoyed by the whole thing.

When it came to the awkward paying situation I paid for my £25 cut with three £10 notes and she handed me back £5 in pound coins. It seemed a little odd to me at the time but I now realise she was looking for a tip as it was unlikely I would hand back a £5 note. Spoiler alert: I didn't.

I believe tipping became commonplace before the national minimum wage was created. Those who could afford to use the low-paid service industry could afford to give a little extra to thank them for their good service. Now, however, it's quite likely that your hairdresser, taxi driver or even waiting staff earn more than the minimum wage. They possibly earn more than you - they certainly earn more than me. What makes them more eligible for a tip than a supermarket worker who goes out of their way to help? Why does simply doing your job, the absolute minimum expected of someone with a job, constitute me to pay them more?

I remember an amusing thing that happened when I was working at a beauty counter in a drugstore. A very elderly lady approached me (I was nearest the door), she must have been at least 80, with a box of tampons. A Saturday girl hadn't quite understood her need for incontinence pads and sold her tampons (which is, quite frankly, idiotic). The lady was too elderly to have noticed. The lady dangled an opened tampon in front of me, yknow, just incase I didn't know what it looked like. 

She had trouble walking so I sat her down and trotted in my heels to the other end of the store to get incontinence pads. After closer inspection the lady wasn't happy with that brand so, with a smile, I trotted back to the other end of the store and grabbed several types to show her, walked back past several customers arms filled with incontinence pads (I know how to do cool), swapped them over and brought them back to where she was sitting, called her a taxi and walked her out to it safely. 

I was happy to do it, that's what customer service is about. I have a million examples like that - so why does a grumpy hairdresser who didn't speak to me deserve a tip when shop workers don't? Why should the taxi driver who charged me £40 to get back from Brighton after a night out get a tip for literally doing his job (whilst charing me a fortune in the process)

Do you think there's a place for tip culture anymore?