The practice of automatically tipping or giving gratuities is a very nasty habit, perpetrated mostly by Americans and has spread like a virulent disease to many 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 totally 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 or emotional blackmail. Some American and European restaurants actually employ waiters for no wages and they just work for tips and nothing else. In some of those restaurants, those waiters who work for no pay are even charged for their meals.
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 implied guilt.
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 American 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 as of 2018 are then being hit with some more emotional blackmail to throw in some tips for cabin stewards and dining room waiters as well. In any case, cabin stewards and waiters should be delivering the so-called 'WOW' as part of their normal paid duties.
But let's look at tips for personal service. Probably the most personal and definitely the most important service is offered by one's doctor. Who has ever tipped a doctor or a surgeon who may have saved their lives or cured them of terrible diseases? Who has ever tipped their dentist for maintaining their teeth in good health? Who has ever tipped the hospital nurses who have cared for them, dressed their wounds and made sure that they were comfortable when extremely ill? Who has ever tipped police or rescue personnel who saved their lives?
Who has ever tipped the pilots on the airliners that they were flying and keeping them safe with their skills? Or the cabin crew who waited upon them? Nobody does that. I was a commercial charter pilot for close to 30 years and I never ever received one single tip from anybody, including wealthy corporate clients whom I delivered safely to their destinations. I did my job, was paid what was expected and did not receive a cent more.
There are many people who perform vital personal 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, surgeons and nurses do? Of course not. Waiters merely deliver food to our tables - food which we bought 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 bestowed on 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 virtually train a chimpanzee to do those tasks. And it is not our problem if cabin stewards have to rely on tips to supplement the crappy money that they get paid. It is up to them to negotiate better conditions and not use emotional blackmail to extort tips from passengers.
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 shitty jobs for shitty wages and on ships, put up with shitty living conditions as well.
This is why major cruise lines employ people from third-world nations such as India, Philippines, Indonesia and some South American countries and people from the former communist eastern bloc nations to be cabin stewards, waiters, cleaners and musicians, simply because Australians, Britons and Americans would not do this work for lousy third-world pay.
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. In fact on cruise shops, passengers can opt out of the automatic gratuities and should do so if they are smart.
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 legislated minimum wages and people are paid reasonably well for doing their jobs and they should not expect tips. There are so many people working in professions and jobs that involve dealing with the public, yet there should be no expectation that they will receive tips for doing what they are already paid to do.
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 there is nothing so special about them. There is no reason why you should pay over and above what you paid to purchase meals, especially in those so-called 'fine dining' clip joints where you get almost nothing on your plate and pay extraordinarily high prices - and get automatically ripped-off for tips as well.