Yesterday’s entry on tipping received many responses. It was a very interesting discussion and reflects the difference of culture.
I found the explanation of tip in Wikipidia
A tip (also known as gratuity) is a small amount of money received by some service sector professionals from persons they serve, in addition to or instead of a formally required payment.
Tipping is neither regulation, nor required; it is social custom. In China, it is pretty safe to claim that it is a general practice that you do NOT need to pay the tip. Meanwhile, it is high appreciated by the receiption if you do pay tip. It is the unexpected gift.”.
Bob pointed out that “It seems that some people in china target the westerners for request tips.”. It is true. With more and more visitors coming to China, people who pays tip in their country continue to pay the tip before they realize the difference. It helps the server to build the expectation for tips. So some may “request” tip. The bellmen are most likely to expect tips. Wendy and Grace once had unpleasant experience in Five Continent Hotel that the bellman refused to help them (two ladies with heavy boxes) without tip. The 10 RMB tip worked like a charm then.
Regarding the service charge, I agree with JH that it is not a good practice for hotels in China to charge the 15% service charge. For everything you consume in the hotel except the room fee, you are automatically charged 15% of what you consumed. It includes all the restaurants inside the hotel, in-room services, business centers…. I didn’t realize it is some forms of tip until JH reminded me. It seems the hotel has charged the tip on behalf of the servers.
I asked the bellman of Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Chendu where I stayed today. “Do you accept tips?” He answered: “Yes. If guests give us tips, we will be very happy. If not, it is common”. I asked: “Do you keep all the tips?” His answer was positive. I checked with other servers about 15% regular service charge, they answered there was no relationship between the charge and their salary. This obviously went to far from the spirit of tipping.
I treat tipping as a survey system. It is the chance to show the customer’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the service. I am a strong supporter of resuming tipping practices in China. With tipping, I can clearly show my feeling of the service I received. 1 RMB or 2 shows the difference. I don’t understand why some business spent millions of dollars to install expensive survey systems (like those in Banks) that very few people use it. Whenever I was treated badly by taxi drivers or restaurant servers, I think of tip – if I have the choice, I will pay very few tip or tip nothing for this service.
History of Tipping in China
China is actually a country with history of tipping. According to some documents I found, tips were accepted before 1950s. Hairdressers in Chengdu accepted tips . In Shaoxing in Zhejiang province, the public bathroom (with many services) accepted tips, but it was abandoned in 1956. . It was the same in hotel industry Shaoxing in the same year. . The document attributed the improvement of service quality to the abandon of tipping. It is not rare to read about the extra money people gave to service people in old Chinese novels.
Voices of Forbidding Tipping
Regarding the newly emerged tipping practice of some tourism agents, China Consumer’s Association claimed that 1) There is no direct relationship between tipping and service quality. 2) Tipping is NOT a common practice worldwide. I do not agree with any of these two points.
Many business treat tip equally as cheating. In a regulation of China Tourism Bureau, which was published in 1987, “(For all staff in the tourism industry), those who didn’t request but accepted tips will be educated and the tips accepted will be confiscated”. Also, “those who denied tips will be praised and awarded.” “Those who requested, or implied to request tips, will be fined at 3 times of the tipping amount”. Obviously, this is an out-of-date document, but still in use.