I bought the Telegraph the other day for £1 and, you know what, it was such a rip-roaring read, such a rewarding experience, that I rushed back to the newsagent an hour later and gave the man 15p as a thank you.
I am, of course, joking. I wouldn’t read the Telegraph if you paid me. I also wouldn’t pay more than charged for a newspaper, a book, a house, a haircut, a taxi ride or a meal. And yet, the latter three tend to incur an extra charge over and above the agreed price as standard in the UK. Why?
Most of us are not accountants, most of us do not know the fixed and variable costs of a hairdressers or a taxi firm or a restaurant and are consequently not able to ascertain whether the mullet chop, meter charge or menu price need topped up by 10% or 15% to ensure that the staff get a decent wage and the business can break even. That job, surely, lies with the owner or the manager of the company. Set your prices high enough to make a decent profit and everybody’s happy.
And yet, here I am feeling forced by British society to round up or add on 15% (when did it go up from 10%?) to various bills in order to avoid being a selfish oaf. Indeed, it’s not even society, tips are now added onto bills as standard. Oh, sure, there’s the whole ‘discretionary’ get-out clause that people use but who is going to make a scene and request that the waiter or waitress only puts through the cost of the food and drinks and leaves the tip out…
Me, that’s who!
I’m not ashamed, I’m really not. Be the change you want to see in the world they say? Well, I don’t want the gun of a 15% mark-up put to my head on the rare occasion that I feel flush enough to go out for a pricey meal.
Maybe this is how it starts, the seeping of Tory values into a vulnerable ageing wannabe lefty. It’s the working classes who are counter-intuitively more generous with tipping and buying the Big Issue etc after all. They have a better sense of what it’s like to be in one of life’s trenches I suppose.
If that’s the first thing to go blue then so be it but for as long as I think the NHS should stay public, we should stay in the EU and that income taxes should go up, I ain’t tipping nobody unless they deserve it.