Is this the end for the tip?

Nothing divides the British and the Americans more than our attitudes to tipping.


The Americans and the British may have a "special relationship", but nothing divides us more than our attitudes to tipping. At best we British are reluctant tippers. In fact, says Hugh Morris in The Daily Telegraph, a recent survey showed that "the British are the second-worst tippers in the world, behind only the French". There are many reasons for this they include a dislike of having to pay twice, and unease at the "master/servant" relationship implied in the transaction.

The best tippers, on the other hand, are the Americans, who tend to view anyone who tips less than 20% as a skinflint. This April, Hillary Clinton caused a mini-scandal when she didn't leave a tip at the counter of a fast-food chain she visited. Expecting a tip for counter service not to mention having the cheek to phone up the press and complain at the absence of one may strike us as over the top.

But, of course, the real reason Americans tip so freely is because waiters in most US states aren't covered by minimum wage laws. This is starting to change. The New York Times notes that plans for higher minimum wages in various cities mean "an expanding number of restaurateurs are experimenting with no-tipping policies as a way to manage rising labour costs". In other words, the owners ban tipping and raise prices or add a service charge to cover the cost of the higher wage bill.

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Restaurants over here, on the other hand, seem to be finding ever more ingenious ways to stick their fingers into the tip jar. Pizza Express has come under fire for taking an 8% commission from tips paid via credit cards. But perhaps the most outrageous policy comes from Brazilian food chain Las Iguanas, which charges staff up to 5.5% of any gross food and drink sales they make.

This is supposed to come out of their tips, but, as The Guardian notes, it is not based on how much they actually earn in tips, and so can wipe out a waiter's "entire income from gratuities in a busy night". The chain protests that this ensures that tips are shared with kitchen staff. But if that's the goal, then a mandatory service charge while a little clinical seems fairer.

Buy a real-life Downton

They may not agree with our views on tipping, but they can't get enough of our class system American fans of Downton Abbey have helped the series to make millions for ITV from syndication rights and DVD sales. With the final series set to conclude on Christmas Day, the BBC is now trying to tap into the market by adapting Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey.

It will tell the real-life story of the Fitzwilliams, a coal-mining dynastywho built Wentworth Woodhouse, "one of the biggest private homes in Europe", notes Nicholas Hellen of The Sunday Times. The producers hope to be able to film the series in the vast Georgian property itself it apparently makes Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey in the ITV series) "look like a two-up, two-down". If you fancy being part of TV history, Wentworth is on the market for £8m although necessary repairs would bring the total cost to around £50m.

Tabloid money: treasonous plots in Edinburgh; turmoil in Brighton

"Why has it taken the government so long to get to grips with the crisis that has been raging in dairy farming for years?" says Ulrika Jonsson in The Sun. "With most getting paid 10p a litre less for their milk than it costs to produce" it's "criminal how some supermarkets are allowed to treat them". But consumers "have a responsibility too... it's not a middle-class thing to say that we should be paying more for milk". As a mum, I "always buy British" other parents should "do the same if you want your kid to grow up knowing what a cow looks like".

"Labour's Brighton bash will be pure turmoil, should the Corbyn craze carry Jezza to victory on 12 September," says Jack Blanchard in the Daily Mirror. But "it's a few hundred miles north where the most significant events of the autumn are likely to occur... Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon will be quietly plotting the death of the UK".

Encouraged by their election success they now have a single aim "justifying a second independence vote". With the government all but certain to introduce "English votes for English laws", it looks likely that "Sturgeon will say that the vote must be re-run". Overall, "the PM's petty politicking has played into the nationalists' hands".

If 98% of students passed their A-levels this year, then "I don't want to meet the 1.9% who failed", says Katie Hopkins in The Sun. Of course, it's absolutely right that everyone congratulates "the five grade A* students and celebrates the super-smart". But what "I cannot stand is the dumbing down of everything just to make thick kids feel better... even exam boards are in on the game", she says they "want to be seen to be grading kindly in order to win more custom from schools who now spend twice as much on exams as they do on books or materials".

This doesn't help the student in the long run. You might manage to scrape into university on the back of mediocre grades but "a degree won't get you ahead proving your reliability as a worker will".