Paula Bennett wants the tip, please

Deputy PM Paula Bennett is calling for Kiwis to tip hospitality staff more often, in an effort to increase the quality of service.

The hospitality industry agrees, and new eftpos machines which automatically ask customers if they want to add a gratuity are becoming more and more prevalent.

Bennett, who is also the Tourism Minister, said Kiwi service was already good but she believed it was better in countries with a strong culture of tipping like the United States.

Tipping is great if it is a result of excellent service and the tip is freely given.  Where it comes unstuck is when there is an expectation to tip.  At that point, it is no longer a reward for good service.  It basically means the hospitality business and you are in a short term employment agreement to pay this person’s wages.   

Bennett said when she worked as a waitress in the 1980s tipping was not very common – but she would have welcomed it.

She was not calling for a turn to mandatory tipping and lower minimum wages for tipped workers, as is practised in the United States.

“I don’t want us to turn into that mandatory tipping for people just to survive, but I do think if we reward good service it’s going to make everyone smile a bit more.”

Jill Ovens from the E Tu union, which represents many food service workers, said tipping let restaurants get away with underpaying staff.

“It just passes on the low wages to the consumer….staff should be paid decent wages out of the profits of the business.”

International research suggests tipping can unfairly reward white, young, and attractive front-of-house staff at the expense of others.

Have you ever tipped in New Zealand?   Why?   Would you like to see it become understood as a more or less mandatory requirement, just like the United States?

Oh and Paula?  Compared to what you experience overseas, Kiwi service isn’t “already good”.  Internationally experienced travellers come here to see the country.  Not our ‘famed service’.


– Stuff


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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