Half of diners unsure whether tips go to staff

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Half of diners unsure whether tips go to staff

Related tags: Service charges, Restaurant

Over half of British diners are unsure whether to leave a tip in restaurants in case it is not passed on to waiting staff, according a study by AA Hotel and Hospitality Services.

A survey of 19,317 people revealed that the majority found the tipping process 'confusing' and were unclear how the money was shared out.

A third of diners were unsure how much of a tip they should leave, while three quarters of over-55’s struggled to use a card machine to leave tips.

Of the 75 UK restaurants surveyed by the AA, 81 per cent said they would welcome clearer legislation on how money from tips should be distributed.

Last year a Government consultation​ proposed forcing restaurants to be more transparent over tipping practices, but there has been no further update on the plans.

Caroline Walford, customer support manager, AA Hotel and Hospitality Services said: “Tipping is optional and while there is no legal obligation to leave one, our research brings to light a social dilemma affecting the majority of British diners.

“Perhaps this survey points towards a lingering British embarrassment surrounding money or perhaps it’s time for more clarity for both consumers and those in the hospitality industry.”

Ongoing debate

The findings follow a series of rows over the use of service charges. Catering staff at Harrods are currently threatening to strike​ over claims the luxury store has been keeping up to 75 per cent of the 12 per cent fee added to diners’ bills.

In December Fortnum & Mason was accused​ of not sharing tips with staff, while Michelin-starred London restaurant Le Gavroche has pledged to scrap service charges from the end of January to end the ‘ambiguity’ around the payments.

Increase transparency

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) Code of Practice advises that restaurants should make it clear how they distribute service charges and non-cash tips both in-person and online.

Walford encouraged diners to ask restaurants if they were unsure where their money were going.

She said: “It’s always advisable to ask whether the service charge is included on a bill at the end of a meal. If not, a standard tip tends to be 10 per cent of the total. However, this amount is discretionary and if your service or dining experience has been exceptionally good or unusually disappointing the amount you leave can reflect your experience accordingly.”

Pizza Express and Casual Dining Group - owner of the Cafe Rouge, La Tasca and Las Iguanas brands - also scrapped administration charges​ on staff tips in 2015 following a public backlash.

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