Do Jamaicans tip?

We Jamaicans are notorious for many things and one of them is that we do not like to show appreciation for services rendered.

We blatantly state that they are already being paid so “weh tipping a go?”

We usually do not feel compelled to dip into our purses or wallets to give a little something extra. But what really is the deal when it comes to this practice and how many of us are guilty of being stingy with our coins?

A prevailing view is that Jamaicans have never been big on tipping as most feel that service providers such as bellmen and waiters are already being compensated for the service they provide, so culturally we tend to ignore that outstretched hand or just give a handshake instead.

The practice of tipping dates back to the 17th century in Tudor, England where it became the custom that overnight guests to private homes gave small sums of money known as ‘vails’ to the host’s servants.

Later, customers at London coffee houses and places where commercial services were provided joined in.  Today, it is formally referred to as ‘gratuity’. A tip is a sum of money customarily tendered, in addition to the basic price for a service performed or anticipated and will vary from country to country as norms and customs are different.

Not all settings, however, encourage tipping and it can actually be seen as insulting to some professionals. In the case of police officers, offering gratuity can be viewed as bribery; giving money to journalists or disc jockeys is seen as ‘payola’ and some hotels discourage the practice of tipping in Jamaica as some employees go too far and actually harass guests when tips are not given or if it is not the amount they expected.

Which brings us back to whether tipping is really practised in Jamaica.

Tipping is still being done in restaurants and salons as these are service industries where the most satisfaction is derived – from eating good food and looking pretty. Its popularity, however, may be on the decline for two reasons.

To put it simply, ‘nuh money nah run’. One cannot tip what one does not have. Another reason is that the attitude of some service providers turn off customers when they get demanding.

For some, it is almost as if their arms are being twisted to give regardless of if they are satisfied with a service or not. While they would love to be able to tip lavishly, their pockets cannot afford to make it happen every time and service providers need to understand that it is the customers’ right to give at their own discretion.

If you have no problem brightening some one’s day, then give a little ‘supm supm’ to your hairdresser, supermarket bag handler, driver, bartender, musician etc.

And while restaurants may have a service charge, still slip the waiter/waitress something as not all establishments actually give their workers the money they charge you.

Let us know at BUZZ. Do you make a habit of tipping service providers when you go out?