Monday, 9 June, 2008

Tipping point

An investment advisor argues that our giving tips at the end of the meal is evidence of our being wrongly wired: We should give tips before ordering, to insure promptness (during the forthcoming meal).

While we're surely wrongly wired, we're probably right in tipping after eating.

The waiter knows that almost everyone tips; we know that the waiter knows.

Further, both parties know how much is expected. If the service is satisfactory, the bill isn't mid-size (for the restaurant in question), and the patron is normal, the tip is in the close neighbourhood of 10%.

If the waiter slips, the patron can punish him by giving substantially below 10%, giving a token tip, or not tipping at all. If the service is extraordinary, it may go up a little, but not much.

If the patron is a regular, the waiters even know the ups (rewards) and downs (punishments), in percentage and absolute terms, they can expect.

In such a situation, where both parties know exactly what to expect of each other, withholding the tip till after the meal is the only threat that the patron can exercise (to insure promptness).

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