Tipping: The End of Meal Minefield

You’ve been out for a lovely meal with your friends and you’ve just asked for the bill when the age-old debate arises; should you all split the bill and add a little extra as a tip?

(CC BY 2.0) by  massimo_b

It’s a scenario that happens all over the place and it isn’t helped by the fact there’s not really a written rule when it comes to leaving a tip, especially in British culture.

In the USA, it’s seen as standard practice that people tip (and generously, too) – you leave a little something, regardless of the quality of service, in restaurants, bars and even taxis. However, it’s far more subjective in the UK – we tend to tip depending very much on how friendly and genial the service we receive is, whether that’s when dining out or sitting in a hairdresser’s chair.

On the contrary,  according to research by Voucherbox, the overall appearance of waiting staff can have an impact on how much Brits are willing to tip. A fifth of those surveyed by the site said they’d tip big if they found their waiter or waitress to be attractive. A winning smile was most likely to woo a diner, with 23% of those polled saying that they’d dig deeper into their wallets if they were dazzled by someone’s pearly whites.

Tip Jar
(CC BY 2.0) by  nan palmero

But how can you make sure your tip goes directly to the person you want?

If a service charge is optional, you can choose not to pay it and, instead, leave a tip directly with your waiting staff. Just check your receipt carefully, as some things are compulsory to pay on a bill – such as cover charge

Try to carry cash – tips left on a card are less likely to be shared among the wider pool of staff. A lot of restaurants do have a fair policy on tipping, with waiting staff asked to put their tips into a pot together, which is then equally split among everyone working that day

Don’t be afraid to ask – if you’re concerned about where your money may go, check with your server whether they receive the service charge/if the tips are split among staff/what the restaurant’s policy is.

Don’t feel obliged to leave a tip – if service wasn’t up to scratch, it’s still your call whether you leave a tip or not. There’s no legal obligation for you to do so and you really shouldn’t be made to feel guilty if you don’t.


The UK government is taking confusion surrounding tipping seriously. Last year, it published a “tipping consultation” that was aimed at debunking some of the mysteries surrounding where the money goes and where it should go when you think you’re leaving it for your serving staff.

According to that consultation, a whopping 38% of consumers said that they’re never aware of what happens to their tips.

That’s obviously got to change and soon, but in the meantime, the best thing you can do is ask before you leave that fiver on the table – you want it to be lining the right person’s pockets.

Flush the Fashion

Editor of Flush the Fashion and Flush Magazine. I love music, art, film, travel, food, tech and cars. Basically, everything this site is about.