Batswana do not tip; at least, they don’t tip well.
Though voluntary, a tip exists to acknowledge and encourage provide better levels of service for the customer.
Most servers or waiters in restaurants work shifts and are mainly paid hourly rates. The only incentive they really have is to run around and provide the best service to the customer and hope to be appreciated, or tipped, at the end of the meal.
While it may be considered a sort of a bonus if a waiter or waitress gets a tip, it however is not like that in some countries, where tipping is regulated and bound by a social contract and also appear on tax forms as a source of income.
Servers in those countries are required to report their tips and a 15 percent tax deduction is made from what they earn. The tips are regarded as income, meaning tax deductions are made from the basic salary and the tips received.
That aside, a lot of people enjoy the pleasure of eating out and expect the best service in a restaurant, and we all have that right. While we are not under any obligation to give tips, it is only fair that a waiter gets tipped to encourage the good service just provided.
By giving a tip, you are basically showing gratitude for the service rendered.
While it may just also be fair not to tip the guy who has pledged his time to a parking lot at the Main Mall because you simply believe he should get a better job, I am of the belief that you cannot use the same rationale for the waiter at the restaurant.
The waiter is obviously getting paid, but I have to genuinely argue that, like everywhere else, their salary might not be enough and might not be motivating enough for them to be enthusiastic enough with the restaurant’s customer.
Also, consider the petrol attendant, who, while filling your tank, takes a few minutes of his time to wash your windscreen, enquires about your tyre pressure and is willing to check the level of your oil!
All he could do, if he so wished, is tend to your fuel needs and wait for you to pay and move right on to the next customer. But he does take the time to provide you with that extra service.
Shall his cheerful smile go to waste on you?
The least you can do is give them P5 for a cool drink. It is just another proper way of showing gratitude.
A lot of people walk into restaurants, and spend more than an hour just occupying space, instead of ordering, eating, tipping and leaving. And the whole time, the poor waiter keeps coming back to “check if you are okay” or to bring you tap water (which you don’t pay for) or do something else for you and your company.
Wouldn’t you be grateful to someone who has been patient and fulfilled your other requests other than taking care of your orders only?
The other argument would be the kind of service you were given upon entering the restaurant.
A cheeky, impolite and bigheaded waiter does not deserve a tip, I concur, but what I have seen occasionally is the waiter being trashed because the food was awful! But why does a poor waiter know about culinary mistakes best known to the chef, I wonder?
A waitress at a popular outlet at the African Mall, who only wanted to be identified as Keneetswe, said that she wishes people could appreciate their service but doesn’t really care how much tips she receives.
“It just counts as gratitude to me and whether I receive some or not it’s not important; but I do welcome them and never hold grudges against customers who do not tip,” she said.
She continued to say that she does not keep records as to who tips more. “We have a range of customers coming in and I do not keep count of which nationality tips more,” she claimed.
Another waitress at an up-market restaurant in Riverwalk said she was certain “white customers tip more”, revealing that she takes home more than P100 in tips on a busy day.
The waitress, also who did not want to be identified by name, said that she considered tips to be important because they compliment her income and because her work is physically draining because “she goes out of her way to ensure the customer is comfortable and satisfied”.
She also revealed that she knows regular customers who tip and is always willing to be the first one to serve on their table as she knows there will be a hefty tip,
“Other customers are regulars but don’t even tip; I am not really keen to serve them, but I do anyway,” she said.
Agnes Birungi, a part time student at the Botswana Accountancy College said she usually gives a ten percent tip when she is satisfied with the service rendered.
“There are some people you cannot help but tip because of their genuine attitude in serving you,” she said. “And then there are others who seem to discourage you from tipping them by their “business as usual attitude” during meals.”
But, on the whole, the culture of tipping has not yet taken real hold in Botswana.