Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Auckland City Nights

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich Lock,

    So in theory, tipping is all good, but as with most human activity, the unspoken rules and assumptions generally turn it into something of a minefield. I'm more than happy to pay handsomely for a job well done, I'm just not sure that tipping is the best way to do it.

    Neither am I. But I just didn't know any other way to pay the guy handsomely, other than to actually pay him. If his commission was worth a damn, I probably wouldn't have done it.

    In America, factor in the tip. It's really that simple, and the maths isn't hard. Presume that it means "for average service". If you don't give it, then you're saying they gave you crap service, which is insulting if what they actually gave you is average service. And the likely outcome is that you will immediately get what you paid for, or even worse. On the flip side, if they do actually give you good service, and you liked it and want more of it, tip them more. If you don't care, and give them an average tip, expect your service to be average next time.

    Yes, it's quite a different way of thinking. I'm not sure that it's such a bad way, though. We don't tip in NZ, and we get stock-standard bad service in most cases. If there is an exception it's usually quite random.

    If there's a downside, it's that you can't get good service if you can't afford it. It could create a class system for services. But we have exactly the same system for goods here, if you can't afford them you can't have them. Why is service really so different? I'm open to any thoughts here, still undecided on the matter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I'm going to hand the debate over to some guys in sharp suits. Some NSFW language.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2291 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    If there's a downside

    It's also a way of many American retail employers dodging payroll tax obligations - so another downside might be having a state approaching the right size to drown in a bathtub while many of the nation's people struggle to live.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15711 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Arrrggh. NZTA building cycleways alongside roads has been an amazing development. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with Joyce?

    Wearing elected rep hat…The (ultra vires) Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Transport tells NZTA where to spend the money (and under Joyce – it's on RONS). NZTA to their credit have refused to ‘give up’ on cycling, but their position is that they will build cycleways only if it is part of a major roading project (as the cost of the path is diddly squat in overall costs) to get around Joyce.

    The reason that the Northwestern Cycle path was done by the Northwestern motorway was because NZTA owned the land so they didn’t have to negotiate with anyone, and secondly because the BCR was apparently so stonkingly good for the investment of $3m that it would have been a waste of money not to build one. The BCR’s are still stonkingly good, but Joyce is perfectly happy to waste money, so NZTA are not in a position to do the CMJ extension for a while yet (I get the feeling they are waiting for a change in govt).

    NZTA does point out that the number of big projects is coming to a close so they have little opportunities to build cycle paths now.

    This is a subject matter full of complex motives (who on earth knew that cycling was so bloody political??) but the basic gist is that Joyce has squashed cycling funding, but will do the odd token project to get the votes.

    The reason I said that the GPS was ultra viries is because essentially transport is one area of government where everyone would like to have a say, and usually is offered a chance to have a say, but in the development of the RONS, name me a person who submitted, as part of a formal consultation process, on the proposal to sink billions into it?

    Doffing said hat.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 635 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich Lock,

    I'm going to hand the debate over to some guys in sharp suits. Some NSFW language.

    You'll notice he says in the middle of that spiel that he does tip for good service. Even he, with all his total lack of care for the plight of the waitresses, sees the point of tipping, which is to get good service. He was not tipping because she didn't keep filling his bottomless cup of coffee.

    It's also a highly unlikely scene, as most Tarantino scenes are. If you were about to rob a bank, the last thing you'd do is draw angry attention to yourself by not tipping a waitress $1, or even worse, having a loud and insulting debate about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Well, if I was about to rob a bank, I'd probably not be sitting around having a relaxed and lengthy meal with my mates, no.

    Unless sitting in the back of a van, trying not to spit the nerve-settling gum that I've been chewing in a frenzy for four hours into my balaclava counts...

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2291 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Kismet, Hardy...

    Nelson Ramp Link?

    ...sounds a bit 'one-eyed', Horatio...
    :- )

    The Last Exit to Nowhere?
    The Peter Off-Rampton?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4193 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    The Peter Off-Rampton?

    Excellent! :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5690 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    It was to highlight his reaction to it, which was, in my opinion, really strange. It’s also not the first time that I’ve got that reaction to giving a tip in NZ.

    I have a visceral hatred of tipping and I dont agree with Ben's further comments that 'getting bitter about tips is part of what's wrong with this country."

    Many times over my life to date, I've received excellent service (way beyond the expected) and - depending on the person and their expressed preference - offer as a thankyou (because that's what it is eh Ben?) offer them wine or other alcohol, whitebait, or really good chocolate. The only time I was temporarily stymied was when I asked, "Is there a drink you prefer?" and the person (in a small country garage who'd performed a minor miracle on an aged van I had at the time, said "O shit yeah- you get any fresh juice your way?" And he *meant* juice of vegetables...happened that I had a mate who grew organic carrots, so arranged for a crate to be sent to him-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    It was to highlight his reaction to it, which was, in my opinion, really strange. It’s also not the first time that I’ve got that reaction to giving a tip in NZ.

    I have a visceral hatred of tipping and I dont agree with Ben's further comments that 'getting bitter about tips is part of what's wrong with this country."

    Many times over my life to date, I've received excellent service (way beyond the expected) and - depending on the person and their expressed preference - offer as a thankyou (because that's what it is eh Ben?) offer them wine or other alcohol, whitebait, or really good chocolate. The only time I was temporarily stymied was when I asked, "Is there a drink you prefer?" and the person (in a small country garage who'd performed a minor miracle on an aged van I had at the time, said "O shit yeah- you get any fresh juice your way?" And he *meant* juice of vegetables...happened that I had a mate who grew organic carrots, so arranged for a crate to be sent to him-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    I'm with you on this one, Islander. It just feels deeply wrong and un-egalitarian.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    I should've explained that the garage person actually spent nearly 3/4's of an hour tracing a problem and then fixing it in half an hour. He charged for the half hour ( and his partner brought me a free coffee) and parts... called into that v.small garage as long as it lasted for petrol on my way to & fro...

    And Carol- yep.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Islander,

    So you tipped them, just not with money? Sounds like a good idea to me.

    It just feels deeply wrong and un-egalitarian.

    It surely isn't egalitarian. But I'm not sure egalitarianism is that great.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to BenWilson,

    But I'm not sure egalitarianism is that great.

    However, I do- and giving a thankyou gift is not as raw & actually belittling as offering money ("Here you are poor person - have some of my largesse." Veddy English, totally Yank-))

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    But I'm not sure egalitarianism is that great.

    Something' s a bit weird- co0mments arnt posted - but then turn up twice...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to BenWilson,

    I hate that overly smarmy service you get in American restaurants and much prefer NZ's laid-back approach (which in most cases isn't poor service, just not actively ingratiating). I always tip 20 percent in the US because those poor bastards probably find it it hard enough having to metaphorically insert their heads up everyone's asses just to make a living wage.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3582 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Islander,

    Something' s a bit weird- co0mments arnt posted - but then turn up twice...

    If a comment isn't posted, try clicking reload on your browser, you'll probably find it has been posted, you just haven't seen it on your browser (so what is happening is that you're posting twice). Refreshing (at least in Firefox) doesn't clear what you've written so it should reappear. If you're in doubt, copy what you've written first, so you don't lose it.

    However, I do- and giving a thankyou gift is not as raw & actually belittling as offering money ("Here you are poor person - have some of my largesse." Veddy English, totally Yank-))

    I don't feel belittled when people give me money. Nor gifts. Both are good, but more often, I've got money on me, or can get it quickly. I might refuse money occasionally, but usually only because I doubted the value of what I was giving, or because I was getting something else out of it. Or, perhaps, because I perceived it as a bribe to do something dodgy.

    What does giving an alternative really say that the money doesn't? That you spent time thinking about what they might want? That's fine for birthday presents for people you know, but how would I know what my waiter in a restaurant would like to have, considering that I have to bring it with me beforehand? Gifts really only make sense if they're cheaper to you than the value of them purchased by the recipient directly from a shop. That might come up a lot in a rural setting, where you tend to have a massive oversupply of some in-season product, especially since food is very widely appreciated in society. Personally, I've got the limited supply of lemons on my tree, and that's worth about $40 in a shop, per annum. I hardly think a waiter is going to appreciate my actual produce, which is computer code delivering small pieces of a large system. That's why I usually give money. If they're good, beyond the basic service.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Islander,

    co0mments arnt posted - but then turn up twice

    Perhaps some of your traffic is using RFC1149 tonight

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4209 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I hate that overly smarmy service you get in American restaurants

    You could be overtipping. 20% sounds like quite a lot. If you really don't care for what you call smarm, then just cut it back. You'll soon find the "kiwi level".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    There's nothing wrong with thanking someone by whatever means for a job exceptionally well done - like Islander describes. But the whole culture of tipping puts pressure on every single transaction and it seems to me that there is something very wrong with people expecting to be tipped at every turn just for doing their jobs (leaving aside the issue of non-living wages for a moment). And I agree with Danielle - I don't think NZ service is all that terrible either. I am thoroughly glad to live in a country where tipping isn't part of the culture.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to BenWilson,

    Dude, they don't know how much I'm going to tip by looking at me!

    I lived there for four years and I ate out a LOT. Smarm is the default.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3582 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Danielle,

    And I agree with Danielle - I don't think NZ service is all that terrible either.

    In restaurants, no, it seems OK. The concept is pretty basic, and we've learned to expect nothing more than what we usually get. In shops, though, it's often hopeless, and that's especially annoying since there can often be a lot more at stake.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to BenWilson,

    I don't feel belittled when people give me money

    No-one has ever *given* me money Ben : the prizes some of my books have *earned* is a matter of fate.

    I *have* been given gifts from fans & I LOVE those -

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    But Ben, surely shops that have good service will be rewarded by having loyal customers and doing well? Isn't that just good business practice?

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    But Ben, surely shops that have good service will be rewarded by having loyal customers and doing well? Isn't that just good business practice?

    The shop might be. The person working in it? Well, sometimes I'd like to make sure, on the rare occasion that someone makes an effort. NZers curiously seem to think I've got it backwards, that rewarding their effort is somehow disempowering, as if working in the shop was something they'd do for fun, or going well above the others efforts is something that should be expected of everyone. Neither of those things is true, so I don't get it. That attitude drives businesses like The Warehouse.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

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