Should Tipping Waiters be a Norm?

At the slopes of Mt. Kenya where I come from, tipping is a common concept. It’s so common that the sons of the soil can hardly differentiate it with bribing. My hope is that you, my reader, can differentiate these two terms.
After relishing a fast, efficient and reliable service, you are sometimes inclined to pay a little more. On the contrary, many or probably few are the instances when you almost defy paying. Not a wonder that the public eye has indefinitely spotted squabbles between service providers and customers. Should you be curious to know why the squabble, am pretty sure someone will not fail to scream out the dreaded phrase ‘What a poor service?’
Well, that’s a service. Most importantly, it’s not as tangible as your favorite soft drink and cheese burger. Moreover it will always be heterogeneous, implying that you will pay considerably the same amount of money any other time but your enjoyment or your value for money will vary with the service provider. The height of all is that you can never store it, frequenting a service provider is hence a life long task. The big question therefore, ‘Should we tip our service providers and if so by how much?’
Just Do It… 
It’s a gesture of gratitude. Contrary to a bribe, it’s not given at the request of the service provider. Quite often, it will be awarded where the service provider offers exemplary services that surpass the client’s expectations. Think for a second… Isn’t exemplary service delivery therefore not entitled to a tip? As much as tipping is discretionary, these service providers face long hours of work and obviously a meager pay check. Hence such performance given the underlying circumstances should be rewarded.
Money being the most common form of compensation does not imply that whenever you are budgetary constrained you shouldn’t tip. A tip could be non financial. For instance, at the end of the year, you could consider tipping your child’s teacher by writing him or her a note of appreciation accompanied by a drawing done by your child. On the extreme, some folks may be poised to tip extravagantly. Well, there are no specified limits in tipping but a CNN Money report on tipping endeavors to highlight tipping etiquette in the different service industries.
Tipping Etiquette 
According to experts at the Emily Post Institute in the USA, customers should bear in mind their particular circumstances as well as the strength and length of the relationship with each service provider. Note also that where the tip is cash or cheque, it is advisable to hand it to the recipient in an envelop.
Below is a guide of reasonable tips that can be awarded to different service providers. It however does not imply a moral obligation to tip.

Hair stylists 
Suggested Tip: 15-20% of bill
The location of the service provider is irrelevant in determining your tip. It doesn’t matter if they work in a salon, rent their space or work out of their home. Most importantly, you cannot afford to take chances with him or her as your appearance is key.
Baby Sitter 
Suggested Tip: One week’s pay and a small gift from the child
This will apply where she has worked for you throughout the year. A day care provider might deserve approximately Ushs. 50,000 – Ushs. 80,000 at the end of the year.
Personal Trainer 
Suggested Tip: Between Ushs.50,000 up to the cost of a session
Such a tip would be a nice token of appreciation where you have an ongoing relationship with the professional and you feel you’ve received above average service.
Bodaboda (Motorcycle) Cyclists 
Suggested tip: 10% of amount negotiated
Your safety is paramount especially when you decide to hop on our popular ‘Boda B’s’ most probably trying to avoid traffic jam. However most cyclists will charge you depending on your know – how of the town. Therefore a tip is not mandatory.
Restaurant Waiters 
Suggested Tip: 15 – 20% of bill
According to experts, you should never fail to tip a waiter. However, where the service is awful make a point of informing the manager and at least leave a 10 percent tip.
The aftermath of the extravagant expenditure on the February 2011 General elections are here with us. A general financial stress is looming so I recommend that you give your service provider a little more.


  1. A very engaging post. I am going to share it on Facebook! I like to learn about your culture also. Fascinating.

    What is a bodaboda? Is that a motorcycle that has a driver and he drives you around like a taxi?