Tipping etiquette usually is a complex topic and quite a confusing matter not only to the foreigners, but to the locals as well. Yet, it plays a significant role especially in a service industry, because most of the time waiters earn a minimum wage and tips make up a great deal of their earnings, which helps to make a living while having restaurant service job. So it’s important to understand how this whole system works to treat others and to be treated fairly.
On the other hand it is quite difficult to define what is fair in this case. Any decisions related to tipping depend on the customer entirely, because tipping, after all, is not compulsory. However, gratuity is always expected and one should pay attention to some of those suggestions regarding tipping.
A 10-15% tip for restaurant and bar service staff is quite an accepted amount in South Africa. Knowing the numbers is necessary, particularly when talking about South Africa, because tipping is essential and widely practised in this country. Even though, one should not feel forced to leave a tip and it should be done based on the quality of the service, a sensible customer will be responsible and know that tips fundamentally contribute to the whole salary of a server.
Some South African companies add a standard 10% service charge to the bill automatically, especially when there are six or more guests dining, so it is advised to always check the bill.
Though, if you need to make this decision yourself, keep in mind that if you’re just buying a drink or a little snack, it is perfectly ok to just leave a change and not a whole specific tip. All in all, it’s up to you to decide whether the service was worth gratuity at all.
There are many other service related jobs, where the employees also often receive a tip in South Africa, like tour guides or cleaning services.
Interestingly enough, you can still expect a petrol attendant at a gas station to come and fill up the tank of your vehicle, to check the water and tyre pressure and even clean the windscreens. In this case, it’s advised to leave at least R2 tip.
Car guards or parking attendants play an important role in the country which is known for high crime rates, so if you want them to look after your car while you’re away, you should offer a R2 tip as well.
Just like the restaurant workers, beauty therapists often receive a similar 10-15% tip in South Africa. So if you happen to visit a hair salon where you are granted a great quality service, remember to also add a small tip for the hair stylist.
But despite that, there are no strict rules regarding gratuity etiquette and, one way or another, even a smaller tip will be well-received and appreciated, as long as it’s done honestly and it shows your gratitude.
Now that you know what sort of tip to expect working in a service industry in South Africa, go on and find a waiter job or look for a position in any other customer service field!