May 8th, 2011

Tipping

The Vert Anglais has been trying to find new ways to bring in customers at night. So, when a local photographer asked if he could pay money to have the opening of his latest set of prints there, the bar took his money laid out a buffet and offered free wine to anybody who came to the exhibition.

All well and good in theory, but in practice, a total nightmare, for both regular patrons and the bar staff itself.

What happened was about 90 or so wealthy people descended upon the bar taking up pretty much every available bit of space inside. Then for three hours on a Friday night they ate and drank for free.

This made it nearly impossible for paying customers to get served, because you'd invariably have to get the attention of the barman while he was extremely busy pouring wine for the rich people.

What was more disturbing is that while the bar staff had to work five times as hard as they would have normally, they got killed financially.

Let me explain. Tipping is not as huge a deal here as it is in America. But, people will generally leave a 20 or 50 cent coin after buying a drink or a round of drinks. Over the course of an evening - particularly a Friday or Saturday night - this can add up and make a real difference in the lives of the bar staff.

But, on this Friday night not a single one of the people who came to the opening left a tip at all. It was as though because their wine was free, that meant that the service was as well.

I remember watching one guy who was wearing an outfit that cost more than my monthly rent who came up to the bar and ordered 12 glass of free wine and left nothing.

It boggles my mind, because I've seen exactly these types of people before in the Place de la Comedie where drinks are very expensive. There, when they are paying money for their drinks and food, they leave good tips.

So, why they wouldn't do so at the bar Friday night - or perhaps leave a bigger tip than normal - boggles my mind.