I am an unapologetic over-tipper. And I have my reasons.

In my recent trip to Karachi, I revisited the few places that I have gone to for over five years. I got talking to the people who I have (sort of) known for over half a decade, and somehow the conversation steered to tipping. And what I found was rather surprising. For a cheap stake, I did well. I am an over-tipper.

There are different rules and numbers for what is considered appropriate in the world of tipping. Most restaurants include VAT and service charges to the bill, which makes tipping optional, as you have already been charged for service. If you’re wondering why you may be charged VAT for other products, services or international purchases, browse pages on vat information to try and get a better understanding.

Otherwise, I was told that the rule of thumb for tipping is 16% of your bill. It was probably my dad – he’s set a terrible example. I have seen him tip so generously that often my mom would pick up half of what he left behind, and the waiter would still walk away happily with the bill holder. Yup, mommy darling is a character and a half.


So dad taught me to tip 16%, which Sabir* told me is not what he usually expects from his clients. As a professional pedicurist, he has five clients a day on average, with a cover value of Rs.1200 (US$11.5) each. While many walk away without tipping, which he says is fine and he doesn’t expect his clients to do it, the usual tipping rate swings between 8-9%.

I spoke to another friend, who works as a server at a popular Chinese restaurant in Karachi, with a cover of Rs.2500 for two. To my surprise, the numbers dip in F&B sector, according to him. He shared, “people mostly leave Rs.100 behind, regardless of the bill amount”.

While dad set the precedent, Mr. N explained why it’s okay to be generous when tipping, and more importantly, why they deserve it. ‘People who work for you or serve you with hands, they deserve to rewarded for their service and attitude. If the food is amazing, served terribly, it ruins the experience. Turn it the other way around – often great service makes up for average food.’ True story. Think… Kolachi? Amm, just saying.

However, this does not mean that everyone deserves generosity. When you don’t feel like the service was at par, tipping (or lack of it) is your tool to communicate your dissatisfaction and refusal to accept substandard service. Another thing to keep in mind is that managers and owners are beyond the realm of tipping. It’s considered offensive; you often come across owners in service at salons and hair dressing parlours, so keep a look out for it.

On a closing note, tipping is optional, and under no circumstances should one feel obliged to do so. If you can, want to and are able, please do so. Most people in service industry hardly make minimum wage, and they have a choice, like you. They can be merely pleasant as well, and add nothing to your experience. They go an extra mile, and if you can too, it’d be a win-win.

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