Kiwis should resist the increasing pressure to tip for service.

Tipping jars, once unheard of at restaurants and cafes, now sit prominently on the counter as you pay. They're impossible to ignore, but I choose to do so for various reasons.

One, I'm still adjusting to the fact another unwelcome US tradition, Halloween, has now been firmly adopted here. Secondly, I don't believe the onus should be on customers to reward excellent service - that falls on the business owner. It's to their financial advantage to ensure customers are looked after because they're more likely to return if that's the case.

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett this week penned a letter in support of tipping, saying that Kiwis need to say "thank you" with their wallets.


Bennett's call follows an op-ed in the New Zealand Herald from Radio Hauraki presenter and columnist Matt Heath claiming hospitality service in the United States was better than New Zealand because of the tipping system.

In a letter to NZME, Bennett said she seconded Heath's call to tip service staff.

"I always tip for excellent service and encourage others to too if we want standards to continue to improve. Great waitstaff can make a good meal an excellent experience."

Hospitality New Zealand advocacy and policy manager Dylan Firth says people should not feel forced to tip, but if they are getting good service, they should be rewarding people for it.

The US has a strong tipping culture with two different wage rates - one for workers who receive tips and one for those who don't.

I prefer our system.

There is no ambiguity about how much we should pay for service. It's a simple transaction: we pay a fair price for a meal and the service we receive with the assumption that the employer will fairly reward their staff.

That's the way it should be.