How much and who to tip is a personal decision. We don't always agree on this one ourselves, but there is some broad consensus on what may be appropriate in Goa.
India doesn't have a strong tradition of tipping, but the practice is increasing and expectations are higher in tourist areas. In fact many workers leave their families and migrate to Goa because of the good tips that can be earned there. The result is a higher standard of service. However, while international visitors misjudge the value of their money the sport of seeking out gullible newbies continues. This may help in gaining a perspective:
- The term 'Baksheesh' (a middle eastern word) is often used for tipping. However, it is viewed more as a gift rather than a gratuity which is why you may hear beggars crying 'baksheesh, baba!'.
- In Goa the average daily wage for a basic service worker is around Rs. 250 - 350 ( £3-4 ish)
- Some Indians tip in advance to secure a good service. It does not cause offence as little "gifts" are very much a part how things get done in India.
- Indians are often very good tippers. Accustomed to the hierarchies in Indian society, middle classes Indians may appear more exacting and off-handed with service workers (compared to apologetic Brits), but they have pride and like to show they can afford to tip.
Larger restaurants and coffee houses with an annual turnover of RS, 800,000 (should) pay a 12% service charge to the government. If a service charge is shown on your bill no tip is expected. A small gesture like " keep the change" may be appreciated, but not always accepted. For example, we used to visit a coffee shop in Margao city which was part of a well known chain. The young Goan women there constantly went out of their way, but would never consider a tip. Don't forget that many workers in the tourist parts of Goa are migrants trying to earn as much as they can in the season. They may have different motivation to regular Goans.
In most other restaurants and beach shacks a decent amount to tip for good service is 10% of bill. In most cases tips get shared amongst staff, but you could ask. Of course, if you are staying in Goa long term and have your regular eating places you may be more inclined to leave RS.20 -30 for good will.
Taxi and autorickshaw drivers will not expect a tip. Autorickshaws are metered, but rarely do they work to them when it comes to visitors. In most cases drivers will aim for highest price they think you will pay. Sometimes even renegotiating as you walk.
If you have hired a driver for a longer period, particular through an agent, you may wish consider giving something for good service. Generally the price you are given will include the driver's meal, but occasionally you may need to give Rs. 100 for this.
We tend to take the mobile number of a reliable autorickshaw driver and call them when we have a few jobs to do. To keep the good relationship we would tend to give something over the asking price, but not more than Rs.50. With car hire we may give more, but not more than RS.100. We do this only when we are sure we have been given a fair price in the beginning.
Goa also has "pilots" which are motor bike taxis which are not often used by tourist. They will not be expecting tips either.
You are not expected to tip guards, doormen, bellboys and housekeepers, but have a few RS.10 or 20 notes handy for those who have gone out of their way. If you find someone lingering expectantly don't cave in as it only perpetuates this practice. Indian's are some of the most hospitable people on the planet so don't let a few mercenary types ruin this. Equally, recognise that service staff are not well paid or given much respect. It's a balancing act - maybe an art.
THE HERO WAITER
(a little story to end)
At one of our regular restaurants frequented by loyal westerners there was a terrible argument. The head waiter (and owner) held his cool under attack and after a few tense moments four angry young Punjabi men left the restaurant to everyone's relief. Although visibility shaken our waiter was a hero. He got patted on the back for his handling of the situation and was in for some good tips that evening.
My wife saw it differently. Being Indian she understood the earlier conversations and how patient the Punjabi customers were when they received wrong orders and slow service. It was only after another wrong order that they asked for it to be changed and the our waiter rudely refused. He created the tension and was steadfastly unapologetic to the end. Our guess was, that under pressure, our waiter prioritised existing customers over the new, but it showed me how easy it is to misread a situation.
DO YOU HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE OF TIPPING IN GOA?
As always, we would love to hear of your thoughts or experiences.