Last week, I posted a column about my experience riding in a taxi, and the driver didn’t have change. He was very kind, and he actually let me pay him a little less than what was owned, rather than demanding a huge tip by “keeping the change” that he could not produce. In the comments on that post, Anton related a story about his time in Iligan when people at a local watering hole refused to accept a tip that he offered. It reminded me of an interesting situation that I ran into one time at a local computer store.
This happened several years ago, and at that time there were few decent computer stores in town. Because of the lack of stores to choose from, I had one favorite store that I almost always shopped at. There was a girl working at this particular store, her name was Sol. Sol took a very keen interest in helping most of the foreigners who shopped there. You see, many of the other employees were shy, and they would kind of shy away from the foreigners who came in. Sol was very helpful, though, and I always found it a pleasure to deal with her.
One day, Sol showed me a printer that I was very interested in buying. In fact, it wasn’t just a run of the mill printer, it was one of the early consumer level color laser printers. Because it was like the first generation of this product, it was quite spendy, well over $1,000 in US Dollars. I had a business use for the machine, though (plus I just wanted it!), so I knew that I’d be buying it. I just didn’t have the money with me, so I’d be coming back on another day to make the purchase.
I asked Sol: “Sol, I want to buy this printer, and I will come back. Do you work on a commission basis?” Where I come from in the States, and I expect in many other countries, people in stores like this get a commission on their sales. The person who makes the sale gets a percentage of the sale added to their compensation on payday. When I asked Sol this question, she looked at me very seriously and responded “Sir, what is that? What do you mean?” I explained the concept to her, and her eyes got big and she said “Oh, sir, that would not be good. It’s unethical!”
Of course, I didn’t consider a commission sales arrangement to be unethical at all! In fact, I feel that it is a way to ensure better customer service from the sales staff! But, to Sol, it was unthinkable! She was to offer the best service as part of her job, and not something that she should get extra money for!
In days since then, I have encountered other such instances. Having a boy carry your groceries to the car is just normal service, and while I always offer to tip, many of them turn down the tip. When I go to a gas station to get air in my tires, I always offer a tip to the service boy who airs up my tires, but in almost all instances they refuse to accept it. If I had bought gas, I understand that it’s just part of service. However, if I have a full tank, and just need to air up a tire, I would expect that the young man would gladly accept a tip for his service.
Isn’t it funny how different occupations respond to tipping and such in different ways? For example, in my experience a taxi driver will never refuse a tip, and in fact will be quite happy when you give him one. Different procedures for different people, I guess!