Service and Tipping

There is an old story (urban myth?) that is told about about the training McDonald's provided its staff at the first restaurant it opened in the Soviet Union, on Pushkin Square in Moscow, in 1990 (the restaurant is still there and was the largest McDonald's in the world at the time of opening - in fact to this day it's still the busiest). The North American managers brought in to run the training were mystified why, despite repeated requests, the staff were reluctant to welcome customers with a smile and a cheery greeting. Why was this so hard to remember? Upon further questioning, one of the trainers was told:  We don't see why we should be nice to the customers - we have the food, they should be nice to us!

That was then, in a different country and century, but you may still come across something of that attitude even today. The quality of service in hotels, restaurants and cafes across the city runs the gamut from New York style (brisk and efficient) to New Delhi style (frustratingly slow), with everything in between. Tipping is not yet required but quite widespread and becoming the norm, especially in more expensive places. Rounding up the bill or leaving a few extra coins or small notes (in a bar or café), or leaving around 10% if you have been satisfied with the service (in a hotel or restaurant) is expected. In other venues where employees are likely to be in government service – post offices, train stations, ticket offices and the like – there is no expectation of financial incentive for providing a speedier or more efficient service, and no money should be offered. A pleasant disposition and winning smile are much more likely to produce results.