Due to the overwhelming feedback to last week’s issue, “When is it right to tip?”, I felt it will be just to incorporate the views I got from some of our readers and share with you.

Although I highlighted that giving tips is more popular in America and Canada, further research indicated that it started in the 17th century in Europe as a way of ensuring rapid service in coffee houses.

The word “tip” is actually an acronym for “to insure promptness”, while insure should surely be substituted by ensure.

Some readers felt that tips actually fuel corruption while some equated it to bribery. However, there is a thin distinction between tips and bribery.

In normal cases, a tip should be given after receiving a service as a form of gratitude for the good service received and it is given to the company representative or the organisation as a whole. These tips are usually in monetary value.

Nonetheless, if the customer were to come back again to the same company, it is highly likely that the money, tipped on the last encounter, will play a huge part on the kind of service the customer will receive on the current setting. Thus, tips do have an influence on the next service encounter.

On the other hand, bribes are given before receiving a service in a bid to influence a future decision by the company representative on certain matters. They are meant to cause or influence a certain outcome.

One thing for sure is, a bribe is not just given to anyone but to those who have a direct influence on the matter at hand. The intended outcome is meant to benefit the giver at the expense of transparency.

One’s profession also tend to determine if what is being given is considered as a tip or a bribe. For instance, in a hotel, a waiter or waitress receiving tips, is regarded as socially acceptable but a policeman manning a traffic road block cannot receive money from a motorist or kombi crew and still call it a tip  but rather a bribe because receiving such is tantamount to corruption and it is a criminal offence.

In some countries, tips are not expected but required and, in some countries, it is not an issue and no-one is obligated to pay while in some they are actually added on the final bill.

One customer complained that he bought a large quantity of tiles at a certain company in Harare, and the tile company employees had to solicit for a “tip” from the customer if he wanted to get a quick service.

Due to the large quantity of the tiles, he had to collect the tiles in batches and it took him seven loads. Unfortunately to his detriment, he had to pay the “tip” on all the seven trips he made to the company.

Employees of that company kept on swapping teams on him each time he came back to collect the tiles. Surely, is this the kind of customer service practiced by companies in Zimbabwe?

The customer could have declined to give the tips but that would have been to his disadvantage as he was guaranteed of not going to get the fast service. In this case, the customer was actually being made to pay bribes and not tips.

In most public institutions, public officials are not allowed to accept tips as these are regarded as bribes and are unethical. People must deliver good service because that is what they are paid to do.

Most public servants usually want to be tipped or bribed to deliver a good service when, in fact, it is part of their job description to deliver such services to the public.

Many public institutions are a hive of these corrupt tips, for instance, if one wants to collect a driver’s licence its public knowledge that they have to pay a “tip” to the officials before they go for testing otherwise their driving test attempt will be in vain.

It is the same when one wants a travelling document like a passport or visa, certain people must be paid so as to facilitate the quick processing of these documents.

In the private sector it is also rampant especially when the service or product is in short supply or when there is a surge in demand against supply. Customers are made to pay a tip before they can access a service.

In procurement they call them kickbacks, and is more popular when it comes to mega deals and big tenders.

It is just worrisome that these cases go unabated when the powers that be are fully aware.

When one gives a tip or bribe, they gain superiority over the service giver as they can dictate terms and the service provider has no power but to dance to the giver’s tune.

How so, one would ask? The giver of the tip gains more bargaining power over the service provider. If a customer greases the palms of the company representative in a big way, surely that employee will bend all rules to make the golden customer happy.

In the fuel sector it has been reported that some fuel stations are giving away fuel in drums against an official directive not to do so. It is plain to see that money would have exchanged hands between the fuel stations management and customers at the expense of other customers. These acts result in self-enrichment while depriving the common man some basic good or service.

Finally, organisations should just do away with this tipping game as many feel that this will eventually lead to soliciting, bribery and corruption.

It is our fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of our loved one and our neighbours by practising good self hygiene. #No to the spread of Covid-19!

Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba, is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions, she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461