Tipping in Cape Town
Tipping is customary for a variety services in Cape Town.
Waiters: Tip 10 to 15% (but remember to check that a 10% ‘service fee’ hasn’t already been added to the bill). Often tips constitute the only pay a waiter receives, so this is vitally important.
Bartenders: Tip 10 to 20%. Typically, bartenders have a tip jar on the bar for customers to drop change into. Alternatively, just leave the change on the saucer in which it will normally be given to you. Change left on the bar for more than a minute will usually be taken back.
Metered taxi drivers: Tip 10%.
Porters: Tip R5 to R10 per bag.
Petrol pump attendants: They’ll fill your car, check your oil and tire pressure and wash your windscreen anytime you pull into a gas station. They earn peanuts for their services (around R80 a day) so R2 or R3 is a very significant contribution. Don’t tip less than R1, though.
The help at the hairdresser: That woman who washed your hair and gave you that tremendous scalp massage probably earns minimum wage. Add R10 or R20 to the bill, and specify that it’s intended for her.
Delivery boys: Any time you order a pizza or anything else, odds are the chap doing the late-night driving earns nothing but tips. Tip a minimum of R10, or 10% if your bill is over R100.
Car guards: At night, Cape Town’s metered parking attendants (South Africa’s most pervasive and annoying innovation when it comes to job creation) go home, and informal car guards, marked out by shabby yellow reflective vests take over. They’ll often ‘watch’ as many as 50 or 100 cars parked outside bars or nightclubs, so don’t be surprised if one arrives breathing heavily at your window as you’re about to pull off.
While there’s no technical reason you should pay them, be aware that this form of organized begging is their only form of income, and that, to a large extent, their services really do protect from potential smash-and-grabbers. That, and card guards have been known to collude with car thieves. If you get into the habit of not paying a guard you see regularly, be prepared to have your car pried open with a crowbar.
Domestic servants: It’s customary for domestics to receive a one month salary bonus at the end of each year. If yours hasn’t been working for you that long, tip her something appropriate to the period she has been (half a months salary if she’s been with you for six months, for example).