I have a problem.
While the culture of giving something extra for good service, tipping, varies greatly between countries, I’ve so far found no solution to the problem of being given bad service. It doesn’t matter if the local culture practically mandates a tip or if it’s just considered to be something you do when you feel you’ve been given something “extra” – I’m unable to in a culturally satisfactory way show if I’m displeased.
If I tip, you believe I was satisfied. I can tip more to show extra appreciation, but if I tip less, or nothing, you will only think I’m cheap (or that I do not know the local tipping culture – elaborated on below).
Possible and rejected solutions:
1) Pay less than the value of the goods/service
A good way to get in trouble. Especially abroad where you do not know how well the local establishment have ties to the police.
2) Pay exactly the stated value
Displaying that you’re cheap or ignorant. A good way to get a Las Vegas cab driver to throw your luggage into concrete as hard as possible.
3) Pay half the local norm
Displaying that you’re cheap or ignorant. The norm is 20% in some countries, 10% in others and many of my fellow countrymen pay 5% and think they’re tipping well no matter where they are anyway.
Now I’m quite sure there is a solution, and I’d love to hear it. Very few companies run a “pay what you think it’s worth” style service, too few to help me out with a very general problem. Tipping is a form of customer feedback, and any company worth your time is interested in both the negative as well as the positive.