By Alanna Alexander
The tipping of service people in the Gulf is a contentious issue, with no consensus on who to tip, and how much.
In Dubai, eyebrows were raised last month after gas station attendants made it known that they were being strip-searched at work as their employer’s way of enforcing a no-tips policy.
One petrol company there offered this justification, according to Gulf News:
We expect our employees to deliver the highest level of customer service standard and do not want tips to cause any discrimination or bias in the service offered to customers. The corporation goes to great lengths to ensure that our staff are treated with love and care and any little money generated as tips is reinvested into staff welfare and entertainment funds.
In Qatar, where filling up your own tank is not an option, eight attendants at five different gas stations interviewed by Doha News said they were not prohibited from keeping their tips.
But employees at smaller petrol stations seem to be more dependent on the generosity of customers than attendants at larger chain stations.
Ryan Ocampo, for example, said he is often scraping to make ends meet while working 12-hour shifts as an attendant at a gas station in the Industrial area.
“A lot of the time, a tip is what will make the difference,” said Ocampo, who sends such earnings back home to his family.
“For me, it is getting my daughter medication. For another man, it may be so that he can support an old mother. We’re all here for a reason. Tips just help us to send more.”
He added that his employer garnishes some QR200 from attendants’ monthly wages for reasons that he and his colleagues are not aware of. Excluding tips, that leaves the attendants with about QR1,000 a month to subsist on.
Not all attendants fare so poorly. A supervisor at the publicly-traded Woqod said attendants are paid a QR1,200 monthly salary for 8-hour workdays. Employees there confirmed this, and also told Doha News that for 10 customers, three or four people usually give tips.
“If I happen to attend to a person from my country, I will get a big tip,” said Ravi Verma, an attendant at Woqod. Other attendants added that sometimes, Qatari customers will provide up to QR15 tips.
But for every Woqod, there are several other smaller gas stations where people like Ocampo do odd jobs to curry favor to customers who may give him a tip.
“I work for 12 hours a day and because we are small, we do everything at the same time- changing tires, washing cars, and everything,” said Ocampo justifying why tips are more helpful to attendants like him.
Do you tip at gas stations? Why or why not?
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Credit: Photo by Alanna Alexander