A recent survey by an international credit card firm showed that consumers in Indonesia were “less generous” than their Asian counterparts in Asia when it came to tipping at restaurants and bars. Some Indonesians, however, begged to differ.
The MasterCard survey, conducted from April 24 to June 10, was designed to examine attitudes toward tipping, involving 6,904 respondents between the ages of 18 and 64 throughout 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
The survey, made available to The Jakarta Post last week, revealed that 89 percent of Thai respondents had claimed that they would definitely tip in restaurants or bars.
The survey also reported that another Southeast Asian country, the Philippines, finished in second place with 75 percent of its consumers saying they would tip for good service in restaurants, followed by India (61 percent) and Australia (55 percent).
Indonesia, meanwhile, shared sixth place with Malaysia, with 40 percent of consumers from both countries claiming they would give extra money whenever visiting a restaurant or a bar.
The study also revealed that Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were the most miserly with only 3 percent of Japanese respondents saying they would be “happy” to tip in restaurants, with 13 percent of South Korean respondent and 17 percent of Taiwanese respondents saying the same thing.
Georgette Tan, head of MasterCard Worldwide’s communications in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, said the research indicated that a diverse set of markets made up the Asia-Pacific region.
“It is a truly remarkable mix of cultures and understanding them is a big challenge for global businesses. As a company, we’re always looking to better understand our customers and their habits. This gives us a useful look at how different these markets are,” Georgette said in a statement.
Commenting on the results, Standard Chartered senior economist Fauzi Ichsan told the Post that the degree of service tipping between countries would depend on both their respective income per capita as well as the culture of the society in question.
“Some rich countries, like Japan, are not culturally accustomed to tipping, though service charges may be already included in the price of the service itself,” he said in a text message on Thursday evening.
Fauzi added that it would be inaccurate to conclude that Indonesians were “less generous” when it came to tipping, saying that most of them would love to give extra money, which was popularly known as uang rokok (cigarette money), even for little services they received in restaurants or bars.
“It is more practical for most Indonesians as opposed to using credit card,” he said.
Separately, Rhenald Kasali, a senior lecturer at the School of Economics in the University of Indonesia (UI), supported Fauzi’s opinion, saying that Indonesians were accustomed to tipping in cash instead of including tips on their credit card bills.
“For Indonesians, tipping in a restaurant or a bar is something that is very personal. It depends on whether they enjoy the service from a particular person; whether it be a bartender, a waiter or a cashier. With that, they prefer to tip them in cash,” he said.
Ririn Radiawati, a 27-year-old travel writer, who has been using MasterCard since 2010, said separately that she had never included tips on her credit card receipt whenever she went to a restaurant with a friend, adding that she preferred to give tips in cash.
“However, I must admit that I am quite selective when it comes to tipping. If a restaurant that I go to has already charged its customers with a service fee, I would not bother giving a tip,” Ririn, who resides in Jakarta, told the Post.