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Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

NYC
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Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

I read that average salary in TZ is $50/month

If avg salary in US is $2000/month or even $1000 for sake of argument, doesnt that mean if you tip someone there $1US it is the equivalent of tipping them $20 to $40 ???

I dont want to be cheap but I also dont want to give someone an entire months salary each day for driving me around or carry my bags to my room.

any opinions?

Arusha Tanzania
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1. Re: Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

Hi

That is the national minimum wage, to live on that in Arusha or Dar is almost impossible.

most companys give guide lines on what is the norm for tipping, usually about $10 minimum per day for a driver whilst on safari, someone carry your bags is a different situation, 500 sh or $1 is about right.

NYC
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2. Re: Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

ok, thanks for your opinion. thats a fair point that salaries in the cities are higher. but I still think there is an 'economy of scale'. do you think the city workers earn 4x the national average , thats still $200month? that same worker in US (taxi, bag guy, tour guide) is earning at least 10x that or $2000, so you would think tips would scale more proportionally. in other words $1 here would 'feel like' $10 there in terms of buying power.

out of curiousity , if I was a local (and didnt have to pay tourist price) how much does a six pack of beer cost at the local market? here I think it is about $5

Arusha Tanzania
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3. Re: Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

Hi

ok, thanks for your opinion. thats a fair point that salaries in the cities are higher. but I still think there is an 'economy of scale'. do you think the city workers earn 4x the national average , thats still $200month?

(A) And a lot more ! a avarage safari driver with night out allowance's his basic salary and tips can earn more than $300 a month and still be stuggling to pay school fees -house rent etc etc.

that same worker in US (taxi, bag guy, tour guide) is earning at least 10x that or $2000, so you would think tips would scale more proportionally. in other words $1 here would 'feel like' $10 there in terms of buying power.

(A) I agree to a certain extent, but think if there are 4 clents in a vehicle circa $10 per day between 4 is not much.

out of curiousity , if I was a local (and didnt have to pay tourist price) how much does a six pack of beer cost at the local market? here I think it is about $5

(A) Here in a local bar beer cost per 500mm about 750-800 shillings which at todays rate $1 =1245= about $.64 x 6 =$2.46

in the lodges a beer can cost $2.50 !!

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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4. Re: Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

You're trying to fit another place into your own box, and it won't work. Something we typically always try to do, but it never works there; we just somethings think that it does.

First, a six pack isn't a typical thing in Tz. But to get close to your sample, you would need to find out how much a pitcher of local brew (made by some woman in a 50 gal drum over an open fire) would cost. Been offered that at weddings, but never had the intestinal fortitude to try the green stuff. But on a guess I would say that it may cost about 100 - 200 TSH (at 1200 TSH to $1). A local banana wine which sells like hotcakes in the local bars sells for 250 TSH a bottle (a higher grade that has been filtered so that you can see through it sells for 500 TSH). The last time that I got some beer in a local store (kilimanjaro, safari, tusker, etc.) it was about 800 TSH a bottle if I remember correctly; and in the local bars it will cost from 1,000 t0 1,500 TSH.

I hire farm labor (which about 80% of the people of Tz are) for hard daily work in the Dodoma area. I have paid men and women 5,000 TSH to clear an acre of land of all trees and brush, and I had more people trying to work then I could accommodate (I also provide them with lunch). Farm labor on sisal plantations receive 1,200 TSH a day (12 hours) in the Tanga area; and that's very hard work cutting sisal leaves all day.

Now for a variance. Arusha isn't the rural area, and it's had it's share of foreign tourists there from mostly Europe or America. They (at least Americans) are used to providing a 20% tip to almost all service oriented people. Arusha is also the place where the UN's tribunal has brought in a lot of people and put them on very high per diems, so they make it tough on the locals because of the disparity between them and the local people.

Achnab is correct, in that Arusha is different from other places in Tz; due mostly to Arusha's high exposure to tourists and people working for Western organizations. So at the outside chance that I'll get flamed again; I'll once again say what I do for tipping.

This only applies in Arusha. In restaurants, only if I receive excellant service, I may leave up to a 1,000 TSH tip (if I'm by myself) and if I'm with a group and paying the bill I may leave 2 to 3 times that according to the size of the group; and once again only if the service was excellant which it seldom is. I never tip a taxi driver. I may give a room porter some of my pocket change for carying my bags to my room - I may give the porter 1,500 TSH if I were doing this for a group of people. I would also do the same in Dar if it were in one of the upscale hotels or restaurants.

For safari driver/guides, I always pass an envelop amoung my groups and tell them to put from $5 to $10 each in it for the driver/guides if they thought they did a good job. Then we split it amoung all the driver/guides evenly (I typically have more then one vehicle and sometimes up to 10 vehicles.) Also, when we're there doing work in Tz the safari is only for a day or two. I'm not certain what the wages of safari driver/guides are now; but I would expect them to be on average probably about 50,000 TSH to a high of 75,000 TSH. Most safari companies employ them when they have work, thus they are contracted for by the day and they would only receive wages when they worked. I believe that WendyinAfrica, in a previous post, said what they paid their driver/guides and it was something like what I just said (and they were not contracted but were paid an annual salary.)

For climbs of Kilimanjaro it's a different story. You will be expected to provide a tip and you should ask the organizing company what the standard is that you should pay each of the different kinds of people for their tips. If you don't it could get ugly.

I realize this is an affront to some of our sense of appropriateness, but it's reality.

And, remember it's your nickel - so you can do as you wish.

I'm also one of the biggest patsies there, and can be talked into helping some of the people who have real hard luck stories (which you might want to consider if you run into this) which could include school fees, food, medicine, burial expenses, etc. But don't, and I'll repeat it DON'T, give any money to the kids on the streets of Arusha. They will only use it to buy more glue to sniff (if you shake their arms their glue bottle will most probably drop out of their shirt sleeve); if you do give them money then you're only encouraging them to continue in their death spiral. I always look at them and tell them sharply to get back in school.

So; let the flaming begin.

Findlay, Ohio
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5. Re: Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

This previous post of mine was meant to address rj muggs question, not achnabs.

Just a follow-up note: Tips are given to compensate someone for excellent service, not because they need it or if the giver can afford it. Because they need it is for charity and you need to build a separate case for charity. Tips are also not given because someone can afford it, again it's for excellent service. At times this is very lacking in Tz. I can remember the many times that I waited and waited in a restaurant for my dinner while the waiter was busy talking to his friend; and the times that I have asked a taxi driver to be back at a certain place and they arrived an hour late; or the times that I waited on a safari driver and they came late because they were talking to their friend - this is not excellent service and it deserves no tip; and it doesn't matter that I can afford it or if the person needs it.

Findlay, Ohio
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6. Re: Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

Just one more thing before I get off this subject. I told you that I am a big patsy for a hard luck story; but I just paid the school fees for a friend's young son. It was 25,000 TSH a month, and I also gave him 10,000 a month for the school bus. Of course this is chump change for us, but I did it because he is a good friend. He is going to a good international school. This is just to keep all this conversation in the proper proportion.

Most people who are working there can afford to pay for their children's school fees; but they have to stay out of the bars and prioritize what is important, as we do also. Of course I also realize that because they've become so used to donors they are always looking for someone to pay for these things. I guess that's the purpose of patsies in the world.

Carmel, California
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7. Re: Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

achnab,

Could you clarify the allowance thing for me? Is this on top of a driver/guide's base salary that he gets only for nights out on safari? What is a typical allowance amount per night? Do they pay for their own accomodation and meals while on safari and is this what the allowance is meant for? What does a safari lodge/camp in Tanzania typically charge for driver accomodation and meals? Thanks!

Arusha Tanzania
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8. Re: Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

Hi PattyC

Typical and it varies a lot between companies is about $10 per night and the driver pays 700sh for each meal BLD and 700sh for accomodation, some lodge charge more some less, usually a little over half of the allowance remains in the drivers pocket.

Carmel, California
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9. Re: Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

Thanks, achnab.

Banff, Canada
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10. Re: Tipping in a country where average salary is $50/month

The driver/guides get a salary (?) for the trip and then a daily allowance for room/meals? The lodges charge him a lower fee for accomodation/food. Do they have a separate area that all the drivers stay? Are there better lodges/camps that the drivers/guides get treated better - higher quality that we should look at if we are deciding between a few?