A slightly misleading post title, this is nothing to do with the classic ITV police drama.
I’m not sure if it’s a common practice in other countries but thebar/restaurant billing system in South Africa may well be one of my favourite things here. Weird, but hey I’m a simple guy. First of all, absolutely everywhere follows the same system and absolutely everywhere expects you to pay a small service charge, it’s up to you whether it’s going to be 5% or 20%. Which is funny as the typical 10% amounts to about 12c on a beer which is costing about €1.20, but still I suppose it’s the thought that counts.
Anyway, here’s how it works. You always ask for the bill at the end of your meal/drink, it’s never forced upon you, Africans are too chilled out for that. When it arrives it’s in a little black leather book with a pen, a hand-written smiley and 2 sweets. Some places will throw in a tooth-pick and only give you one sweet. Shame on them. There’s a little space then entitled “tip” and “total”. You fill out both and hand the little folder (and the pen!) to the waiter who can then bring back your change if it’s needed. No fiddling around with coins on a saucer or awkward Reservoir Dogs style deliberations about the quality of the service and the necessity to tip.