By Kenneth Young |Staff Writer|
The advertised price is never right; that’s one of the first things I learned when I arrived in California.
This realization came to me when I was in a music shop in Orange County.
I saw a CD for $9.99, ‘great’ I thought. ‘I can buy this CD and all I need is this tenner.’
When I went to pay for the CD, I handed the ten dollar note to the clerk. But he politely told me that I needed to give him more money.
The concept of paying more than the sticker price is still a strange one to me.
I have no problem with paying a sales tax. Even in Australia we have to pay 10 percent on top of the actual price of the product or service, but for us, this tax is included on the sticker price.
It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? Paying the same price that is marked on the sticker.
No matter how many people have tried to explain it to me, I still don’t understand why the tax isn’t included here as well.
It’s something I never had to think about before arriving to California.
Maybe it’s a good thing, since it creates consumer awareness of how much tax we’re actually paying.
It does, however make it more difficult to budget your spending.
Instead of paying a flat rate for everything, you have to be pretty math savvy to calculate your total expenditure.
And that’s just if you plan on going shopping.
What if you want to eat out at a nice restaurant? Then you have to pay tax and give the hospitality staff a fair tip on top of that.
It may seem like second nature to a local of California, but to someone who’s from Australia, this experience is often a confusing one.
Thankfully most smartphones have a calculator of some kind on them. I’d feel rather odd having to ask a waiter for a pen to do the math on my napkin.
In Australia, tipping isn’t anywhere near as expected as it is in America. In fact, a lot of consumers reject the idea.
Does this mean Aussies are inconsiderate? No, it just means the circumstances are different.
YesAustralia.com states that wait staff in Australia can earn between $12 and $14 an hour. This is $4-6 more than the minimum wage for tipped workers in California, which according to the United States Department of Labor, is $8 an hour.
While the exchange rates are slightly different, the rates above suggest that the wait staff in Australia don’t rely as heavily on tips as their Californian counterparts.
Even though I like the idea of rewarding outstanding servers with larger tips, I’d feel even better knowing that they had a better hourly rate.
Who knows, maybe I’ll go back to Australia after living in California for a few months and be more adept in math.