Tipping among cultures

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by winegrower, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. winegrower Senior Member

    A tip (also called a gratuity), that is a payment made to certain service sector workers in addition to the advertised price of the transaction (Wikipedia), is a common practice in most countries, though tipping varies among cultures. While by definition a tip is never legally required, and its amount is at the discretion of the person being served, in some circumstances failing to give an adequate tip, may be considered very miserly or unethical. In other cultures, giving a tip is not expected and offering one would be considered condescending or demeaning. What is the situation in your country?
    PS. If the topic has already been discussed ignore it!
  2. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    Here in France tips are welcome, but not *expected*. Service workers are supposed to be paid well enough, and prices take this into account.

    In my experience noone would refuse a tip here (well, maybe a cheap tip might be condescending, unless it's just refusing change).

    When traveling to other countries, we the French are often surprised when a tip is expected (like mandatory). Or oblivious to this, because we don't know what is not said. We are used to paying the price that was stated.
  3. Valeria Mesalina

    Valeria Mesalina Senior Member

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish, Spain
    Same in Spain, you can leave some coins on a plate for the waiter if you want to but it´s OK if you don´t.

    As far as I know it is quite common to tip waiters and taxis but though a tip is welcome it´s not compulsory.
  4. winegrower Senior Member

    The reason I oppened this thread is my recent experience from a trip to the US, where I was shocked (and unprepared) for the way they see tipping. They have very precise rules about percentages and they consider it more or less obligatory. Coming from a country where tipping is like in France and Spain, I panicked with all the 5$ bills (minimum) I had to give everybody. I'm still having bad dreams about the 40$ laying on the table after we paid a 200$ bill in a restaurant!
  5. Valeria Mesalina

    Valeria Mesalina Senior Member

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish, Spain
    I don´t think any Spaniard would understand that system.

    Tipping people around here usually means refusing to take back the change. If a waiter hands us a 195 euros bill we´ll probably leave 200 on the plate; the tip would be 5 euros. O course if we pay with a credit card there is no tipping at all.

    But a 40 euros tip would be something quite unheard of.
  6. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Senior Member

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    Tips in Sweden are welcome, but not required. The waiter might give an extra smile or a thank you if you do, but rarely hold it against you if you don't. Around 10% of the total bill is a standard amount.

    Taxi drivers get tips more rarely - taxi fares are exorbitant in this country :eek: - and I can't think of any other profession that get tipped regularly.

    In the UK I've been tipping similar amounts, and so far I have only been 'scolded' once, when I refused to tip a very rude and useless waiter. He didn't say anything, just glared angrily as he counted the money I gave him - just enough to cover the bill, but not a penny in tips!

    I don't know if 'service charges' are added to restaurant bills these days - I would assume that tipping wasn't necessary in that case.

  7. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    In Canada, it's customary to tip hairdressers, bar and waitstaff, taxi drivers and porters. In the first three categories, you're expected to pay 10 - 20%. Their salaries are calculated based on the expectation that they will receive tips. So, yes, if I were spending $200 on the meal I would tip $40. If the service were terrible, I would tip less or give the tip to the manager with an explanation ... but I would not leave without tipping.

    In some establishments the staff pool all the tips at the end of the night; in others everyone keeps their own tips.

    We just get used to calculating the cost of a tip into an evening out. Leaving a restaurant without tipping, unless the service is abysmal, is considered the height of boorishness here.
  8. jinti

    jinti Senior Member

    I understand that waiters earn different amounts in different countries. Perhaps you're not aware of how it works in the US.

    Minimum wage here varies by state, but as an example, in New York State it's $7.15/hour EXCEPT for restaurant employees who get tips. They only get $4.60/hour. Even $7.15/hr is poverty level wages in New York City (just my rent alone is more than those annual wages), so $4.60 is really impossible to live on, never mind raise a family on. They are expected to make up the rest in tips. If you don't tip, or you tip poorly, and you take up the table for half an hour, an hour, or longer, you're putting the waiter on starvation wages and you're preventing other people who will tip from sitting at the table for all that time. Plus, whatever tip you leave is split with the busboys, etc., so your waiter isn't even getting all of it.

    So the way we see it is that the tip is part of the cost of the meal. If you can't afford to pay for the meal + 15-20% tip, that means you can't afford the restaurant. I would rather eat somewhere cheaper that I can afford than to take earnings away from someone already earning so much less than I do.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2009
  9. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Senior Member

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    Shocking! In Sweden, tipping is 'officially' abolished, i.e. restaurant owners have to pay the same minimum wages as any other industry, without taking tips into account. Any tipping is a transaction between the patron and the waiter, and waiters are supposed to declare tips as taxable income to the tax man, but I suspect that few of them do - tips are paid in cash, and who's to check it? ;)

  10. PABLO DE SOTO Senior Member

    Spain Spanish
    In Spain many bars and restaurants have a "bote", a common box where the waiters deposit every tip and later on, when a significant amount is reached or at a given time, the box is opened and equally distributed among the staff.
  11. CuriousCat21 Senior Member

    Guadalajara, MX
    In the UK tipping is not mandatory, its perfectly acceptable to leave an establishment without leaving a tip, especially if the service was poor. However, if the service was acceptable or good, its left to your descretion as to the amount you leave. I myself would normally leave a tip that is between 5 and 10 percent of the bill.
  12. effeundici Senior Member

    Italian - Tuscany
    In Italy are welcome but not mandatory or expected.

    I was surprised too in USA about the tips. But I was convinced by an American that it's a good method. In fact, a rude or unpolite waiter will not receive any tip. In Europe you have to pay a hidden tip both to the best waiter in the world and to the worst one.

    Actually in Italy it's wise to tip waiters before and not after. You'll be served much better.
  13. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    In Germany you usually give small tips in restaurants (but not in Fast Food "restaurants"), to taxi drivers, in pubs and bars. The tips is usually high if the service was good. It can vary from rounding it up to 5%. In fact most people just round up :D
  14. la_machy

    la_machy Senior Member

    Hermosillo, Sonora, México.
    Español de Sonora
    Mi maestro de inglés es Británico y ahora entiendo su sorpresa cuando hablámos de este tema en la clace. El no podía creer que en US los camareros ganaran tán poco y algunos de mis compañeros comentaron que precisamente el bajo salario se compensába con las propinas. Yo personalmente dejo al menos el 15% de propina y creo que puede ser mejor así, pues a veces hasta en los mejores restaurantes u otros lugares de servicio me ha tocado ser atendida por empleados tán desagradables que no merecen ni un solo dólar , en cambio hay algunos tán amables que gustosamente les dás una propina mayor.
  15. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Absolutely the same here in Russia.
  16. tomzenith

    tomzenith Senior Member

    English - Britain
    To be honest, I don't think it's anything like universal in the UK, different people do different things. I try to tip as much as I can afford to (I've worked in service industries since I was 13, so I know it's a good thing to do) but I've got friends who won't ever, though they're normally the ones who've never had a job in their life - and annoyingly the ones who could afford to tip easily. Normally the system we use (me and people I know, that is) is that's it's just expected that you round your share of the bill up: if you ordered £17 of stuff, you put in 20 and don't expect change.

    It's starting to get rarer now, but there used to be quite a few places (one or two I've worked in) where the tips wouldn't ever make it to the staff, so I think that made a lot of people reluctant to tip overly generously.

    Here, and it looks like it's the same accross Europe from this discussion, it's not about providing money to live on, minimum wage is standard across the board (even if it's not as high as it perhaps should be).
  17. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    In Austria the situation is quite different from those described so far.

    First, tips are very common in restaurants and pubs, and taxi drivers too receive tips.
    But the amount of tipping differs from region to region, and it isn't strictly fixed like in the US; but there are guidelines.

    In rural regions mostly the amount is just rounded, and if the bill makes up 20 Euros straight many might not give any tip at all without any offence being taken, or you might give 21 (while they might round up 18,30 to 20).
    In urban areas, and especially in Vienna and its immediate surroundings, it is considered impolite to not give a tip of around about 10%. Of course you still may vary your tip depending on how content you were, but usually you would give those 10%.
    Also, discos and festivals and such are a different matter, you don't give tips there usually, there are even no tips expected, prices there usually are rounded already. (Come to think of it: it was like that in discos in the 1990ies, as I wasn't in a disco for a long time I can't be sure if this has changed).

    I have been told that in Switzerland tips were at some point "included" into wages so that no tips were expected (sometime in the 1980ies I think), but that nevertheless tips were given after that on occasion. Don't know though how situation is there now.
  18. curlyboy20 Senior Member

    Lima, Peru.
    Peruvian Spanish.
    Tipping in Peru is completely optional and not very many people tip. Peruvians usually tip about 5 soles (roughly a dollar and a half) but foreigners tend to tip way more than that. Peruvian waiters do not expect to get a generous tip from Peruvian customers but they do expect tourists or foreigners to be more generous. Taxi drivers rarely get tips.
  19. perrodelmal

    perrodelmal Senior Member

    Guadalajara, Mexico
    Mexico Spanish
    Tipping in Mexico.

    Tips in Mexico are expected, but not mandatory. Waiters in bars, restaurants, bellboys and porters at hotels expect a tip as a gratification for their good service. It's expected because tips represent a large part of their total income (I'd say in most cases 50% or more), and most of them don't get paid enought by their employers arguing the estimated tips.

    Percentages vary from region to region, but it's acceptable a 10-15% of the bill as tip. If a person leaves an establishment without leaving a tip it is likely that this person will receave a lousy service next time. Tipping also works as a measure for excelence in service, so it is acceptable that a person who has received a bad service would tip less or even not at all as a sort of protest.

    Taxi drivers here in Mexico do not expect any tips but if offered they will thankfully accept it. It is common to leave change as a tip, for example, if cab fare is maybe $28 pesos a person would pay $30 pesos and leave change.

    There is a tendency now though to tip people like the ones who pack stuff at supermarkets, or the guy at the parking lot, and now with high crime leves at large cities there is people who watches parked cars outside on the streets or even at parking lots, called the 'viene-viene', some of them even in a demanding tone ask for tips, oustside bars at night they even charge a far (maybe $20-30 pesos) and threaten you with the argument that something might happen to your car if not, so you end up paying not knowing if he was reffering to burglars or himself, 'the king and new owner of sidewalks and street'.

    Another hight tendency now is to ask for the change (cents only) at supermarkets and convenience stores, if the total amount is $438.35 the chashier asks you if you would like to 'donate' or by 'roundig' the amount to $439.00. All the collected money is allegedly donated to charitable organizations, but no one has ever seen actually done, and if a person who donates his change ask for an invoice in order to make a deductible donation no supermarket or convenience store will accept.

    On another hand the people who packs all the goodies at supermarkets and stores or the uniformed guy at the parking lot don't make any salary at all, they only get the tipping so that's basically their way of living, from a few years from now it is common that these jobs are performed by retired or elderly people, or even public schools students as a part-time job (teenagers) and tipping is their only source of income, and won't get any better job anywhere else.

    I, myself, think that tipping here in Mexico is a good way to make sure of receiving a good service at bars and restaurants. As a college student I worked as a waiter at bars at the beach during summer vacations to save some money for the next semester and saw a lot of good and bad stuff. Really cheap people and some nice people who returned the next day cause they got a good time.

    I always tried to do my best so I could get better tips, and I did it always cause you never knew until the end what kind of tip I could get. I remember one time after serving a couple one night, this really cheap guy left me like $2 pesos for tip (an american dollar dime or so) and I was so upset that, whithout being rude or anything, I followed them to the exit and reached them just outside on the sidewalk, and I told him something like 'sir, you forgot your change' and returned him the coin. He got all red because of the embarrasement in front of his girlfriend.

    I forgot, it is common too that at some establishments waiters have a bowl in which they collect all the tips and then split it equally between waiters and cooking staff.


    Sorry, another thing...

    At touristic places here in Mexico, service personnel preffer to attend foreigners because usually they leave bigger tips than customary. That also could be perceived as a form of discrimination because it turns out that some nationals receive a different treatment or even bad quality services.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 7, 2009
  20. Metzaka

    Metzaka Senior Member

    "Mexican Spanish"
    No es sólo porque los mexicanos ganemos menos, sino porque nos cuesta más deshacernos del dinero. Inclusive en E.E.U.U., los estadounidenses dejan mejores propinas que los mexicanos. Estoy hablando de clase obrera. Un estadounidense que gana lo mismo que un inmigrante mexicano, por lo general deja mejor propina que el mexicano. Por lo general trato de dejar por lo menos el 15%. En mi última visita a mi tierra (Chihuahua), le dejé cuatro dólares al mesero. Mis parientes me los devolvieron y pusieron 5 pesos en la mesa.
  21. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    In Finland the situation has been similar for decades, I don't know how many. As long as I have had drinks or meals in restaurants (and it's a long time!) there has never been a real need to give any tip, but it's customary to leave some change on the table.

    I know that in some Finnish restaurants the waiters keep what tips they get; in other restaurants all the tips are collected and shared among the waiters and the kitchen personnel, and this I find really fair.
  22. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    These observations also apply to Bolivia, where tipping just isn't part of the economy. Instead, it works in the other direction - the yapa. If you're a regular customer, or buy a large amount of something, the vendor tucks in a little extra. It's a little like a "baker's dozen".
  23. Aserolf

    Aserolf Senior Member

    Colorado, USA
    This is not the case here in USA. When you pay with a CC, there is also a line included in the receipt where you can write the amount you want to add as a tip, then you will have to sum up, get the total and sign it. I find this very convenient as I don't usually carry cash, or at least not a lot.

    The same has happened to me when visiting family in Torreón :D. But I always try to sneak in and leave a little more. Just thinking of 5 pesos or 10 as less than dollar, makes me feel guilty of tipping 5 to 10 Dlls. everytime I go to an american restaurant.
  24. mirx Banned

    As for México I don't have anything else to add. All is true in my own experience. Now, ,about the CC thing, I am sure this varies in different places but as a person currently working in the Hotel Industry we also have the CC tipping facility; Guess where those tips go? Yes, exactly to the profit and loss account of the hotel, as profit of course.

    The bad thing is that customers leave thinking that the personnel will actually get their hands on those extra dimes.

    I find Europenas much cheaper at tipping than Mexicans or obviously than Americans, but then again the wages are much better than in either of those countries, and yet most people still expect a tip, if only as an acknowledegment of the service offered.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 8, 2009
  25. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Credit cards aren't (yet) as common as in the US (for examle I never had one, and don't intend to get one), and those who use them usually don't use them in restaurants.

    But in some cases credit cards are used in restaurants - mostly for business lunch because it is very convenient to use the credit card of the firm to pay for the lunch of your business partners (instead of paying in cash and let your employer return that sum to you).
    And in these cases, on those occasions I have been to such business lunches, there always was the usual tip added (that is, here in Vienna, around about 10%).
  26. Aserolf

    Aserolf Senior Member

    Colorado, USA
    Same in USA when going to a business lunch, whoever pays the bill, usually with the firms CC, do not have to include a tip, it's been already added.

    As for the use of CCs, well, if you use them with wisdom there are always a lot of rewards: DVD players, gift certificates, miles, photo cameras, watches, etc. etc. etc.
    Of course, there is also the negative side, debt, high interest rates, etc. etc.
    They could be "un arma de doble filo" as we say in Spanish.
  27. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    To leave no misunderstanding:

    In Austria it would be considered outrageous if the tip would be added on the invoice: the restaurant never should suggest a tip, or even prescribe one.

    In Austria it is the customer who decides on the tip - both on the amount and if to give any at all. But by custom - if you excuse the pun - the customer will add around 10% to the invoice (probably a little bit more, or probably less), even when paying with a credit card, in Austrian restaurants as described above. If no tip is added this would be considered as a breach of etiquette. Except if something really had been wrong with the meal and/or the service (and with wrong I mean very wrong).
  28. Gwan Senior Member

    Indre et Loire, France
    New Zealand, English
    Here, tipping is not traditional - it seems to be creeping in a bit more these days with jars on the counter for tips or sometimes you see credit/debit card machines prompting you to add a tip to your bill if you wish, but beyond perhaps occasionally saying "keep the change" in a taxi or when paying at a restaurant, people really don't tip.

    When travelling overseas, I try to find out what the custom is and abide by that, because I am conscious that, as has been pointed out, some people in other countries do need tips to survive.

    However, I personally - and I think this is perhaps a general attitude here - am strongly opposed to a culture developing where, as in the US, people are paid starvation wages and have to depend on the generosity of their customers. It should be the employer's responsibility to ensure workers are paid a fair wage, and if there are any tips on top of that, they should be genuine bonuses, not obligatory levies that are required for the worker to live on. I don't mean this as an attack on Americans, from what I can see you are, as customers, mostly generous and mindful that your waiters need these tips, but rather as an attack on the system which gets away with paying its workers less than they need for the cost of living.
  29. mirx Banned

    I don't want to get too off-topic but those salaries are paid in the USA with the understandng that every single waiter will get tips. If tips were not taken into account for calculating their wages, the increases would simply be put into meal prices. So, give the tip to the waiter directly, or pay more for your meal and we'll in increase the waiter wages.
  30. ExMax Senior Member

    But they usually have something like “Service charge” or “Bedienung” in their bills :) .
    I never enter any additional fees into a bill when I pay with my credit cards, but I put cash into their “bill folders” even when I see “Service compris” in bold type in a bill (especially when I feel a gratitude to a pretty waitress for her excellent service :) ).
    I consider a tip as a game to play and a sign of a person-to-person gratitude, but not an obligation. Therefore I never pay a tip when I feel rudeness, for instance. So, I consider American tipping system as a really strange one. I must pay an extra-fee to a plumber, a taxi-driver, a waitress, a porter, a hairdresser and so on - without regard to their skill, benevolence, etc.
    I always try to pay a tip to a hairdresser for her skill and patience, but we have a strange situation in Russia when hairdresser's owners try to forbid them to accept any extra-fees and use a cash desk only..
  31. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Oh, do they, in Austria?
    The thing is, I never ever visit top-class restaurants except when I'm invited to a business dinner in which case one of my superiors will pay (with credit card; and yes you're right: the tip's added in cash and not by credit card; I think - as I don't do the paying in these cases I'm not entirely sure).

    So that "Bedienung - service charge" position on bills might be used in top-class restaurants - I haven't seen it ever in restaurants I visit. Anyway, your experiences here, concerning Austrian restaurants, obviously are more accurate than mine even despite the fact that I'm native. :)
  32. Gwan Senior Member

    Indre et Loire, France
    New Zealand, English
    Not to continue getting off-topic but... :) It's not paying more that I (and I guess others who don't like tipping) object to, it's that people aren't guaranteed a fair minimum wage. Yes, tipping is firmly entrenched in US society, but if only one table comes in to the restaurant that night, then the waitress goes home with less than she needs even if they were generous, and that, I think, makes people who aren't familiar with US-style tipping uncomfortable.
  33. Valeria Mesalina

    Valeria Mesalina Senior Member

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish, Spain
    I don´t get it. I simply don´t get it.

    That means, does it not, that if people decide to stay home and not go out too much due to the crisis those people who are supossed to live on tips will not be able to make a living.
  34. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Well, that's true whether or not tipping is involved, isn't it? Many restaurants will likely go under during this recession and I don't think tipping will be the decisive factor. If people stop going to restaurants, the waiters won't have jobs; a lack of tips will be the least of their worries. They are not guaranteed a position whether or not there are customers.

    If 15% is the determining factor between eating out and not eating out, it's probably best not to eat out. On a $30 bill the difference is $4.50. If you can't spend $34.50, you probably shouldn't spend $30.00.

    If tipping were to go away, the most likely way to handle it would be to raise all prices by 15-20% and pay the waiters the difference.

    It is a cultural issue. It is a tradition here that having a portion of the waiter's income directly tied to his or her care of you during the meal is "the way things are done." Cultural norms often don't make sense to people living in other cultures. I think it's good if we all leave some room for our differences.
  35. Odysseus54

    Odysseus54 Mod huc mod illuc

    In the hills of Marche
    Italian - Marche
    It's simple, really - as a customer, you are expected to pay a 15% or more as a tip to the waiter. It is an 'honor system' thing.

    Where I live , though, many restaurants in the busiest tourist districts are automatically adding a 15% to the total, I guess because of all these out-of-towners stiffing the waiters.

    The system works - I don't think it is better than in Europe or worse, it is just different.
  36. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    It's a little more complicated than that. You are expected to pay a 15-20% tip to the waiter if you have received good service from the waiter. If a waiter ignores you, is unpleasant or rude, or fails to take care of your needs while you are being served by him, you are not expected to leave a tip.

    It's not so much an honor system as a payment for good service rendered. If you receive poor service you do not "owe" a tip to the waiter.

    Let me just add that it provided a huge incentive to make sure my customers were happy when I was a poor college student working my way through school as a waiter.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2009
  37. Valeria Mesalina

    Valeria Mesalina Senior Member

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish, Spain
    I´m sorry if I have offended anyone. I didn´t mean to, but the system is utterly alien to me.

    So, the difference is that in my country you pay for the meal and the service is included, and in the U.S. you pay for the meal and the service is not included.
  38. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    No offense taken. :)

    Well, I think we even see it differently. Technically your statement is accurate. Our points of view are still different, though.

    As we see it, in your country, service must be paid no matter how well or poorly that service is executed while in our country service is (theoretically) rewarded only if it is good service. The customer determines whether or not the service is good and (theoretically) rewards it accordingly. Where our tradition falls down a bit is that some people won't leave a tip no matter how good the service is and others leave a standard tip that bears no relation to the quality of the service.

    I recognize that it's quite different from the European model.
  39. winegrower Senior Member

    What is really amazing, is the way you American fellows defend your system!
    In Europe we have the exact opposite attitude on similar matters, that is we jump at the first good opportunity to blame the government, the authorities, everybody for everything we don't like.
    By the way, when I started this thread, I had some queries of mine about "overseas tipping traditions" but held back for obvious reasons and never expected the discussion to go this far! Now I will never get a visa for the US again! :( :D
  40. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I'm sorry if it came off as defensive. I was trying to explain the difference in approaches.

    I think our system has serious flaws. For example, it's almost impossible to be a career waiter except in the most exclusive restaurants. The system is used as an excuse to underpay countless numbers of waiters. Things completely outside the waiter's control affect his income: customer turnover, a cranky chef, poor advertising by the restaurant, or being assigned more tables than one person can reasonably serve.

    I am not defending the system, but by the same token I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for the same kind of understanding for our differences that anyone expects for his country's own "quirks."
  41. ExMax Senior Member

    Sokol, that was my fault! I turned inside out my pockets, and I found few crumpled receipts from Austrian road cafes. Actually, no service charge! MWSt 20% (Mehrwertsteuer, or VAT - in English) only! Oh, that is EU, when poor alien drives underbridge, and he cannot recognize that he is in Germany/Slovenia, but not in Austria, or in the Netherlands - not in Germany… It’s my fault, I’m sorry!
  42. Aserolf

    Aserolf Senior Member

    Colorado, USA
    :thumbsup:Totally agree!!
    Again, excellent answer!
    Expected is not the same as to be obliged.
    I just wanted to add, that these same "rules" apply to everything else, whether is a hairdresser, a taxi-driver, a porter, etc., etc.
    There have been times I had to be a tightwad myself, if the service wasn't good.
  43. jinti

    jinti Senior Member

    Yes. If people don't go to restaurants, the restaurants will fail. The waiters won't have jobs, let alone tips. Same for any industry, whether there are tips involved or not.

    And yes, if a restaurant stays open but not many people go, the waiters' total tips will be lower. Theoretically, restaurant owners are supposed to fill in the gap between $4.60/hr and the minimum wage of $7.15/hr (I'm using New York numbers here) if the waiter's tips don't cover it, but $7.15/hr is still below poverty level if the waiter/waitress has a child. It's also still below my rent for a 1 bedroom apartment, never mind food or electricity, etc.) So yes, a lack of tips can be catastrophic to a waiter.

    Of course, if menu prices were higher to allow higher-than-minimum-wage pay to waiters, I don't think it would somehow encourage people to eat out more, and then there would also be no difference in take-home pay between good waiters and lousy waiters.

    A final point that I'm surprised no one seems to have mentioned yet is that tips are, ahem, cash. Your employer reports your wages to the government for income tax purposes, and you are theoretically supposed to report all tip income yourself and pay taxes on that as well. :rolleyes: I think you can predict what really happens. :D If tips were eliminated and wages raised instead, I have a feeling the real earnings of many, many people would go down, not up.
  44. Valeria Mesalina

    Valeria Mesalina Senior Member

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish, Spain
    Oh well, I did not mention it (and I assume the rest of us didn´t mention it either for the same reason) because tips may be not so high in our countries - but whatever tip we give, is always cash.

    So I am afraid what happens in the U.S. happens everywhere else - people forget to report tips on their income tax forms.
  45. jinti

    jinti Senior Member

    Yes, but my point is that in the US, tips generally make up the majority of waiters' income. Under-reporting tips here has a much bigger effect on total income than under-reporting tips in a country where tips are relatively unsubstantial.
  46. Jacobtm Senior Member

    English - New York
    I worked as a waiter for a month over a break from school, and was paid only $4 and change an hour. As a new waiter, I got alot of shifts during lunch time on weekdays, which is the slowest time, and I would end up making maybe $10-$12 an hour with tips. It's pretty easy, serve 2 people food that comes out to $30, get $5 or $6 in a tip. You can handle quite a few tables at a time (hopefully), so it works out nicely. On weekends, especially dinner time, you could make about $20 an hour, and even more if people were drinking alot.

    I don't know the procedures at other restaurants, but where I worked, tips were pooled. After every shift, all the tips would be recorded and divided up evenly between the waiters with a small amount given to the busboy and the hostess. The forms were then kept by the manager of the restaurant and used to report income taxes.

    But beyond that, people expect tips in more and more places now. I see tip jars in cafes all the time, as well as pizza places, delis etc. where you traditionally don't tip. I usually will tip at places that give you a particularly good deal, but even then I feel generous when throwing $1 into a jar.

    There are lots of cafes where you wait on line, put in your order, sit down, and someone brings out your drinks and food. It's not as formal as being served at a restaurant, but just having your food brought to you pressures some into leaving at least a dollar in the tip jar. Usually though, the things are filled with the change people didn't want to put in their pockets.

    The difference in tipping is understandably shocking to foreigners. However, when I've been in Canada, the difference in sales tax was shocking to me too. 7% in New York vs 15% in Montreal is a BIG difference, and practically makes up for the difference in expectations in tipping. I know this isn't uniformly true, but many countries have much higher sales taxes or VAT's than the U.S. does, so it evens out in a way.
    Last edited: May 14, 2009
  47. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I don't know if this is true everywhere, but in the UK if you tip by adding to the amount on your credit card payment the tip goes to the restaurant management.
    They may have an arrangement to transfer this amount directly to the staff tronc or to the staff member involved, but perhaps not. In some circumstances the waiting staff do not receive anything from a credit card "tip".
    If this bothers you (as it does me) ask the waiting staff if it is OK to include the tip in the credit card payment. If in doubt, leave cash on the table.

    Tipping for good service - for normal service - is expected here. It is not essential. My daughters have worked in restaurants and are very well aware of the techniques that can be used to optimise tips :)

    What really surprises me is the tips jar in places like Starbucks, where there is no service involved.
  48. asm Senior Member

    New England, USA
    Mexico, Spanish
    A friend of mine, the owner of a restaurant, told me once that tipping should be calculated with no tax. In Mexico all prices have the tax (iva) included, so what the menu says is 85% the real price and 15% this tax. What he told me (and makes sense) is that you should leave 10% of that 85%. This is what I always do; in Mexico I leave 8.5% of the total amount, in America I leave 15% of the bill before tax. I think is fair enough, I don't expect them to claim for the tip that goes to Uncle Sam.

  49. shoam

    shoam Senior Member

    Seattle, Washington, USA
    spanish argentina
    Tipping here, in the US has become an obsession. It is totally arbitrary, you tip certain people who provide you with a service and others you don't.

    It’s deplorable that in a bar, at a busy bar, they serve you in a rush and there is no service provided to you, just the drink put on the bar for you, they are rude and not nice at all. But they expect a tip and give you a dirty look if you don’t tip. Similar situation at a coffee shop.

    In my opinion, this is related to the fact that business is on top of everything and nobody seems to see anything wrong with that. It is always money, money, money.

    Now I am used to it, but when I started to see that “public hospitals” have a BUSINESS OFFICE, I thought that something was not quite alright.
    Last edited: May 21, 2009
  50. shoam

    shoam Senior Member

    Seattle, Washington, USA
    spanish argentina
    What is wrong here?
    Other countries in the world serve food at restaurants for a profit, people go out and eat in restaurants (Europe, Japan, etc) , economy works fine and customers can enjoy a more relaxed experience. They look at the prices in the menu; decide what to eat, pay and go home without having to worry about feeling it is their responsibility to pay for wages of the workers...
    Presented the way they do, for the US system, sounds like no other place in the world can function without this tipping system...

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