Remember that tips are shared among all of the staff in the restaurant, so you are not just tipping the waitress or waiter, you are also tipping the hostess, the dishwashers, the cooking staff, the cleaning staff…all of whom are typically working for minimum wage. The tip is an important part of their income, so their motivation is key to maximizing the amount of the tip. How pleasant is the staff, how clean are your table and other parts of the restaurant, what is the quality of food, how quickly did they take care of your needs, was the manager present? All of these can come into account for how much you tip.
But let’s not forget your role in their ability to serve. Did you have a large party, did anyone treat restaurant staff with some level of disrespect, were your requests reasonable?
Who else should you tip?
Here is a quick guide to think about on top of the tip you leave with the bill:
- Host – No tip required unless they go above and beyond, then tip appropriately based on the size of the service.
- Bartenders – 15% of the tab or $1 per drink
- Coat check – $1 per coat
- Sommelier (wine steward) – 15% of the bottle price
- Restroom attendants – $0.50 to $1 (be nice here, most of the time this is a tip-only role)
- Valet – $1 to $3
Always remember, whenever tipping anyone, you are either buying good service in advance (eg. valet to ensure your car is treated well) or rewarding for service rendered.
Hot Tip About Tipping: If you are splitting a bill with others at the table, be sure to agree on a % that each of you will be adding to the bill so it is equal.
Tip Guidelines by Country
Tipping customs vary widely across the globe, influenced by cultural, economic, and social factors. Here’s a brief overview of tipping guidelines in various countries:
- United States: Tipping is customary, especially in the service industry. For restaurants, a tip of 15-20% of the pre-tax bill is standard. However, for exceptional service, some might tip up to 25%.
- Canada: Similar to the U.S., tipping is common in Canada. A tip of 15-20% on the total bill before tax is considered standard in restaurants.
- United Kingdom: Tipping is appreciated but not always expected. In restaurants, if a service charge isn’t included in the bill, a tip of 10-15% is customary.
- Australia: Tipping isn’t a strong tradition in Australia. However, in upscale restaurants or for excellent service, a tip of 10% is appreciated.
- Japan: Tipping is not a part of Japanese culture and can sometimes be considered rude. Instead, good service is expected as standard and is included in the overall price.
- France: Service charge is included in your bill by law, but it’s common to leave small change. For exceptional service, leaving an additional 5-10% is a kind gesture.
- Italy: Tipping isn’t customary, but diners might leave a euro or two for good service. In upscale establishments, a tip of 5-10% is appreciated.
- China: Tipping is not traditionally practiced and might even be refused. However, in major tourist areas and international hotels, tipping has become more common.
- Brazil: A service charge of 10% is typically added to the bill in restaurants. While no additional tip is expected, it’s appreciated for outstanding service.
- South Africa: In restaurants, a tip of 10-15% is customary. However, it’s essential to check if a service charge is already included in the bill.
Remember, while these guidelines provide a general overview, it’s always a good idea to research specific tipping customs for a country or region you’re visiting. When in doubt, observe local practices or ask locals for advice.
The History of Tipping
The practice of tipping, or giving a gratuity for services rendered, has a long and varied history that spans cultures and continents. Here’s a brief look into the origins and evolution of this custom:
- Ancient Beginnings: The concept of tipping can be traced back to Ancient Rome, where patrons would give “Salaria,” a salt money, to their servers. This was a token of appreciation for good service and a precursor to modern-day tipping.
- European Aristocracy: In the 17th century, European aristocrats began giving “vails” or small sums of money to the servants of their hosts when visiting homes or inns. This practice was less about the quality of service and more about showcasing one’s wealth and generosity.
- Tipping in America: Tipping was introduced to the U.S. post-Civil War by Americans who traveled to Europe and brought back the aristocratic custom. Initially, it faced resistance, with many viewing it as undemocratic and a form of bribery. Some states even attempted to ban the practice in the early 20th century.
- The Prohibition Era: The prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s in the U.S. inadvertently bolstered the tipping culture. With the loss of revenue from alcohol sales, restaurant, and bar owners began to rely more on tips to pay their staff, a practice that has persisted.
- Global Spread: While tipping took root in the U.S., its acceptance varied worldwide. In some cultures, tipping was embraced as a reward for good service, while in others, it was seen as unnecessary or even insulting, as good service was expected without extra compensation.
- Modern Controversies: Today, the tipping system, especially in the U.S., is a topic of debate. Issues like wage disparities, the potential for discrimination, and the unpredictability of tipped incomes have led to calls for reform. Some establishments have experimented with no-tip models, incorporating service charges into the bill or paying staff a higher base wage.
Tipping has evolved from a token of appreciation in ancient times to a complex socio-economic practice with cultural, ethical, and political implications. As societies change and the service industry adapts, the future of tipping remains a topic of ongoing discussion and transformation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is tipping considered rude in some countries?
In certain cultures, providing a service to the best of one’s ability is a matter of personal pride and professional ethics. Tipping can be perceived as questioning the integrity or capability of the service provider, implying that they need an extra incentive to do their job well. Additionally, in some countries, service charges are already included in the bill, making tipping redundant.
How has the digital age impacted tipping?
With the rise of digital payment methods, tipping has become more streamlined. Many electronic payment systems, like those on tablets or mobile apps, prompt customers with suggested tip amounts, making it easier for them to choose an appropriate gratuity. However, this can also lead to “tip inflation” where the suggested amounts are higher than traditional standards.
Are there movements to abolish tipping in the U.S.?
Yes, there’s a growing movement, especially among certain restaurateurs, to eliminate tipping in favor of higher base wages for staff. This approach aims to create a more stable income for employees and reduce the potential for wage disparities. However, it’s a topic of debate, as some argue that tipping can lead to higher overall earnings for service workers.
How should I approach tipping when using a discount or gift card?
It’s customary to tip based on the original amount of the bill before any discounts, coupons, or gift cards are applied. This ensures that the service staff is compensated fairly for the full value of the service they provided.
Is it appropriate to tip for poor service?
Tipping is a personal decision. If you receive poor service, it’s up to you to decide whether to leave a reduced tip, or no tip, or speak to the management about your experience. However, it’s essential to remember that various factors can impact service quality, and it’s always a good idea to communicate any concerns directly and constructively.