Tuesday, August 14, 2012

are canadians bad tippers?

When I worked as a hostess in a hotel restaurant for a summer (more than ten years ago), I learned that tipping the service staff isn't customary in every country. We would get a lot of tourists from all over the world and the servers always complained that the Australians never tipped and that in general, Europeans tipped a little bit but never more than 10%. This makes sense, servers there get paid more and don't rely on tips, so they just aren't used to tipping. At that time, it was fairly customary to tip around 15% in Canada and I just kind of figured that Canadians were decent tippers and didn't have a reputation about tipping. I thought that until the weekend...

For the first time, I saw a message similar to this on a menu: "For our Canadian and European guests, many of our servers are college students and rely on tips for their income..." On the same menu, it said that for parties of 6 or more or for separate bills, an 18% gratuity would be added.* It was odd and it was something I've never seen about anyone, much less directed right at me, on a menu before and it definitely sparked some defensive conversation amongst our party of 6 Canadians. Especially because many of us usually tip around 20%.

Since I had never heard that as Canadians we have a reputation of being lousy tippers, I decided to google it and found a 5-year old Yahoo Answer asking why we suck at tipping when we're in the States. Since it is old, I don't know how accurate it still is, but opinions seemed to range from servers get paid more in Canada and therefore we don't tip as much to Canadians are used to better service and therefore will only tip more than 15% for exceptional service (which apparently we don't get in the States?). Regardless of the reason, it was a weird experience to have the menu teach/scold me about tipping and it was definitely the first time I had ever seen something like that on a menu.

I still love you Vermont - even if you menu-scold me
Has anyone else been scolded by a menu? Ever seen a message specifically telling you to tip? I've seen a breakdown of what certain percentages of tip would be at the bottom of a bill, but never anything telling me I suck at tipping...

*Despite being a party of six, we weren't charged the automatic 18% gratuity. Maybe she thought we were from Massachusetts.

5 comments:

Michelle said...

I'm not a very good tipper. I was a server for a few years and had to earn my tips so I definitely tend to tip based on the actual service and not on what I'm "supposed" to give.

I do find it annoying in the US that you're supposed to tip this crazy amount when the service is usually garbage. It's not my fault the restaurant isn't paying their employees well enough. Maybe I'm just a cranky old lady when it comes to this topic : )

Marlene said...

That's wild! Definitely have not seen/heard anything like that. My husband's family is British, however, and are TERRIBLE tippers. We have to plead with my father in law to leave a tip sometimes.

Jill said...

Menus in my area (Pennsylvania) always have a comment about adding a gratuity for larger parties though usually it is 8 or more.

When I was a waitress, we were always given discretion about automatically adding the tip for the bigger parties - it was a bit of a risk, you could leave it off and hope to get a bit more or add the 18% automatically. So maybe you looked like a generous group. :)

Leigh said...

I would have to say for the most part, I am good tipper. That has to do with being a server through university, so I know what it's like to survive on my tips. But that being said, it also made me very critical of servers. We recently had some TERRIBLE service in Whistler.

I've also seen the groups of six plus people will be charged an additional charge, but I have never seen anything about the servers surviving on their tips

Rebecca said...

I've never been scolded by a menu. I generally tip 15% or so...but 10% if the service sucked/not personal (I.e. I'm sorry Swiss Chalet, you are not getting a 20% tip). I also tip much higher (20-25%) if service was fantastic or is a place I frequent often.

For example: We went to the Cheesecake Factory on Monday - great service, one waiter - checked up on us numerous times and gave Max a little plate of finger foods - He got a 20% tip. We went to El Torito (Mexican) and had bad service and had to flag down the waitress a few times, she only got about 10%.

Paul is a HORRIBLE tipper - One time at a restaurant where they know Paul and his family, and is one of the best restaurants I've been to - he gave only a 10% tip. I may have freaked out a bit and left more money on the table - I have since gotten in the habit of double checking the bill if he is paying :-)

In Australia you don't tip - but the restaurant costs are WAY higher than the US/Canada. I was actually shocked about the prices...