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Wednesday, 14 June, 2000, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Tipping: How much do you give?
A Chicago waitress was given a $10.000 tip by an English client who bought $9 worth of drinks. Big money, especially coming from a Briton, a nation with a reputation for stingy tips.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
The tipper's bank refused to honour the transaction, as the man was already over his credit limit. But the bar owner has promised to give Melanie Uczen the cash if the Englishman doesn't make good on his promise.
In America, anything below 15% just won't do. In Britain you're lucky if you get 10%. What about your country? How much do you give? What's the biggest tip you've ever had? Has it always been money? Tell us your tipping experiences.
I work part-time as a waitress in a bar across the street from the Leg Room where that chap tipped the girl $10,000.
It was very over the top in my opinion and apparently ended up being the drunken folly of an insecure idiot. That said, tipping is a cultural phenomenon and should be seen as that by the various people from abroad. I have loads of British friends who live here, tip great and I look after them with free rounds because again, it is a cultural thing. When in Rome, do what the Romans do!
C. Anand, India
I live in Singapore where tipping of any kind is discouraged. At a recent exhibition, a friend of mine was asked to show a visiting potentate around as part of her job in PR. She was totally astonished, when shaking hands at the end of the visit, to find $300 pressed into her palm and even more astonished when the potentate's aid gesticulated wildly that she should not attempt to return the money.
My favourite tipping experience concerns the Chinese restaurant two blocks from my house. If I order $8 worth of food I'll give the delivery guy $2, which is a nice 25%. Unfortunately they see it as two lousy bucks and they usually wander away muttering something under their breath.
Why should I leave a tip? I don't expect or receive a tip for my work and I don't like paying twice for the same thing. If people aren't getting enough pay for the job then LEAVE and find something better paid. We have enough beggars on the streets without having them in the restaurants, too!
One normally need not tip at restaurants in India, at least in my part of the country. However, if you don't tip the cab driver, which he usually demands, you will end up in a trauma unit.
Last week while I was in Florida the waitress added 16.5% tip herself because I was British. She said it was policy. We have a low tip reputation with our colonial cousins its seems!
Ok here is the low down. I am English and live in Arizona. My girlfriend is a waitress and she earns two dollars an hour. I too believe that tipping is wrong and it should be up to the employer to make sure that the employees get a good wage, but please don't punish your waitress if you visit the USA. A good or bad tip can make or break your day if you wait tables here.
I worked my way through college in NY by driving a cab, which is a profession where about half your income comes from tips. Ever since then, I have been a good tipper. I lived in Holland for a number of years. The Dutch, like the Brits, are a bit stingy with their money. I always would leave a generous tip (20-25%) where ever I ate or drank in Holland. In places that I frequented regularly, the staff couldn't do enough for me. I always felt it was worth a few dollars more to be treated like royalty. The problem is that in the US, restaurant staff expect a good tip even if they do nothing for it.
Pierce Stewart, California
The institution of tipping is degrading to the waiter. I admire New Zealand, where most waiters are insulted if offered a tip. However, in the US, restaurant and bar staff are expected to make part of their living from tips, and Uncle Sam taxes them on the tips they are supposed to make. Therefore, stiffing a waiter in the US is wrong.
It is my understanding that TIP is actually an acronym for "To Insure Promptness of Service" and, as someone who practices this philosophy, I can honestly tell you that I do get better service, a better table and enjoy a more rewarding experience in my local restaurants as a result. However, on my annual visits to UK its rare to encounter the level of service that would merit much more than a 10% tip, at best. I think that this comes as much from cultural differences in terms of a service-oriented economy to some extent but, largely, it's due to the idea that working in the hospitality industry is not always a "real job".
In Taiwan, the tip (10%) is actually included in the bill. We are not used to paying extra cash for tips. That's why I always feel troubled when travelling abroad. I am not sure what to do!
It is common to give a tip of about 10%. Here in Holland the assumption is that service is already included in the payment. Actually a lot of people do not give tips because of this argument. The maximum tip I ever gave is about 20%.
If you ever intend to eat in the restaurant again, it is in your best interests to ensure that you leave a decent tip.
Not the Brits or Yanks know the tip. In Vietnam, I tip too.The tip is ranging from VND5000 to VND50000 (1US$VN$14170). Sometimes, I tip because I don't want to get hard time. For instant, I call a technician to fix my computer during the warranty period and tip him VN$20000 or 500000 because I don't want to get hard time for the next call, if not tipped. The tip is a civilisation in some aspects and bribery in the others. What do you think?
I don't normally tip, but it was the one thing I hated doing most in North America. It was so demeaning and I felt really uncomfortable about it. I suppose the Americans find it quite normal, but I'm really relieved it's not part of my culture.
Returning after a few years in South Africa my mood was such that for my first meal I left a goodly note as a tip at a country watering hole. As I was entering my hired car, the waitress returned it - thinking I must have dropped it by mistake.
Angela Nicolson, New Zealand
Tipping tends to encourage the stingy catering managers to pay pittance. If we all didn't tip, then I think you would find many managers would have to review the wages. Fewer people would apply for the jobs!
I tip a straight 20%, except in the case of atrocious service and then I give 1 penny. For impeccable service I give 25%.
I wonder if the people who say it is up to the employer to pay their staff well actually act on this by not patronising establishments that do not pay their staff a decent wage? I imagine not. The catering industry has low pay and fairly unpleasant conditions. Service can be bad, adequate or excellent, yet the server gets paid the same whatever - without tipping, where is the incentive to provide extra special service? In most cases, tipping a couple of pounds will be an insignificant amount to the customer, but make a big difference to the server. So why not make someone smile?
A friend of mine worked in Nigeria and was told
that he should take lots of cash to the airport on his departure
to "grease the wheels"as it were. He breezed through with no bribes required
and was stuck in the coffee shop with £300 in local currency.
Not being any use outside Nigeria, he gave the lot to the girl in the coffee
shop who he'd been talking to. She nearly fainted but what a nice gesture to
someone who probably appreciated it. I have been in places here in the States
and the waitresses have been upfront about it. "This doesn't include a tip"said one
in Houston. "Don't sit on a freshly painted fence, that's a good tip"said my colleague.
I have just come back from the USA. Contrary to what many say, eating out is not particularly cheap, and the service is nothing special. I don't feel obliged to tip, why should I? If the service or personality of the server is good I round up. I never calculate a percentage.
Britons travelling to Canada: you should be aware that most Canadian restaurants (everyone I've worked at in three provinces at least) requires their waitstaff to pay a percentage of their tips for the day to the other staff in the restaurant (cooks, buspersons, hosts, etc.). This is usually referred to as the "tip-fund" or something similar. In effect this means a Canadian server is actually *paying* a small fee (2-3%) for the privilege of bringing you your meal. If you do not tip them, or only tip them a very small percentage you have in actuality tipped them a negative amount, as they will still be required to pass on the same percentage of your bill's total to the other staff members - regardless of the size of tip.
Working in the service industry, I too believe that the employer should pay a decent, at least minimum wage. But the cold hard truth is, as of right now, they don't. I rely on my tips to pay
my bills and live. I don't expect over the top tips, but giving me $4 on
a $70 bill, (thank you Brits) makes me wonder why I try.
Forgive me for having taken this job, but if I didn't,
who would bring you your food?
I don't believe in tipping I believe in over tipping. In America it is cheaper to eat out then in the UK and the staff do get paid less so a 15% tip is standard. If someone is bad you tip less if someone is good you over tip. If you tip well at a bar they will remember and give you a free round of drinks. One hand washes the other. Cheers!
I was once chased into the street by a waitress in Florida who, hands on hips, started angrily asking me what had been wrong with the service. I said that nothing was wrong but still didn't understand what she wanted. She waited a bit then seeing she just wasn't getting the message across to me marched off obviously annoyed. It took me a minute or two but I finally realised what she wanted. I just felt horribly embarrassed. Now I tip what I reckon won't provoke a chase :)
When I was in the US with some student friends last year, we all resented the overbearing attitude of many waiting staff who constantly reminded us of the requirement to tip. If the service was above average we felt that we would tip, but in a certain restaurant in Chicago we gave 80c on an $80 meal (between 5 of us) which didn't go down too well; simply because we had been reminded nearly a dozen times that we ought to tip big!
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK
I hate the tip culture....I never give tips if I can avoid it. As I never know if the recipient is happy or not, if I am giving enough, should I be giving it at all, etc. As far as I am concerned the price quoted has enough profit built in to take care of wages/salaries. So no one should be obliged to give a tip!
It's a confusing and embarrassing practice for both parties in Britain as neither knows exactly what to expect. Although it is nice to be able to give something for particularly good and friendly service, it would be far better for people to be paid a good wage so that no one's happiness depends on tips.
10%is pretty much the minimum here. In fact, an exact calculation of 10%(to the penny) I reserve to make the point-I WASN"T IMPRESSED! Good service usually gets nearer 15% and exceptional service even more. I rarely run into the "A service charge of... will be added to the bill" here, which makes things a little easier to figure out!
Steve Batham, UK
At least in the U.S., restaurant work is the last refuge for intelligent people who don't want to buy into the corporate, litigious, dot.com, sheep mentality culture. It really is a form of non-violent class warfare. But it also offers a glimpse at the culture itself and contact with some surprisingly lovely and aware people.
Tipping is a matter of class, not colour or nationality; aside from obvious cultural norms. But a cheap bastard is a cheap bastard, and usually difficult or impossible to deal with in the bargain.
We servers just hope that they trip on the way back into their trailers.
The level of customer service in restaurants displayed in the UK is normally so much lower than in the US where nothing is too much trouble. Give me service and you will get an appropriate tip !
I like to tip, it makes me feel good to know I am helping someone in a historically underpaid profession. I am a very frequent visitor to this forum and have one question....Why must the brits be so obstinately whiney about everything?
David O'Hara, England
In 1917 Russian serving staff protested against the 'degrading practice of tipping'; at a demonstration in Petrograd they carried banners asserting the dignity of waiters and waitresses. Perhaps tipping is less an act of generosity than the tool of class oppression?
Having travelled far and wide in this world, it has been my observation that there is a relationship between the practice of tipping and the general level of corruption and dishonesty in a society. Tipping is a demeaning practice both for the customer and the service provider. The hand that receives is always below the hand that gives. Taken further, a "tip" can be a way to jump to the front of the queue, or taken even further -to get that contract. But then we call it a bribe.
AG, Kenya (in UK)
There are no fixed rates for tipping in Indian middle class restaurants. However, it depends on the quality of service and the food provided by the waiting staff. It is also depends to a greater degree on the mood of the customer. If a family of five was satisfied with the service and grub and the bill works out to Rs. 300, the waiter, who might get Rs.10 will be very happy! (One British Pound is equivalent to about 70 Rupees)
Regardless of whatever wages we assume waitstaff is receiving, my wife and I take the approach that the tip is something you earn based on demeanour and service. If the service is attentive and friendly, we never begrudge adding 15% or more. If the opposite is true, we my leave little or nothing.
Tim Readman, UK
I'm not a big tipper as I'm not used to it, but my boyfriend, who is Canadian, always tips - even bar staff. One barmaid came running after him saying that he had forgotten his change once!
Tipping is always a subject of our family arguments: I tip the staff no matter of how well they served because tips are part of their earnings, - while my wife won't pay a penny more if the service was lousy. But we both hate places when the staff demands a certain percent to be tipped!!!
Gareth Talbot, UK
We Londoners give HUGE tips. Mostly because we've been ripped off. The credit card scam in London is rife. They add an extra 12.5% to 15% on the bill and then leave a space open on your credit card slip for another tip.
In the US, many waitresses/ bartenders get paid a tiny wage and thus rely on tips to boost their earnings. This is the difference between our cultures in this respect. Also, as the point has already been made, it is cheaper to eat out in the US.
Actually, waiting staff in the States are only paid about half the minimum wage and because of the computer age, there is no hiding your earnings. 15-20% is the accepted norm for tipping in US restaurants. However, service has slipped so badly, I often find myself not wanting to tip them. It's become expected rather than something you earn.
C M Sanyk, USA
I find the US culture of tipping very annoying. I think staff should be fairly paid in the first place and customers should pay the price advertised and no more.
As a Brit living in the States, I am fed up with the tipping policy here. Even when 15% is automatically added to your bill, an additional tip is still expected.
I have no tips to offer !!!!
Bartenders and waiters are not unskilled labour, at least in New York they are not. Dining out in the UK is relatively more expensive, possibly because waiting staff are paid by the restaurant itself. This might also explain why there is little incentive to work as hard as tipped employees do in this country. Americans don't begrudge other people a living wage for services rendered. It speaks volumes about the English mindset and their economy that they are so reluctant to embrace the culture of tipping.
Adam Trickett, UK
Typically, with the restaurants my wife and I frequent here in the US, we spend about $10 per entree. This means I can expect to spend in the neighbourhood of $30 - $35 for the meal, drinks, and our 5% sales tax. If the service was poor, I will tip about 10%. However, the vast majority of the time, I will tip 15% - 20%. If the service is very nice, I will tip 25% - 30%. The other evening, we had an outstanding waiter and I tipped him $10 on a $34 bill.
If you work in a "service" industry in the US, e.g. waiting, porterage, hairdressing, the government not only taxes gross pay but also adds an extra % of tax on top because the tax man now assumes that people who work in service industries get tips. Therefore, tipping replaces service industry workers' loss of earnings.
John Nevitt, UK
Why should I tip someone for a job that they are already getting paid for? That means an unskilled man who gets a job as a waiter can take home more money in a week than myself!
Why are we so different from the Yanks? I believe they tip about 10%! Well, it must be because in the US it is actually cheaper to eat out. A lot different from over here.
09 Jun 00 | Americas
Tipper too good to be true
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