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Old 07-22-2012, 08:20 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Just wondering -- I've seen those maps/etiquette guides for world cultures and it seems like now that I see them, the US has by comparison, the highest expected tips for restaurant service at 15-20% expected, and often automatically added on to the bill (and to an extent Canada, though I still feel Canadian tipping culture is a bit looser, with more of a 10-15% standard, and as well not as mandatory, though still pretty much expected, unless service is really bad; it seems Canadian tipping culture seems to have caught up or at least is moving strongly towards the US direction).

But other than the US and Canada, other cultures don't seem to have it that much according to what many guide books say -- either the expected tips/service charges are lower, or they are not expected. Why is there such a cultural difference?

I've heard it explained that restaurant servers' wages being lower in the US than some of the countries such as those in Europe, and it explains why they depend more on tips, and there is more of a tipping culture in the States than in other English-speaking nations. But I don't know how valid that is, as an explanation, since I have also read that tipping for services was originally an Old World cultural tradition that goes back to Medieval Europe (in fact, ironically, tipping was once seen as a very un-American thing during the early history of the country and up to even a century ago, but culture changed and it went from being seen as a backward tradition to becoming a quintessentially typical part of American culture). Also, from what I have read, many non-western countries/cultures with low wages still do not seem to have a tipping culture (and in fact, I have been told some are actually suspicious of tipping).

Anyone know more about this?
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:48 PM
 
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In my experience, in most of Europe (having lived here all my life and visited most of the constituent countries), tipping is something that is optional, but it would be considered mean not to tip for table service unless you were unhappy about something. 10% is considered the correct amount for satisfactory service in the UK. You almost never tip at a bar, and only a token amount in a restaurant or cafe where you go up to the counter to pay.

Tipping less in Europe doesn't really conflict with the origins of tipping being in medieval European tradition - the idea of a worker's right to a living wage not being at the whim of the customer began with the modern Labour movement, in the mid-19th century or so. I've heard it said that in some more social-democratic European countries such as Denmark, tipping has been done away with (as waiting staff a paid enough by means of a basic wage), though I can't verify this as I haven't visited Denmark.
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Old 07-22-2012, 10:56 PM
 
Location: Perth, Western Australia
3,176 posts, read 3,880,729 times
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Tipping isn't customary here many cafes/restaurants have a tip jar but it's completely optional. I'd assume it's in part to the relatively high minimum wage here but as the OP said many countries have low service wages without tipping as well.
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:07 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
87,884 posts, read 81,705,420 times
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In parts of the former Yugoslavia, the custom is to "tip in advance". The waiter comes, you place your order, you tip him to get good service. (Otherwise it can take at least an hour for your food to arrive.) How is this different from a bribe, you ask? It isn't.
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:20 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,682 posts, read 49,117,105 times
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Tipping culture must be even less prevalent in Australia than in Europe. We generally do not tip the waiter for table service, there is sometimes a tipping jar at the counter or something but most people just drop a coin or something in there.
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:35 PM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
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I've never been to a restaurant where I've needed to leave a tip or felt obliged to do so. I've never left a tip in my life.
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Old 07-23-2012, 12:43 AM
 
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
7,652 posts, read 16,318,742 times
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I've heard that tipping has its origins in services that were originally performed by slaves. Whether this is true or not, I don't know.

The idea (or part of it) behind tipping in the U.S. is that it gives customers a say in the matter by allowing them to contribute whatever they want, usually based on the quality of the service rendered. It also allows restaurants to evade part of the responsibility for paying their servers a living wage or even minimum wage (which is federally set at $7.15 per hour for most jobs but often in the range of $2 for waitstaff) and transfer part of the savings to the client in lower menu prices. Waiters and waitresses, especially at busy restaurants, often do very well, especially for a job that requires no education. Usually what you'd spend at a restaurant in the U.S., even with generous tipping, comes out to be lower than in many or most comparable countries as well.

Mexico has similar tipping practices to the U.S., especially in the resort cities, while if you tip like an American in Spain, you'll be the most popular customer in the room.
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:03 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,682 posts, read 49,117,105 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvdxer View Post
I've heard that tipping has its origins in services that were originally performed by slaves. Whether this is true or not, I don't know.

The idea (or part of it) behind tipping in the U.S. is that it gives customers a say in the matter by allowing them to contribute whatever they want, usually based on the quality of the service rendered. It also allows restaurants to evade part of the responsibility for paying their servers a living wage or even minimum wage (which is federally set at $7.15 per hour for most jobs but often in the range of $2 for waitstaff) and transfer part of the savings to the client in lower menu prices. Waiters and waitresses, especially at busy restaurants, often do very well, especially for a job that requires no education. Usually what you'd spend at a restaurant in the U.S., even with generous tipping, comes out to be lower than in many or most comparable countries as well.

Mexico has similar tipping practices to the U.S., especially in the resort cities, while if you tip like an American in Spain, you'll be the most popular customer in the room.
$2 an hour? You might as well be a shoe-shiner.
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:31 AM
 
Location: Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
$2 an hour? You might as well be a shoe-shiner.
If that were all you were paid, thus the tipping.
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:12 AM
 
Location: London unfortunately.
33 posts, read 60,223 times
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I hate tipping, it's utterly disgraceful to be expected to pay extra for someone doing their job. I'd rather pay more for my meal to give the waiting staff a living wage than have to face the awkwardness/pressure of having to decide how much this person deserves to get.
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