To Tip or Not to Tip, What is the Answer?
Tipping Rules Around the Globe
As a former bartender, tipping is a familiar subject to me. Everyone tips differently. Some are big tippers and others don’t tip at all. Apparently, some people in the U.S. are under the impression that servers and bartenders are paid hourly and therefore do not need to be tipped. That’s true; servers usually get a little over $2 an hour and bartenders around $6 an hour…wow. I would say that’s a long way from being sufficient to live on. Tipping Rules Around the Globe depend almost entirely on tips to pay their bills. When you spend an hour or more doing everything you can to ensure the customer has all of their needs met, it’s very disheartening to find that they didn’t leave you a tip. When they leave only a couple of dollars on a large bill, it’s an insult. Okay, my rant is now complete. Now, let’s talk about tipping in various parts of the world.
Tipping varies vastly in different parts of the world. In some places, it is expected and considered cheap or rude not to tip. Other places are the opposite and can be looked upon as rude or insulting if you do tip. In other locations, it can even be illegal to tip such as government employees.
We’ll begin in the United States. When you have dinner and receive good service, a 20% tip is the usual amount to tip. I am a great tipper; however, if I receive inferior service and there’s no basis for it, I’ll leave only 10%. The rare occasion I leave no tip at all is when the service is substandard and the server is discourteous.
Other service providers such as taxi drivers, bellhops, valet parkers, and housekeeping expect a tip as well in the U.S. I usually tip them around $2. The amount of the tip will always depend on the quality of the service.
For an example of excellent service, we were once at a Mexican food restaurant in Gonzales, Louisiana and there were six of us. The server took all of our orders without writing down a single thing. What made it even more amazing is that a couple of us made some substitutions on our order. I expected it to be a mess, but this guy not only got every single order correct, he gave us outstanding service. Needless to say, he received more than 20%…much more.
On another occasion, it was getting late, there were five of us, and we were famished. We all happened to be bartenders and servers. The restaurant where we went was closing in about half an hour. Anyone in that business knows it’s extremely rude to walk into a restaurant right before closing. However, the first thing we told the server and bartender was that we realized the inconvenience we were causing them, but we promised to make it worth their while. We received excellent service and those two guys struck it rich. So yes, a tip is definitely expected in the U.S.
London – UK
When in London, it’s not customary to be as generous as in the U.S. At times, the tip is included on your check. It will normally be notated on the menu. If not, the usual tip is 5% to 10%. More would be excessive. Actually, 10% would be a generous tip. If you’re in an establishment where you go to the counter, such as a pub, it’s not necessary to tip at all. To tip as a local would, you would typically just add a Euro or two. A larger tip is expected from Americans, which is their own fault. Locals are not known to over tip, but they are much more laid back than Americans are. In London, whatever you tip will be appreciated.
In a hotel, a large tip is not expected. Tip at the end of your trip according to the quality of service that was provided, such as to the housekeepers. Taxi drivers don’t expect a large tip or any at all. Just rounding it up to the next pound is sufficient.
In Brazil, expect to tip everyone that gives you a service of some kind. However, it’s not necessary to leave a large tip. For server, bartenders, housekeepers, bellmen, and taxi drivers, ten percent is a sufficient gratuity. Just remember, in Brazil, it’s customary to tip anyone that serves you in any way. When in doubt, do tip and make it around ten percent, depending on the service of course.
In Spain, service employees are paid more than in many places. Tips are not necessarily expected, but of course, they are appreciated. In restaurants, around six percent is plenty. Otherwise, if you receive excellent service, tip whatever you like. There is no certain amount expected. There is one instance where most people don’t think to tip. That is to the statue people. They work strictly for tips. If you get your picture taken with a statue person, a tip is greatly appreciated. In many cases, that’s how they make their living.
Tipping is absolutely expected in Canada. In a restaurant, 10% to 20% is normal. Servers are paid better than in the U.S., but it’s s
till not enough to live on. As in the U.S., not tipping would be an insult. If you want to be served a drink quickly, it is in your best interest to tip the bartender well. Of course, that would be the case in most places. Bartenders can decide who they want to wait on next. Service employees are expected to give excellent service. It’s a give give situation. Servers are expected to give great service and customers are expected to give great tips.
Tipping is not a common practice in Australia whether it’s servers, bartenders, taxi drivers, or housekeepers. However, if dining out with a large group or staying in a hotel for a lengthy amount of time, I normally leave at least a small tip. With servers and taxi drivers, tell them to keep the change or round
it up to the next dollar at the most.
Locals are divided in their tipping practices. Some think you should, others think absolutely not. Many will reward a job well done by giving a good word-of-mouth recommendation. For a bad job, they simply don’t give their business to the person or company again. In addition, it is not unusual to give an occasional gift of flowers to your hairdresser, but seldom money. Some beer or booze to a tradesman would not be unusual.
Tips are normally given when the service is excellent in Italy. If someone performs over and above the call of duty, give a ten percent tip. An example would be when a bellhop has to carry a huge amount of luggage for you. Servers make a good salary in Italy; therefore, give a tip if he or she is an exceptional service provider. Ten percent would be a very generous tip.
You will find tipping in Japan to be quite different from most places. It’s not common practice and can sometimes be construed as rude and insulting. Even in most five star hotels, a service provider will politely decline your offer of a tip. You will most likely receive excellent service in Japan. However, no matter how appreciative you are, keep your money in your pocket.
Tipping in Asia varies immensely. It depends on the establishment, so it’s a bit of a confusing situation for a traveler and actually a bit nerve wracking. Either it’s appreciated or it’s an insult. In Hong Kong, Manila, and Bangkok, tipping is expected. In Jakarta, Seoul, and Kuala Lumpur, some establishments do not expect tips, but will gladly accept it. However, Japan, China, Taipei, and Singapore are not tipping societies. If you want to show your gratitude for the service, a simple “thank you” is sufficient. When you tip, the most should be ten percent. In some areas, the gratuity that is added to the bill and at times tips that are intended for the server, go to the owner instead. In Asia, the rule is the opposite of most other countries. If in doubt on what to do about the tip, don’t tip.
Russia is interesting when it comes to tipping. Russians themselves rarely tip. However, the act of tipping is becoming more popular since the end of communism. Waiters can sometimes make as much as $25,000 per year. In addition to that, their college and medical insurance are paid for them and their gas and heat is subsidized as well. Again, if you choose to tip, ten percent is sufficient.
As I said, tipping is vastly different depending on where you happen to be. It would be worth your while to research and determine what is customary in the country to which you’re traveling. Doing so will avoid tipping where it’s not expected. Even worse, so you won’t tip somewhere it’s frowned upon, such as Japan. In most countries that approve tipping, the general amount to tip is around ten percent. Therefore, do some research; make sure to have small bills with you at all times. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about tipping etiquette and your attention will be focused on just having a great time.
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