Fine Dining---Tipping?

Old Jan 20th, 2007, 07:42 PM
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Fine Dining---Tipping?

Hi Everyone,
We'd like to make sure we're on top of the latest tipping etiquette in OZ. We generally tip 20% in SF for fine dining. Can you please share what is customary ? Also, please clarify-- is it customary to do an extra 10% for any place (casual etc), even if it's a lunch cafe? I have no problem with this, as i know people in the dining biz work very very hard..just want to make sure we're prepared. Thank you!
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Old Jan 20th, 2007, 10:06 PM
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Tipping is not commonplace in Australia. Occasionally if we have had excellent service we might give a tip direct to our server.

Having had a cafe however, I know how excited our young wait staff would get when they were left a tip!

We did actually have a tip jar though and advertised that all tips would be donated to a children's cancer research fund. This was near the register and people responded very generously and every month or so we were able to send a good sum of money up to the childrens hospital. Our staff were unanimously in favour of this.

Enjoy your trip and our food!!
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Old Jan 20th, 2007, 10:29 PM
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It seems that tipping is more common in more expensive restaurants - but even there, definitely no more than 10%. (Frankly this seems irrational to me, as the staff in such establishments should be commanding higher than average salaries.

tulip, the background is this: by law Australian serving staff must be paid a living wage, which I think would mostly fall between $12 and $20/hr. I appreciate that this isn't the case in the US, and that Americans feel uncomfortable and "cheap" in not tipping.

For what it's worth, Australians travelling in the US feel equally uncomfortable negotiating the minefield of who to tip and how much to tip.

Given relative pay rates in Australia there's no more reason to tip restaurant staff than shop assistants in department stores. If it helps, it's worth keeping in mind that many people in other industries work very hard without ever seeing a tip. It seems to me that the reason waiters and some other staff are tipped in North America is that they're paid so poorly, not because they (necessarily) work harder than other people.
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Old Jan 21st, 2007, 10:57 AM
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Thank you to you both. And you are correct, for the most part, alot of americans earn a living wage due to their tips, not thru their wages in the service business. I appreciate your guidance!
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Old Jan 21st, 2007, 01:03 PM
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Most of my Aussie compatriots never tip, and we do not like to see foreigners tipping because we like things the way they are. Even taxi drivers will give you exact change.

Wait staff here are paid a living wage and do not declare tips as part of their income like in the USA.

Please do not tip.
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Old Jan 21st, 2007, 02:45 PM
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I wouldn't personally go as far as asking visitors to 'please do not tip'. Most of the people I know and go out with will tip where the service warrants it - if it's good, then they tip (I'd say 10% is standard) and if it's not, then don't tip. I don't think that just because wait staff are paid a 'living wage' in Australia should preclude them from being rewarded if they have provided service that is above (and/or beyond) what they are paid for. by all means, if the service is cr.p, don't tip, but if they've made the difference and you can afford it, why not?
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Old Jan 21st, 2007, 06:14 PM
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I agree with Lancefan. We tip about 10% or a little more for good service and all our friends do the same.
If it is a casual meal at a cafe we put money in the staff tipping jar or leave a small tip at the table if the waiting staff was very good and there is no jar.
Taxi tipping isn't compulsory but if the fare is $15 we may round it up to $20 for good driving, cleanliness and being pleasant.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 01:29 AM
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Surely it's rather sad if cabbies must be tipped for nothing more than delivering the bare essentials: "good driving, cleanliness and being pleasant". Dodderer that I am, I have dim memories of a time when these were attributes expected of anyone driving a cab. Now it seems we have to bribe drivers to deliver them. Hello to the brave new world of customer service.

And this is what worries me about the whole tipping thing: if we follow the North American lead, workers will become a species of licenced beggar, expecting clients to grease their palms for doing no more than their jobs. I mean, if a waiter or waitress is NOT pleasant, responsive and efficient, why are they in the job in the first place?

And with the Government's enthusiastic support, eventually their employers will cut their pay by half on the basis that they can expect their derisory hourly rate to be augmented by patrons. Goodbye to a century-old tradition of a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.

As lancefan says, tipping should take place only if the tippee has gone above and beyond the call of duty; and I have encountered very few examples of this, here or in North America.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 04:54 AM
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Have seen lots of instances when waitstaff go beyond the call of duty, such as going back to a customer three times to take his order while he sits on his mobile for half an hour, using restaurant as office. And still managing to stay polite. Or dealing with non-English speaking tourists, some who are not aware of smoking regulations and can get quite abusive when not allowed to light up. Or discreetly dealing with those who've over-imbibed. Or speaking a modicum at least of several languages - not something I've noticed in a department stores. If I go to local Myers Dept Store I have to take what I can find to fitting room, if something doesn't fit the only recourse is to re-dress or walk out in my knickers to find something else, all the shop assistant does is stand around a counter yakking with her mates before taking the payment.

So yes, for good service, at least 10% - if I leave nothing, which is rare, its a fair indication I won't return.



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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 02:12 PM
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Pat, you must patronise a better class of eatery than me. Or maybe it's a Cairns/Canberra thing, although I do remember getting ticked off by a waitress up your way because I asked for an ice bucket for our white wine -"Australians drink their wine too cold!" she informed me haughtily.

OK, that was unusually bad behaviour, so let's move on.

It does seem to me that to tip for "good" service implies that one's waiter is being paid by his or her employer to provide less-than-good service, anything better being a bonus that the diner should reward.

For the often not inconsiderable prices they charge, surely restaurateurs should ensure that their staff provide prompt, pleasant and knowledgeable service as standard? And if the staff aren't being properly paid, trained and supervised, why should the customer be expected to make up their pay? Too often, though, I'm confronted by staff who forget our existence the minute they bring the main courses, sometimes after trying to foist them on the wrong table and placing them on the table from the wrong side of the diner, and making other elementary mistakes.

From grim experience (and I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new), anyone who works in a customer-facing role has to deal with rude, boorish and unreasonable customers. Sorry, I'm not convinced.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 02:21 PM
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I'm with you Pat. Usually 10% for good service in a restaurant or bistro, or a little more for someone who really goes out of their way to ensure we have a memorable experience in their restaurant.

I usually "round up" with a dollar or two in more casual cafes - or just leave the change coins.

If the service is lousy, I don't tip at all.

Cabs - depending on the driver & the speed & attitude with which he gets out to put my bags in & out of the boot (trunk).(LOL) Tips evaporate if I have to direct him to well known destinations or wait ... and wait ... while he laboriously looks up the directory.

So there you have it Tulip, .... "clear as mud" We're all different and I guess the best advice is ... do what you feel comfortable with.

Enjoy your trip. Just to put you in the modd ... it's bright, warm with a little sea breeze here on the Northern Beaches (Sydney) this morning

I agree with you Tulip, IMO there's quite a difference between the service required in hospitality & retail. I wouldn't tip in a shop, but have often called the management & complimented a particularly helpful sales person.

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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 10:03 PM
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I noticed the tipping issue when we stayed at Kakadu. We were at the Crocodile place, which is a Holiday Inn, and the staff there were obviously used to being tipped - and I didn't even think of it until I noticed they looked a bit put out. But .....

I was in Melbourne and stayed at a good hotel (which was also frequented by a number of the players at the Australian Open tennis). I didn't feel any need to tip the person who took my bags to the trolley - but I bet the visiting Americans did!
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 03:58 AM
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I generally leave around 10% in a reasonable restaurant. When we returned to Sydney in 1986 (after being in Canada and working in the hospitality industry), I generally found the service appalling. We went to Doyles at Watson Bay for lunch on a public holiday. Our service was excellent and I left a good tip. My husband disagreed pointing out that award rate of pay on holidays was double time.

He was right about the wages, but if the excellent service wasn't rewarded, why should she provide above average service. As it became more common to tip good service, the general quality of service has improved dramatically. People now look at waitering as a career rather than as a stopgap.

I often tell the cabbie to hold the change but wouldn't add an additional tip if I'm using cabcharge. I rarely tip the bellboy in hotels.

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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 05:54 AM
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I'd like to start the same conversation again with New Zealand. What are the tipping conventions there?

thanks
doug
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 03:30 PM
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dktenor -

I suspect you're going to get a similar range of answers. My few attempts at tipping in NZ were met with perplexed looks. One time I left a tip for the girl who serviced our room with a note asking for extra towels. When we returned to the room, the towels were there, but so was the tip.

I've since learned to leave my American habits at home and try to do as the locals do.
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 12:54 AM
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As a Sydneysider, I find it is customary to tip 10% at most restaurants, fine or otherwise. At a lunchtime cafe, no. To say Australians don't tip IMO is incorrect, we always do unless the service is bad.
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 11:55 AM
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schnauzer, whatever your views may be on the desirability of tipping, I believe that it's plain wrong to make the blanket assertion that "we (i.e. Australians) always do unless the service is bad". My observations, and discussions with friends and acquaintances, indicate clearly that while many do, most don't.
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 07:07 PM
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Neil, sorry I meant we as in "my husband and I"!! not we as in Aussies. Having said that, even at a girls night or just a casual dinner out with friends we (friends/girls ect) always tip, may be just to round it up to the closest whatever, but 90% of the time I would tip.

Hope that clears up the misunderstanding regarding WE. Schnauzer
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 08:28 PM
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Sorry, schnauzer - my fault, I should have realised that's what you meant.
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 08:42 PM
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I always tip whether it's a cafe or a fancy restaurant unless service is really bad. I tip because I want to. I don't do a percentage but tip within a band and never more than AUD$10 when we dine as a couple be it in Guillaume, Aria, Kables, Tetsuya's etc
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