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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 07:30 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 748

I've done my homework and read the threads about tipping in Australia and New Zealand and am under the impression that tipping in restaurants is either not required or, if you choose, can be about 10% if you've been given great service. If I understand correctly, "keep the change" is acceptable for cabs.

How about valet, transport to/from airports, bellhops, and concierge services? I am absolutely having a nervous breakdown on this, as I want to do the "right thing". We are so accustomed to showing our appreciation that we feel unkind if we don't tip generously for good service.

I guess what I'm looking for is reassurance. We want to do the right thing. We don't want to look like flashy, over the top Americans, but we don't want to be tight either.

I'm hoping this question will be taken in the spirit it is asked, and that no one will feel the need to scold for the question. We're so excited about our trip and want to be comfortable and do the right thing.
nevermind is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 07:38 AM
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I remember tipping in Australia,but not in New Zealand. Our NZ friends were most insistent that we did not start the trend!!!
carylspall is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 09:04 AM
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Don't tip in NZ.
mlgb is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 01:57 PM
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When I arrived in NZ as new resident - - I was quite confused about the non-tipping trend. And yes, there is a definite non-tipping culture: As I do travel around for business in NZ, I have devised the following:
Coffee shops: Normal day to day - no tipping.
Dine out:
If you look like a student and you turn on the charm - you play my mother heart strings - you get 10%.
Hotel: I always tip the hotel porter $5 - $10 dollars for putting his arm out of socket with my trusted
black "coffin".
Cab: the fare on the clock - maybe keep the change or nothing extra.

And yes, Nevermind, coming from South Africa where you "tip till you dip" - I know the feeling and after 2 years in NZ, I still sometimes feel guilty about not tipping in a particular instance.
My husband and I have just toured the South Island for 2 weeks (took a plane, train and rented a car to feel like proper tourists) and I tipped more while on holiday than I would in my normal business day. Hope this helps.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 02:23 PM
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In Australia, I think it helps to keep in mind that a tip is a gratuity = something given ex-gratia in appreciation for service beyond expectation/job requirement. Our service people are paid award or above wages, so anything they receive is appreciated, of course, but not an integral part of their pay structure.

That said, I tip in restaurants (10-15% for top rate service - nothing at all for less than adequate). Leave change at coffee shops, "round up" in taxis if I haven't had to direct, sit in a grotty cab or listen to a diatribe
either from the driver or the overly loud radio.
Porters - $2 per bag on the very odd occasion I've had more than a wheelie.
Concierge - only if he/she's found me tickets/ table at a booked out show/restaurant or something extraordinary.

Whilst I like to encourage beyond-expectation service, the very idea of encouraging the beligerent attitude encountered in other places where a "tip" is more or less demanded, is abhorent to me and I would be very very disappointed if we brought that unfortunate attitude to Australia.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 03:57 PM
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nevermind, I appreciate your motives in asking the question, and I'm in general agreement with Bokhara on this one.

By way of clarification, the term "award wage" is unlikely to be understood by non-Australians. It refers to a system of agreements established or "awarded" by industrial courts and designed to provide for minimum (but not maximum) pay rates and conditions that all employers in the industry concerned must adhere to.

Thus, the award covering waiters stipulates minimum hourly pay rates and other conditions. The last time I looked they were roughly on par with shop assistants, and provided a living wage commensurate with a semi-skilled occupation. That being the case, there's no more logic in tipping a waiter than the person who sells you a pair of shoes.

I'm only going into this detail to expain how the remuneration system differs from America's, where waiting staff depend on tips to pay the rent. As Bokhara says, most Australians would be very averse to having such a system operate here. This is particularly the case at present, as the award system is under sustained attack by employer groups, aided by a sympathetic conservative government.

For the record, while job-hunting my daughter did a few weeks as a waitress in a local "fine dining" restaurant recently and was paid a touch under $18 per hour, with a 50% loading on Saturdays, and quite a few customers tipped in the 5-10% range. What struck me (and her) as unfair about the system, though, was that the kitchen staff, who have a much harder job but are generally invisible, received only 10% of the kitty.

Having said all that, I understand that Americans find it difficult to go cold turkey when it comes to tipping, and there's no harm in giving a modest tip if you feel it's appropriate in the circumstances. I'd put a 10% ceiling on it, though.

We travel light and seldom use porters, and the hotels we prefer usually don't run to concierges, so I'm not au fait with expectations in that area except to say that they'd also be paid a wage commensurate with their job skill level. I should mention that on a fecent business trip to Perth my wife and her boss did attempt to slip a few dollars to a concierge who'd been particularly helpful. He declined it with thanks, saying "that's only what I'm paid to do".
Neil_Oz is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 04:02 PM
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I rarely tip more than AUD$10 even in fine dining places but then the bill is usually less than AUD$100 for 2. We don't drink. But I do tip wherever I eat just as a small token of appreciation.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 06:52 PM
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Thanks so much for your very thoughtful responses. I appreciate the in-depth answers, as it really helps my thinking process. Attempting to understand the culture makes it somewhat easier to step out of our tipping comfort zone.

My husband and I are really looking forward to our trip. It is hard to believe that in less than a month we'll be in Australia. Thanks to all who have helped with answers as we planned the trip and now, as we worry about last minute details.
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Old Jul 24th, 2007, 01:44 AM
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New Zealanders do not tip when they go to a restaurant, just pay the actual taxi fare, and normally would not tip a concierge, valet, or anyone in fact.

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Old Jul 24th, 2007, 04:12 AM
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Good for you, Nelsonian. And it seems to me that if employers in the hospitality industry around the World paid decent wages, declared their turnover to their relevant Tax Authorities, we wouldn't have such a need for tips to make up the salaries that these lousy sods aren't paying ... or the angst amongst travellers that to us Kiwis & Australians is a "nothing" issue. If it's roughly $ for $ (ignoring the exchange rate) NYC v's Sydney (for example) for meals at reasonable restuarants & the Australians manage to pay their staff a living (albeit not magnanimous) salary, why the heck can't the US (for example) employers do the same ????????
I don't see that much disparity in the tax rate but the cynic in me sees more than a bit or a rort! Rather than bringing the obligatory tipping here, how about we have a "Fodors revolution" & tell the restauranteurs around the World to get their respective acts together ... and then let's all reward EXCELLENT service. Maybe then we would actually see more of it! And,yes, of course I believe in Santa Claus & the Tooth Fairy!
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Old Jul 24th, 2007, 06:00 AM
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Well, said Bokhara! The tipping practices in the US make me crazy (and I'm an American!) I hate that whole entittlement aspect, as if good service really doesn't matter, and it annoys me to no end that US employers don't just pay their staff a decent wage and be done with it. I'd much rather pay more for a meal upfront and forgo the tip. Wish they'd include tax in the quoted price too - it would just make life so much simpler.
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Old Jul 28th, 2007, 03:53 AM
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Has anyone else noticed a correlation between tipping and countries that don't have socialized health care? We just travelled around the world, and I could usually predict the tipping culture by their health care coverage.
christycruz is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2007, 07:03 AM
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Sorry, what is "50% loading on Saturdays"? And what do the kitchen staff receive 10% of?
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Old Jul 28th, 2007, 07:11 AM
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Going back to Neil's explanation of the award system, if the award wage for waiters is $18.00 per hour, and there are penalty rates, you are paid a loading for working Sundays, overtime, Saturdays and holidays. If there is a 50% loading for working Sundays, the hourly Sunday wage is $18.00 plus $9.00ph or $27.00 ph on Sundays. This varies depending on industry and employer.

However, the Federal Government is trying to dismantle the award system and is promoting workplace agreements where the employer "negotiates" an individual agreement which can override the award system.
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Old Jul 28th, 2007, 07:14 AM
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Oh and the kitty - this is the same as the pooling of tips that occurs in the US & Canada. The waiter pays a proportion of their tips to bus boys, bartenders, hosts and sometime the kitchen staff.

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Old Jul 28th, 2007, 11:02 AM
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On the south island, we had dinner with some locals in a very nice restaurant. We got into a conversation about tipping. They were horrified with our tipping culture, and urged me not to tip. So I didn't. But so why do I feel guilty?
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Old Jul 28th, 2007, 02:46 PM
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Tips are pooled (put into a "kitty") and the kitchen staff generally divide 10% of that.

A "Loading" is an additional % added to normal salary/wages. Usually to compensate for working outside "normal" hours.
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Old Jul 28th, 2007, 02:50 PM
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In NZ waiting staff are paid about $11.00/hr . I personally like to leave a little extra for good service. If giving comes from the heart it won't be a burden - infact it will be a pleasure.
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Old Jul 28th, 2007, 03:53 PM
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Just to clarify, I didn't mean to suggest that waiters are living high on the hog. In particular I don't know if $18/hr is typical or not. In cheaper restaurants and cafes it's probably more like $13-14.

In any event, as Sarvowinner points out, many staff are now being paid under individual work contracts that allow unscrupulous employers more wiggle room.

Still, it's not a job that needs a lot of training or experience, and for the great majority it's not a long-term career choice, more often a good way for students to put themselves through university or while waiting for something else to come along.

The downside is that it's casual work, so there's no paid annual or sick leave.

Also, the industry is rife with cash-in-hand payment by employers who work hard to ensure that the rest of us pay more than our fair share of the tax burden.

Staff paid "under the counter" don't even get the statutory 9% on top of their wages that should be paid into a pension fund of their choice.

BillJ - can't be helped, mate, you're conditioned. Rather than go cold turkey, maybe it's best to just make it a small tip.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2007, 04:14 PM
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Hello BillJ. Why not send the restaurant a thank you card. It will be received with appreciation and will no doubt be pinned up for all to read. You'll be glad you did.
heathy is offline  

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