Tipping

Feb 17th, 2010, 02:00 AM
  #1  
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Tipping

We finally have arrived in Oz and love it! My question today is about tipping the chambermaid and the concierge, do you? In America one tips everyone and we surely haven't figured out about Australian customs yet. Thanks for your help.
WindsurfingGail is offline  
Feb 17th, 2010, 02:40 AM
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I can categorically say 'tipping' is not part of the aussie culture.

When I travel interstate, I don't habitually tip chambermaid or concierge. I might give the porter A$5 when he takes a few bags up to the hotel room.

At restaurants, if you feel the service is good, then leave a tip equivalent to 10% of the total bill amount. If service is average but acceptable, leave some small change. Of course, upmarket restaurants expect a bit more.

The reason for the above is that hospitality workers here receive minimum wage and tips are really bonuses, ie they don't live/rely on tips as in some other parts of the world.

btw, where in Oz are you now?

s
swagman is offline  
Feb 17th, 2010, 11:41 PM
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Gail, I know what a fraught matter this is for Americans. But you don't need to worry about loking "cheap" if you tip little or nothing in Australia.

To expand on swagman's comments, "minimum wage" in Australia doesn't mean what it does in the US. Hospitality workers are covered by minimum wages and conditions agreements negotiated between unions and employer bodies before a judge and are legally enforceable. A waiter's minimum wage is about $15/hr but in a decent restaurant should be $20 or better.

So in reality it makes no more sense to tip a waiter than a shop assistant or a bus driver. And personally I would go no further than 10% in a "fine-dining" place, where the staff should be getting paid pretty well.

Taxi drivers usually don't expect anything, a bit of a round-up on the bill at most, hairdressers, hotel staff and bar staff likewise. A good concierge will often decline a tip on the grounds that he or she is only doing the job they're paid to do.

Ironically, an American accent may raise expectations, because many US visitors don't do what you're sensibly doing and checking local customs.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 18th, 2010, 02:11 AM
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Just to reinforce the comments by Neil and Swagman, we don't tip maids or hairdressers. 10% in metropolitan areas is the norm for good service in upmarket restaurants, cafes maybe a couple of dollars.

Having worked for many years in restaurants when I was a student, I have to say it is not a living wage without the tips if you live in an expensive Australian city and I gather from friends who still work in the industry that this is still the case. This shouldn't persuade you, however, to tip if the service is bad.
Susan7 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2010, 03:56 PM
  #5  
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Thank you all VERY much. We don't always get internet so am slow in responding. We started in Sydney, took the train to Melbourne, and then the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide where we are now. LOVE Oz! We have tried all sorts of accommodations and modes of transportation. We leave for Perth in a few days.
WindsurfingGail is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2010, 09:58 PM
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Be prepared - it's hot here in Perth - 38c today and up to 40 expected in the next day or two.
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 25th, 2010, 05:52 AM
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I appreciate this tipping information. Although I've made 6 trips to OZ, with number 7 just 10 days from now, I have never really gotten the true scope of tipping. I'll be visiting a hairdresser, so I appreciate knowing what to do in that situation. Thanks!

Windsurf... Adelaide is my second favorite OZ capital (SYD is #1)! I hope you enjoy it even half as much as I have in the past.

Carol
simpsonc510 is offline  
Feb 25th, 2010, 09:22 PM
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Tipping - don't!

Unless exceptional circumstances.
margo_oz is offline  
Feb 26th, 2010, 12:10 AM
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I love that tipping isn't expected here in Australia. One less matter for this American to fret over. I do see the occasional 'tip jar' next to the cash register in casual restaurants, but I've never seen anyone actually use one.
These jars typically contain shrapnel, which leads me to believe they're just there for the convenience of customers who'd like to relieve themselves of their change or as a concession to overseas visitors.

A question for the Aussies though...what is the protocol for tipping when you're in a large group? In the US an %18-20 percent tip would automatically be added to the bill by the restaurant. How is it handled here?
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2010, 01:17 PM
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Melnq8, in my experience it works this way: somebody in the group volunteers to take care of the bill, including the decision to tip or not. In my regular group of ex-workmates this is usually the person who's most sober at the end of the night, as the exercise demands some (admittedly basic) mental arithmetic.

He or she takes the bill, probably adds a modest tip, totals the result, divides it by the number of diners in the party and collects cash from everybody at the table.

No Australian restaurant would (I hope) dare to add a service charge to the bill.

I've noticed the American practice of adding a compulsory service charge to a large party's bill and it struck me as somewhat presumptuous. Service in the States is usually pretty good, but what do you do if it hasn't been?
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 26th, 2010, 02:35 PM
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Thanks Neil. I've only dined with a group a few times here in OZ and in each instance it was a company function, so no dividing the bill. I suspect the American who picked up the tab probably tipped too much, being a visitor. I was just wondering if in the case of a group meal, when the group takes over a large part of the restaurant and commands most of the attention of the staff, if a tip is expected more so than from independent diners.

I don't understand the compulsory group gratuity either. Everytime I see that printed on a menu, I want to tell the restaurant to look up the word gratuity in the dictionary. There's nothing voluntary about compulsory gratuities.

For what it's worth, I have no problem leaving poor tips for poor service in the US. Unfortunately, I think waiters who get bad tips blame the customers for being cheap instead of seeing the tip as a comment on their service. I guess the answer is to pull the waiter aside and tell them face to face (which I've been known to do, nicely of course).
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2010, 03:53 PM
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Melnq8. We leave for Perth this afternoon; hope it is cooler by now. Adelaide has cooled off today with a nice breeze. Will re-read your posts when we get there as they contain tons of valuable information. I love this forum; just discovered it as we were planning our OZ trip. Thanks all for your info.
WindsurfingGail is offline  
Feb 26th, 2010, 08:53 PM
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Afraid not windsurfingGail, it's stinking hot here at the moment. The good news is that it's supposed to cool off over the next few days. Enjoy Perth!
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2010, 08:56 PM
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Melnq8 - all I can say is that I'm happy to add a modest tip if the staff have looked after us well, and I think that might be most people's feelings.

I'm not religiously opposed to tipping, just would rather not see the North American approach develop here over time, thus giving employers an excuse to lobby for reduced hourly rates. A full wage IMO, even if not a fortune, allows staff their dignity.

For what it's worth my daughter went back to waitressing for a while after returning from teaching in China, and thought her pay was reasonable for what she was expected to do. She averaged about $20/hr plus tips.

What strikes me as unfair is that kitchen staff usually don't see much in the way of tips (I'm relying on our son-in-law, a chef, here). Except in the top establishments chefs aren't particularly well paid, work harder and in worse conditions than front-of-house staff, and not infrequently are bilked in various ways by unscrupulous bosses, a breed that's rife in the hospitality business. That's another reason in my book to keep the practice under control.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 27th, 2010, 12:41 AM
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And for the record I asked Mrs Oz whether anyone at her hairdressing establishment gets tipped - answer no, but some customers give their preferred hairdresser a small Christmas gift.

Myself, I patronise the exclusive establishment known as Tony's of Canberra (Barbers to the Unwashed Masses), whose patrons sit patiently reading ancient copies of men's magazines while they wait to discover who's going to cut their hair this time. If I draw the short straw, which I usually do, I get the large, fearsome and famously clumsy "Lurch" Antonelli, rumoured to have done his apprenticeship in a house of correction. The rare tip is limited to $2 (i.e. the change out of $20) and are actually bribes given in the hope that next month the customer will get another barber. Some hope.

But they're quick, if nothing else. In and out in 15 minutes on a good day.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 27th, 2010, 04:09 AM
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The best haircut I've ever had was in a Perth barber shop. And yes, it was relatively quick! Mind you, I'm female and usually do not enter a barber shop for a haircut, but I was in need, and it was handy, near to my hotel.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2010, 11:57 AM
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farrermog, I respect Terry Durack's food writing but in saying "if someone has served you well, then it is churlish and rude not to make a mark of appreciation" I think he betrays a hospitality-centric view of the world.

Does he tip people in other service industry jobs who go out of their way to serve him well, I wonder? If not, why not? Shop assistants and public tansport workers don't get "paid squillions" either, and I've had service above and beyond the call of duty from not a few.

I agree that waiters aren't paid a fortune - but to put it plainly it's not a job that demands a very onerous skill set. Nurses don't get paid a fortune either, and we all know who has the most demanding, exhausting and stressful job. Sydney bus drivers, for that matter, have been proven to suffer high stress levels, as do airline check-in staff.

As for tipping someone who "serves you well", surely that's the base performance standard for this or any other service job. Why should people expect what in effect is a bribe to do no more than what they're being paid to do?

And local culture does matter. At the end of our first meal out in Beijing I left a few yuan on the table in appreciation of an overworked waitress who made a big effort to look after a pair of bemused laowai with scarcely a useful word of Mandarin between us. She caught up with us at the door, not a little embarrassed, and insisted on returning the money.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Mar 11th, 2010, 02:49 PM
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I ran the above comments past my wife after postingthem. Early in our marriage she undertook formal training in table service - silver service, wine appreciation, the lot - and worked as a waitress for a couple of years. She enjoyed the job, thought it required nothing more than good interpersonal skills, a desire to please, a modicum of common sense and comfortable shoes, and never thought she was underpaid for what she did (a comment echoed by one of our daughters, who waitressed during her university years). For what it's worth, she agreed with me 110% and sees tipping as positively un-Australian.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Mar 12th, 2010, 02:15 AM
  #20  
 
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Neil - couldn't agree more, but I fear there has been a shift in local attitudes and practice - the good news is that the sentiments here and in the comments following the Durack article - esp the reaction to Bar Girl's tantrum - suggest that it is unlikely that anyone will feel compelled to tip (unless perhaps the Mad Monk is given a chance to implement an even nastier version of Work Choices).
farrermog is offline  

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