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? for all expeienced European travelers and residents, tipping/Service charges in Italy and France.

? for all expeienced European travelers and residents, tipping/Service charges in Italy and France.

Jul 13th, 2004, 12:38 PM
  #1  
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? for all expeienced European travelers and residents, tipping/Service charges in Italy and France.

OK fodorites, help me settle a debate. On another message board, during a discussion of tipping on cruises of all things, a poster made the statement that "In Europe, restaurants add a service charge of 15% to all bills.". I disagreed, and claimed truthfully that, I have never had a service charge added to any restaurant bill in France or Italy. I said that the restaurants do charge between 1.50-2.00 euro pp for bread, which they provide regardless of whether you eat it or want it, but that without a doubt, they don't add a service charge.

What do you say fodorites, as a rule do restaurants add service charges, or have I just miraculously always eaten in restaurants that don't?

BTW, I directed people to this forum for the definitive answers for European travel questions, because you guys are the pros.
nina is offline  
Jul 13th, 2004, 12:43 PM
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Some restaurants do, some don't - just check the bil. The charge for bread is known as a cover charge, and as you correctly stated is nothing to do with service.

If there is no service charge on the bill tip as you feel appropriate. I usually tip around twelve per cent, however, that sometimes falls to ten or rises to fifteen per cent depending on the experience.
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2004, 12:44 PM
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Last year my husband and I visited Italy after a 3 year absence and found the new (new to us) practice of several restaurants to add on a service charge anywhere from 10-20%. This was in addition to the 2-4 Euro per person coperta/cover charge.
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Jul 13th, 2004, 12:45 PM
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The confusion is that the bill in France is "toute taxe comprise" which means all tax included.
Secon confusion is that in France the bill is "service compris" : the servers
have a salary and it's not an obligation to tip : you can do it and you should do it in case of very good service but if waiters,taxis,...have not
given a good service it's not necessary to tip...
I think difference is that in US a large part of salary is by the tip.
In france only in theaters remain this kind of paiment..
So tip who merit it...(5 to 10% is enough but in my opinion, tip is not necessary proportional to the bill...).
Erik.
monpetit is offline  
Jul 13th, 2004, 01:12 PM
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Yes, there is a 15% service charge added to restaurant bills in France - I believe it is mandated by law, though I've read a couple of posts from people who said it was not clearly on their bill. I've never been charged for bread in France.

I don't remember what the service charge is in Italy, but I'm pretty sure it, along with the "coperto," is pretty standard.
StCirq is online now  
Jul 13th, 2004, 04:50 PM
  #6  
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Well, I just returned from Italy and was not charged a "service charge" in a single restaurant that we ate in. Only the bread charge. I'm just trying to figure out which is the norm.
nina is offline  
Jul 13th, 2004, 05:43 PM
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It is not expected to tip in Italy, though many people will round the bill up to eliminate small change. If service is exceptional, then up to 10% or so. Watch the Italian customers--they almost never leave any kind of tip. Of course, in tourist restaurants, waiters have become used to larger tips, but it isn't necessary.
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Jul 14th, 2004, 06:15 AM
  #8  
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Thank you for the responses but apparently I'm not making myself clear.

I'm not asking if, how, or when I should tip, I've got that covered, my question is, is the following statement true, or is it false;

"All retaurants in Europe add a 10-15% service charge to their checks.".

I say it's false, but I had someone direct me to an italian travel website which seemed to verify this. I don't see how this can be true when, after just returning from Italy, we didn't visit a single restaurant that added a service charge.

Forget the tips, do all European restaurants add a service charge to the bill? I want opinions from the pros please!
nina is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 06:26 AM
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I'm not an expert, but this could be just a matter of an implicit vs. an explicit charge. For example, if you buy clothing in France or the UK, you pay the price that's on the tag. But the price in the tag already has taxes included. It's unlike the case in the US, where the sales tax is added at the register.

Similarly, I don't think that restaurants add an explicit service charge to the total bill. However, the service charge has already been implicitly added in the prices of the food items.
111op is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 06:32 AM
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In Italy some restuarants have a servizio charge, some don't. Every restaurant we went to in Venice had a 15% servizio charge. Plus some have a coperto charge as well-that's like a cover charge for the table.

But I have also heard that wait staff (who are paid much better than in the US) do not get the servizio charge as a tip, that goes to the owner.

Joelle
Joelleinitaly04 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 06:32 AM
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in spain. there is no additonal service charge that could be regarded as tip.


this may be something that some restaurants are actually doing, therefore, it might be true it has been seen in some places, but as a norm.. i dont think so yet. at least not in spain.
lets hope they dont pick it up as habit.
lincasanova is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 06:35 AM
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That's interesting, Joelle. I think that you're right that some restaurants do add another explicit charge. But quite a number do not either, I think. I must admit that I don't pay much attention to bills when I travel. Part of it is the language problem, and part of it is being not completely familiar with the currency (it's a bit like spending toy money).
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Jul 14th, 2004, 06:42 AM
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ira
 
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Hi all,

We were in Italy in Oct and Paris in May.

All restaurant prices included a "service charge".

In Italy most places charged a "coperto" of 1.5-3E, which I was told is no longer allowed, but they do it anyway.

One interesting thing is that courts in the UK and some EU countries have ruled that a tip added to a credit card charge is the property of the owner, not the waiter.

If you want to tip, leave cash on the table.
ira is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 06:45 AM
  #14  
sandi
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Because most of Europe runs on a Value Added Tax (VAT) system, where an item is taxed along every step - growth, to trucker, to wharehouse, trucker, restaurant/shop, purchaser - as opposed to here in the States where we have a Sales Tax (varies by states, counties, localities) applied to final purchaser, whether a meal, a dress, shoes, etc., we have found with few exceptions that the Service Fee is added to meals. And this is noted as such on the menu. If you do not see this, always ask.

The few places where we didn't find the Service Fee included, seemed to be "small family restaurants" and my guess, especially in Italy, is to "hide money" - Amazing, shockingly amazing!! It seems anything one does in Italy to improve their lives, gets hit with more taxes - even painting/fixing up their house, the reason you notice when crossing from France to Italy, you see the ovious difference in the outward appearance of homes - bright and clean in France; dark, dingy and dirty in Italy.

So, if you are not sure, just ask and then you know whether you have to, need to, or want to tip.
 
Jul 14th, 2004, 08:23 AM
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THE answer to THE question is: NO...all restaurants in Europe do NOT add a service charge of 15% to all bills.
TopMan is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 12:11 PM
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I think you could safely say with no doubt that any statement that all restaurants in Europe do anything would be false. I don't think that was the intent of that message, though -- the intent was that the majority of them do, most do, or the ones being talked about in that post did.

I haven't been to Italy, but they do in France, so I don't know why you think they don't. Maybe you are making some unusual distinction between it already being included in the total, versus being a separate line item? They say they do right on the menu--usually on the back or last page (and usually on the bill, also, as I recall). I have never once been charged for bread in France, either.

I don't think they include service in the price in the Czech Republic, for example. I don't think they did in Krakow, either.
Christina is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 12:44 PM
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Thank you Top Man, that's what I thought.

This isn't a question of me tipping, it's a question of a debate I'm having with a know-it-all on another board who insists that all restaurants in Europe add a service charge to their bills, and in their words, anyone who thinks otherwise (as in me), is obviously not very well traveled.
nina is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 12:57 PM
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Well, now I'm totally confused. Shouldn't it say on the menu if the tax and service is included? I believe it does in most Paris restaurants.

This is off the Fodors site with regard to tax & tipping in Italy:

"All prices include tax. Restaurant menu prices include service (servizio) unless indicated otherwise on the menu. It's customary to leave a small tip (from a euro to 10% of the bill) in appreciation of good service."
Budman is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 01:05 PM
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In France, they include a "service charge" which I believe is the tip, and my good friends in France said that when the service charge is included in the bill, its customary, then to "Round off the bill, to the nearest Euro.
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Jul 14th, 2004, 01:44 PM
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In France, a 16% service charge has been added to item prices (like VAT taxes have already been added to the price of items). It is NOT a separate item (like tax in the US). It is in part due to this service charge that allows restaurants to pay a livable salary to their waiters and which makes additional tipping unecessary.

I'm less familiar with Italy, but I believe they have the same practice. The coperto charge, of a couple of euros, is not exactly a service charge. It pays for the bread and whatever small amouse bouche, tapa, mezze or condiment is offered at the table.
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