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The tipping double standard for Americans

The tipping double standard for Americans

Old May 30th, 2006, 11:25 AM
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The tipping double standard for Americans

I just got back from Prague and had a lovely trip, but something has been bugging me. I also noticed this from our trip last year to Germany. Why is it that Americans traveling in Europe are expected to tip (usually at least 10%) when Europeans and Asians are not? Several times waiters would point out the bill and say "Tips are not included". Meanwhile our Czech friends never tip, ever. Our bill at one restaurant even had on the computer printout "TIPS AREN'T INCLUDED" written in English, I didn't see a similar message in Czech anywhere.

I'm not cheap and I do tip generously, but I found it a bit irritating and frankly a bit annoying, especially when a waiter kept on emphasizing that we didn't "tip" enough, we rounded up, but only tipped about 5% on a bill that already included 19% for service and tax.

So do you other Americans tip when you are in countries where tipping is not the custom or do you do as the locals do?
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Old May 30th, 2006, 11:29 AM
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I don't know about Prague, but in France, tips are always included on restaurant bills, and this is normally marked on the bill. Americans are not criticized for failing to add anything additional; nobody else does, and Americans are not treated any differently.

Perhaps the situation in Prague is simply a deliberate scam of tourists. If the bill includes service, no tip is required, period.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 12:30 PM
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It's no problem...don't tip...chances are you're never going to see these people again...

I know I've travelled on tours with many Aussies and they tell me they don't tip....if you feel you're being pressured then simply don't tip..let them call you whatever behind your back...you'll never see them again.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 12:33 PM
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Hi Kmom,

It is true that TIPS are not included.

However, a 15% service charge is.

Americans seem not to realize, that what we call a tip is, to most of the world, included as a service charge.

Tip only a Euro or so, and then only for very good service.

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Old May 30th, 2006, 12:41 PM
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At least in southern Germany a 10% tip on top of the bill is always expected. But you don't need to meet expectations, so don't "tip", if you don't want to, just as xyz123 said, you'll never see them again. I always give up to 10%, that's how I learned it and most!! people I know do the same...
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Old May 30th, 2006, 12:58 PM
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Well, I tip in the US because I know that's the system, American waiters being paid only a notional salary, but I very much doubt that this is the situation in Germany. As for Prague, my guess is that Americans are being targeted because many will feel a bit guilty about not tipping anyway and so are seen as easy marks.

I've always found the idea of an included service charge peculiar. Do I have the option of declining "service" and collecting my meal from the kitchen myself? If not, why not simply bump up the price of everything by 10%? What am I missing here?
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Old May 30th, 2006, 01:02 PM
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My comment is not so much on the tipping aspect, but just on how tourists are treated in general.

I noticed in Italy to use on certain cabbies. I had an idea of how much it costs to get from one place to another, but I always asked in advance an estimate of cost. The good cabbies would tell me a ballpark figure that was right. The not so good cabbies would say they either did not know, or give an astronomical price.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 01:15 PM
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MC Donalds will pay about 8€ per hour. Many waiters don't get anything, because they're family. Ask at a chinese restaurant, you'll be amazed how low their pay is. Fortunately most Germans aren't forced to work in restaurants, it's either students, family or immigrants who are willing to take those jobs...
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Old May 30th, 2006, 01:16 PM
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logos, so why do you tip 10% if the service is already included? Is this an American thing just so we are not suspected of "not tipping"?

I do agree that this is sort of a tourist scam to pressure American tourists and I have to admit that it did work to a point. I started tipping 10% just to avoid confrontation!

As the comment of "you'll never see these people again" may or may not be true. Sometimes I may want to eat at a restaurant twice during one stay!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 01:25 PM
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Between 5 and 10% are "normal" in Munich. A service charge isn't a tip. Friends do it, family does it, everybody I know (=have been to a restaurant with) around does it and leaves about that much in a restaurant. If you didn't like the food, don't tip, but why should I not tip, if it's common and doesn't hurt? Never found it an issue to "not tip". But it's fascinating some here say it's not common. 5-10% is perfectly acceptable.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 01:28 PM
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>tourist scam to pressure american tourists
That is indeed funny...., It's not a scam, it's the norm in "my litte town" in Bavaria ;-)
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Old May 30th, 2006, 01:30 PM
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Well I don't know about in Munich (where we tipped about 10% last year), but in Prague, all the locals say that they do not tip at all. They may round up to even the bill i.e. Czech krona bill is 387, round to 400, but never a tip on top of that. But when it was just Americans dining together, there was a huge emphasis on the "tip".
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Old May 30th, 2006, 01:33 PM
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So you noticed, how different things are in different european countries. ;-). I do leave 10% in Prague too.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 01:49 PM
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While at college, I worked as a waiter and bartender. At that time, there was a lower minimum wage for service workers, in anticipation that they would receive tips, and tips were an important part of my income.

So now I tip, not only in the US, but almost everywhere where I get good service. I know that in most legitimate restaurants in Europe, the servers are better paid than those in the US (career waiters in the US are uncommon; in Europe they are far more common) but I always suspect that when the bill says service included, that is going to the owner, not the server, and I'm just not comfortable leaving no tip when the server has taken the time to translate the menu and make recommendations, and to get everything to us on time. Perhaps if I had not waited in college, I would feel differently.

Actually, I wish we could do away with tipping universally; there was always some friction when I was a server where waiters didn't want to share tips with the bartenders, and if tips were pooled, a lazy waiter would get as much as someone who worked hard.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 02:06 PM
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logos999 wrote:
"If you didn't like the food, don't tip, . . ."

Here in the States, it's pretty commonly understood that the tip should be related to the service, not whether you like the food (unless, of course, you didn't like the food because the server did something to mess it up). Servers have relatively little control over the quality of the food and should't be penalized for the failures of the kitchen.

Thanks for the info on Bavaria, by the way. I had assumed that tipping was not expected everywhere in Europe, and I'm afraid I've unintentionally offended some Bavarian servers in the past.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 02:16 PM
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Ira, where did you get the information that 15 pct service charge is included on bills in Prague? I think you are saying that is true in all of Europe, and definitely in Prague, if I am understanding your post correctly, and I don't think that's true.

AS for Prague, I've been there twice and am going again shortly, and I don't think tips (or a 15 pct service charge) is included on bills there. I do tip in Prague. I don't tip excessively anywhere (and I don't tip 20 pct in the US0, but I tip about 10 pct in Prague.

I've never had anyone point out to me anything in a Prague restaurant like that, however. Maybe we just ate in different kinds of places. I'm sure they wouldn't have a reason to print that on a bill in Czech, as locals would know the customs -- I imagine that is the reason why it is in English. If anything, you'd think they'd print it in a language of some country where they are used to not tipping, which isn't the US.

I don't know what locals do as I don't know any in Prague.

I don't think I ever had a bill in Prague that included a 19% service charge.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 02:17 PM
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I am still really confused...so you do tip or round up to the next amount...ie 8.50 euro up to 10, even though the tip is included? Can someone definitively state the policy so that there is no gray area?
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Old May 30th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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When I was last in Germany, I asked my hostesss where I stayed in a private Zimmer about tipping. She was aghast at my policy, even though it was not normally 10%. She said, very definitively, only round the bill up to the next Euro. So, for your €8,50 bill you would give the waiter €9,00.

In Germany, the bill or menu will say something like "Service ist Inklusive" or "Bedienung ist inbegriffen", which means the waiter is paid to serve you.

Not leaving the small coins is, however, a sign that you did not like the service.

If "Tips aren't included" was written in English, it is probably an indication that they only expected Americans to pay it.

A few years ago, in Rothenburg, for a €23,50 bill, I gave the waiter €30 (I didn't have a €5) and said "fünf und zwanzig". I finally had to ask him for the rest of my change. I think he thought I would give him a big tip (27%) for speaking English, which I did not need or appreciate.

I think Germans are a little irritated by the fact that they use to round up to the nearest Mark, which was 50 EuroCent. Now they have to round up, in essence, to the nearest even Mark.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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I haven't been to Prague so this is general observation of other places in Europe:
A TIP is not included on a bill because it is by definition voluntary.
A SERVICE CHARGE is included on bills in most places, because it is required by law.
We Americans often make the mistake of equating tips with service charge, when in fact they are two separate things in most of the rest of the world.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 03:37 PM
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xyz123 mentioned Australians not tipping. The reason is not that we're particularly cheap but that at home there's no more logic to tipping a waiter or bartender than a department store salesperson. Some tipping happens, but illogically, it's mostly in higher-end restaurants. And service charges are virtually unknown.

I think there's also a nagging concern that widespread tipping might in time allow employers to avoid their current obligation to pay their staff a living wage. The idea of people hustling for tips also runs somewhat against the national grain.

Having said that, Australians, like Americans and everyone else, are often guilty of failing to make allowances for local custom in this and other areas of life.
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