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The tipping double standard for Americans

The tipping double standard for Americans

Old May 31st, 2006, 04:42 PM
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Stokebailey,


Either the taxi driver lied or he added some fees to the amount on the meter (there's a fixed fee added for pieces of luggages for instance)and you mistook that for a 15% charge.

I asume he just tried his luck. A number of taxi drivers prey on unaware foreign tourists and sometimes in worst ways(for instance, waiting at night outside some popular attraction, and proposing a "bargain price" to drive the tourist to, say, his hotel. The bargain being of course twice as much as what he would have had to pay by the meter, and the whole thing completely illegal. I've been turned down (also illegal) by a couple of taxi drivers in favor of a "tourist-looking" person waiting behind me at a taxi stand with some confused and ridiculous reasons given. I somehow guess why, and I supect I was the lucky one for being denied the service.

Anyway, there's no "service charge" for taxis in Paris. Customarily, a number of people tip taxi drivers, though (I tip 10% usually), but like all other tips in France, there's no hard and fast rule, and many people don't tip taxi drivers at all, or just leave him the smal change, or a couple euro, or whatever else strike their fancy or they're accustomed to do.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 06:31 PM
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The replies show that it clearly varies from country to country. I am English but live in the US at the moment. I find the tipping system here ridiculous but I tip 15% unless service is terrible. I have found that waiters here expect at least 15% even when service is very bad. Then I don't tip but if it's been that bad then I'm not going to go back anyway.
In UK I tip 5 - 10% if the service is very good. In Greece, Italy and Spain I also tend to tip close to 10% if I am happy. It amazes me that some Americans are all too happy to leave 20% in the US but resent leaving anything in Europe. I know that others don't want to leave too little, for them I would say close to 10% if you are happy with the service (but obviously not in France according to these posts0. Finally, if I felt someone was trying to intimidate me into leaving a tip - then I wouldn't - in Europe or the US.

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Old May 31st, 2006, 06:39 PM
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Carolina, also here in the states at some restaurants the tips are shared with the busboys. In New York, there was once an exposé where the waiters were forced to share with the Maitre D'
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Old May 31st, 2006, 08:33 PM
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When I pay a service charge in France, it's a tip. I don't care what happens to it. I've already paid all that I intend to pay. Fifteen percent is more than I would usually tip, if I had a choice.

Americans generally feel guilty and leave money even after being fleeced for the food and "service" by the restaurant, but I don't make that mistake.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 09:25 PM
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As a point of comparison, I believe the current federal minimum base wage for tipped employees in the US is $2.15 per hour. Assuming a 40 hour work week (many do not get 40 hours), this equates out to about 67 Euro per week. So, in the US, I tip. I do find it sad that one particular occupation has been designated as having to grovel for a basic living when other service sector jobs don't. As others have said, why is this the industry where appreciation is monetary and wages uncertain, when we are served as well by others?

Anyway, I suppose I do look at it differently, in terms of percentages, when the conditions are different, such as they are in some parts of Europe. But the aggressive waiter thing would have put me off for sure.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 09:29 PM
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The wages wouldn't be so low for staff in the U.S. if tipping were not so common.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 09:33 PM
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That's actually true - employers have to make up the difference, up to the base non-tipped employee scale - and none of the employees would likely stay for that amount. We really would be going to the kitchen to get dinner ourselves.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 12:42 AM
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"The wages wouldn't be so low for staff in the U.S. if tipping were not so common."

Rather, I would say that certain employees will get away with what they can, and only Government legislation will force them to raise wages. Britain has only had a minimum wage for a few years. For many years, right-wing goverments argued that a minimum wage would cripple certain industries and small businesses. Tosh. Our economy and unemployment rates haven't been affected adversely at all - in fact they've improved. It's simply not acceptable in this day and age to treat staff as virtual slaves and expect them to grovel for their pay. Equally, we shouldn't have to bribe for good service - we should instead complain about poor service.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 12:43 AM
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Carolena--I know it's a long thread. But I can't remember any Americans on it who resent tipping anywhere. We just want to follow the particular customs of the country we're in. In fact, judging from many of the posts here, we in the U.S. demonstrate the more generous spirit when it comes to tipping.

Anthony--If tipping weren't so common in the U.S., restaurants would charge more for their food in order to raise wages. So you'd end up paying the same amount. I really don't see the difference.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 02:17 AM
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I have a niece & nephew who worked as a waiter/waitress all through college. They made great money & realized that it was a real incentive to give good service so they'd make more.

Don't service people in the US now have to pay a certain amount of taxes based on their *expected* income so if they get stiffed enough in the tip department, they pay taxes on money not earned?

I tip wherever I travel & have never had a server so insulted by my American ways that he refused the tip & I doubt he gave it to charity either.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 07:38 AM
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I'm not understanding the posts that say tipped staff have to "grovel."

Personally, I think tipping is a good idea. I like the concept of being able to personally reward someone for good or extraordinary service.

But I certainly don't expect anyone to grovel. And it's out of line to say that's what customers expect.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 09:01 AM
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We once asked a waiter in a Nice restaurant whether service was included in the bill, and he was quick to tell us that it was not. It was, of course. Our French friends were outraged when we told them what had happened and were quick to say that service had to be included by French law and that leaving an additional amount was absolutely not necessary.

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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 09:35 AM
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"We once asked a waiter in a Nice restaurant whether service was included in the bill, and he was quick to tell us that it was not. It was, of course."

Not true. Again, this is a matter of the word "service" being confused with "tip".

The waiter answered truthfully. In France, a service charge is included. It is not a "tip" in the sense that Americans use the word "tip". As it has been pointed out, the "service" of 15 to 18% does not go into the waiter's pocket at the end of the night like it would in the states. The owner uses it to cover the expense of serving the food, including the dishwashing, linens, flowers, salaries, mandatory vacations, etc. Some of it is given to the waiter but it's up to the owner's discretion.

What you leave on the table over and above the bill is a "tip" or "gratuity" or in French, "pourboir" and this goes into the waiter's pocket.

It took me years to figure this out. I have a good friend who lives in France and owns a business there and he explained it to me. He tips very little when in France and actually overtips when in the states.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 09:40 AM
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If you ask someone in France if "service is included" THEY are not confusing this with the term "tip."

They know what "service" is and whether or not it is included.

My understanding is that service IS usually included on bills in France. is this not true?
If it is true then the waiter saying it isn't included was telling a falsehood.

Whether or not the REPORTER of this incident was "confusing" service with tip is an entirely different matter.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 09:50 AM
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The service charge isn't needed to pay any of the restaurant owner's expenses; if you've been told otherwise, someone is trying to deceive you.

When you serve a main dish the size of a donut and charge 60 euro for it, you don't need anything more to cover your overhead, as you already have a 95% margin.

Any restaurant operator who isn't a complete idiot can make a great deal of money with a very moderate amount of effort, and no service charges are required to accomplish this.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 09:58 AM
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I read Fodors advice before I go, and I do as the locals do.

It is ignorance, arrogance, and American guilt that pushes many Americans to tip extra in foreign countries when it is not necessary, as when a waiter provides the usual expected good service. And I have been guilty of all of the above in years past.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 10:13 AM
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Hi Christina
>Ira, where did you get the information that 15 pct service charge is included on bills in Prague? <

When we were in Prague.


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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 10:51 AM
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hi Ira. Yeah, but from where or who?

I have read a lot of Prague information, as well as being there twice, and never saw reference to any official national regulation, or local regulation in Prague, that says a 15 pct service charge is part of all restaurant bills. I've never seen that on restaurant bills, either, where I ate.

I think amp322 stated the current situation though, and part of the issue is probably that I don't go to the super tourist restaurants, it sounds like. Also, it appears that the service charge added automatically to bills may have gone up a little in the last couple years, but she doesn't say 15 pct is required on all bills, either. I think she is saying it will have to state on the bill whether it is, and the amount.

There is a VAT tax added to restaurant meals, and it's rather large (around 20 pct), so I think some people may confuse taxes with service charge. I guess even kangamom said that the 19 pct was service charge plus taxes. Well, it's not the servers fault about govt. taxes.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 11:01 AM
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you know, Ira, I am sincerely interested in where you learned that, not trying to just be difficult. The reason is that I have never heard that or seen it, and I am going back to Prague next month, so if it really is included by law in all bills even when unstated, I'd sure like to know it. Because I have then been tipping too much as I think I usually leave 10-15 pct in Prague if service was good. I don't do that in France where I know a 15 pct service charge is added.

I'm not going into the above debate on the thread--I have my ideas on that and what that service charge is for in my opinion vs. tip. However, I do tip more in some countries where I think the wages are low and people are poorer, even if a service charge were included on the bill.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 11:46 AM
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Right Christina.
Letīs be generous.
Gaspard
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