Tipping and the Service Charge

Old Mar 5th, 2019, 08:27 AM
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I've seen menus in US restaurants that note that for big groups (8, 10, or more) a "gratuity" of X amount will automatically be added to the bill.
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Old Mar 5th, 2019, 08:28 AM
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Indeed, you should follow the tipping customs of the country you are visiting, that would seem obvious.
I agree, but some times the lines are blurred and it becomes hard to do so. I always tend to leave tips If I had an enjoyable experience at the restaurants wherever I go in Europe and don't overthink it too much.
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Old Mar 5th, 2019, 08:36 AM
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Not all waitstaff in Europe are entitled to the things Sarastro lists. They get minimum wage, which is often surprisingly low, especially for teenagers, but in other countries also have to pay for health insurance from it, sometimes also for their uniform, meal at work, plus many are on short term or 0 hour contracts and have little or no job security, despite having been to college and trained for the job.

Service charge goes to the management, likewise more often than not a tip on a credit card, a tip jar is divided between all staff, a cash tip often gets pocketed by whoever clears the table.
The service charge covers not just your waitperson, but the kitchen staff, the cleaners, your clean table cloth etc etc.
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Old Mar 5th, 2019, 08:47 AM
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Yes, European countries are all different. But the subject here is France.
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Old Mar 5th, 2019, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by StCirq View Post
I've seen menus in US restaurants that note that for big groups (8, 10, or more) a "gratuity" of X amount will automatically be added to the bill.
True in the SF Bay area.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 04:08 AM
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Wow. What a busy box I kicked open. But it is all good, I think. So how about an example. Let us say I am at a restaurant in small town Provence, say Bonnieux, and I have a nice dinner at L'Arome and my tab comes to 92 euros. Service was professional and correct. Service Compris is on the tab and included in the 92 euros. How would the crew here handle the table tip if any? In the past, I would throw down 3 to 5 euros. Am I being correct or stingy and need additional education?
Thank you for all for your input
Very interesting
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 04:53 AM
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What do you mean by "the crew here"? US, or the waitstaff?

I think you're fussing over things you don't need to fuss over. Honestly, there are so many other more complicated aspects of travel. Leave 3-5 euros or don't leave anything. It hardly matters. What else do you worry about when traveling? It must be a burden thinking about such things. Me, I just go somewhere, have an enjoyable meal, pay, and leave. No complications, so mind-games.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 05:08 AM
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Don't leave anything. The waiter did not work any harder than if you had eaten for 20 euros.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 05:20 AM
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Service is always included in France, the waiter and other staff are being paid and have health insurance.
Leave a few euros if you really want to, but don't loose sleep over what the restaurant does with it. What does it matter anyway?
If they tell you that your 3 euros goes to the owner so that he can pay the rent on his building and salary of his employees, is that a problem?
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 05:35 AM
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My wife and I were recently in Salzburg, Munich, Nuremberg and Paris. I was amazed to find that in most restaurants, not all, I bluntly was reminded to leave a tip for the server by that server when it came time to pay the bill. If satisfied with the service, I chose to leave a few Euro. If not, then I left my small change or none at all if I was irritated with this experience.

This seemed like a new, more frequent occurrence as compared to past experience. My wife noted that it seemed that only Americans were pressured and not native speakers. I cannot remember a time in many restaurant experiences here in the US, both casual and fine-dining, that I was pressured to leave a tip.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 05:42 AM
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As a member of the "crew" (certainly the wackiest boat I've ever sailed on) I would just pay the bill. Over the years I've had the "pourboire" returned to me too many times to bother, especially in the "boondocks" of France. (like playing BS bingo, this kid-American)

The question might be put better, if the bill came to E99 then I would leave a 100 note. But 93 would get 93 or just a debit card for 93. But if there were 14 of us and some had been a bit difficult due to lack of language skills I might put a little extra in (rounding up to the nearest 5).

What is noticeable is that many articles by so-called holiday-journalists are frankly wrong, the locals don't tip in France.

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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 06:39 AM
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We were eating breakfast in Key West recently and since the tables were packed together we had a conversation with two French gentlemen next to us. They were very surprised by the cost of their room but happy with the price of their meal. When we were about to leave they noticed us leaving a cash tip and we were asked to explain how much they should leave. Our server overheard the conversation and thanked us for explaining to them. She said those tables are her real estate and some people from Europe will sit for a very long time over a coffee or glass of wine and not tip. We hear this all the time and Paris is starting to not like the people that hog tables for long periods. As my brother once told my nephew when he found one of the bar stools in his apartment. This stool is making no money up here, get it back down to the bar. It isn't just about tips but revenue for the cafe or bar. I always tip if the service and food were good. Not a huge amount but a couple of euros or more depending on what we spent.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 06:51 AM
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Seattle also has some restaurants where the tip is already included, and definitely not jus the higher end places.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 06:56 AM
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Huggy--We had that experience in Oslo, to the point where it was rude. To top it off, our server was terrible, so did not deserve a tip at all.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 07:11 AM
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I think that most advice given in this thread is on the low end. There's no generally accepted rules about tipping in France, so what people do is all over the place. Some never tip, some tip only when they find the service remarkable, some always tip. Some leave some change, some always leave the same amount regardless how costly the meal was or how many guest there were, some tip some approximate percentage of the bill. However I found that in this thread pretty much everybody suggested to leave only a few euros or nothing, for instance on a 100 bill, and my opinion is that it's rather stingy even though it's not abnormal or unusual. And some people stated that it doesn't matter, but of course it does matter for the waiter. Contrarily to some other countries where tipping is very uncommon, French waiters expect to get part of their income from tips, in fact. And the more upscale the place, the strongest this expectation. The difference in pay between a server at the street corner's small restaurant and the server at the big "brasserie" in downtown Paris might not be great, but while the former won't expect to get much more from tips, the latter is working at this place because he expects to double or triple his salary with tips.

And yes, as previously stated many times, the "service compris" (existing for historical reasons, and I think, not sure, that it still has some significance for tax purpose) goes to the restaurant , not to the waiter, even though some waiters (again, more often in more upscale places) are in fact paid a %age in commission. Note that a lot of French people too believe that it goes to the waiter (belief that tend to lead them to leave no tip or a small tip, in fact), so it's not surprising that you'd be confused.

Last edited by clairobscur; Mar 6th, 2019 at 07:13 AM.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 07:35 AM
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Believe me, if what you said were true, we would be hearing about it constantly in France and many waiters would have gone on strike. Why on earth would anybody work in such a job when the horrible majority refuse to leave any tip?
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 08:08 AM
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Claire, I'm sorry but what you have written is just wrong (the cultural norm on tipping is well understood throughout France) however it will modify itself for North Americans which is what confuses some. As Kerouac says, the French don't complain quietly.

If the Parisian restaurant has a problem it may well be with the small numbers of hours that they can open (which are set by the state).

BTW, a tipping thread on this site always gets very long because there is the main difference in culture here and some people just literally don't see it and just behave as they would at home. Don't worry I used to travel in the States for work and my boss would not sign off tips as a European he explained that in Europe people are paid a wage so we don't need tips so why should Americans. It's culture man, move on.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 08:26 AM
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Clairobscur; are you French or do you live in France?
This just does not make sense:
"the "service compris" (existing for historical reasons, and I think, not sure, that it still has some significance for tax purpose) goes to the restaurant , not to the waiter"

The restaurant pays the waiter. So the bill that you pay in the restaurant already includes the waiter's salary. Therefore 'service compris'. You do not have to pay the waiter, the restaurant owner does that.

I don't know why this should cause so much confusion. Your waiter gets a salary from the restaurant that employs him.
Just like the assistant in a shop gets a salary from the shop that employs him. Would you ever tip a sales assistant in a shop, perhaps someone who has been really helpful? I'm sure you don't.

I know it is different in the US. Not all European tourists that visit the US are aware of this. When it is explained to them, they will pay the addtional charge.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 11:14 AM
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The whole tipping culture in the US is a major part of the reason why we have decided to stop visiting. As a family we have spent every summer holiday in the US for the last 8 years, we've visited places all over the country and had some fantastic times however with each visit we gradually get ground down with the constant nickel and dime approach. It seems everything in the US is about money and tipping is the worst. During one of our meals in Williamsburg, VA we were talking with our waiter and he explained that he only earns $2 an hour, to me that was absolutely outrageous. The cost of the meal was comparable to a similar one in the UK, food prices are certainly cheaper for the owner so how can he not afford to pay his staff a decent wage? If a restaurant in London can charge similar prices for their food, pay more for the ingredients, pay a decent wage for their staff AND make a profit just how much are American restauranters raking in whilst expecting their customers to supplement their wages?

I got tired of the the falseness of the wait staff. The faux smiles and 'caring' attitude, done solely to try and elicit the maximum tip out of you. It feels so contrived and fake and disingenuous. I got tired of having my plate whipped away from me before I'd even had the chance to swallow the last morsel before being presented with the bill and almost being ushered out of the door in order to make way for the next cash cow. I also got tired of seeing suggested tip amounts determined by various percentages. What's with this percentage stuff? Why should any tip be determined by the value of your meal? If I have a $60 bottle of wine or a $30 bottle why should I tip more if I went for the more expensive wine? The waiter or sommellier hasn't done anything extra in opening and pouring me the wine so why does he 'deserve' a bigger tip?

Give me the European style of serving (and tipping) any day. Staff who are proud of their job (the length of service some of the wait staff I've encountered is testament to this). Being able to enjoy your meal or drink at your pace no matter how leaisurely that may be. The waiter/waitress is being paid regardless so there's no need to constantly interrupt and harass the customer, hoping to hurry them up and bring in the next customer.

I don't want Europe to become like America, where a meal is a rushed affair because all the wait staff can think about is their next lucrative tip bounty. My first job was poorly paid (actually before the minimum wage was introduced) and I would have earned pretty much the same as those working in nearby restaurants but nobody every tipped me so why should they be any different?

If Americans would rather pay arbritary percentages of their meal to supplement the meagre wages of the restaurant staff instead of lobbying for a change to ensure that those staff are paid a living wage then fine, that's their choice but I'd really appreciate it if they didn't bring their habits abroad.
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Old Mar 6th, 2019, 11:29 AM
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It's funny that they never complain about paying the price of their purchases in Europe and not having sales tax added on at the end, because when you tell them that a net price system makes more sense than the American system, they reply "our way is better, because we know exactly the price of something and how much the government is getting." I'm sure they look at every receipt and say things like "OMG, the government just got another $1.13! I need to vote for someone who will bring it down to $1.06!" This of course assumes that the price before the sales tax does not include any other taxes or tariffs.... ha ha ha.
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