Tipping in USA

May 13th, 2007, 05:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 14
Tipping in USA

I am from Australia and have read a great amount of information about where and what amount to tip in the USA. What I want to know is WHY I should tip.

I find the concept objectionable and obnoxious. Travel is expensive. Staying at a hotel is expensive. Eating out at restaraunts is expensive. Why should a tourist be expected to tip?

If a taxi takes me somewhere, I pay what the meter says. Why more? If I go out to eat, the food costs money. Why pay any % on top of the bill? I just don't get it. Surely I am not responsible for employment conditions in the United States. Why should I be concerned about what a porter / bell hop / taxi driver / waiter / person who turns down the bed gets paid? If I want to carry my own bag / suit case, why should I be forced to pay someone else to carry it for me?

Apart from answers to the above, I would like to know the consequences of not paying tips. Will I be in any danger? Will I be followed by a "hit man"? I am really concerned about this issue and as I intend to travel to and stay in NYC for most of November, I wonder if the bad taste in my mouth will ever leave.

Comprehensive and convincing answers would be appreciated. I have read enough about what amount to tip, I just want to know why I should tip and any consequences if I dont.

Thank you

Oscar1 is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 05:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,441
You don't have to smile at anyone, you do't have to hold the door for old ladies, and you don't HAVE TO tip.

But don't expect any of the above to be nice to you or to share "local" insight. And if you want to return to a bar or restaurant where you didn't tip, don't expect much kindness or good service. Waiters don't forget people who stiff them.

And don't get insulted when your next Aus friend comes to America and comes home having reaped the benefit of your "cheap Australian" stereotype.

Nobody likes having to tip, but for whatever reason, it is part of the culture and expected. Many places have mandatory service charges added onto their bills. In the USA it is, for the most part, voluntary.

PS: Since you know you won't be tipping the bellhop, don't let him take your bags. A simple "No thanks" will do.

Happy travels.....
lcuy is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 05:40 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,203
TxTravelPro is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 05:47 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 142
By all means, if you want to carry your own bags, carry your own bags and do not tip anyone. No one is required to use bellhops and porters in this country. Taxi drivers generally struggle to make a living, and waitstaff are paid less than minimum wage. If you are going to stay in New York and not tip anyone, I would say don't ever eat at the same restaurant twice, and don't get into a cab with the same driver twice. Do you mean to say that people in Australia NEVER tip?
Annam is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 05:47 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 34,022
There are arguments in the US about tipping. Tipping is part of the wages that service people make. Tips used to be classified as "gifts" and therefore the recipient did not pay taxes on tips. The IRS has since classified tips as wages and therefore the employee AND the employer pay the appropriate payroll and income taxes on tips. Many employers can get by with paying less than minimum wage when the worker gets tips.

Now, as far as whether YOU tip or not: that's up to you. It's not like you will likely be returning to any of these places any time soon so, what ever. We can discuss the "right or wrong" of the system until we're blue in the face, and it will change nothing. So, the way our system works, tipping is customary...you are just visiting, if you don't want to tip, don't.

You sound kind of "ticked off". Sorry you're PO's before you even get here.
crefloors is online now  
May 13th, 2007, 05:48 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 285
Servers get paid meager, meager amounts - less than minimum wage. Tips are how they make their living, and its factored into their pay structure.

So don't tip someone if you feel its below you to do so, but know you're stiffing someone who's busting their butt to keep you happy.

nycgirl1 is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 06:13 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 810
Lemme get this straight. There is NO tipping in Australia?
sobster is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 06:27 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 9
If you do not want to tip when dining out - then by all means - eat at fast food restaurants - such as McDonalds. If you do not want to tip the underpaid and overworked waitstaff - then do not eat at fine restaurants.
debkt57 is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,301
There are at least two kinds of greedy, selfish, mean-spirited, and completely obnoxious types of people in this world. One group are those employers who don't pay their employees what should; the others are those who don't tip in keeping with the culture they are in or are visiting. BOTH of them say exactly the same thing: "I shouldn't have to support these people, so why should I?"

Apparently, you are the second group of people.

> I would like to know the consequences
> of not paying tips

Talk to any of your fellow Australians who go to the bars you decided not to tip at. Explain to them why they got dirty looks and incredibly lousy service as soon as the people working there found out what country they were from. They'll love the fact that you taught American service suppliers to view Australians as being in group two.
PaulRabe is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 07:44 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 217
When I travel to a foreign land I learn what the local customs are and try to fit in, to do what is expected. Sort of like, "when in Rome..."

So even if I were too cheap to tip (which I am not) I would tip anyway in a land where it is expected.
IamBooth is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 08:39 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 14
To all of the people who have chosen to be offensive and not helpful, I have responded by way of another posting under another title the same as this one. "Tipping in USA". Please check further up or down the left hand column and you will find it.

As I have never engaged in this forum or any other like it before, I was not aware that I could do what I am doing now. Again, if you wish to be helpful, feel free to respond. If you just want to be nasty, please don't bother. When I refer to consequences, I was not seeking a lecture on how my attitude to tipping may or may not effect future Australian travellers to the USA, I was asking if the lack of tipping could have any safety implications for me. I hope I have made myself clear. Again, nasties please stay away!


Oscar1 is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 08:59 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 11
I live in NYC. In general, while you may be fine not tipping cabs, bartenders, or hotel porters, waiters will certainly be offended. I am a good tipper, but if the service is awful, I refrain from it. I have had a waiter ask why I wasn't tipping, but if it ever got beyond a calm conversation, well, I wouldn't be wary of any consequences other than slower service and perhaps a snub or two.

The argument for tipping is that your food or other service is cheaper as a result of tipping. If the employer was to pay the employees a living wage, then the service would be higher (though I wrote this, with the profit some restaurants make, this is certainly not true). With the high price of food that's certainly not true, but spreading around good cheer and human comradmanship is always worthwhile, both for yourself and for others. While the US and NY seem immersed in wealth, the wage disparity in this country is pretty vast. Helping out and supporting a fellow human being who is providing you with a service is just a common courtesy, though certainly not required. If you don't tip, don't think anything will happen to you (physically), except, perhaps a hardening of the heart.

Either way, have a great trip here.
thomasa510 is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 09:33 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 14

Thank you for your thoughtful and helpful response. The first and only so far. I was beginning to believe that there were no reasonable people left. I am not a stingy person. I enjoy and will continue to enjoy rewarding people where a reward is due. Your remarks about the consequences or lack of them was / is also much appreciated.

Oscar1 is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 09:50 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 62
Would like to know what is an appropriate tip--percentage of fare-- for a taxi driver in N.Y.? also what's appropriate for someone who helps with
luggage at airport--according to each
piece of luggage?
MarciaR is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 10:03 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 7,988
Hi Oscar1, I live in New Zealand and my husband and I recently returned from a trip to the USA. We too did not relish the idea of tipping, in fact my husband thought it was completely unneccesary, as there is NO tipping in New Zealand either.

As I read the threads on this forum about tipping I had a fair idea what the rates should be and everytime we took a cab or had a meal I had to do work out the tip as my husband wanted no part of it.

We were staying in hotels where we carried our own bags so tipping bell-hops and porters was not a problem. We basically only tipped cab drivers, and wait staff, or left a small gratuity for the double-decker sight-seeing bus driver and tour-guide.

By the way we did not eat at the same place twice so probably could have got away without tipping but normally left around 15%.
nelsonian is online now  
May 13th, 2007, 10:17 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 14
Hi Nelsonian/s

Thank you for your informative and pleasant response. As previously mentioned, I am not a tightwad nor am I wanting to avoid an obligation. I simply wanted someone to tell me why.

I believe my questions have now been answered to a large extent and take heart from what you said. The issue does not sound as tragic as others would have you believe.

Thanks again


PS Although I am an Australian by birth, I do believe that NZ is "God's own country!"
Oscar1 is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 10:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,199
Why? Simple: it is the custom.
Next question.
mrwunrfl is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 11:30 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 64

What's the point of a minimum wage if people get paid less then it

I'm from the Netherlands and over here it's forbitten to pay people less then minimum wage.

We usually round up amounts in bars and restaurants.
Tipping over say 5% is regarded generous over here...

Bertorelli is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 05:14 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 2,364
mrwunrfl's reponse is perfect.

Don't you think it's a little insular/superior to insist that the way you do things in your country is the best way, and to refuse to go along to any degree with the custom of the host country while visiting? (Think 'when in Rome' . . .) Following that logic, Americans should not tip when using bathroom facilities, which is the custom in some countries, but is generally only found here in some upscale restaurants. Do you also get upset if you're going to visit a country where the political system does not agree with yours? Part of traveling is learning the customs of the country you are visiting, and adapting to those customs to the extent that you have interaction with them. Again, as others have stated, there is no law that says you must tip in all these circumstances, so you are certainly free to do as you please.

Having said that, I'm more troubled by this statement you made: "I am really concerned about this issue and as I intend to travel to and stay in NYC for most of November, I wonder if the bad taste in my mouth will ever leave." It sounds like you'll be arriving with the proverbial chip on your shoulder. You already have this "bad taste" and I fear it will color your entire experience. If that's the case, you will have a miserable time here, and also leave NYers with a "bad taste" about you and by extension, your fellow countrymen. If that's how you feel, why are planning to spend a whole month in such an "objectionable and obnoxious" place?

On a final note, it's interesting that your very first post on this forum is complaint about tipping, and not about any research for this big upcoming trip.
Judy24 is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 05:44 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 700
You have to "cop" with country's custom...
In USA, prices are announced without the taxes, in France it's the whole price...Do you think not paying the real value...
In NY, we have always found that
prices in some great restaurants(cafe Boulud, Gramercy Tavern, Aureole,...) were very low in comparaison with same
kind of places in Paris...but in paris, all is comprise(Tax, Service,...).
In US, tax is added on the bill and
the tip is an important part of the
server's income...
[NB :in the steakhouses, a contrario, prices are in my mind too expensive, especially the sides...]
Perhaps in Australia, all is included, but prices are in comparaison perhaps higher...
The only reproach we can make is the sometimes automatically tip added in some places...
I preferr choose by myself the % I would like to add...not less than 12% but till 20% depending on the quality of the service...

And beware, at arrival, at the frontier police, they need you to apply your left and right index and to look to an
eye's examination...Perhaps you can
protest if this is not the custom when arriving in Australia...
monpetit is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:01 PM.