4

How much do Canadians think they should tip?

Is 10 per cent enough? 15? Does it depend on the service? Tipping advice from the people it affects the most.


 

The job of a restaurant server isn’t easy — bringing food, drinks and smiles. So how do we thank them? We tip. But how much should you tip? We asked 1,500 Canadians to chime in on what they leave for good service.

We found that the majority — 54 per cent — of those surveyed think you should tip 11 to 15 per cent. Another 20 per cent are willing to give 16 to 19 per cent to servers; and 18 per cent of respondents said they left 10 per cent or less. Eight per cent of those surveyed are more generous, saying that tipping 20 to 24 per cent is the way to go.

What do the people getting your tips have to say about that? We asked four servers across the country on what they think is the right number.

Caitlin McCarthy, Regina, Sask., pub server

Caitlin McCarthy

Caitlin McCarthy

“Customers should tip on the service they receive. If I only did an OK job, then 10 per cent. If you were happy with my service and you think I did a great job, or I made your night more enjoyable, then I would recommend 15 to 25 per cent. I would say in most situations, servers rely on their tips. It’s hard to save, pay bills or do anything making the minimum $10.72 an hour in Saskatchewan. People don’t realize that we have to tip out a percentage of what we earn to other staff members. So if I had no tables tip me all night, I have to dig into my own pocket to tip out the other staff members. People often blame the server if there’s something wrong with their food. The server didn’t make their meals, but they do have control over how they handle the situation and how to improve the customers’ night.”

Drishti Thakkar, Toronto, Ont., barista

Drishti Thakkar

Drishti Thakkar

“Usually, customers just tip the change we return to them. Some regular customers tip about a dollar per purchase. I would recommend that customers tip if we’ve made a difference in their day. Our priority is to ensure that customers leave our store satisfied. Tipping is one way  to tell us that we’ve done a good job.”

 

 

Sara Russell-Brown, London, Ont., pub server

Sara Russell-Brown

Sara Russell-Brown

“On a good night, customers tip anywhere between 10 to 15 per cent. My tips have gone to different things over the years. When I first started serving, they went to pay my tuition, then it was travelling. Now, they often go to bills. The legislation that makes employers unable to take any tips from servers is very beneficial — I’ve heard horror stories from other servers at different establishments. For myself, I do the work that needs to be done and give the best service I can. Some nights are more challenging than others, but I feel I’ve earned what I’ve been paid.”

 

Iain Childerhose, Montreal, Que., barista

Iain Childerhose

Iain Childerhose

“I would say [the appropriate amount] averages out to about 15 or 20 per cent [industry wide]. For the café I work at, much of our business is grab and go, so generally speaking, I’m fine when anyone just leaves their change (small coins) or rounds up to the nearest dollar. In Quebec, minimum wage is only $11.25/hr, and those earning tips can be paid lower ($9.45/hr), yet most calculate a living wage to be at least $15 an hour, so people working in the service industries are almost certainly dependent on tips to bridge this gap. All of the places I’ve worked at have stressed the importance of good customer service so I would like to say that providing the customer with a quality experience is instinctual to me at this point. The reality is that we all have off days, and if you work in the service industry even when you aren’t feeling your best you still need to try and greet everyone with a welcoming smile and try to find ways to ensure a tip from your customers.”

Interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity and length. 

The Canada Project


 

How much do Canadians think they should tip?

    • Judging by your comments I’ve often read, I’m not surprised.

  1. The system of tipping rather arbitrarily and requiring servers to re-tip out to other staff is excessively awkward, and then the CRA chases after them for taxes and (its rumoured) that they under-report. I almost always tip 15% on the total bill after tax – the way the machines are set up – which amounts to about 17 1/2% before tax, which I think is quite generous. Many years ago Gloria Vanderbilt said never to tip on the amount after tax – after all, we are not tipping the government.

    I much prefer the european system which is not to tip, and none is expected (except in tourist areas from big-spending Americans). The ettiquette is said to be – leave a few coins if you get them in change, but otherwise nothing is expected. Friends in France never tip. Servers there are more professional and knowledgeable, and do get paid more.

  2. I think it’s disgraceful that a server has to fork over a portion of her pay to other staff as tip-out if she doesn’t make any tips. Kitchen staff, busboys and others who don’t make tips should be paid a higher salary rather than dipping into the pockets of their co-workers.
    In some other places, tips are pooled and then divided between all staff. This negates my intention when I reward a server for better-than-usual service. My norm is 15% and I’ll go as high as 25% (both pre-tax) if the service is extraordinary. I’m not very pleased to hand money to one person as praise and find out it’s partially going to the hostess who was surly on the way in.
    Restaurants should have to post their policies on tipping publicly so customers know who’s getting their money.
    I also resent places that automatically tack on an extra 15-20% for a tip. Tips should be voluntary at the discretion of the customer, not just a way of increasing the bill. I’ve had that charge removed in a very few places by arguing it but most say it’s their policy and won’t back down. I’ve often wondered what they would do if I paid the bill in cash minus that charge – would/could they do anything about it? If they called the police, what would the reaction be? I’d be interested in hearing what servers think of that practice and whether they actually see the extra money.

Sign in to comment.