Givers and receivers don’t always do the same math when it comes to tips

MONTREAL – Everybody’s got their two cents’ worth on tipping.

Whether tapped out on tipping or generous with gratuities for food and drink, patrons and servers don’t always see eye-to-eye on tips, say experts.

“A tip is our way of saying thank you for doing a great job,” says etiquette expert Margaret Page.

As soon as it becomes expected, then it’s part of a person’s wage or salary and it’s not optional, says Page of Etiquette Page Enterprises in Vancouver.

“And that’s not the intention of the tip,” she adds.

Page said a 15 per cent tip is the standard for a good meal and 20 per cent for a really good meal with “exceptional” service. She said the tip is added before the tax, which of course goes to the government.

Tipping has been making headlines recently after those on the receiving end, who got nothing for their efforts, acted on their discontent.

A woman who left no tip gained Internet notoriety after spending almost $140 at a restaurant and writing: “Single mom, sorry” in the space reserved for the tip. A photo of the bill was posted on social news website Reddit by her server.

The photo of the woman’s bill has gone viral and been viewed more than 600,000 times, sparking much online commentary about her behaviour.

She did write on her credit card bill, however, “Thank you, it was great.”

“Oh, that’s just wrong,” said Giuseppe, a waiter at an upscale Montreal restaurant known for its service.

He acknowledges that the tip is always at the customer’s discretion, but he does expect between 15 and 25 per cent for the service that he gives.

“Service is about trust,” said Giuseppe, who didn’t want his last name used or his establishment identified.

“We are building a relationship.”

Tipping was also in the news when a Pizza Hut employee in Des Moines, Iowa, became so upset after a woman didn’t give him a tip that he allegedly pulled down his pants and urinated on her front door, a local TV station reported.

The woman apparently said she didn’t have the money for a tip. It was reported the delivery man was fired after his manager viewed the incident on security camera footage.

Website tipthepizzaguy.com says drivers should be tipped because they bring dinner to your door.

“Your tips are greatly appreciated. It’s what keeps drivers moving,” the website says, adding drivers should get a gratuity even when there is a delivery fee, because that fee goes to the business.

Associate prof. Bruce McAdams estimates that tips from full-service restaurants bring in $6 billion a year to the Canadian economy, based on a 15 per cent tip rate. But he noted it has to be questioned how much is being declared and how it is distributed among staff.

In Canada, there’s an expectation that restaurant tips be between 15 per cent and 20 per cent, he said.

Tipping, however, is a “social norm,” said McAdams, who teaches at the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Guelph.

“We tip because we don’t want to look like a cheapskate or it’s expected,” he said from Guelph, Ont.

What about those tip bowls at coffee shops and fast food restaurants?

Page said it’s not necessary, but it’s always nice if customers want to drop some spare change in the bowl.

Rodney, a regular at a pub in Old Montreal, says his tipping “depends on what change I have.”

While it isn’t the same level of service, Rodney said he does tip $1 for every beer he drinks because “it just seems fair.”

Technology is also playing a role in tipping at times.

On wireless payment terminals used for credit cards, the tip has been automatically set by some restaurants at 20 per cent and consumers haven’t readily accepted it, Page said.

“I can tell you almost immediately in Vancouver that those restaurants reset their terminals.”

For those unsatisfied with their restaurant experience, Page said refusing to tip doesn’t send a clear message because some customers just don’t tip and not all cultures have the practice of tipping.

“If you’re really unhappy, you need to let the management know or let the waiter or waitress know why you’re unhappy.”

Please be civil, she advises.

“What’s critical in this is your tone of voice.”




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Givers and receivers don’t always do the same math when it comes to tips

  1. I never tip unless there is something unusual about the service.

    It’s a guilt trip forrced on the customers that means restaurants don’t have to pay decent wages.

    • If you don’t ever tip that means you can’t afford to eat at sit down restaurants. Servers wouldn’t work without tips. The cost of the food is lower because tips lower the labour costs, if tips were included in the price of food, then you would be paying more. Tips just give you control over how much your server makes. Never tipping is just ripping off your server and completely going against a long standing unwritten rule in society. You are a cheapskate and you should inform waiters that you don’t plan on tipping at the start of the meal. Let them show you an appropriate level of attention.

      • Yes, I eat at sit-down restaurants….are there any other kind?

        The ‘unwritten rule’ is a guilt trip you fell for.

        • Servers get paid as low as 2.60 an hour in Massachusetts. If you don’t tip, that server still pays taxes on the 15% the state assumes you tip. So therefore, if everyone was like you, and also ordered expensive things, a server could actually be paying out of pocket for you to eat when you can’t afford to.

          • Not my problem.

          • You understand that every server (who is there to ensure you have a great dining experience) who serves you is losing money. Whatever your bill total is they have to tip-out to other staff in the restaurant. Generally it’s 1% to the busser, 1% to the host, 1% to the bartender and on occasion 1% to the kitchen or house. if your bill was $100 and you tip nothing, your server has just lost $4 trying to make sure you have a good time. If you don’t want to tip I understand, some people are that way but you should at least try and throw down 5% just so your server doesn’t lose money.

          • Had you thought of getting a decent job?

          • If we all got these “decent” jobs you talk about, who would serve you?

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