Dear Prime Minister,

Many waiters, especially in these tense economic times, need every tip they can get. Unfortunately, tourists from foreign countries, unaware of American tipping customs, frequently forget to leave their server a gratuity. Martin, a server from Raleigh, North Carolina, and was recently stiffed by a large group of what he described as “very pleasant Britons.” His outrage at their behavior inspired him to write a letter to Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. I have decided to republish the letter on my blog. (Please note that Martin’s political sentiments do not necessarily reflect my own. If you wish to respond to Martin, he can be reached at milleronic[at]gmail.com.)

The Right Honourable Gordon Brown;
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland;
First Lord of the Treasury; Minister for the Civil Service
10 Downing Street
Westminster, London, England, United Kingdom SW1A 2AA

October 12, 2008

My Dear Sir:

While it may trouble you to receive this correspondence regarding the behaviour of your delightful citizens abroad, specifically in the former colonies; now commonly known as the United States of America, I feel compelled, as a citizen of afore stated former colonies, and thereby a cousin, if you will, of the otherwise pleasant British, to inform you of some rather disturbing actions which your people engage whilst visiting or travelling this side of the Pond.

Personally I find the British charming, polite, urbane, civilised, and otherwise of a generally agreeable lot. Not having had the pleasure of personally attending an Arsenal or Manchester United football match, I leave the reputed hooliganism and accompanying rows to cultural idiosyncrasy, one not evidenced in my experience. Nevertheless, the one behaviour of your citizenry here in America of which I find the most annoying, disturbing, and ultimately maddening is the ignorance of a peculiar American cultural artefact, which manifests itself most obviously in the act of the tip. As a waiter, and one who has served the Queen’s subjects (and your constituency) on more than several occasions, and because of the vagaries of the American economic system, professional waiters in America depend wholly upon the tip, which, as I understand in Great Britain and Europe, is meant to be an extra reward for good service, due to the fact that waiters there receive a salary of liveable degree. In America, waiters receive a pittance salary, usually of an hourly nature, and far below the minimum wage, which is more often than not applied to income tax; subsequently the majority of waiters in America owe taxes at the end of the year. To put it simply: American waiters depend upon tips for their livelihood.

Mr. Brown, I urge you, if only for decency’s sake, to inform your citizens, before travelling abroad to the United States, that while dining out in a restaurant where waiters take orders and serve food, that the tip is not compulsory, but mandatory, the amount of which is meant as a level of satisfaction of service provided. Excellent service is rewarded in excess of 20% of the total cheque amount, for example, a $100 meal with excellent service deserves a $20 (or greater) tip. Average service requires a 15% tip, and poor service can be indicated with a 10% tip. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to “stiff”, or simply not tip, a waiter in America, or leave a tip under 10% (with the exception of absolutely abysmal service).

As the global economy continues to deteriorate, I can understand a certain reticence in the spending of money; however, British people in America have been displaying this ignorance for far longer than the duration of the current fiscal crisis; therefore, I can only surmise the problem stems from a lack of education of the British People, and you Sir, are the political leader of Great Britain, so this grim task must remain your responsibility, nay, your duty, for the sake of the continuing good reputation of the British abroad.

I have prevailed upon the United States Department of Homeland Security to distribute proper American Etiquette Pamphlets, including proper tip technique, an e-z Tip calculator (sponsored by Applebee’s), and common American slang terminology to all foreigners arriving in America, in an effort to improve international waiter-guest relations. As of the date of this letter, I have not heard from the Department of Homeland Security’s Undersecretary to the Assistant Adjunct of Customs Enforcement and Cultural Assimilation’s Office’s Secretary’s Assistant, although the Border Patrol is very interested.

Please Sir, I beg you, do not let this simple lack of education evolve into a further international crisis. Yes, our military are busy at the moment, but after the elections next month, we may have some troops to spare. Do you want to be remembered as the PM who let Britain’s subjects starve while in America, or truly, has the sun set on the British Empire?

Sincerely,
The Waiters of America

PS. Please forward this letter your your pals, the Prime Ministers of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, as we have similar problems with them, and post this letter in a good location in the Hague’s Bulletin Board of International Notices next time you’re there – the European Union has been slow to adopt our policies as well, and is in need of a gentle reminder. Actually, we’ll deal with the Canadians as we see fit.

(Waiter’s note: Actually Martin, the last time the U.S. invaded Canada, it didn’t work out so well for us.)


Comments

Dear Prime Minister, — 250 Comments

  1. I live in the UK and have to be honest that this isn’t something that we necessarily know about it. Though I’ve got to be honest, a letter towards Gordon Brown isn’t really the way to get publicity. To inform the UK – try newspapers!

  2. Got to be first to disagree with the guy’s statement that it is never acceptible to leave no tip. Shy of tipping 1 cent to get the point across that the service is lousy the next best thing is to leave nothing. Some waiters and waitresses shouldn’t hold those positions because they suck at it and those people need to be starved out of the profession.

  3. Just have to take a moment to refute a damn stereotype that comes up again and again.

    “Not having had the pleasure of personally attending an Arsenal or Manchester United football match, I leave the reputed hooliganism and accompanying rows to cultural idiosyncrasy, one not evidenced in my experience.”

    I’m an American supporter of Liverpool FC and have had the pleasure of personally attending matches in England. I felt as safe there as I would attending any sporting event here in the States. England has worked hard to eradicate the hooligan culture and create a safe environment at the matches.

    Tired of seeing that old stereotype again and again. Have to run though…gotta catch the Liverpool match at 10:00 AM (EDT). Cheers!

  4. You know. . . your site has been a revelation to how tipping works in the US. As an Australian, a tip is a compliment to the waitstaff. Any tip is a nice start and more tip is a greater compliment. We have a minimum wage as a livable wage no matter what you do – and I was surprised by my friend from the US & her request for guidance on how to tip when she was here. I was more shocked by your blogs which outlined the ‘minimum wage’ and how some employers choose to rort the system in different ways. In Australia, I usually give around 10% because I acknowledge that it is a job I couldn’t do – physically, emotionally, etc. I feel that this is a basic acknowledgment of a job well done. As a relatively smart person, I can see that other people can perform a task far better than I ever could and I like to let people know when they’re doing a good job. But next time I am in the US, I will acknowledge that the cost of food and its service is not just about exchange rates and different types of economy – but about providing the server (I am still not comfortable with that term) a livable wage.

    And thankyou to Waiterrant for my education. No wonder my boss wouldn’t let me pay whenever we went to restaurants when I was there last time! It was because I was a dumb Aussie!

    So – thankyou, for teaching me to be a better person when I visit!

  5. Different cultures have different tipping habits. Until I read your blog, I had no idea of the American tipping requirements, and until I visited Germany and someone explained it to me, I had no idea of their methods either.

    I think there should be a leaflet that is handed out at airports with a list of tipping strategies in different countries!

  6. Well, as a Canadian, I have to say that if he has problems getting tips from Canadians, there is something else at play here.

    While I don’t think that Canadian waitstaff have the same issues with low payment that the US waitstaff do, tipping is very well known up here, and at least for the people I know, it’s standard practice.

  7. This Canadian is not a poor tipper. I was out recently with a friend from the UK and she asked me how much tip she should leave. I told her to tip 20% on the total (after taxes etc) which she more did and then proceeded to round up. Granted it was only two drinks and an appetizer at 4 pm on a Thursday but I would have told her that had she bought me brunch this afternoon or had I bought her dinner on Friday night. So, hmph.

  8. If he’s not getting a tip from Canadians, it’s because he’s a horrible waiter. I tip 15% at minimum, even at times when the waiter has performed so poorly I should be stiffing him. It’s something I want to work on. I’ve tipped over 35% a couple of times if I had really good service. Usually, it’s about 20%.

  9. I’m a Canadian .. and I don’t know anyone who does NOT tip at least 15% no matter where we travel .. you just DO. I’ve been at tables where everyone has left a smaller tip and it’s built a nice little pot for our server. I dunno about the writer of that letter .. comes off in a bad light IMO .. I can’t imagine anyone settling for a job where you don’t make a living wage to begin with .. and not fighting tooth and nail for that living wage .. rather than settling for what is a pitance and relying on the restaurant customer for their wages. That will never make sense to me. Rather then beret customers for what you should be paid from your EMPLOYER .. get out there and fight for change .. seems to me you’ve all just rolled over and accepted it as the ‘norm’. I view tips as a GRATUITY .. an extra thank you for the service to someone who works a tough job to provide me with a lovely meal experience .. NOT the wage. :\

  10. As long as you call the money in question “a tip”, it will be seen – and rightly so – as a gratuity, something that will be awarded for good or exceptional service. As is customary in every other country, by the way, except maybe Japan, where – or so I’m told – it is considered bad manners to tip the wait personnel. If you think it’s mandatory, call it by the right name: “service fee” and people will have no issues paying up. They might even tip on top, whaddayaknow?

    It’s not really the fault of people inhabitating the other four continents of this planet (plus your neighbours on your continent) that your country has, shall we say: peculiar? misguiding? idiotic? ways to name said fee and that your restaurant owners see fit to let their staff rely on “tips”, rather than pay decent wages.

  11. Oh my, TY for a much needed giggle on a lazy Saturday morning…”deal with Canadians as we see fit”….good grief.

    Due to proximity, Canadians lean far more toward being like Americans than British. If we’re cheap and/or rude…well, ’nuff said.

    And BTW, this Canuck was a former waitress and since I remember well what it was like, I tip WELL for good service.

  12. Hey, here’s a thought: adopt decent worker-laws such that waiting staff is paid a decent salary, rather than relying on tips. We do that in Europe, works really well too — and we still leave a bit extra if the service is “exceptional”.

    Maybe a rant to the powers-that-be in the US to the effect of getting waiters to be salaried and a tip be…..not expected, but a reward for good service.

    It always struck me as an oddity that I go pay 80USD for a meal in a restaurant, where the ingredients are probably worth about 8USD if bought in a supermarket — and then on top of that 72USD markup, I *still* have to bribe the staff not to have them sneeze on my food…..

  13. Hmm. I’m going to side with Sherry and Sarah here. While it might be easy enough for someone on the ‘inside’ of the service industry to berate those who do not tip, I’d be more inclined to berate your Goverment and those with the power to make a change. Why on earth should it be up to the customer to support an unfair system?

  14. I see other Canadians have already defended our tipping practices (20% excellent, 15% decent, 10% poor is the norm here too).

    But rather than try to “educate” foreign visitors about North America’s idiotic and backward compensation practices for restaurant staff, why not lobby for change here instead? Europe is way ahead of us in the area of paying fair wages. To expect them to revert to a primitive and broken system seems a little presumptuous.

  15. In most other countries people (thanks to unions, employment laws etc) more often than not earn decent wages regardless of occupation. My first thought when confronted with American views is that we have the political system, and the political leaders, that we deserve. Tipping is a nuisance that ought to be reserved for the kind of truly excellent service that you don´t get very often, and I think it´s quite stupid to regularly expect customers to support a restaurateur who does not pay his staff decent wages.

  16. Seems to me that the restaurant lobby got to the lawmakers and somehow twisted their arms so that waiters do not make minimum wage and thus save the owners a bundle. Here lies the problem, not in the customers (from whatever culture). Waiter, why has there been no legal challenge to the blatant descrimination waiters suffer with respect to the minimum wage? Your complaints really should be addressed to your representative in Washington. Claim your rights by changing the law (a very American custom) and you’ll get your minimum wage. Perhaps then all complaints will cease and tips will indeed reflect quality of service!

  17. I kinda agree with Sarah (#13) – I have no problem with conforming to the system in place in the US, but when you call it a “tip” how are foreigners (who use the same word differently at home) expected to know otherwise? I really only knew what it was like for waiters when my sister roomed with one when she studied in the US. And I have been “tipping” properly in the US ever since.
    Not everyone is going to know how to find sites like this, or indeed to know that they have to find this. If it is part of the payment for the restaurant service, then the restaurant should make that clear to its patrons. I understand this post is more about the humour, but I have read this idea before on this site and others, and I am not sure why the customer should bear the burden of finding out what the customary practice is, when you don’t really regard it as a “custom” but as an obligatory part of the system – you can’t have it both ways – it’s either discretionary, or a visible, stated cost of the service.
    Let the restaurant say that you must pay the waiter as part of the service. Or, like with the idea of this letter, let the USA formally advise every entrant. If it’s unwritten in the restaurant, how do people really expect it to be known? Or get upset when people don’t know?
    I repeat for the ones who get really upset, that I PAY. But as a foreigner from a small country with a different system, I know that the situation of waiters in the US is not really well-known.

  18. its a lack of care for the working man in the USA that are at fault , not foreigners who don’t know the tipping “system”.

    A lack of a decent minimum wage is the main problem.

    Socialist Politics is a dirty phrase in the USA and smacks of communism to the American , which it is not and would greatly enhance the lives of the USA’s citizens

    USA is the only western civilised country that allows ‘at will employment’ which is an abomination. Yes I know this statement is off topic but the policy of being able to sack people for no real reason shows greatly towards the mind set that makes having to tip someone the get them up to a decent living comes from.

  19. I’m Canadian and personally, I usually tip 10%-ish. I’ve started tipping more as I have more money (I’ve been a student a longgg time), but it seems weird to tip 20%. Especially when I know that these waiters ARE getting minimum wage.

    However I do tip higher in the US. I think it’s considered good form to find out the customs of a country before you travel there.

  20. As a Canadian, I usually tip whatever the tax ends up being, plus rounding up. Usually around 14-15% Unless I have less cash on me than I anticipated, and leave… Well, as much as I can.

    Like another commenter said, if you are not tipped by a Canadian, it means that either the person wasn’t actually a Canadian and you thought they were; the person was shocked by the total of the bill and only had enough cash to cover it; or the service was abysmal or at least below par enough that the Canadian didn’t want to reward it with anything, and couldn’t find a penny to make the point clearer.

    I have been with groups where people shied out of the tip for those reasons–usually in that case the person gets a bit of hassling from the Canadians later about it (depending on situation, of course) and sometimes the other group members will chip in a bit more to compensate (provided the reason wasn’t “abysmal service”, at which point they got nada).

    One thing I heard a friend’s parent do that I thought was remarkably rude was that they would set out the expected tip amount in coins on the table in a neat stack as they sat down at the table. For every “mistake” the waiter made, such as the food was late, an order was mixed up, or, well, anything he wanted to get irritable about, he’d take a coin (usually a dollar) away from the eventual tip, so that as the waiter returned to the table with food and to check up on people, they could “rate” their performance by the size of the stack of coins.

    I never did find out if for improving service, the coins were returned; or if the tip ended up being less than 15%ish that they added more… The whole strategy just didn’t sit well with me. o_O

  21. Having worked in hospitality in Australia, I was conditioned to regard tips as a pleasant surprise and not something to expect.

    However, it’s hard to believe there is anyone left on the planet who doesn’t know about the American service sector the poverty wages they pay.

    When dining out in New York, I’ve always made a point of tipping well to try and redress the balance. Plus, most waitstaff I’ve encountered at American restaurants put their commonwealth cousins to shame.

    But watch out for the automatically included gratuity. We got caught once and ended up tipping 25% twice. No major grief though, the food and service were worth it.

  22. I am Canadian, and until recently a waitress.
    I am used to receiving 15-20% gratuity from my fellow Canadian’s in Ontario and Quebec.
    From American’s I can’t always count on a tip. Part of this is because one of Quebec’s taxes is TPS (which is often mistaken for tips), and another is that people assume that because they crossed the border everything changed, wishful thinking. I have to say though that after I explain that we are accustomed to receiving 15-20% gratuity just like our American neighbours I have been greeted with understanding and tips. (this last part excludes Bruin’s fans, they just suck)

  23. Well, as some other Canadians said before, tipping is not a problem. As an ex- waiter and bartender I’m well aware of the need, but there usually seems to be a decorum as far as tipping, especially abroad.

    I remember many many times when Americans would tip, for example, $3 US dollars on an $100 Can bill and laugh that the US money was worth SOOOO much we shouldn’t complain, even if the truth was that they tipped about $4.50 — this is obviously before our dollar was on par with yours.

    So, I will note than I’m just back from a two-week vacation in the US. I was often (uncomfortably so) thanked by waiters for my tips. When asking one waitress why we were thanked so much as it was wearing on me, she let us know about the “arrogant wave off over the bill so many patriots give me to cover their meal without a real tip. Americans on vacation don’t think a tip is important because they think we’ll forget them the next time they come in. Not tipping, holding on to money, is the new patriotism and it sucks. That’s why we appreciate people like you, who come to our country.”

    So, given this, who’s the bad guy — external or internal tourists? It’s easy to clam to be from another english-speaking country.

    So, Waiter, as we Canadians don’t blame everyone for bad tipping due to geography, please don’t blame us. Individuals from all countries can be asshole tippers, your beloved country included. The enlightened tip, no matter where they call home.

    PS: I took your book for the plane ride, it repeated much of what I read on the site, but was still a good read. I was pleased to leave it with a waiter at a place in Florida and his collegues, several of which never heard of the site, who laughed while reading some random chapter. And yes, I tipped him well, too.

    I’ll be buying a new copy now that I’m back… are there any signed copies out there (or, should I say, HERE in Canada)?

  24. I’m a decent tipper… the base tip I give is 20%, 15% for less than good service and 10% for the “I don’t give a frick about the customer” service.

    What I don’t understand, is why not just pay waiters a livable wage and dispense with the tipping. The tip jars every where are just way out of hand… increase the cost of the service to cover it.

    I know this has been suggested over and over again on this blog and people will come back with, ‘my income will go down if I just get a base salary.’ The message that sends though, is begging for money (i.e. tips) is a much better deal than folks who make a straight wage. I’ve never seen it answered in a satisfactory, customer-focused way.

    I agree with the folks from outside the US. It’s time to change the laws that exempt wait-staff from the minimum wage laws. Having tipping be what it was intended to be, for truely exemplary service.

    I’ll continue to tip because when Karma bites you in the ass, she bites hard. However, I continue to disagree with the notion of tipping.

  25. Leigh, the customer-focused answer is: The customers don’t want to pay more for their food. Especially right now. The economy sucks, people aren’t eating out as much to begin with; if restaurants raised their prices to cover an increase in server wages then fewer people would eat out and the restaurants would lose business. And this remains true even when the economy is pretty good. Americans are used to this system, we don’t respect the service industry in this country, so people don’t think that servers deserve to get paid more. It’s awful, but there it is.

  26. Well…I am glad to see so many fellow Canadians speaking up (we tend to be a little too polite at times)…as a server in Canada, I can tell you 15% is an average tip and do not lump us in with the British, Aussies, and other non-tippers….most servers here make minimum wage and we too live off our tips…BTW thanx for the comment you posted as we would gladly beat off invading Americans with hockey sticks if we had to!

  27. I agree.

    A not to my countrymen when travelling anywhere. Read a guidebook, and flick to the page on tipping. Lonely planet and eyewitness certainly both tell you what’s acceptable, and I’m sure all the others do as well.

    In addition to the essential tipping information, you get lots of fascinating advice on places to visit in the city or country you’ve travelled to.

  28. As if the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand would listen to Gordon Brown anyway, the leaders of these 2 nations enjoy much higher approval ratings than Mr Brown. To be seen taking advice from him would be political suicide.

    Yes i find it hard to believe that any Aussie wouldn’t know about America’s tipping system, besides food is much cheaper in the US so tips even things out.

    However i hear that Aussie waitstaff enjoy it when American tourists visit, as they often tip astronomically by Aussie standards

  29. For those of you who justify leaving less because we should pay a living wage… while that might be true, will a few dollars really break you, knowing full well what the system is? Or are you that much of a jerk?

  30. What Rosie said. Forget “informing” Gordon Brown. Even IF he cared, he’s kinda busy right now with less important issues like the current world wide banking problems, the WAR in Iraq etc etc etc

  31. Folks, complaining about the custom does not make NOT tipping correct – it’s rude. When you travel to a foreign country, it’s your responsibility to know the customs of that country. Simple as that.

  32. I take exception to the comments on football hoolaganism. I have been going to Arsenal since I was 10 years old and have been a season ticket holder for the past 20 years. I have never experienced hoolaganism of any sort, I have never ever been evenly remotely nervous at a match even when atteding an evening game on my own.

    As for tipping – well I think most people realise that you have to tip at least 15% in America and on my yearly trip to Vegas I tip everyone, the bellhop, the man who opens the cab door for you, the chambermaid and especially the wait staff, however on a recent trip to Florida I was horrified that my Father, stepmother, sister and her family, all regular travellers to America, tipped paltry amounts and could not see the problem even when I poined out the error of their ways. I found myself making excuses to remain behind at the table in order to leave what I thought to be a decent tip lest we were considered to be the usual mean Brits. American wait staff should be paid a decent living wage but all the time they aren’t we should comply with the current tipping regime.

  33. I worked at a breakfast place in Chicago that was frequented by employees of British Airways and we would fight over who had to wait on them b/c of this issue. They would arrive in large groups and order multiple courses; first cereal, then eggs/pots, then fruit. They might tip $1 a person. I despised waiting on these customers but knew that b/c they flew here once a week, they really knew the customs. Once,after adding gratuity to a check for 8 customers, they complained to the manager. I haven’t waited tables in over 8 years and my blood still boils when I think about how shitty they were. Love the rant.

  34. I agree with those who argue that people should be paid a proepr wage and not depend on tips. It isn’t your place to lecture us on tipping customs, if the price is $120 make it $120 not $100. That is just ridiculous. Tipping should reward great service, but it is their job to wait on tables, that is what they are paid for and so if there is a gripe, it is with their employer. Get a grip on it and stop lecturing the rest of the world on what you consider appropriate. If you don’t want the tourists thats another matter.

  35. How about this for customer-focused:

    With tipping, customers choose how much is appropriate to pay for the service they recieved, and because the server knows this, in general the service is better.

    Without tipping, there is no incentive to perform at your best for every table, so the quality of service goes down. It’s more expensive for employers, likely to be less profitable for the employees, customers lose control of the situation, and likely pay more than they would in a meal+tip situation given that employers must pay extra taxes on their higher payroll.

    As such, I can really see no reason why a standard of not tipping would be better for anyone who has anything to do with the restaurant industry, worker or patron alike.

  36. I sincerely hope Martin is a far better server, than he is a self-appointed speaker for The Waiters of America.

    While commenter Marina touched on but one reason initially prompting the above observation, quite frankly, that formal letter was just so wrong- on so many levels.

    Still-cringing muscles aside, it has been my habit to tip a minimum of 50% for quality service, regardless of the particular occupation of those providing said service. Shocking, perhaps, but having been on both sides of a restaurant table (Not to mention a bar); that amount has simply become de rigueur through enlightenment.

    Certainly, the masses (Foreign and Domestic) could stand to be educated on acceptable tipping practices, no argument there. Though, it’s doubtful they’ll receive anything of the sort from the bottom of the Prime Minister’s wastebasket…

  37. Not to defend the backward tipping rules in North America, but here in Canada (and probably the US), restaurants make some of the lowest profits of any business in the country, about 3-4%. If they paid their waiters much more than they already do, they would be out of business in no time.

    But as some people have already mentioned, they could do like in other countries and add a mandatory service charge to the bill that goes directly to the waiter. It would be easier for diners too, since they won’t have to try to calculate how much tip to leave!

  38. so does this mean that the american government will in turn instigate education programs to ensure that amercians traveling overseas will understand and respect the cultural, social and above all portion size differences that exist in foreign countries…

  39. Thanks, waiter, for being one of the few who have their Cdn/American 1812 facts correct! I’m surprised to hear Canadians don’t tip so well. When I used to live there, it seemed the tipping standards were pretty close to US standards. At any rate, I’m a good-tipping Cdn here in the states, in part because of your blog!

  40. Hello Waiter,

    I’ve enjoyed your blog for sometime and even though you did not write the letter I just want to make a slight correction. I’m Canadian I’ve bartended, served and hosted in several resturants/lounges in various provinces. Canadians do tip and when met with great service we tip exceptionally well.

    As pleasant and mild mannered as most Canadians are, please advise the author of that epistle that we burnt your White House last time you tried to invade us.

    With kindest regards,

    A Northern Neighbour

  41. What kind of a stupid moron would take a job that pays less than minimum wage? Get a better job, stop trying to wheedle more money out of people.

  42. The people above can whine all they want about changing the system. Until the system does, in fact, change, they are being cheapskates.

    I live in Japan where tips are not expected. Would those people who routinely tip 10% or less continue to tip the same, knowing that it’s not expected for generally excellent service? I doubt it. They would probably respect the culture and gleefully keep their money.

    And addressing the point about Americans who behave badly in other countries: some do, yes. And many don’t. Why would you want to equate your behavior with any of the bumbling yahoos who go abroad with no regard for the local customs?

  43. It astonishes me that Europeans and Brits can actually defend their poor tipping practices by blaming it on the system.

    As an American I have been lectured numerous times in print about the lack of respect that my countrymen have shown to other countries’ customs. It is reasonable to comment on the injustice of waiters income in the US. It is not reasonable to deliberately tip badly or claim ignorance.

    Regardless of place, tourists and other travelers should know and respect the customs of the country they visit.

  44. OMG! You serious?
    The tipping system here in Malaysia is much different. It is not compulsory or mandatory. It is already built into the bill as “Service Charge”. Many of the restaurants would just eat up the Service Charge and not leave anything for the waiters.
    Even so, the waiters who are tipped are sometimes not allowed to take the tip but to pool them together and shared.

  45. I have to say, I don’t think tipping is mandatory. A tip says ‘you did a good job’ but it’s a choice people make. If it’s mandatory, then it’s a TAX!! I understand that people get screwed by a broken system, I do. We should fix it. But don’t say we HAVE to tip. It’s a CHOICE!

  46. I READ THIS BLOG ALOT, I LIKE THE WRITING, AND IVE READ SOME OF THE BOOK, ID LIKE TO MAKE ONE POINT THO, THERE IS AN OVERRIDING THEME OF THIS BOOK, THE COMPLAINING ABOUT TIPPING, HOW MUCH CUSTOMERS SHOULD GIVE, I HAVE MY OWN THOUGHTS ABOUT THE SUBJECT, FIRST OF ALL, I DONT THINK A WAITERS JOB IS ALL THAT HARD, ALL THEY DO IS TAKE UR ORDER, AND THEN BRING YOUR FOOD TO YOU, FOR THAT THE WAITER WANTS A 20 PERCENT TIP, I THINK THATS BULL SHIET, I MEAN THINK OF IT, WHO IS DOING MOST OF THE WORK IN A RESTAURANT, ITS NOT THE WAITERS, ITS MOSTLY THE COOKS IN THE KITCHENS AND THE MEXICANS THAT DO ALL THE HARD WORK, IF I HAD IT MY WAY, I WOULD TIP THE COOKS AND PEOPLE IN THE KITCHEN 15 PERCENT, THE WAITER MEBBE 5 PERCENT AND WAITERS SHOULD BE HAPPY WIT THAT AMOUNT, ALSO, TO ME PEOPLE THAT SHOULD ALSO GET A TIP ARE WORKERS THAT WORK IN FAST FOOD, LIKE PEOPLE THAT WORK AT MCDONALDS, THOSE PEOPLE NEVER GET ANY TIPS, AND ARENT EVEN ALLOWED TO ACCEPT TIPS, AND THEY ARENT THE CRY BABIES THESE WAITERS ARE, I THINK FAST FOOD WORKERS WORK MUCH HARDER THEN WAITERS, AND FINALLY, IF WAITERS DONT LIKE WAT I HAVE TO SAY, GET A BETTER PAYING JOB AND STOP CRYING FOR MORE MONEY, WHEN BASICALLY U DONT DO THE REAL HARD WORK.

  47. While Martin raises some excellent points, I still get the feeling that he hasn’t travelled much.

    I am Australian and I work in retail. Whenever I come across an American tourist I shudder, because they tend to be rude, loud and extremely demanding. This is not every customer, yes, but just the results of a long time observing.

    Americans travelling overseas seem to have the view that their systems are better than that of the rest of the world. They demand products, prices and qualities that are common in America, but are not available in Australia. They seem to expect the rest of the world to conform to their unusual standards, and yet look down their noses at tourists to their own country who may not be sure what to expect or what to do.

    That being said, however, when I travel to America next year I will definitely tip 20%.

    You know what, Waiter? It’s all because of you. Keep on educating the world.

  48. As a Brit I can safely say we know about tipping, being heavily influenced recently by the American system – most waiters here earn less than minimum wage and also rely on tips. Guests in your country may plead ignorance but I’d bet it’s really down to wanting save a few bucks in a country where no-one knows you.

    The aspect of US tipping that I really take offence to is that it is never acceptable to leave without tipping. My own experience in a top Manhattan restaurant where the wrong meals were sent, cutlery was dirty and the staff were rude. In the UK after complaining you’d expect not to leave a tip and maybe even gets the drinks free, we explained why we weren’t leaving a tip but were physically stopped from leaving until we’d paid at least 8%

    Waiters really are their own worst enemies!

  49. Instead of whinging writing to the Prime Minister of another country he should be writing to the President of his own, asking to fix the *real* problem – ridiculous wages.

  50. Writing the Prime Minister over being stiffed by a table of tourists? Does he really think that will help? Doesn’t he think maybe the PM is busy with the global economic crisis or the war or something? I’m sure the PM will get right on it…not!

    The hubs and I are what I think are decent tippers. But when did 15% turn to 20%. Why do you pay 20% of the sales tax to the server? I bet most of the servers just pocket the cash tips and don’t pay income tax on them…wish my hubs got paid in cash, but no, we have all his income declared for tax purposes.

    Sorry…maybe I’m a little jaded after a bad server experience a couple of days ago. The guy was in the weeds and as far as I could tell, he only had us and two other tables. Other people brought out his food and bussed his tables for him. We waited at least 10 minutes for every request and sat for 10-15 without refills and dipping sauce for our appetizer (yep, it was ranch–I’m sure we are uncool!) People who sat down the same time as us had their food when he was taking our order. I almost talked to the manager, but didn’t want to get him in trouble. Like sheep, we gave him 15%.

    Sorry for the rant.

  51. Hi, I’m Canadian, and have worked in restaurants, and um, we tip here. All the time, everywhere. Not tipping is like a crime. Maybe this guy just had bad experiences with some crappy Canadian tourists.

  52. I have to assert that, of all the people of the English speaking world, the most unpleasant to wait upon must be the South Africans.

    Rude, entitled, haughty, perpetually dissatisfied and lacking any concept of floor efficiency, I’ve had South Africans run me until my ankles creaked and still leave eight percent.

    This probably comes from growing up in a country with a codified class system in which attitudes considered unacceptable in most of the civilized world are not only tolerated but enshrined in law.

  53. Many Canadian wait staff are also not paid the standard minimum wage. We have a minimum wage for general workers and a lower minimum wage for liquor servers, which many licensed restaurants pay to their wait staff. I have never heard of an area in Canada where the tipping amounts described in the letter are NOT used! But I do feel that in Canada, we are more apt to base our tipping on service received. I have left a very minimal tip for waitstaff who I saw eating off my plate, argued with me over my order or completely forgot me for an hour or more. I have also left tips in excess of 40% for wait staff who went above and beyond! If the letter writer has an issue with Canadian tippers, it’s more than a cultural difference or lack of education!

  54. I have always felt that good servers that treat their job as a profession are underpaid. Having worked as a chef in the restaurant business for quite sometime, I have seen truly great servers that take their profession seriously. I have also seen those that don’t have the first clue about what service means. I believe that paying a living wage to servers would be a benefit to the business because, it would attract a higher caliber individual which means we would not be forced to hire servers that are only there to make a few bucks and to hell with everything else.

  55. I take exception to the Canadians who claim to be good tippers and that if you didn’t receive a good tip from them, it was “something else”…bs! I lived in Upstate NY for years and I can tell you from experience, my Canadian customers were the rudest, most difficult and WORST tippers I ever had! and no, it was not bad service. I lve in Cali now and it seems nothing has changed…just a few months ago, I had a group of Canadians…they ran my butt off, disturbed my other guests by playing an acoustic guitar during dinner, drank to excess, ran up a bill of over 200 dollars and left a tip of TEN dollars. Onr of the guys had the gall to come back ( we were closing) and beg the bartender for another shot. My bartender had closed his drawer for the night, but thinking that had been good customers (( i had not had a chance to tell him about their abysmal tip)he said” well, I’ll give ya one on the house as long as you took care of my girl here”, to which the man replied “oh, i think we took care of her real good”…jerk! So please, don’t delude yourselves or us…if it was an occasional thing, I could write it off to some people just aren’t good tippers, or yes, that I was having a bad day. But I’ve had way too much experience with Canadians to sit here and let them claim they are “good tippers”. You’re not…and most of you seem to leave your manners behind when you come out as well!

  56. To those who say to adopt “decent” work laws … yea… it is the waiters who don’t want those laws ::rolls eyes:: C’mon now folks, I know you aren’t that slow. Of course we want better worker laws. Problem is: you raise minimum wage and require that all waiters be paid that new wage and prices go up. Which means less people eat out. Which means less jobs. It is a Cach-22.

    And we don’t have to invade Canada, they already do what we want! Plus, if we wanted to, we have a much stronger military now. Sing it with me, my Canadian (soon to be American) friends…”Oooh Say Can You See….” ::wink wink:: You know I love ya!

  57. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that foreigners can still use the excuse that they don’t know any better. I’ve worked in restaurants for about 5 years and I have come to expect poor tips from almost any foreigner. It seems absurd that anyone travelling abroad wouldn’t do a little research on the customs of their destination! We do depend on tips here and whether other people like it or not by being cheap they’re deducting from our salaries.

  58. Having waited tables for the better part of 37 years, and working in 3 different states. I would like to explain that not every state pays servers below minimun wage though i dont believe there are many. California for instance pays minimun wage for servers, Back in the early 80′s they tried to lower the wage for servers and actually did for a little while….service industry people fought back, won, and they restruant owners had to back pay. I work now in Missouri and have for a few years. The cost of living here quite a bit lower as is the wage for serving. But even being just paid a minimum wage here would be below the poverty line if you have a family.

    As far as anyone being able to do it…NOT A CHANCE! For my experiance and knowladge i get tipped VERY well. Wine and food knowladge is something i have to know,wine service, decanting, vintages, what it is like on the palete, etc. i am asked nightly what wine to have with this or that….and it is more complicated then red goes with meat and white with fish! I have to know what spices are in everything and what they taste like and am asked my opinion on entrees and more often then not, they go with my suggestions.
    If you think it is so easy, having never done it yourself…come to my place of business on a saturday night and have at it!
    I have been tipped poorly by people from every country including my own. But more often then not i am tipped well and usually a really good tipper will make up for the not so good tipper.

  59. “…that while dining out in a restaurant where waiters take orders and serve food, that the tip is not compulsory, but mandatory, the amount of which is meant as a level of satisfaction of service provided.”

    Don’t compulsory and mandatory mean the EXACT same thing?

  60. As a Canadian, I take great offence to this letter. I was a server for years and our tipping laws are the same as the American’s. It just goes to show American ignorance of other countries – the guy who wrote this letter obviously doesn’t know anything about Canada or the way our restaurant system works. We too make a lower wage than minimum and rely on our tips to survive. Any bad experience this guy had was likely due to bad service. I’ve dealt with my bad American customers who not only leave money in American currency (very rude and arrogant practice) but leave a crappy tip thinking their dollar is so strong we should be lucky to have them visiting our country. I too was going to ask for your book for Christams, but I think I can think of better things to ask for thank you very much!

  61. How many Brits being indignant about being bashed, have bashed Americans??

    Looks like a case of the pot calling the kettle black. (The pot is black too)

  62. Actually America and American bashing is done by A LOT of people of other countries. If you are going to dish it out…be prepared to take it. It is HIGHLY annoying to see people pointng fingers when they themselves are guilty of the same thing.

  63. So tired of hearing Euros and Brits offer us their expertise on how we should ‘pay people a livable wage’. Look. If you come as a GUEST to another country you abide by the norms of that land. Plain and simple. Nobody CARES what your opinion is. You don’t pay taxes and you don’t vote. Nobody told you to come here. You chose to do so.

    It would be like an American going to England and instructing everyone they met to go to the dentist to get their teeth fixed. I think we can all imagine what the British reaction to that would be. Thatcher would come out of retirement.

    The real problem is that Britain is a country that was once a respected Empire (note the now redundant “Great” in ‘Great Britain’, “God Save the Queen” etc). But it no longer is. So the pompous Brits must find other ways to feel powerful. Unfortunately our country’s servers are on the front lines of this. I don’t believe ignorance is the problem. I think when a waiter gets stiffed by a Brit, it’s bitterness talking plain and simple.

    I think it’s great Martin sent a letter but there is no way any British person is going to told what to do by an American. (Except Tony Blair that is haha).

  64. Here’s the other proof that Brits and Euros know to tip:

    Movies. 90% of the world’s watched movies are American made. American tipping customs are all over them.

  65. i call BULLSHIT on all the I never knew posts. Only Americans are arrogant enough as a people to not take the time learn a little about the culture of the nations they are visiting abroad. I will admit the Brits do know a thing about arrogance as well.

    People they have things call TRAVEL GUIDES when you go overseas you get one and READ it before you go. That way you avoid the little faux pas like showing your host at the business meeting in Japan the bottoms of your feet (big insult) or trying to shake an Middle Easterners LEFT hand (they use the left to wipe their tushes and some places arent big on TP usage (major insult).

    One of the MAJOR other reasons is to READ the TRAVEL GUIDE is to get a feel ahead of time about certain things like costs. Your spending thousands of bucks on the trip so you want to make sure you understand how much spending money you need. To do this you need a clue of the base cost of goods and services and factor in the current exchange rate. Surprise surprise the guide has a WHOLE section devoted to tipping customs.

    Unfortunately right now the Euro’s are getting the best exchange rates since before WW2 so if you are waiting in a major foreign tourist destination you getting screwed over royally (no pun intended).

  66. Ama.. thank you for explaining it in a customer-oriented way.

    I’m still for just raising the wages of the waitstaff. Whether I tip 20% or I pay 20% more, that’s a net zero increase for me and I would feel more comfortable dealing with professionals instead of those put in the awkward position of begging for my money.

    I do know it would lower the wages for the really high-end, super good waitstaff, but we wouldn’t have a whole industry full of folks living hand to mouth. So overall, the tradeoff seems reasonable.

  67. The trouble is, it’s not a net zero increase. There are additional costs to the restaurant associated with having a higher payroll beyond the actual increase in payroll, and you’d better believe those costs will also get passed along to the customer. So, instead of tipping 20% on top of your bill you might be paying 25% more- and you’re paying that 25% extra no matter how good or bad your service was.

    I really dislike the characterization of servers “begging for your money.” I perform a service for you, you pay me for it. There is no begging involved. The fact that you pay the server directly in no way makes her less professional than a server paid through the restaurant; it’s her livlihood either way. I would expect a server who knows that her performance at each and every table has a direct, large impact on her income would behave in a more professional way than a server who is guaranteed a certain amount of money regardless of performance.

    I also take issue with the concept of “a whole industry full of folks living hand to mouth.” I admit my experience isn’t universal, but I make pretty good money just from tips. Even when I first started waitressing, with no experience and in a not-particularly-high-end restaurant, I was easily making more than the “living wage” I could get at a non-tipped job. I’ve certainly never had a week where I netted less than the non-tip minimum wage.

    As with any other profession, there is a huge range of income possibilities. In general the higher-paying serving jobs require more experience, more knowledge, and more finesse. The people who work their way up to that level can make a pretty decent amount of money. There are certainly people who are just starting out or who don’t have the skills or motivation to move up; but the existence of these people is not the fault of the system.

  68. Dear American President,

    Please legislate a fair minimum wage, so that waitstaff are paid properly, and service costs are built into the price on the menu. No room for confusion, no more waitstaff fighting over who has to serve the female/tourist/ethinic minority/whoever-else-is-considered-poor-tipper.

  69. As a Canadian former waitress, Canadians DO know how to tip… I’ve actually had the Americans play the forgien card and not tip.

  70. Ama, thank you for replying. :)

    I would be willing to have the increase in food costs to cover the wages of the waitstaff. Yeah, I’m aware of the employers portion of FICA and the like.

    I never gave it much thought before I started reading this blog… I just tipped and moved on. After reading this blog, I’ve become uncomfortable with the whole notion of tipping. I guess I’ve just given it too much thought.

  71. Thank you Canadian Girl (#74). Servers do indeed make below minimum wage in Canada (or in Ontario at least), with no prospect of raises to a “living wage” in many cases.

  72. Waiter, I just wanted to say that I went out to eat tonight and was thinking of this post (along with previous posts on the subject) and tried to keep them in mind. We went to a “sitdown buffet” where they bring multiple choices to you. The waiter was obnoxious, self-important and rude. He acted as if he was doing us a favor by taking our order. He ignored us most of the time, got most of it wrong and never brought half of what we asked for. Though I generally tip 20-25%, I left him 15%. And all I can say is that I feel like a complete SUCKER. I don’t care if he was having a bad day or doesn’t make a living wage. He barely deserved his $2/hr. I will never again feel guilty about stiffing a waitperson who isn’t doing their job.

  73. Dear American President,

    It is ridiculous that a very important service group in your country is underpaid and reliant on tips to make a minimum wage.

    Waiters and waitresses deserve to make a decent minimum wage to survive in today’s economy. To expect them to supplement their wages with inconsistent tipping is rather dark ages and not in tune with the real world, especially in this harsh economic climate.

    Perhaps take note of how Canadian wait staff are paid and do similar. Canadian wait staff are paid a fair hourly wage, tips are bonuses and incentive to work for the minimum wage.

    While in the US I resent the fact that tipping is such an important part of the serving staffs’ wage. I go to an establishment, pay for a meal and drinks and resent the fact that I must tack on a suggested 14%. Or be deemed cheap.

    Dear President it is time legislation paid these people at least the minimum wage.

    Thank you.

  74. And by the way, after reading a few posts above mine.. If you are a Canadian working for less than minimum wage you made the choice. Plenty of positions out there who will pay the minimum. I know many of the fast food places pay at least the minimum wage in my province.

  75. I think it’s wrong to generalise and say that the english, australians, new zealanders, et al, are ignorant of the american custom of tipping. Anyone with half a brain will research the countries they intend on visiting before actually going over, to save making an arse of themselves socially. It’s common sense and those that don’t are complete morons. Like the two idiots recently jailed for having sex on the beach in Dubai. What the hell were they expecting. It’s a muslim country, ffs.

  76. I have to say that the writing in the open letter above was ridiculously hard-to-read, antiquated and opaque. Surely what the writer wanted to say could have ben simply summarised as: ‘Please ask your citizens to respect the tipping customs of the USA when they visit’. Have I missed anything important?
    Now, on this old saw again… hum, bit tired of all the banging on about tipping. Ok, we all know now that there is some unwritten waiter law that says you must pay the server 20% unless they assualt you – then its only 15%!
    I have to say, I still can’t see how any half-decent waiter can’t be making out like a bandit under this system. Let me give you an example.
    Let’s say the average waiter has three tables, each spending $50 per hour. On that basis – each table tips $10 x 3 = $30 per hour plus tipped staff min. wage. How many (generally) young people do you know in the service industry who are unskilled (no disrespect intended) making over $30 per hour? There are plenty of highly skilled people making less than that. And yet – they still keep banging on about it.

  77. Amy,

    Fast food places are not restaurants as far as waiters are concerned. Fast food places pay minimum wage (except to students who get less which is why you see so many of them) because they do not have positions classified as tip earning (waitress, Maitre D, bartender etc). A place with one of the tip earning classifications can (and usually do) pay the lower wage (and no extra health coverage as almost all employers offer, except retail)

  78. It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m Canadian and my husband is English, and whenever we eat in restaurants in the U.S. we often get bad service. As soon as the waiter hears my husband speak, the assumption is that we won’t tip properly and we’re treated like crap.

    We always tip 20% in the U.S., but I would be a lot happier if we got the service to warrant the tip. So please, servers, don’t assume that we are all ignorant of American customs and treat us nicely. If I do happen to get good service I leave 25-30%.

  79. Steve, that was a cheap shot. You thought it is time to breathe some extra life into the blog and posts about tipping and foreigners are the ones bringing in the greatest amount of comments, so a post about tipping and foreigners it is. Then you proceeded to execute on your plan in the worst possible way.

    If you can’t see how badly written, unfunny and plain stupid the letter you have quoted is, then I feel sorry for you. If you can see it and quoted it anyway then I feel sorry for you as well. Either way this is the most dissapointing entry I have read on your blog.

  80. While I understand the author of this letter’s frustration, he’s firing it at the wrong person. Does he really expect the PM to think “Damn-it-all, this bloke’s right! Quick, change the National Curriculum and tell every school-leaver about tipping American Wait-Staff!”. We have bigger problems; a decent sex-education policy to attempt to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate, effective legislation on carrying offensive weapons to stem the rise in knife-crime et al…

    I’ll be the first to admit the only reason I know about the tipping culture of the States is via your blog and book. Sure, I first got the hint watching ‘Reservoir Dogs’ in the Diner scene where Mr Pink attempts to justify his reasons for never tipping; but it didn’t stick long term.

    As I see it there are a couple of things that could be done:

    - Send the letter or the success of your blog to one of the Red Tops (The Sun, The Mirror…) as this is when Brits are booking their summer holidays.
    - Write to your version of the tourist board and get them to promote it.
    - Write to sitcoms and dramas which are popular in the UK, Oz and NZ – Imagine an Episode of ‘House’ where he refuses to tip and is harangued by his colleagues… That would get the message told over here; especially as Hugh is a Brit himself.
    - Write to ABTA, the association of British Travel Agents and attempt to get them to broadcast the message.

    But the most effective way is through word of mouth; which your blog has been very good at. Take my example:

    I am yet to visit the US of A, but I know what is required of me when I want to dine out (which is kind of rare for a UK Military Officer). But I work at a military establishment where we train senior officers in command and staff functions. As part of this, they spend a fortnight in the States working with their military. I have on multiple occasions pointed out how you recommend to tip (though I’ve never heard of the 10% tip) and the general assumption was that minimum wage was a living wage (Note, minimum wage is relatively new in the UK, but it is allegedly a ‘living wage’ across the board, regardless of where you work – and if you’re on a UK minimum wage, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to be able to afford to visit the States anyway).

    The feedback I’ve received when they have returned to the UK is how stunned the waiters were when they were tipped properly by Brits, and how accordingly when the called in again, they were given a fantastic welcome. Plus these people will be going on to command others who they will be taking on exercises in the State; and I hope they will educate their people prior to them making fools of themselves.

    While you are no longer waiting yourself – there is the chance we can get the word of mouth working, and promote your book at the same time.

    But to turn it on its head, while shopping at the weekend I witnessed an American couple berating a young girl in a department store who was telling them she could not accept US Travellers’ Cheques to pay for an item. They were incensed the store would not accept Dollars, as many of the countries they had visited accept them as well as the nations’ own currency. I guess we all need some education before travelling. I won’t bore you with some of the faux pas I have committed while deployed in the Middle East…

    But let’s keep spreading the word.

    Now if only I could do the same thing with word of mouth with my plays…

  81. Question. I’ve read in several places that if a server doesn’t make minimum wage with tips, the employer is supposed to make up the difference. Is this not true? (Just curious. I tip 15-20% anyway, unless the service really sucks.)

  82. Hi

    i am from Hungary. worked in England and in Israel as a waiter and bartender. In england waiters do not get decent wages and also will not get all of the service charge, same in israel and Hungary. Tip everywhere, and in cash!

  83. I don’t know why this letter offended me so much, but perhaps it is the assumption that it is only other cultures that need to be educated about the – and I’m only reading between the lines here – “correct” American way of doing things. As if an American had never inadvertantly offended someone while travelling in another country. As for the Canadian “we’ll deal with them” comment, the hypocracy of that statement in light of the content of the letter is astounding. Tolerance and education about other cultures is great, but threatening, what, war? is going a bit far.

  84. As a waiter who’s been working both in Europe and in the States, I have to say that even though the System here does not seem right to you with all that minimum wage and all, I wouldn’t change it.
    You see in Europe restaurant owners do pay more, so much more in fact that they usually put one person where at least 4 would be necessary for an adequate service. Consequentially, this person has to work much harder, and even has to find the time to be extremely nice and smile to the patrons otherwise they will think you are being rude ! As for my experience in Europe a inept but charming waiter/waitress makes more tips then an efficient one which concentrates solely on an exceptional service and more often is not rewarded because he ‘didn’t kiss asses’ enough…
    In the States restaurant owners don’t have to worry too much about stuff expenses, and they put as many waiters on the floor as needed to guarantee an excellent service.
    Also waiters here are usually happy when the restaurant is full and they work a lot, because they make more money, in a way it’s like they take a percentage on the restaurant’s sales, while in Europe usually when a new table arrives the staff goes like ” oh shit, not another f*ing table in my section !” because anyway they make a ‘ living wage ‘ with or without customers, and therefore see more people coming just as plain more unnecessary work.
    I think the level of service in the States is far superior then Europe ( talking about an average middle priced restaurant ), unless you go in a very expensive European restaurant where the owners can allow them selfs to pay more for good, professional wait staff. But of course such excess is transmitted to the guest bill, so in a way you really pay for a better service anyway.
    Also in Europe since owners pay a decent wage, they feel entitled to bust their employees balls when there are no customers on a slow night, and hysterically try to make you work anyway, like cleaning out the place or polishing mirrors and that kind of staff ( or worse send home personnel in excess,such as hourly paid extra waiters without pay ) , because they PAY for your work, while in the States on a slow night the owner does not pick on his emploees, because they are not making any money either !
    So in short the difference is that in the States, while the system might appear unfair, waiters are more motivated AND better rewarded to work and to provide an excellent service because their income is directly related to the quality of their work, and usually they have the men power to do so, while in Europe waiters are not motivated, work harder, often outnumbered and most likely wear a fake smile on their faces (if any at all) and generally speaking find less pride in their job which is often regarded as a ‘temporary’.
    In fact, in my experience, most waiters in Europe are very young, while in the Stats is not rare to find middle aged waiters with wifes and children that normally find pride in their work.
    The system is fine the way it is for me, and since keeping a restaurant open here requires a lesser economical effort, there are more restaurant all around and therefore there are more job positions for waiters, busboys, bartenders hostess and restaurant managers, not too mention enough employment for tons of kitchen stuff, and it doesn’t hurt restaurant clients to have more and better choices when they go out for dinner either !
    Everybody is happy ( more or less ) with their salaries, and if the busboy aspires to a better wage, all he has to do is move up his way and become a waiter, or a waiter is motivated to improve himself with food and wine knowledge and try to become an headwaiter, sommelier or even floor manager ! Anything is possible if you work hard for it.
    But such motivation can fail in a blink when you constantly get stiffed on the tip by poorly educated foreign customers !
    Let’s grow, let’s be nice, let’s leave our waiters their hard earned tips !
    Why change such a solid system ?

  85. Canadian waitstaff make low wages the same as Americans do, most Canadians tip quite well, and I think he is being unfair lumping us in with the brits.

  86. I always tip 15-20%, but I hate when waiters wine about being ENTITLED to that much. If your problem is that you do not earn a “living” minimum wage, do the math and you’ll see that tips of well below 15-20% would get you the minimum wage you whine about.

    For example, a waiter who works an 8-hour shift at $2/hour will make $16 on that shift. To reach an above-minimum wage of $10/hour (or $80 for that shift), the waiter need only make up a $64 shortfall. If you manage to serve only a modest 10 tables during that shift, each table needs to leave you only $6.40 to get you up to $10/hour. Even if you’re serving diner food to two-tops, you’ll make that. If you’re serving “yuppies” in a nice restaurant (i.e., Steve), you’re going to make well more than that at 15-20%.

    So shut the f— up, do a good job, and you’ll get tipped just fine.

  87. This letter is ludicris and a waste of time. First of all I find it unlikely that a prime minister of any country would waste their time educating their people about how to tip in america of all places. I suspect there is a lot more on his/her plate that holds a higher priority.

    Secondly I think it’s pretty naive of any waiter to openly publish their irritation with certain countries tipping practices and announce to the world their own ignorence. I’am a waiter myself and although at times I have been dumbfounded by some nations tipping it by no means represents them as a whole. Sure some aussies / brits/ europeans / mexicans /americas (need i go on) don’t tip well, but in my 3 years of serving tables, does that give me a right to critise them as a whole (30million people or more per nation)

    As a waiter you get good and bad tips from everyone, from black to white, yellow and neon pink, Australia to Amerca. Maybe it just is easier to blame something else for a bad night at the restuarant but regardless of you wages tipping should never be manditory. If the service is absolutely horrible (even from the POV of a waiter) I see no reason why we should expect a tip. Sure I rely on my tips to make ends meet but when I really mess up it I figure it is at the disgression of the table to tip me as I see fit.

    It’s your choice to be a waiter and accept the wages you do, it’s a shame that North America pushes the blame onto the consumer but this is life.

    If you try a little harder, use a couple linguistic tricks it’s nearly impossible to be stiffed. Sure it will still happen, but it’s likely someone else will make up for it by the end of the night. One tips 0 the other tips 20, it all averages out…

    Quit singling out countries and work harder on being a better waiter.

    Proud to be a waiter in Canada
    -Mishak Marcano

    P.S We tip damn good up here, and down there, we’re practically America’s little brother (culturally speaking) So again quit stereotyping, wouldn’t want the world to do the same with a genius like bush running your country.

  88. Heh.
    First of all writing a letter to our PM is not going to work, because he will not read it.

    Second of all, this world isn’t all about America and how we should know it’s culture. Americanisation of the world is actually something I was studying in class today. (I study American Studies.) There are a lot of things i’m sure America do not realise when they are in different countries and if we were to take a look at all of those, we’d be here forever!
    Third of all, you just need to get a better President who actually gives a damn about the wage you are getting. You should not be blaming everyone else for your bad wage. Take it up with YOUR Government.
    (I know I used ‘you/your’ but this is directed at the waiter. But the guy who wrote the letter.)

  89. Dear Martin.
    I manage a restuarant that has a large number of foreigners visitors. And yes they sometimes don’t tip. However, a high percentage of them do. especially the Brits, usually they are the best tippers. Your letter is inaccurate and mean spirited and will not help your situation. I will tell you this. In these economic times your place of business needs every guest it can get through the door. tippers and non-tippers. The non-tippers may not help you directly but they do help the bottom line of the restuarant that keeps you employed. Iunderstand your frustration but you have to look at the bigger picture. That bigger picture is your business staying open.

    I’m sure by the end of the night your tips averaged out and that one table didn’t hurt you that much. Unless you are a server that rarely gets the 20% then maybe you should think about a different job.

    Remember this– your type of wage(relying on tips) is to ensure good service. If you continue to give good service you will make the money. If you let one table bring you down, your tips will surely follow that trend downward as well. Don’t let one table set the trend of the night stay upbeat through your entire shift no matter what.

  90. Maybe this has been said above, but here goes. I am not willing to pay extra money (i.e., a tip) directly to a waiter who has given us bad service.

    Here in my small Oklahoma town, it is standard practice to leave $1 per person for a tip unless the restaurant is particularly high-end (not common here), and the local servers expect that amount. When dining elsewhere, I tip a standard 15%, more if service is outstanding, and leave a “token tip” if the service is mediocre or poor. How else does the waiter know they need improvement?

  91. The taxi business also has to deal with aggravating foreigners. The Japanese were just about always fair and considerate tippers. Europeans were terrible. My take is they are cheap bastards and are playing a game of pretend. Fact is taxis and restaurants are a lot cheaper here (America) than in Europe. Part of the reason is that the customer is supposed to tip for good service. So the Euros come here for fun and business and then stiff “the help”

    I really resented it and deployed various strategies on these European jackasses

    The Japanese know what the deal is so ignorance is not an excuse for greedy behavior. I’ve thrown back nickles and quarters at Euros. I’ve also shamed them into bigger tips by calling them on their avarice

  92. Hey Martin;

    Canadian Tipping system is EXACTLY the same as the states, so Canadians tip just fine. You were doin well before that little display of ignorance my friend.

  93. Wow, people actually took offense at this letter? Most especially the person freaking out over the “we’ll deal with them” reference to Canada. Jeez….can’t see a joke when it sits on your nose, can you???

    And to the point many have made of trying to educate foreigners: I don’t know if it’s just peculiar to this part of the country, but in a lot of the airports/rest-areas in GA and TN they have little pamphlets in various languages informing our foreign guests of the American way of tipping. So unless that’s something that only the hospitality-oriented South has come up with, ignorance of the custom doesn’t seem like much of an excuse for travellers.

  94. Quid pro quo. As a country you sometimes don’t get tips from Brits and they have to put up with your loud mouthed tourists and their dangerously poor driving. It’s just the way things are. If the people read this they will probably be horrified. It’s minor personal ignorance, not a capital crime.

  95. I am Canadian as well and, in Quebec at least, waiters get paid less than minimum wage as well. Here too people seem to not understand that waiters rely on tips for a large portion of their income. So if a Canadian should tip inadequately while in the U.S. then it is on purpose.

  96. I’m half Canadian, Half American. And this comes into play in restaurants. Anywhere near the border, the quality of service drops SIGNIFICANTLY once an American waiter hears the true answer to “where’re y’all from?”. Doing a couple of social experiments at the same restaurant just outside Buffalo, I’ve come to this conclusion quite honestly. If you give crappy service, I will give you a crappy tip. If you give good service, I will give you a good tip – it has nothing whatsoever to do with nationality.

  97. It seems we now have 2 major issues on board:

    1. Tipping while travelling in another country. The bottom line: find out what the local custom is and go with it, don’t complain.

    2. Waitstaff assumptions about whether or not they will receive a decent tip (if at all) affecting the level of service they provide.

    It’s number two that leaves me thinking that problem #1 will always exist. This seems to be a bit of a chicken vs egg problem.

    If a server presumes that a tip won’t be forthcoming based on stereotypical profiling, then they should probably quit waiting and get a job with Homeland Security.

  98. Mystra -they have a LOOPHOLE for getting AWAY with you making shitty money for a shift or two in the US. For a restaurant to make up the difference to full min wage vs your server wage + your tips means—>

    $2.13/hr X hrs worked plus tips < national min wage X # hrs worked that week.

    meaning you need to make in total weekly tips/hr worked less than $4 an hr or so.

    Servers make on the low end avg $10 hr so it has to be slow every shift all week. Even in a slow time your slowest days will fall over a 2 week period preventing that possibility.

    Then the management/owners would calculate an increased tip percentage on your cash sales to minimize any payments they would make.

    I have waited since 1990 on and off and NEVER have seen or heard a server get compensated in the way you suggest.

    Aussie Ben

    You seem to have the chicken and egg problem backwards-the stingy tourists failed to tip properly teaching the servers to expect shitty or no tips.

    Its called learned behavior. Waiting is like medical triage you put your efforts into those can save. ON a busy shift you cant physically do everything all your tables demand (I typed demand not NEED notice) let alone the mental aspects of the shift.

    My advice to those who share their origins with those KNOWN to be poor tippers is simple.
    Let your server know aloud or though action you tip fairly. I can assure you I smother a table with attention the host shakes my hand while palming a fold bill inside. I have had this done a few times. They say to me my name is … and this is so and so and we want to have a leisurely meal or a wonderful time. It doesnt have to be much money either. I have be3en given a mere $5 at the start of the meal and I took it to mean “Hey Im with someone special -please be sure to treat us as such.

    And to all the people whining to change the US system. STOP it -it wont EVER happen. Restaurants are one of if not the largest employers in the nation and especially to the youngest workers thus they have a huge lobby.

    I would gladly have the industry pay for the support help instead of making me do out of my tips. IF I could get a bartender who would focus solely on the service well I would gladly tip out that person. That will never happen either.

    Finally service levels would SUCK ASS if you make the tips be only for excellent service because you ALREADY get paid a true wage. Why?
    The profession would get taken over by the no service drones that work in retail. And could you EVEN imagine how difficult it would be to schedule busy shifts with staff -no one would want to work Fri/Sat nights which is already the nights you most likely to have call ins with fake illnesses/emergencies.

  99. Was just reading through your past blogs and the one about your book cought my eye. A good group of people to talk to about tipping would be the baggers at the commissaries on Marine Corp bases. I am not one, but I know they work for tips ONLY!!!!! Not even a measy $2.50 an hour. Nada Zip Zilch Zero. I try to be generous with them and polite but I would like to hear how they feel about it and how much they think is good for a tip for them. Plus I bet they have good stories!!

  100. As a Canadian, i’d like to point out that we do tip, in our own country and the United States and abroad. Of course, there are always those jerks that exist everywhere.

  101. So, all of you Canadians that claim to tip well, do you just not do it in America? Because as I said before, in all my experience with Canadians, I have never been tipped well and usually treated pretty rudely. And no, it wasn’t me…I DO treat everyone the same bc I know better than to lump people into one pile. If it was an occasional thing, I’d have a different view…but it’s consistent, so I have to say you’re not being very truthful with yourselves about being good tippers. You’re not. Sorry.

  102. Well anon then americans arent being truthful when they say they are nice tourists. They tend to be the worst, next to the south africans. Im in the states all the time and always tip 15-20% depending on the service and do the same in canada. You must just suck as a waiter and only a foreigner will call you on it as they buck the ‘system’ and tip less for crappy service

  103. This waiter should stick to serving dinner. The attempt at quasi-intellectual comedic writing is abysmal and if a waiter demanded 20% from me I would tell them to piss off back to the kitchen from whence they came. You want to earn real money – get a real job !

  104. WELL – Can i just start by saying that when a Brit, Australian, italian, french etc etc dines out in Europe or whereever we are found – you order a table and you get that table… There is no bad attitude, record keeping Mens toilet seating and all that shit! YOu book a good table you get it, you are a wine expert you smell the f_cking cork and its your way of finding out how good a wine is – HOWEVER IN THE USA after reading all about this restrnt culture and now im reading what happens – how on earth do you expect to tip someone or somewhere? Here we tipp because of service! Quality! the honesty that you get the table you want without being a regular! the fact that the server knows what he’s on about and knows exactly if the salmonb has been punched, slapped, valley mountain fed watered or grown in someones backyard!

    give me this and im happy to tip!

    p.s. Im a waiter too so i reccomend you get yourself a real job!

  105. Perhaps if instead of writing a letter to the Prime Minister (which seems both pointless and childish) the waiter had told the customers what the tipping policy was before he presented them with the bill, this wouldn’t have happened.
    But of course, he didn’t, because his argument that tipping was “mandatory” would have held no ice. If it’s not on the bill, you can’t charge it. End of. So it’s discretionary, not mandatory.
    I always tip, between 10-15%. I’m a Brit, so that figure seems fair to me. I know the person serving me is getting paid, at least $10 / hour (minimum wage here in the UK). So adding my $7 when I rarely take more than an hour to eat a meal nearly doubles that wage, and my waiter will generally be serving more tables. Over here, the only way that a service charge is mandatory is if the bill is for 6 people or more.
    Frankly, this moaning about Brits being bad tippers has been on this blog several times already, and it’s getting tired. Like I said, the solution is – inform the customer. If you haven’t got the cojones to do that, then you are stuck with what they leave you, and instead of blaming them for not knowing the customs, you should take a look at what those customs are and realise that if you decide to take a job where your basic pay is variable, that gives you no “rights” as to what that level of pay is.

  106. As someone who grew up in Canada and now lives in Australia, I think this is a freaking joke. You want a tip? Earn it. I tip for better than average to exceptional service and nothing less.

    This entitlement you servers have is astounding.

  107. Wow, it surprises me that someone has the time to write such a grossly verbose letter about a fairly minor incident. Sorry to break it to you, but you chose to become a waiter! If you hate it so much get a new job. If it pays so badly, get a new job. If the people are dickheads- GET A NEW JOB.

  108. What surprises me, is that a ‘civilised’ country doesnt pay its workers properly, and leaves payment to the vagaries of the person on the street.
    Hello America,come into the world of ‘minimum wage’ and pay your countrymen a wage they can live on without having to rely on the goodwill of customers.

  109. Another good reason not to visit America.
    Instead of getting customers to subsidise wages, why don’t the actual workers DO something? Why aren’t they writing in to government to raise min wage, to legislate, to DO something? Why are customers picking up the tab? Why is America so special that waiters must be paid so little they require tips to survive? Why prolong and defend such a culture???

    A write up of your book in The Age (aussie paper)
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/lifeandstyle
    /relationships/served-up-with-attitude/2008/10/21/1224351228034.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

  110. I simply find it odd that when America’s customs are different to the rest of the world, they expect the world to change for them rather than considering that they may be in the wrong.

  111. You, sir, are a tiresome and repetive moron. So, the rest of the world isn’t the same as america – quelle surprise! If you do your job well, they’ll tip you – not because they’re browbeaten into it because ‘that’s what we do here’. Your countrymen aren’t great at fitting in anywhere else in the world – why expect US to act like YOU when we’re over there?
    Get a real job and you’ll get paid properly.

  112. As a Brit, I didn’t know the US tipping customs previously, but I’ve never been and would probably have found out before going were I to.
    However that wouldn’t make me pay by default the outrageous tip values that seem to be bandied about. Its a TIP for good service, below average service does not deserve a tip, you have to work to get your bonus, the same as in any other commission based industry. I would happily pay a large tip for good service.
    The arguments that restaurants would have to charge more if they paid their staff reasonable wages is spurious. Restaurants in other countries that do pay OK seem to manage to stay in business. Perhaps smaller portions in US restaurants would benefit everyone?

  113. what a load of rubbish…tipping is OPTIONAL and is totally dependant on the quality of the service. if a waiter cannot live on the wages their job pays them, then do another job! jesus, i’ve never read such self righteous garb. i work in an office, and it doesnt’ really pay me enough…i dont get tips!! just because that is the way you do things in america does NOT mean that’s how us brits do it. and to be honest, i think it’s complete rubbish that any waiter, regardless of the standard of service he or she has given, should get a tip! this means that every waiter or watiress can get away with giving bad service and know they will get tips. here in the UK, restaurant staff know that if they do not treat the customer well, they won’t get a tip, and therefore 9 times out of 10, the service is better than ANYTHING i have ever experienced in the States.

  114. LOL at those idiots that claim ” get a real job ” !
    Are you guys trolling around or do you really mean it ? because if you really mean it than it shows what a bunch of hypocrites are you all. How can you be so disrespectful towards people who work their asses off to ensure that you enjoy your evening out ?
    How immature and discriminating some foreign people can be.
    Then there is the point where they claim that if they receive a ‘good’ service they’ll be more than happy to tip well, but this is just a lie, because we all know that when on vacation they go to restaurant once and never come back in their life, so shamelessly they omit to pay the service just to save a few quids on their expenses !
    And furthermore, what do you mean by receiving a good service ? As far as I know, knowing the whole menu plus 15 specials and every ingredients by heart, and being quick and competent at not screwing up your meal IS good service, putting up with some weird dick head that’s looking to unload all the stress he accumulated during the whole day at his ‘real job’ or less then stellar vacation, fulfilling every crazy demands, now there’s a better place to do that , and it takes $200 an hour to have some professional shrink listen to your problems, not a server that works for a merely 15-20% of your bill.
    Stop lying and get real, when you get do another country make at least some effort to follow the local costumes, not as much as trying to learn their language ( and according to expedia’s surveys British people are the worst in the word when it comes to learn other languages, they categorically refuse it no matter where they go ) but quit being so selfish and smart ass and at least try to respect people that leave and work there.
    I’ve met several successful people in my life that had great jobs and all but plainly admitted that when younger tried to work in the service industry but could never make it because it was too difficult and too stressful.
    Some of us can, and sorry if I sound bitter and disrespectful to a whole nation, but I feel really insulted by those who wrote that waiting is not a real job.
    I might need to go back to serving tables pretty soon now, as the company I’m working for is going out of business, and I’d still like to take pride in what I do for a living.

  115. Another ex NY Waiter, fair point about Brits not learning the language of the foreign country they visit, being a Brit myself I have passable German and French but no more. The thing is though, at least us Brits actually freaking visit foreign countries where English isn’t the first language as opposed to the Yanks seeing as far as their own border and no further (numbers of Americans in possession of a passport is very low. And I’m sorry but I refuse to wear any other country’s costumes – Liederhosen? Nah, don’t think so.

  116. An Ex NY Waiter wrote
    “As far as I know, knowing the whole menu plus 15 specials and every ingredients by heart, and being quick and competent at not screwing up your meal IS good service”
    I’m not going to disagree, but there are plenty of staff that aren’t that good, thats my point. Chances are most waiting staff that care enough to comment here would be good enough at their jobs to DESERVE a tip, but that doesn’t mean that all waiting staff came the same level of customer skills.
    As to the comment on not tipping when away from home cos you know you’ll never go again, well that had never occured to me. I rareley eat in the same place more than once, but that doesn’t stop me tipping if the service warrants it, the same applies domestically and abroad.
    I do have a funny tip related story, when in Prague back in 92, not that long after it stopped being Soviet, my 10 friends and I tipped the two staff at a cafe with all the loose coins we had left as we were leaving the country straight after. The two girls (who were both stunning) were really embarrased and wanted to refuse but luckily that language barrier meant that we could just say “OK” and leave!
    We worked it out afterward, that we must have left an average week’s wages each. Exchange rates are funny things!

  117. Couple of other points on the tipping custom in the US.
    First, our tipping culture is part of a broader attitude towards earning your own way. It says: work hard and you will do well. This attitude has been responsible for many American success stories, I don’t see why the service industry should be any different. If a waiter’s work is poor, they will go unrewarded. The customer is the best judge of this, hence the tip. I like to imagine tipping has its roots in the saloons of the Wild West but I’m very sure that is not the case. It is pay for performance at its finest; the only thing that screws it up is people not recognizing the system either willfully or otherwise. It’s a good system and most of us like and respect it.

    Secondly, you can have a very successful career as a waiter in this country. There are many working waiters earning six figure salaries, career waiters who have refined their knowledge and skill, found a top restaurant to work for and paid their dues to be a success (the author of this blog for one). At an expensive restaurant, the tips are a great way of ensuring that the owner is not creaming off all of the profit.

  118. Dear Anonymous :
    Since the original post tries to be more on the humorous side, and cracks a few jokes here and there, I wouldn’t take it too seriously and certainly wouldn’t get offended.
    SOME of the comments here on the other hand are really shameful and disgusting, and they are written by real people who really mean it, and only because of the advantage of being anonymous on the net, they have the guts to write it down, I bet in real life they wouldn’t omit or accidentally forget to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you so much, it’s lovely ‘ to their waiters, but here you see the truth’s coming out.
    And don’t get me wrong, but when I was a waiter here in Manhattan I also got stiffed by Canadians on a few occasions, and I swear it on my childrens that nothing was wrong with our service, it was as good as it gets in an upscale restaurant.
    So some of your countrymen must have set a bad example for you all, I’m sorry about that but that’s the way it is.
    Maybe Canada it’s such a big country that there are differences on people’s costumes depending of which part they come from, but fact is, I can testify that I got bad tips or even none at all from Canadians in the past.
    That sad the letter to the PM is full of humor and as such shouldn’t be regarded of as offensive, it’s clear that the guy went a long way to make sure his words were politically correct, but still the comments on this page remain, and the wound is now too deep to be easily forgotten.
    Also I’d like to ask a question to our British fellows here .
    I’ve been to London and I did everything I could to be respectful in every day’s little thing like keep on the right ( or left ?) on their underground’s stairway and quit drinking beer after 11:30pm, and I also happened to drive on the opposite side of the street I’m used to ( and by the way almost every country of the world drives on the right ), and I hated it, I couldn’t get used to it , and I couldn’t figure it out why on earth had England to be the opposite of everybody else.
    But I drove that side of the road never the less. Did I do the right thing, or should I go and yell at an entire nation to stop driving that way ‘because doesn’t make any sense ‘ while I’m on vacation there ? I don’t think so, while in Rome do as the Roman do right? So why can’t you guys follow some simple steps to make our relationship even nicer than what it is ? When here start tipping as customary, don’t pretend you don’t know it or even worse that you think is not right and the US President should do something about the labor situation.
    Just fork out the extra dough, and be done with it and prove to the world what a great nation you all are.

  119. I lived in Japan for several years. Tipping is nonexistent there. I actually had waiters chase after me to return the tip – assuming I’d accidentally left the money behind. When I explained it was for the service – they took umbrage. I’d insulted them. Leaving money on the table said I didn’t think they were good enough to retain their jobs. I got well and truly yelled at.

    My point being: every place is different. It always behooves the traveler to check and see what the culture requires. When in Rome…….

  120. Oh – and as to the America bashing so painfully present throughout this thread….please remember we are not our government. Simplistically put, I know – but far too many people assume individuals represent their country overall. No one does. For example: I lived in Ireland during Nixon’s presidencies. I cannot tell you have many times I was called out because of it. One local shopkeeper even went so far as to tell me Nixon had died. He wanted to see me cry (he really hated Nixon). Oh – my parents tore him a new one – but the harassment continued. Nixon wasn’t well liked in Europe at the time (duh!). But that wasn’t a twelve-year-olds fault.

    As for the Americans getting tetchy…..it has unfortunately become OK of late to speak first and think later. It’s a symptom, I’m afraid. We no longer even pretend to be polite to one another. I’m hoping it will get better as things change (I always have hope!). The waiter writing the letter was funny and respectful. What a pity that cannot be said of all here.

  121. Hi I have worked as a waiter at a 2 Michelin establishment and now manage a casual restaurant in central London. All the places i have worked in have had a standard 12.5% service charge. Whether it was the posh place or the QSR ;i have ,never once , in my 8 year career in this industry;received any thing above this 12.5% from an American table.the one thing that was never in short supply was the effusive compliments about the service.

  122. This comment really has nothing to do with Brits not knowing tipping customs in the US as I am a US citizen, but I just don’t agree with the notion that poor service should be tipped at 10% and no amount of complaining by waiters will ever change my mind.

    If I performed poorly in my job, my boss wouldn’t even give me a portion of my salary, she’d fire me. As a customer, I don’t have the option of firing an incompetent waiter, but refusing to tip for sub-standard service follows the same principle. Waiters know going into the job that a large portion of their take-home is dependent upon providing good service, and they should behave accordingly.

  123. Why not write to your President and tell him about your lousy wage ? I am an Aussie living in the USA and i am sick and tired of tax and tipping. just put the price on the damn thing and be done with it.

    If you don’t like the wages a waiter makes, don’t be one !! Anyway ALL those tips you get are under the table and untaxed anyway. I expect in a good houra waiter could make more than $30 plus in tips, tax free. Why should I be shelling out a tip when I have to pay tax on every cent I earn every hour ?

    Just put the actual price on the damn meal including the tax and whatever is a fair hourly rate for a waiter. I guess it’s about $30 an hour now, i used to work for $5 an hour waitressing and a tip was a delight..I did not give good service just to get a tip, I served well beacuse I enjoyed my job and was HAPPY to have a job at the time.

    If waiters want to earn top money, get an education and be a manager or something. Stop whining.

  124. The most amusing thing about this is that the rest of the world finds American tourists the most abhorrent. You can always spot them in their too white ‘sneakers’ and ‘fanny packs’.

    I also think its amusing that waiters blame customers for their poor wages, instead of the people who are truly exploiting them – their employers.

  125. Stuff that! I read the first sentence of your whinge and I would’ve laughed out loud if I hadn’t been in a public place. You American waiters and waitresses have seriously got issues. I’ve been to the U.S, and frankly I only leave a tip if YOU DESERVE IT. And yeah, I didn’t leave tips at most places because the food was shocking and the service was even worse. If American waiters are asking for tips for the ‘level of service’ they should be paying me.

  126. Devorah said: “Anyway ALL those tips you get are under the table and untaxed anyway. I expect in a good houra waiter could make more than $30 plus in tips, tax free.”

    This is untrue. Technically, we are required by tax code to keep track of all of our tips and report them as income. I admit that few servers do this- I’ve been the only one who has at every restaurant I’ve worked for so far. But servers are almost universally required to claim a minimum of 12% of their sales as income and do in fact pay taxes on at least that amount. Even those who are dishonest and do not claim all their tips are still paying taxes on what amounts to about 2/3 of their income.

    And yes, this means that if you tip less than 12% you may be causing the server to pay taxes on tips she didn’t recieve. Generally, of course, we will average a considerable amount higher than 12% for the pay period so this doesn’t really come into play, but it’s something to keep in mind.

    $30 an hour is probably a high estimate for most serving positions. If you’re in fine dining it may be the case, but I’d guess most servers fall somewhere around $15 an hour. Not a poor wage, certainly, but one which is about the minimum I’d take for regularly putting up with the things we servers have to put up with. :-}

  127. The Hon Kevin Rudd, MP
    Prime Minister
    Australia
    PO Box 6022
    House of Representatives
    Parliament House
    Canberra ACT 2600
    Australia

    The Hon George W. Bush
    President
    United States of America
    White House, Washington DC

    Dear Dubya,

    I refer to the attached letter of one of your citizens, a certain Mr Martin (milleronic@gmail.com.)who wrote to me via PM Gordon Brown regarding the dismal low wage of your waiters, who have to resort to tips to survive.

    Can you please advise your government, specifically the Department of Labor to please adhere to the minimum wage law in your country so that these poor waiters can earn a decent living and not resort to begging… errr tipping.

    I remain your close ally,

    Kevin

    PS. In case you’re out of office by then, please leave a copy to either Mr Obama or Mr McCain, depending who wins this November election. I think it is in your best interest to look after your citizens. You are a superpower, live up to it.

  128. I agree with Thomas. Perhaps American laws on minimum wage should be reappraised. Or adopt a method such as they have in Asia where Service tax is actually added to the total bill. Gordon Brown isn’t even going to respond to this letter. The only other option is to educate all visitors to the US. Perhaps when they’re waiting in the long immigration queues to have their fingerprints taken, retinas scanned, photo taken, and the anal probe they should be given a leaflet about American customs which could include tipping?

  129. 10% for poor service???? How about 0! Screw you waiters with your bullshit sense of entitlement. I’ll leave 15%-18% and you’ll like it you ungrateful douche bags. 20%? Only for a GREAT dining experience. I think I will start to tip 10% again just because you stupid cock suckers whine so much.

  130. If it is mandatory, include it in the price of your food.

    “poor service can be indicated with a 10% tip”, this is beyond retarded.

    “due to the fact that waiters there receive a salary of liveable degree”, this letter is addressed to the wrong head of state. Fix your system.

    I’m sick of the bullshit argument, ‘I don’t get paid enough, on top of paying for your food, please pay my salary’. What about people in fast food joints? Why do you tip a taxi driver and not a bus driver?

  131. I’m an American who used to see a lot of visiting Brits at a few local watering holes/restaurants in the States, and the visiting Brits were always extremely poor or nonexistent tippers. Always. My friends who waited tables hated them.

    And now I live in Britain. And guess what? Brits KNOW they’re supposed to tip in the States… believe me, they know. But it seems they’re also notoriously cheap (for the most part), so they pretend they don’t know when they travel elsewhere. I’ve seen it more times than I can count.

  132. I agree with most everybody’s sentiments:

    Waiters in the US should be paid minimum wages before tips are calculated.

    Canadians and Brits often “stiff” their service staff – so do Americans and Asians and.. well often most rude or ignorant people.

    If you’re surprised by the amount of your bill, you either need to learn to add or multiply percentages in your head or go to McDonald’s to save the amount of change neccesssary to tip well.

    This perspective comes from not someone who waits, but someone in a tourist town who watches. I’m always appaled when I see someone stiff the service staff for no good reason, and even moreso when it turns out to be a local!

  133. Two couples at adjacent tables in a restaurant. One couple order Steak Diane and a bottle of Chateau Lafitte 1993. Total bill for 2 people = $475. The other couple order fish & chips and a bottle of house wine. Total bill = $50. The American way says that Couple A pay $90 to the waiter/waitress, whilst Couple B pay $10. Begs a question!

  134. I hear a few talking about “service charges” or “service taxes” If it was labeld that the empoyer would be able to take all of it or part of it, for any reason, from the server. If it is consideed a “tip” they cannot. And it has happened in quite a few places.

    As a server for over 27 years i give people the benifit of the doubt….and am sometimes disapointed. But honesty, it is the nature of the business.

  135. Waiters and waitresses of the USA, do draw your British customers’ attention to the different tipping practices in your country. On my first time in Washington DC, I and some fellow British delegates to a conference ate out. The meal was good and the service fine, not outstanding, but sufficently attentive. We called for the bill, and left 10%, which, in London, under those cirulstances, would have been a decent tip. The waiter, clearly hurt, asked what was wrong with his service. Why, nothing, we replied, look, we’ve left you 10%. He calmly explained our error and at once we added another 5%. You may be sure that none of us will repeat our mistake.

  136. Right now I am reading the book waiter rant. First I was on the side of the waiter, felt pity for him when he didn’t get a good tip. But after a while I became angry. Why on heaven earth isn’t the tip of 15% already calculated in the price of the food???? For instance instaed of 5 dollar for a soup, let it be 5.75 dollar. What would be wrong with that??? In Europe it is like that and when you are satisfied with the waiter you can still tip him, but it is not that humiliating like in the usa, where waiters are so false friendly, that it is disgusting.

  137. Of course waiters should be paid a living wage with service included on the bill. The argument that they only perform well because of the tips is insulting. Try applying that standard to any other job (your own, for instance) and see if you still think it would be a good idea for writers, machinists, designers, truck drivers, etc. to depend on tips. It’s a ridiculous custom.

  138. While this blog has been my favourite for years (Congrats waiter, on the book), I could never digest the attitude towards tipping that it tries to enforce on the readers and the world. I refrained by commenting till date. But this satirical letter to the UK PM was kind of the last straw. Hence this comment.

    If the U.S. laws do not even guarantee minimum wages for wait-staff, I think you should start working on that first, instead of trying to ‘educate’ the rest of the world about how to tip. We know how to tip, thank you.

    And BTW, the US is not the world. Just because a few million of you follow something, does not automatically make it the world standard for the billions elsewhere.

    For us, a tip will reflect the “Quality of Service” and that is how it should be. You serve well, the tip will reflect that. Your service is lousy, there ain’t gonna be a tip at all.

    It would be the height of self-centredness to think that you could get away with poor and abysmal service on your job and still expect the patron to tip you. And that too 10% min.

    Why don’t you guys then get this enshrined in the US constitution, under a tipping section ? Something on the lines of, “Any visitor to the US is required to tip a minimum of 10%”.

    Truly hilarious.

  139. Not ALL waiters/waitresses in Europe have sustainable wages: I worked as a waitress in Prague and got the equivalent of $2.10 / hour. I hardly consider that a sustainable wage. We relied on tips as well!!

  140. Anonymous – here’s a brush, tar every Brit the same with it.
    Face it, people are different – some will tip, some won’t tip. Some will tip well, others will tip badly. You know why? Because it’s not compulsory, it’s not a God-given right. Add 15% onto the bill as a Service Charge, and people will pay it, unless the meal or service is total crap. If restaurants refuse to pass on the service charge to their staff, sue ‘em. A simple solution for a happier world.

  141. Anonymous!

    “And now I live in Britain. And guess what? Brits KNOW they’re supposed to tip in the States… believe me, they know. But it seems they’re also notoriously cheap (for the most part), so they pretend they don’t know when they travel elsewhere.”

    You are talking total horse! I commented before that I learnt about the US tipping culture from this blog. I’m a Royal Naval Officer of some 13 years standing, so I consider myself more widly traveled than the majority of my fellow countrymen.

    Go Brit bashing as much as you like; but get your fact right. If you see you Brits behaving like that, then trust me, you’re hanging out with the wrong croud. Check my previous comment regarding what happened when I told a collection of Senior Officers about what I had read on this blog prior to thier visit to the States – that’s what True Brits are like.

  142. I am fortunate enough to dine out often in Western Europe,US and CA on a business expense account. Across the board (coffeeshops to 5 star)the wait service I receive from Yanks and Canucks is consistently better. CA & US tipping practices reward good service.

  143. You seriously think most Brits don’t know they are expected to tip here?

    Give me a break! Will ya? Your ancestors conquered the world, remember? What a bunch of pretentious assholes.

    Thumbs down to the limeys.

  144. I’ve been a reader of your blog since almost the beginning, but I’m adopting a new policy: If it’s yet another rant about tipping, I’m skipping the entry. I’ve read it all before and it’s getting tiresome.

  145. Dear Martin a.k.a Waiters of America,

    Sir, you are a buffoon and an ass.

    But I digress.

    Do you suppose my government has anything approaching sympathy for your whiny little cause? Do you imagine that we lay awake in our beds at night, disturbed at the possibility of having offended you with our customs?

    You must remember: you and all your kind are rebels. Rebels with big balls of course, but rebels just the same. You turned your back on England at a time when we needed you most, and you even took up arms against us. Did you think we had forgotten? Do you believe that since we do business with you, that therefore makes us (oh dear Lord I have trouble saying this with a straight face) FRIENDS???

    Please disabuse yourself of this notion at once. We are not friends. We are business partners at best, perhaps comrades-in-arms against our common enemies. But that’s it.

    We will continue to patronize your establishments of course, because we must eat. And as you value your personal freedom, so do we. We therefore shall not instruct any of our citizens to behave in the manner you suggest; they are individuals who are capable of making decisions on their own.

    I will however, make a small suggestion to them; that they avail themselves of dialect coaches prior to coming to America, so as to better fit in (read: sound like Americans). Wouldn’t want you lot spitting in our food.

    Sir, I would be more than willing to adopt a more friendly stance toward you and your cause. But it would require some action on your part. Abandon your rebellion and return to the arms of HRM the Queen of England. Forsake your dreams of independence and once again embrace us as family. I promise you: we will forgive everything. It shall be as if you never left us. And I will in turn enact legislation which enforces an increase of restaurant wages to coincide with the current minimum wage PLUS 20 percent.

    Is that a deal or what?

    In the meantime, please don’t make threats against any of our loyal subjects, including the Canadians. They so enjoyed that little bonfire party that was held at your White House some time ago and are keen (chomping at the bit, even!) to do it again.

    Sincerely,

    Gordy

  146. Well I’ll be.
    I have witnessed the extra-ordinary behaviour of wait staff in the USA handing out “free” pitchers of beer (after the first orders) and then “free” deserts … all in the vain hope of getting a good tip.
    I guess what goes around comes around .. if employers wish to rip off their staff by paying below a minimum wage… then methinks they might expect to be ripped off (aka the ‘free’ goodies) to supplement their wages.
    As a good kiwi socialist I say a fair days pay for a fair days work!!

    and then … by exceptional service … one might (just might) pay
    To
    Insure
    Professional
    Service

  147. Hey… I have heard lots of comments bashing Canadians being rude customers – but what about the American tourists in Canada who expect to pay in American dollars – and then wonder why we don’t give them American change (it’s against the law!)? I was asked so many times if the cheque was in American that eventually I just started saying yes (back when the exchange rates were more in my favour!)
    Also, whoever it was that commented that American restaurants could pay servers more by serving smaller portions is absolutely right! Since we are all being judgemental here I will have my bit – most American customers I have served have been GLUTTONS!! During university I worked at a high-end seafood restaurant in Nova Scotia and we served a lot of lobster. Most lobsters are about 1.5 lb but we would get the odd large one (5-8 lb) and as servers we would play a game where we would try and guess which obese tourist we could con into buying it! Lobster is not meant to be eaten with a soup spoon!
    Americans are generally terrible tourists and rarely take the time to research the places they are travelling- so to suggest that Brits or Canadians should do some research is absurd. I would rather serve a knowledgeable Brit or other “crappy” tipper than some self-important guido or redneck from Americ-UH who thinks that Nova Scotia is an island (how could it be an island if you DROVE HERE?) or who is surprised that we have RUNNING WATER…

  148. If waiters depend on tips for a living, why not just have a 10% service charge and have a tip as an extra for good service on top of it?

  149. Johnny Sporano – if you can’t contribute anything useful or constructive to this debate and have to resort simply to insults, please don’t post. I’m sure I can come up with plenty of stories about the quirks and habits of various nationalities, but this serves no purpose other than to alienate people and demonstrate ignorance.

  150. Lauren,

    Saying Americans are generally terrible tourists and rarely research the places that they are traveling to is a stereotype. Some Americans like myself do research the places before we go visit them, I am not like some of the Americans that you have apparently had negative experiences with in the past. It is not fair to pass judgement an entire group of people basing it on a negative experience that you may have had with some of them.

  151. Awareness of tipping customs is MANDATORY when you are visiting foreign countries. It’s one of the first things I find out before I leave the country, and it’s hard for me not to tip the American way when I’m somewhere else.

    Not tipping when you know you should is very bad form unless the server (not the kitchen) is at fault for egregious behavior. If it’s the kitchen’s fault for ruining a dining experience, ask the server to remove the offending item from your bill, but tip as if it was on the bill.

  152. Just saying – if your purpose in using big words is to sound formal and thus be taken seriously, it behooves you to at least know what the words mean. To say “it is not compulsory, but mandatory” indicates a lack of knowledge of the definition of “compulsory” and transforms what I am sure was meant as a somewhat serious complaint into a joke.
    While I am very sympathetic to the plight of waiters and their reliance on tips for livelihood, I think that Sarah (#13) hit it on the head. A tip or gratuity is by definition voluntary. If it’s not voluntary, call it a service fee or roll it into the price of the food.

  153. While I was living in Europe as a US citizen, I experienced the opposite: in Austria, when you want to tip, you don’t leave the money on the table. You tip AS you’re paying, and 2 Euro is the normal tip for larger orders. One time I tried to tip American style (20%) and the waiter stopped and GAVE me back some money because it was too much.

    There should be a book on the world’s different tipping customs, as I can imagine a European visiting the US knowing as much about our tipping customs as I did theirs. This kind of stuff is hard to follow, especially if you’re so used to one way of doing and thinking, and you’re just taking a two week holiday. I’d caution waiters to be friendly if it’s an issue with European diners… kindly tell them the custom in the US, just like that waiter did for me.

  154. Jen – you mean that american [server]s are allowed to pass judgement on foreigners but we are not allowed to do the same? Seems like a new concept…

  155. Re: The Proper Tip

    Just so I’ll know: What is the waiter responsible for and what is the kitchen responsible for? On the rare occasions when I’m annoyed with some aspect of a meal, I’m always fearful I’ll blame an innocent party. Who’s responsible for what?

  156. I have seen this on a number of blogs. So I don’t know who actually wrote it, but I bet I am not the first to send it to you:

    Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read “Vote Obama, I need the money.” I laughed.

    Once in the restaurant my server had on an “Obama 08″ tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference–just imagine the coincidence.

    When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need–the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

    I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I’ve decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

    At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn, even though the actual recipient deserved money more.

    I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

  157. Have those of you who complain for a Service Charge to be added to the bill–>

    Results of a service charge–>

    It becomes part of the bill like the tax FAILURE to pay it can result in the cops being called for theft.

    At privately owned places you can FORGET complaining about the service and the service charge being taken off. In these economic times a lot of chains probably would refuse to take it off. You might get buried in gift cards but this way they keep the bird in hand so to speak.

    The really bad from my view as a server–> around her its pretty rare for places to dip into server tips for a piece of the action. From my blog reading its more common in the coastal cities where restaurants are more ethnically owned and operating margins are higher. I can think of 2 places where this happened locally. One place resolved the problem before it got handled by authorities. The other forces their staff to pay the credit card fees which can run up 4% sale depending on the processor.

    With a service charge the only way the employee will notice a skimming is if the place is dumb enough to document it on the checkout sheet in some way. Or for them to say tip out is X%. And at some point all the employee classes to get together and do the math on what they received vs what the servers tipped out. Most places have 5-10 people per shift receiving tip out and 8-15 people paying tip out so getting that many folks together on a single shift is hard. And I suspect many places would pay the service charge out not at the end of the shift but on a weekly or biweekly paycheck. This makes financial sense as they have to keep less cash on hand-many night restaurant have to pay out cash to cover all those credit card/bank card tips.

    Trust me on this lots of places would find this pot of money too hard to resist whether its the corrupt owner/operators or just a manager with a gambling habit/coke problem to finance.

    BUT my main objective to the concept of a service charge.

    On the lower end of the food chain of serving ie non fine dining –>I get paid basically on what I can sell so the suggestive selling will go up to probably obnoxious levels as the ONLY way to make extra money is to sell. Most diners at this level are not going to tip extra for exceptional service because they ALREADY paid for good service. (This is the EXACT argument so many posters have already posted on).

    At the fine dining level it wont affect service greatly as you fail to measure up on the service standards any good place is going to fire you-the really good places have benefits some FULL benefits.

    Any good server is a salesperson they can and will sell. Why, simply because they like to do it plus they know generally the more they sell the more they should make.

    BUT any serious server uses what they make on a given night factored into what they sold as a measure of how good a job they did that night. A service charge ELIMINATES that feedback loop. People who are serving and like that aspect of the job will move on into some other type of sales thus reducing the quality of the servers out there.

    At the end of the shift I first want to know how much you sold then how was your night (good or bad) not necessarily how much you made. Anyone can have a high money night-good servers have good weeks thus months.

    Joyce-While I find it stupid for the server to be showing his political stripes at work, your political experiment just gives Republicans a bad name. That server just paid for you eat lunch. Uncle Sam requires taxes to be paid on the expected income from waiting on you plus whatever the tip share for that place requires must be paid out of the server’s own pocket.

    And you really expect us to believe you atr alone(never mentioned others with you) and would have tipped $10 on a solo meal at LUNCH?

    Political Server- your a douchebag for wearing politial propaganda on the job. Also support the RIGHT candidate on the job if you must be political -Ron Paul promises to not tax server income!

  158. Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read “Vote McCain, I need some more foreclosed-on / homeless friends.” I laughed.

    Once in the restaurant my server had on an “McCain 08″ tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference–just imagine the coincidence.

    When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the McCain redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need: the $700,000 salaried CEO of the restaurant chain the waiter worked for. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

    I went outside, gave the homeless guy a big wink and a ‘gosh-darn-it, you betcha!’ and told him to go thank the server inside as I’ve decided the server’s CEO could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

    At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the prospect of more homeless people, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn, even though the actual recipient deserved money more.

    I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

  159. NYC Diner-

    Perhaps your repost of that story would be a bit funnier if it weren’t Democratic policies (which Barak Obama voted for) that got us into the situation where a bailout was even considered and Democrats who pushed the bailout through by adding even more special interest spending to get Republicans to vote for it.

    Not that I think McCain’s any sort of peach either, but Obama and his party are hardly blameless in this debaucle.

  160. I imagine this letter was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but instead it comes off as pretentious and stereotypically American. Also, as though the letter-writer is an idiot.

    I’m thinking I’ll delete this blog from my favourites. There’s never anything interesting on it these days.

    And if you’re wondering, I’m Canadian, and yes, I tip.

  161. Check out my new blog on working 14 years at Spago-a-go-go and the Poison Ivy in Los Angeles!

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    Guaranteed Laughs or your reading time refunded!

    Btw: I love tourists from foreign countries. They often nice wines, and are adventurous eaters. Many tip very nicely. If they don’t it’s a lack of understanding our custom of hiring bitter, underachieving failed actors and actresses, who actually think the world owes them something. ;-)

    20% of waiters do 80% hospitality, leaving the other 80% to stink up the joint with their pissy attitudes.

  162. I’m bemused by this waiter (er, sorry, highly qualified and motivated service person), to actually have the temerity/stupidity to write to Gordon Brown (if the story in not another paper beat-up). The other, more important aspect, is that for me, and a lot of my friends, the concept of “tipping” is one of humiliation, not much different from that of begging. To actually stand up there after serving the meal, and await the customer to convert gratitude into a tangible monetary reward is, I find, extremely sad.
    If anyone that may be deserving a compliment (and certainly not a “tip”) is the chef, or perhaps the establishment, for a well-prepared meal/pleasant athmosphere, etc.
    The fact that waiters (sorry, see further above), in the US are poorly paid is hardly a reason to accost the customer into parting with their cash for the provision of a service that is integral to the event. After all, one is free to choose a better paid job.
    I’m most pleased that here in Australia the practice of “tipping” is hardly known and generally frowned upon and I, for one, certainly want to keep it that way.

  163. Steve, please let Martin know that tipping is standard practice in Canada, and we follow the “10% = bad, 15% = average, 20% = good” measure as well. If he isn’t getting tips from Canadians…well, that might be a sign that his service may be lacking. He seems a little quick to blame his lack of tips on geographical issues. While I’m sure this letter was supposed to be clever, it came off as quite offensive in the end.

    And re: Cuno if you ever read this, I agree with you – Waiter (Steve?) has been a little disappointing in his blog entries nowadays. And it’s not a redeeming factor that I’ve been slowly realizing he’s a lot more biased (regarding issues like gender, nationalities, age) than I thought he was.

  164. LOL there’s a lot of butthurt in this thread.

    I bet the people who say that waiters should change the system and stop being so entitled (wonder what they would say if their bosses told them to stop being entitled when they asked for their paycheck) probably think of themselves as dogooders and friends to the downtrodden.

    Ah, I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

  165. Is he serious?
    Tourists generally behave a lot more inappropriately and badly when they are overseas than not giving a tip.
    Yes it was terrible being a waitress and you slave over a table and run up and down for them and get nothing. I hated waitressing.
    But I hate rudeness, drunkenness, disrepecting a country you are on holiday in, bartering with poor locals, getting drunk and wrecking hotel rooms, whingeing like a spoilt brat on holiday, expecting the world to fall at your feet and service you no matter what you want because you happen to have a credit card – maybe you should blog about that instead?
    I’ve learnt for every table that doesn’t leave a tip I actually got a bigger and better tip the next night or the night after. Karma, Martin.

  166. I think the bottom line should be you do what you do and if you get tipped be thankful. Period. Want a minimum hour wage? Apply to any of the many and eager fast food places out there.

    If you are looking for a decent wage serving food/drinks? Perhaps it is time to go back and get some more education. As someone who has worked with special needs individuals for the past 20 years for darn close to minimum wage there is no room for ‘tipping’. And that is ok, this is what I have chosen to do and enjoy it. No room for my clients upping my pay for gratuities. And so not expected.

    In today’s economy I think service industries such as restaurants have to suck it up and if not happy move on. Get more training and education. Perhaps then the owners of such establishments will VALUE their employees and pay them fairly, regardless of tipping.

    It is not up to the general public (who is paying to eat out) to make your wages. That is the responsibility of your boss. If it means prices for meals increase then so be it. Seems to me to be a more equitable way to share the profits. Provided you employer passes them on mind you..

  167. I work in this industry for the immediate satisfaction that it provides. There are plenty of people who work commissioned jobs where they might make a sale one out of every ten connections that they make. When I serve or bartend, I make a “commission” (or tip) on practically every connection, and it is extremely addicting.. Sure, my percent “commission” varies on a per table basis, but 99.99 percent of the time, I make something. Furthermore, how many times do you think someone working behind a desk gets told that they are doing a good job? I get told that I did a great job multiple times per day by the great tips that someone leaves me. Don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning tipping horribly…nor am I agreeing with ANYONE who says that our employers should pay us a straight wage in lieu of tips (because I am addicted to the green pat on the back). I just think that there are far more positives to this industry than negatives, and I am very thankful for that. As a disclaimer, I am a notorious hypocrite, and I will probably be complaining about a poor tip tomorrow night.

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  168. I, having the privilege of, working with a marvelous woman from Canada, took the opportunity to ask “seriously, can you explain to me why Canadians don’t tip”. And without knocking my teeth in for asking that way gave me a pretty good response. In Canada how one figures a tip is simple, one pays what is posted for the sales tax (in Canada there are two listed on a check, you add them up and voila, there is 15% and an average tip). Here in the states there is only one listed and it can be anywhere from 4% to (luckily) in Chicago around 11.5%. So it turns out that it is habit instead of blatant frugality, Canadians don’t hate Americans (even though we might deserve it), they have not made it a battle of breaking down the economy one 7% tip at a time, it is not an outright refusal to assimilate while visiting. Bummer yes, but next time remember what a pleasure Canadians are to wait on for the most part and realize that sometime you don’t have to wait on assholes, they just might not pay the rent.

  169. Happynoodleboy,

    Debate? What grade are you in? What rights do the Brits have to say about the custom in America?

    The bottom line is, most Brits KNOW the custom. They just don’t see fit for them to respect and honor it when they are here, for whatever reason it may be, political correctness or maybe just flat out cheapness.

    It’s not a matter of what you think, it’s a matter of showing your respect.

    Stiffing a voiceless person to voice your political stand point is plain wrong. Using a political stand point as a disguise for the true reason is pretentious. And I call those people pretentious assholes.

  170. Bless you Joyce! Obama’s tax plan will hurt the service industry and lower wage workers the most because the people who make 250,000+ are the ones who eat out the most, hire maids, pool maintenence workers, nannies, baby sitters, interior decorators, prostitutes, taxi drivers, contractors, mechanics, assistants, and workers. Just because that money is taken away from the high income earners does not mean it will make it down to the lower wage workers.

    Government is very inefficient at distributing wealth unless you are the Senator, House Member, or other high ranked official doing the distributing (into your own pocket!).

  171. Those are your words, not mine. In no way am I saying that American servers are allowed to pass judgement on foreigners. I am simply trying to point out that sterotypes are bad and no human being should not pass judgement on entire groups of people that is wrong.

    lauren wrote on 10/24/08 at 7:13 pm :

    Jen – you mean that american [server]s are allowed to pass judgement on foreigners but we are not allowed to do the same? Seems like a new concept…

  172. (Had to make a smll editing change to my previous post)

    Those are your words, not mine. In no way am I saying that American servers are allowed to pass judgement on foreigners. I am simply trying to point out that sterotypes are bad and no human being should pass judgement on entire groups of people that is wrong.

    lauren wrote on 10/24/08 at 7:13 pm :

    Jen – you mean that american [server]s are allowed to pass judgement on foreigners but we are not allowed to do the same? Seems like a new concept…

  173. Johnny Soprano – ahh, abuse, the last desperate attempt of someone who cannot string together a decent argument. You ask what right the Brits have to say about the customs in America, suggesting that you’re wanting to stifle the voice of a Brit who wants to express their opinion to a country who prides itself on Freedom of Speech. How hypocritical! The humourous letter is to the British PM, so is actually of relevance to us Brits. Face it, some Brits know the custom, some don’t. If they do and don’t leave much of a tip, I agree that they’re cheap. If they don’t know the custom, perhaps it should be explained to them when they enter your country. There are many customs that as an American visitor to the UK I’m sure you’ll not be familiar with. Nobody can know everything. As for what grade I’m in, as I’m above such insults I won’t even waste my time to give you either a humourous or similarly abusive answer. To do so would be simply chrulish. Pip pip old bean :)

  174. HappynoodleBoy,

    “please don’t post.”

    “demonstrate ignorance”

    “desperate attempt of someone who cannot string together a decent argument”

    “How hypocritical”

    “I’m above such insults…”

    1) You should understand that “don’t post” means a direct attempt to shut me up, right? Who’s stifling who? You Brits are so funny!

    2) And who’s “hypocritical”? Please see paragraph above.

    3) Reason I ask what grade you’re in is because your brain seems to be framed by the little tags you try to stick on other people.

    Here’s what I mean,
    “Because it’s not compulsory, it’s not a God-given right.”

    So, when service is included in your bill, you would pay for it unless the food and service are “total crap”(Not very high standard, I have to say). But you wouldn’t tip when it’s based on your own judgment to the quality of food and service and your conscience.

    Sounds like someone what would rather take a book in the ass than use his or her brain and conscience. Or maybe what’s right in UK is only determined by “compulsory” measures? Gee, again, not very high standard.

    Your opinion is positioned so high up that you forget the rights of your fellow humans to feed their families. Hey, they are not written in books, but they are rights. Right?

    After all, this has nothing to do with your opinions or your rights to voice those opinions. It’s about respecting the hard working people of your host country.

    4) Humorous or offensive, the goal is to tap into the conscience of your countrymen and get you to do what’s right. If my post was offensive to certain people, then GOOD! I think it’s doing its work. Please DO feel uncomfortable and tip accordingly next time, or inform anyone you know of about this custom so they may do the same.

  175. I diffenitly know what he’s talking about. I’m a waiter in L.A. College town.And we get a lot of koreans,chineseand some hisp. families that dont know how to leave atip. Last week I worked with a new girl she supposed to get a party of 20 and they never came.I offered her one of mines. a party of 15 or 10. She said no it was ok. But she did get a couple of families.A hispanic family and a indian/african american.What I observed,she was doing ok.I was doing ok too.Considering both of parties were asian. College age.Ugh!But it is college town. UCLA to be exact.So my table of 15 had all water.What ever!. I’m use to it.But not all ordered. Some were doing home work. Like if the rest. was the library.You cant tell them anything.My other table of 20 were.Guess.Yupp.asian.College age.I asked that I was going around to see if anyone wanted something to drink. Then I said to my self.Prob.water.I told everyone.”Who wants water?”they all rose there hands.Lol.Omg!So i’m thinking to my self I better get a fucken tip.I dont care if it’s 10%just something.Cause last week I didn’t make shit.Luckely when they started to cut the two other servers decided to leave. Those are the lazy ones.I wasn’t about to go home broke again.I would’nt have enough for my long island.Yeah. that’s what I spend some of that dough on.So back to my co-workers tables and mine.So I was at the pos putting in another cocktail from a two top.Two guys.I thought they were together.But found out that they were in business together.They gave a 20%tip.The guy even shook my hand and asked my name.But I wanted to know his friends name. But thats besides the point.So my co-worker came up to me and showed me what they left her.I looked directly on the original bill.Then looked at the tip.My mouth opened sooo wide.While putting my hand over it.”FIVE DOLLARS.” And the bill was $75.00.I told her “Are you seriuos?” I felt bad for her.Cause she’s new to the rest.she’s a transfer.And aroung that time my first big party.The party of 15 wanted there check.Here I go.I know wants I give them there check.There all going to start counting there money.Yupp I was right.I was hoping each person that ate will leave at least two dollars.I was mistaken.At least I got 15%.so that was roughgly $20.I had a another two top.They were there way before the two parties.God bless those guys for being patient.They seen me running around giving water.I even had a server that was off the clock to run there credit card.Thats team work.I’m glad servers like me there.Cause i would be on my own.They gave me a $15 tip. And they were technically supposed to leave me $10.you just never know.I was getting alot of guy couples that night.Maybe thats why I made money.haha.I’m just saying.So my co-worker showed me that other tables check.”What you think?” she tells me. I told her.Well I hope they leave you $20.”Yeah right.” she says. So my last party is ready to pay there $170 tab.They gave me $25.Yup!And a seperate check foe $13.that person gave me $2.so total of $27. I’m glad my other two tops and three tops were good to me.You just never know.What ever rest. yu work at.Thats the food your cliete could afford.We all have choices to stay or go.Regardless of your situation.I’m going back to school to get my degree in rest.magnt. Wish me luck!Peace.

  176. I’d say just have a mandatory service fee for all at 10%, then have that split among the waiters. That’s how things are done in the middle/top class restaurants, so that the waiters gets so sort of tipping pay, and less reliant on just “chance” of the customers.

    That’s how it’s like in Hong Kong and Australia. There’s 10% service charge included in your bill, and anything extra is optional. I think that’s fair deal.

  177. As a former food service worker, I am an extremely generous tipper (I will often over tip even if the service did not really deserve it), but I still managed to take exception with two points listed in this letter.

    1) While most employers will pay less because of the assumption that you are going to be tipped, they are NOT paying less than minimum wage as that is against the law.

    2) Tipping is not and should never be MANDATORY. If the tip is mandatory, there is no incentive for the server to provide good service. This is why I hate that a gratuity is fequently automatically added to your bill for a party of 6-8 or more. When this happens, the server only gets the amount added to my bill and not a penny more. If the tip had truly been optional, I almost always would have left more than that. Also, you most certainly CAN stiff a server who gave you exceptionally bad service! How else are they supposed to know that their service was terrible and they need to make some changes?

    Of course I will also admit that some customers will treat servers horribly (even when they are given wonderful service) and if the tip was not automatically added, there are several morons out there who would severely undertip on a large party’s bill. As long as these idiots exist (and eat out), there will be no easy answers…

  178. Tipping is not and should not be mandatory. If my service is good, then I leave a good tip. If it’s poor the tip reflects it. If it’s miserable the management hears about it. That said many times I’ll be out with my family and the server/waiter/waitress take your pick of title is marvelous. I make a point to let the manager know about it as well.
    Concerning larger parties, most restaurants that I’ve been too have the policy of charging a mandatory 15 or 18% tip for groups of 8 or more.
    There are many reasons that I’ll eat out, sometimes it’s just more convenient that eating at home, sometimes I’m just crabby and don’t want to be bothered. Whatever the reason though, my server always, let me say that again, always is treated politely. They are doing a job and deserve to be treated with respect. As do I.
    If you have a problem with the service then the tip should reflect it.

  179. The canadians in question are most likley,Quebecers[very poor tippers].
    Add to the list Holland,Germany,Poland,all the balklans,central Asia,most of the orient[not Japan]Mexico,central and south America.That says it all.

  180. Am I the only one who feels the need to point out that tips are not “mandatory”, as stated? While they are nice, and probably do serve to support wait staff, they should not be seen as a requirement. Instead of relying on individuals to follow customs or give you a REWARD (Which is what a tip is), you should get another job to supplement your income. Don’t rely on others to pay your bills. Americans have gotten too used to paying/recieving tips that we have lost sight of the fact that it is meant for a job well done, not just a job done.

  181. The “waiter” rude enough to write such a presumptious letter is his own rebuttal. Imagine a waiter thinking for a moment that his piddly complaint is worth s second of any PM’s time.

    Did it even enter this moron’s head that he needs customers more than they need him?

    This is the type of waiter that thinks its the diner’s job to snap to when the waiter approaches, and stop all conversation in mid sentence. After all, what is dinenr conversation compared to the waiter’s schedule?

    The type that makes you feel as if you’re imposing when you ask for no mayo, or your girlfriend asks for sauce on the side.

    As arrogant as some modern day stewardesses–er, “flight attendants,” this type of waiter does more to ruin a meal than liver bits in the soufle.

    This waiter is poised to run off even as he stands there, revving his feet, as you try to ask about a special entree.

    I expect the Brits in question found him to be rude, and inefective as a waiter. But here he is whining about his lost tip.

    There is a future for this waiter though–in the TSA. There you can be as slow, indifferent and rude as you want and it won’t matter.

  182. I agree with the person who said there should be signs saying that tipping is mandatory in restaurants- I mean, America creates “signs” for everything (i.e: contents hot on disposal coffee lids etc…). That way, it won’t be so much of a surprise for foriegners who aren’t immediately aware. I find it sad that exchange students or students on their overseas experience (OE is what we call it here in New Zealand) often have to budget tipping into their expenses when travelling to the United States, just because they want to uphold their “respect” for the country. I know people say that if you can afford to eat out, then you can afford to tip, but from reading this blog, I’m assuming that you have to tip every service person you encounter, and with students, they often frequent bars if not restaurants. I often ask people who’ve visited the States about their experiences with wait staff, because I’m thinking it must be exceptional with tipping being mandatory, and the response is always something like: “Well we gave them the 15%, but it wasn’t like they treated us like royalty. We were just afraid they would do something to our food because of our accents.” What a way to make people feel welcome.

  183. Pingback: Washington City Paper: City Desk - U.S. Waiter to Visiting Brits: Learn to Leave a Damn Tip!

  184. A rant on tipping, making false accusations on Canada = comment-bait. Nice. :)

    Run “find” on “Canada” – I think a good 15% (no pun intended… well a bit of a pun) of the comments must’ve on the topic of Canada.

    I side with the argument that people act stupid when they travel, but Canadians generally are decent.

    Has it ever occured to people who “always get shafted by Canadians” that they might be serving some Canadians without knowing it because they’re not announcing their identity, and they’re tipping normally?

  185. As a waitress in an upscale restaurant in NYC I cannot count how many times I have been stiffed by foreign tourists. It is commonplace. Brits are notorious for tipping like they are home. Italians as consistent no tip leavers. It is incredibly frustrating. I have traveled extensively in Europe and every country I have always taken the time to discover the tipping expectations and as I am a visitor as I rule I exceed the expectation. I think that this tourists should do their homework or ASK!! I get so upset sometimes I could cry! Get a clue you crazy tourists or stay away from restaurants!!!!

  186. What about nights when a waiter walks with 300 dollars from a 5 hr shift? I work in a successful restaurant and some servers walk with big bucks , then tipping the busser and food runners like shit, seems like the trickle down would be in effect but spreading the wealth isn’t so hip when the server is asked to “share”. what they’ve “earned”.

  187. Bloody hell, don’t call it mandatory tipping then. Whack a service charge on, declare what % it is beforehand and everyone’s happy. People can STILL TIP IF THEY WANT TO, but don’t have! No angst!!

  188. Gordon Brown (British PM) is “pals” with Kevin Rudd of Australia, Helen Clark of New Zealand and Stephen Harper of Canada? Which century is Waiter living in?

  189. This discussion goes on endlessly here, and on innumerable other sites. Ultimately economics will out. As global tourism grows the stress on the American system will tell (and I’m not getting into the rights or wrongs of whether it’s for the tourist to know the system of the country or for the country to make what is effectively obligatory explicit). American waiters will continue to be stiffed by foreigners (sometimes on purpose, sometimes through ignorance of the system) and in order to get the necessary remuneration tips will become an explicitly obligatory service charge on the bill. It will happen (but until then this discussion will no doubt rage).

  190. I serve at a restaurant that is hooked to a hotel and as such we get a LOT of foreign guests, by the BUS-LOAD! A majority of our bus tours are Canadian and British, as a general rule, we know that when the 50 to 70 guests all pour in at the same time, we will be lucky if we make 10% per table, if lucky! I know that we can’t all be providing sub-par service or being rude, I truly believe that these people have to be unaware of the customs here, I refuse to believe that they all can just be THAT rude. Here in Maine Waitresses/Servers get $3.63 an hour, exactly HALF of what every other industry is required to pay as a minimum wage for employees. Standing on our feet 5-12 hours straight, I would be thrilled if when people from other nations came in, I had at least a moderate assumption that if I do everything right on my end, providing exeptional service, and being a pleasant person, trying to make thier stay here in America that much more pleasant, at least in my own small way, that they would know that it is the norm here to show your gratitude with money and a smile.

  191. As a waitress of 30 years all I can say about tipping is that most customers do tip well here in North America. The problem with being a waiter is not the customer but the owners who take advantage of our primitive laws. Customers are not aware that the waiter is not only taxed on the tip but must also pay his boss part of his tips. Shall he refuse to tip out, well the primitive laws give the owner the right to fire the waiter at any time.
    About time we waiters mail a letter to the government when we file our taxes.

  192. As a former Canadian waitress. For the most part a 20% tip is standard. But yes we had a similar problem with some Americans, Britons and the like. I hate to say it but I see it as bad taste in general if someone won’t tip. On the other hand, I had a regular who came in once a week whom treated me like absolute garbage (him and the men in his weekly luncheon meeting). At the end of service I usually got a $50-$100 tip (on $50-$100 bill). I would say it is more reflective on the individual than on the nationality. And yes you are right, the War of 1812 didn’t work out so good. I’m affraid we burnt down the whitehouse… but it appears to be in excellent condition now.

  193. It seems to me there are poor wait staff and there are poor tippers… In all countries, across all nationalities…. It’s simply the nature of the beast… (and yes, I’ve waited) it’s all being taken just a little too seriously! Kudo’s to #’s 106, 108. & anon? You get what you expect!! :)

  194. I have to say, I feel disappointed. I found a reference to Waiter’s book on MSN, (I think), and so decided to check out his book. I enjoyed the excerpt from his book and thought I’d pick it up to read and maybe pass along to my cousin.

    Now that I’ve read some of the blog, and specifically, to be honest, this post, I feel vaguely insulted and am wondering if the book is going to be filled with invectives against low-tippers.

    I am Canadian. I didn’t find the ‘joke’ of a threat amusing. I tip more than 20% as long as the server seems like they are trying, and I do so in the States as well. And I think being rude has nothing to do with one’s nationality. Oh, and for the commenter who pointed out that the US already controls Canada – Canada does have many distinct ideas and elements of a culture. Maybe they just aren’t as apparent because the US has more of the TV stations? I’m not sure.

  195. Ok…first off, I am a server, and a good one at that!!!! I have a friend who lived in England, worked as a server and was paid $10 an hour. That to me is NOT livable wage, more a laughable wage. The reason why people in the United States, do choose to work as a server is because of the money you can make in the short amount of time. Different countries have different ways of going about things. I feel when you are in another country and choose to dine in a establishment, you should adapted to their ways. If you don’t like it, then don’t dine here!!!!!!
    I do have a college degree and worked for a very large company! I made very good money, after working 50 hours a week and not seeing my family!!!! As a server, I work much much less, spend more time with my family and make just a much if not more!!!!!!!

    Ohhh as far as the comment of spending 80USD on a meal that probably cost 8USD to make, you probably don’t cook much. Sometimes it cost more for me to cook at home than it does for me to go out to dinner…at a nice establishment too!!!!!

    Soooo learn how to tip, it’s not a new concept that in America we do work for tips as servers. It a poor excuse for blaming the our government on you being cheap!!!!

  196. we have regular calculators you know. It’s just that I usually feel too embarrased at my lack of math skills to whip one out so I usually just overtip as a rule.

  197. Ok, two things: why should I tip for the waiter for doing his job? Isn’t it the employer’s responsibility to pay their employees? Secondly, I tip 15% for good service, 10% for slow service and quite frankly 0% for shitty attitude. Fortunately, I do receive excellent service most of the time. It’s only been maybe twice that I didn’t tip at all because the waiter was such an asshole.
    Last I heard, tip stands for “To insure promptness” – which is coined by Benjamin Franklin who first noticed the tendency of the upperclasses to give a few coins to servants or waitstaff of their host’s house in Europe to ensure that they would retain higher priority of service. In a house full of guests, nobody wanted to be served last hence how the tipping custom started, which is just a nice word for bribery.
    I’m not upperclass and I think the restaurant industry needs to start appreciating their waitstaff’s hard work enough to pay them a decent wage.
    To expect customers not only to pay for the meals but also to inflate the waiters’ miserably meager income is just wrong in my opinion. It’s precisely because of the usual 15-20% tipping required that I don’t dine out as often. Can’t afford to. Maybe the restaurant owners should tip me instead for patronizing their premises. After all, they depend on customers to keep their business afloat.
    This is not to slight waiters at all, it’s my retort at all restaurant employers who are too dirt cheap and selfish to appreciate the hard labour of their staff. I just came back from Argentina where waiting is a respectable profession and they make a decent living at it. Tipping is at most 10% there.
    I would like to see that same respect for waiters in North America and elsewhere.

  198. Canada has bad tippers? (well obviously, but enough to bring recognition?) now that is shocking. I usually tip very well (I’ll tip over 90 % on things if it’s good (albiet it is in cheaper resuraunts like boston pizza, but still…) or excelent, and the only times i skimp is when they are absolutly horrid servers.

  199. When I travel, I make it a point to learn about the culture I’m visiting – and any travel guide on the US mentions tipping and what is acceptable. Being ignorant is no excuse for what is considered rudeness in another country.

  200. heh heh heh amazing how a bit of parody and satire can still get people’s shorts all up in a a tizzy – what fun!

    Enjoyed the rants – Martin

    thanx for posting, Waiter…

  201. Martin, you are a moron. In your letter you sound like a pretentious asshole whining about a shitty job that you choose to not leave. Thinking that you are going to accomplish anything by writing a letter to the Prime Minister is ludicrous and an example of that certain, globally loathed American arrogance.

    I have lived in Europe half of my life and the system of tipping in the US is awful. I am an empathic person and don’t want to ‘stiff’ good, hard working people; a lot of my friends are servers or bartenders and I don’t want them to be underpaid. I do tip an acceptable amount, but that doesn’t I don’t think you guys, my friends included are morons for sticking in this job.

    The system sucks but don’t just whine about it, write letters to heads of state and do petty little things like give back a tip saying something like “you obviously need this more than I do.” If you love this vocation so much, try to make a change… open a restaurant, pay the servers a respectable wage and inform patrons that tipping is not necessary, not expected but is great encouragement for extraordinary service. Or just find a new line of work, this sucker server system is for students and dropouts.

    Otherwise shut the hell up.

  202. Well I am a Brit that goes to America quite a lot on business. I know the tipping culture in the States extremely well. If I get an excellent service, I will tip 20% no question. If I get average service, I tip 10%. If I get below average service, then I tip 0% and I explain why to my server.

    Having said that, I have been run out of the restaurant on more than one occasion because I only tipped 10%. Never went to those places again hehe.

  203. Late comment, but I need to :P

    I work in hospitality (basically a nightclub), and earn basically minimum wage, tips will buy me breakfast on the way home from the 24hr garage (a meer £2). I have NEVER been tipped by any americans the 4 months I have worked there.

    At least when we go out, we tip 10% of the bill. So I can see where you get your 20% from, but if the food is abysmal (not the waiters fault), we’ll still tip but make sure the waiter pockets it and not the owner/manager. If the service sucks, 0% is tipped. End of.

  204. maybe he (the waiter) did not want to rant at congress before this rant because he was unsure if Mr George W Bush would have been able to understand and address the letter. Maybe he should write to congress now, because Obama seems like the sort of man who would understand words longer than 7 letters, and won’t try to contribute to the english dictionary with words such as “misunderestimated”.

  205. I just love the posts by the trolls that have never worked in this business. As a former chef and waiter, and now partner in a restaurant, I feel I need to inject a little reality into the ‘make them pay a living wage’ argument. Restaurants in general either break even or struggle along at a 3-5% net profit. Most of the public wouldn’t stand for the increase in pricing needed to pay servers the money an hourly wage equal to the tips they make on a given shift. Most servers know more about food and wine than you could ever hope to, regardless of the amount of time you spend watching Jamie Oliver slack-jawed, making brandade. They’re professionals. I’m sorry it’s not a legitimate profession in your eyes. If you don’t want to tip, stay home and have your shrew make dinner for you.

  206. @fohchef

    It seems odd that restaurants across the remainder of the civilised world can afford to pay their servers a ‘living wage’, but that restaurants in what is arguably the richest nation find excuses not to. No person should be forced to beg for handouts in order to survive — that just places waitstaff in the same position as street beggars. Why should anybody support a system in which the owners so obviously denigrate their own employees?

  207. Canadians tip. Just slightly less – more likely, 15% across the board. Probably because our service workers make minimum wage, and its a very unknown fact that your waiters make less than minimum.

  208. What Laura said. I was surprised, as well, to hear that Ontario and Quebec have a differential wage for restaurant workers, since as far as I know the Western provinces mandate the same minimum wage across the board for all professions.

    I also find that the server culture of the USA seems to lead to a sense of entitlement to tips. The rule of thumb used to be out here in BC to tip between 10 and 15% and if you didn’t leave a tip it wasn’t considered the grossest faux pas EVAR OMG.

    The way some people act in the comments here it seems to be treated as practically a mortal sin for people to not tip or to be annoyed at this idea that servers are entitled to tips.

  209. okay this should shut everyone in the UK up … to simply put? … when in Rome… NOW DON’T ARGUE!! You go on vacation to enjoy the culture, and embrace yourself in the culture; SO DO IT!! even when it is at an inconvenience for yourself. You don’t go to China and expect to eat only hamburgers do you? so …I’ve said it once I will say it a thousand times… WHEN IN ROME!!!!

  210. oh and yes i am Canadian … we are damn good tippers, and if you’ve expereinced otherwise, well my excuse is that there are assholes who don’t know what a tip is in every country… EVEN IN THE US!so do not mistake 1 for the general public

  211. If Martin speaks to his customers in the falsely-affected vocabulary and patronizing tone he used in this letter, it’s little wonder he doesn’t get tipped much.

    Have you ever considered that perhaps the people who haven’t tipped you are on a holiday of a lifetime, that they’re never going to get a chance to do anything similar again, and that they actually cannot afford to give you money?
    I didn’t think so.

    Also, with ridiculous proposals like that, Martin’s letter probably got shredded as “sent by someone from a psychiatric hospital.” Please say this was an early April Fool’s joke.

  212. hello!,I love your writing very so much! percentage we keep up a correspondence extra approximately your article on AOL? I require a specialist in this area to unravel my problem. May be that’s you! Taking a look ahead to look you.

  213. I’ve wined and dined in every state in the union. Often Great meals, great service. sometimes bad meals, bad service. You get both. I always tip the same no matter what. I am fair when it comes to tipping. 0% across the board. I’ve never had a problem leaving 0%. I break no laws not tipping. It is not mandatory. Servers might not like it but they are not entitled to a percentage of the bill. U want 20%? Charge 20% more don’t make me add on your wage because your boss wont pay u. I don’t have to pay anything except the bill and tax period bucko. Here’s a tip “the customer is always right.”

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