Ask the readers: How do you tip?

I’ll be honest. Although I grew up in Canada for more than half of my life, I still don’t quite understand the concept of tipping. Tipping is not a common practice in Taiwan (or anywhere in Asia). So when my family and I immigrated to Canada over 20 years ago, it was a complete new concept. Similarly, tipping is not a common practice in Denmark, so it’s a new concept to Mrs. T as well.

Here in North America, the customary rule is to tip 15-20% when eating at a restaurant.

I get it, waiters and waitresses are earning minimum wage, so they depend on tips for their livelihood.

Tipping “rules”

Why is the tipping percentage a fixed number rather a flat per service fee?

Using the 20% tipping “rule”, if I go to a restaurant and order a $10 item, I should tip $2; If I order a $50 item at the same restaurant, I should tip $10.

Do I get a better service by ordering a more expensive item at the same restaurant? Probably not, so why am I expected to tip more because I ordered a more expensive item?

When it comes to tipping, do you tip before or after tax? I have always tipped based on the pre-tax amount, but many people tip on the after tax amount. Which method is correct? (I’m full of questions when it comes to tipping!)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any problems with the concept of tipping. If I get good service, the waiter/waitress serving me definitely deserves a good tip. I also understand  why restaurants charge a fix percentage of gratuity for a large group. Because it takes more effort to provide proper service to a larger group. My problem lies that more and more people in the service industry just expect their customers to tip regardless of the quality of service.

When we eat out from time to time and receive good service, I generally tip around 15% before tax. But there were a few times I left a very small tip because we had very poor service. For examples, a few times it took forever to get our water re-filled because the server was nowhere to be seen, or one time the waitress told us to use a baby car seat for Baby T1.0 instead of bringing a high chair for him. Tipping shouldn’t be mandatory, it should be based on quality of service.

When and where should you tip?

It’s well understood that one should tip when having a sit down meal at a restaurant where there’s someone serving you. If you order take out, do you tip? I don’t, because in theory I don’t get any service.

Do you tip when you take a taxi? It seems that it’s almost mandatory to tip taxi drivers nowadays, which I find slightly annoying. If a taxi driver gets out of his or her way to take my luggage or open the door for me, I don’t have a problem leaving a tip. Unfortunately I have had a few rude encountered with taxi drivers that made me wonder why I should tip in the first place.

A few times, I was shocked that the taxi driver would ask me why I was tipping so little when all they did was driving me from the airport to my house.

Isn’t the taxi driver just doing his/her job? Why is it expected to tip them? Similarly, isn’t your hair dresser doing his or her job by cutting your hair? Why is it expected to leave a tip?

Lately I noticed a lot of cafes have a tipping option when paying with a debit or credit card. Aren’t the baristas doing their job by making coffee for you? Why do we need to leave a tip?

That leads to the question – just exactly when and where should you tip?

Are we supposed to tip anyone that works in the service industry now? Is this the new expectation?

Do we start tipping cashiers working in grocery stores? What about doctors and nurses? What about janitors? What about house cleaners? What about a retail store clerk?

And how much do you tip? 5%? 10%? 15%? 20%? 25%?

Where does this madness end?

Dear readers, I’m curious, how do you tip?

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74 thoughts on “Ask the readers: How do you tip?”

  1. Worst tipping story: Took a cab back home from YVR many years ago, driver made us super uncomfortable. At the end of the ride, didn’t help unload luggage or anything. Physically threatened me and MrsSLM after I left without leaving a tip.

    In general I hate tipping, but do it since it’s social convention for things like restaurants. I don’t mind tipping in these situations, but I really really despise the little begging cups that are popping up when you go to buy a coffee or even at the damn grocery store.

    Obligatory video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_vivC7c_1k&list=PLuKg-WhduhkksJoqkj9aJEnN7v0mx8yxC&index=25

    Reply
  2. I tip between 20% to 40% depending on service and my relationship to the server. I was a waiter and bartender through college and generous patrons helped me pay for school. I had regulars tip me more than 100% on occasion. 50% was common with regulars. I had a retired couple who left me $100 every Sunday on a $25 dollar lunch. Every Sunday for years they visited me and gave me $400 a month. I think about how much this money meant to me and I pay it forward with waiters who treat me well.

    Reply
  3. yeah the tipping thing is very stressful to me. I worked as a bartender for a few years so I always leave 20% but I hate the cups they have out at coffee shops. The reason we tip waitstaff and bartenders in this country is because they don’t even get minimum wage. It is their whole income basically. In 2000 I was making $3.60/hour and the minimum wage was around $6.00-$7.00. Without tips, I wouldn’t have been able to live at all. The people at the coffee shops make minimum wage and some places offer benefits too. It is apples and oranges. They should just give restaurant workers a living wage and abolish tips, it makes no sense because it is confusing. Great Post, thanks for sharing!

    -Brian

    Reply
    • In that case where you’re making less than minimum wage it makes sense to tip. But here in Canada most servers are making minimum wage, so to me maybe it doesn’t make as much sense to tip on the high end?

      Reply
  4. In UK, tipping isn’t set in stone, but it’s courteous to do so (although restaurants will charge a flat fee of 10% ‘service charge’ for large groups/parties)

    If I’m in a restaurant and I’ve had good service and food, I’ll tip a little more than the customary 10%. If ok service and food, I’ll still tip around 10%. If I’m really not happy with the service, then no tip.

    Taxi driver? If he helped carry my suitcase going to the airport, he’ll get a tip. Otherwise, he may just get the fee rounded up to the nearest £.

    Hairdresser – she spent time washing and cutting my hair so she gets 10%.

    Guy who delivers my takeaway – he gets a little tip, though not 10%.

    Outside of the UK, I tend to find out what the going rate is and tip appropriately. I’ve stayed in hotels abroad where the rooms have been spotless and perfect every day and I’ll leave a tip say under a pillow so the maid will get it.

    Reply
    • 10% service charge is pretty low. Here in Canada that number can be as high as 25% for large groups/parties.

      Seems tipping amount varies greatly in different countries. 🙂

      Reply
  5. I totally agree with your statements, Tawcan. I get tipping low-wage serving staff (which is usually the case here in Canada) but I don’t understand why we tip people for simply doing their jobs. I do a great job in insurance sales – should someone also tip me? Haha. If that’s preposterous (which it is) why is it not preposterous that I have to tip my hairdresser when she’s simply doing her job and charging me good money for it to begin with?
    My beef is that it seems more people are adding tipping to their payment POS. I went for a massage by an RMT – a medical professional providing a service my insurance will pay for, seeing it’s health related and not just a day at the spa. I was shocked that there was a tip option when I went to settle the bill! I didn’t tip, because an RMT is a health professional and that would equate it to tipping my dentist, doctor, or a nurse. The receptionist had the nerve to tell me that I missed the tip option! I was astounded!! Who do I have to start tipping next, my mailman? My dentist?

    Reply

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