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A "tipping" topic

Does it make sense to tip on a percentage basis?

Diner #1 orders a $50 entree and a $15 glass of wine

Diner #2 orders a $25 entree and a $5 beverage

In both cases the waiter brings a plate of food and a beverage

Assuming the diners are typical Americans and tip 20%, why/how does make sense to get $13 from diner #1 and $6 from diner #2. ?

The work required for each was the same.

The flat rate cover charge that is typical in Europe seems to make more sense.

Posted by
5067 posts

We've long felt that the restaurants in the U.S. should just pay the workers well and include the cost in the price of the meal. But, as someone once said, "common sense just isn't that common".

Posted by
679 posts

Diner #2 may want to have input. Having the server weigh in may also prove enlightening. This is definitely not meant to be flippant.

Posted by
2267 posts

Servers of the people who debate tipping in America this way probably deserve 30% for putting up with such attitudes.

Posted by
5146 posts

If the diners are typical Americans and they are dining in Europe , then they should learn the tipping customs for the country they are in. Leave the "what is customary in the US" in the US.

Posted by
585 posts

Speaking of European customs, if diners 1 and 2 are dining together, they should understand that separate checks are not a thing in Europe, so one person should be prepared to pay for the table.

Posted by
4359 posts

In a slightly different take, last week I ordered dessert at a restaurant (in Europe) which included a 10% service fee on the bill. My dessert was accidentally delivered to the table next to me (we quickly figured that out) and the charge was added to that person’s bill.

In sorting it out, I paid separately for the dessert and left her discussing with the waiter the 10% service charge for my dessert (less than $1) remaining on her bill…. I forgot to see if my bill had the 10% added. 🤣

Posted by
2652 posts

sperate checks are a thing in Europe, not all countries but many places will quite happily charge everyone individually and in the Czech Republic a place I am in several times a year it is very others have said keep USA style tipping to the USA and try and find out the tipping culture of the places you are visiting, and please don't leave money on the table or bar, if you are going to tip hand it to the server.

Posted by
7664 posts

Assuming the server shares the tip with others working in the restaurant (I remember the waiter at a restaurant in Rome taking our tip and immediately putting it in the tip can on a shelf near the register), the $50 (€48?) food took greater care and expertise than the cheaper meal, and the kitchen staff would be rewarded accordingly. The service, and the ambiance created in the dining experience are factors where a tip is earned, so a strict percentage is a formula that doesn’t consider that.

There is some thinking that alcohol/beverages not be tipped as much as the food. If that’s the case, pouring and serving a drink wouldn’t get as much of a tip, just because it was a pricier drink. Then again, a sommelier providing expert wine pairing suggestions is contributing more than someone who just puts a bottle of sparkling water on the table.

Speaking of water, a restaurant that actually provides a (likely free) carafe or pitcher of tap water, rather than pushing bottled designer water because the local water is supposedly unsafe or undrinkable, is highly appreciated, and a tip is appropriate, compared with others that don’t.

Posted by
18871 posts

as others have said keep USA style tipping to the USA

I did an unscientific survey of waitstaff in 3 European countries, they don't agree.

and try and find out the tipping culture of the places you are

Good point.

Posted by
18871 posts

they should understand that separate checks are not a thing in Europe,

The statement lost validity with the words "in Europe" The norm in Tirana may not be the norm in Paris.

Posted by
18871 posts

Hmmmmm, good point. Didn't occur to me that if a few thousand Americans left tips that the French would retaliate by cutting the minimum wage for workers. It's sadly low already, so that would be a shame.

Posted by
4605 posts

Someone mentioned water, in Vienna our hotel had a sign in the room saying local tap water was perfectly fine and wonderful, yet restaurants keep trying to sell bottled water. Funny how that works.

One restaurant even had a charge for the carafe of tap water!

Posted by
3074 posts

We always order "eau gazzeus" or "mit gas" or whatever the local term is. So, the availability of tap water is less important to us. Since the cost of a liter is usually E3 or so, it's a small part of the meal.

Posted by
9046 posts

Separate checks in Germany are normal. Please stop lumping all of the countries of Europe together.
Service charges go to the owner, not the wait staff.

Posted by
847 posts

One might note the sneaky coperto to or similar charges suddenly appearing on your bill in Italy and Greece. I would rather have the tip problem than this charge. For bread, usually. Yet many times the bread is very poor. Or even small breadsticks in cellophane. Very irksome. Plus they bring it no matter what, so you are captive.

Posted by
18871 posts

Ms. Jo, people seeing Europe as one place is my first clue that they may have traveled, but didn't learn too much on the way.

On the service charges, in Budapest, when presented with a bill and I offered a tip, I have been told it's not necessary as the service charge is already included. That has led me to believe the service charge was the equivalent to tipping. So, while tipping is cultural in Hungary, I leave no separate tip when there is a service charge. Is that a different understanding than in Germany?

Here in the US the larger or more expensive places collect all the tips from the staff, or service charges if they go that way, and distributes the money to waiters, cooks, etc. I don't know of an instance where the management keeps any. I think they do this in part to comply with the minimum wage law accounting. Smaller places, the staff just pockets the cash, but technically has to report it to management for minimum wage accounting.

So every place is different as you point out.

Posted by
6 posts

In my view, tipping is a nuanced practice that varies not only between European countries but can also be distinct within different regions and establishments within those countries.

Posted by
2599 posts

People often notice that when a dear one leaves us the rest of the community picks up the qualities that departed with them to keep the community intact -- the comments here are bringing me a warm memory of Emma from London and her careful chiding about the bad habit of generalizing.

An added complication to the service charge's relationship to tipping comes up when eating in a spot that is part of a club or organization or community -- the members may have different price scales and obligations than nonmembers.

Posted by
5386 posts

Not only do things change with place they also do over time.

I have related in a different thread that service charges in Britain will change in 2024 from being shared with the staff only in accordance with the management's wishes to having to go 100% to staff. This brings them into line with what many people thought was already the case but legally was not.

Posted by
11535 posts

In the spirit of being an advisory alert to European visitors to the US, if you perchance decide to use doordash, a report I saw today is they now have added a feature to include the tip when you place the order; you don't include a tip, your order gets delivered last, or at least after those that have tips included.

Posted by
18871 posts

Actually, it says the drivers are independent contractors that choose what orders they want to deliver and that tipping may move your oder up as the contractor will be looking for the best profit. Nothing structured about it.

Posted by
4310 posts

Wow, if that isn't an example of tipping out of control then I don't know what is.

Posted by
8665 posts

Sounds more like bribery than a gratuity.