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Posted by
4015 posts

In the USA yes, corporations hardly pay a living wage for many workers and expect consumers to fill the gaps. And the consumer is the "bad guy" if they don't consistently tip even for bad service.

It's as good as a scam these days, one often pays 20% or 30% more than the advertised price of goods and services in the US. In Europe usually the price I see is the price I pay.

Posted by
945 posts

While it is a fact that it is up to owners of businesses to pay their employees, the fact is that many don't in the US. I do tip wait staff and that includes Starbucks. If the service is not good, there is no tip, and I am not easily intimidated.

I am a retired marriage and family therapist and @ 20 years ago, one of my clients tried to give me a tip! --Now, that's "out of control" in the tipping world. I was somewhat taken aback by it.
My husband, adult son and I were in Paris in December. Three times at three different restaurants, the servers asked us for a tip--this was new to us. Two came straight out and asked for a tip, the third had more of a flare first asking us if we had enjoyed the meal and if we thought he had done a good job in serving it to us. Then, he asked for the tip. I would like to hear from those who know the restaurant/server situation in Europe and get their perspective.

Posted by
4015 posts

I agree with Nick, I think Lindy they were trying to take advantage of you because they thought you were American, and more likely to tip. It's well known in Europe the extravagance of American tipping culture, so without doubt some waiters in the very touristy parts might try to push suspected Americans to tip them as if they tip in the US.

I've never had a waiter ask me for a tip in Europe pre or post covid.

Posted by
945 posts

I thought they may have seen us as "easy marks", too Carlos. Btw, we then moved on to Barcelona, Girona, Granada, Seville, Madrid and Toledo. Not one server asked for a tip.

Posted by
4015 posts

Yeah I think what you describe is mainly a Paris thing, I have heard similar things from American friends of mine who visited Paris.

In Spain we are not so slick, just grateful for American tourists, who are by far some of the most well behaved and thoughtful visitors to my country, in my experience.

Posted by
6670 posts

I remember a waiter asking for a tip on my first trip to France in 1963. He reminded me at the door that "le service" is not included on the bill, and I told him "le service" was on the table.

In general, at home and abroad, I tip for table service but not for counter service. Nowadays at home, if not paying cash, I get this screen to tap instead of a paper check, giving me optional percentages between 15 and 20, or the infamous Tap of Shame, "No Tip." Might as well just crawl under the table. ;-)

Posted by
7024 posts

I have mixed feelings about this (not the situation in Europe but in the US). I worked my way through college waiting tables and later as a single mother and was paid barely anything. I only managed to make a decent amount of money because I was tipped. The most frustrating part, though, was when I was tipped nothing or very little because of circumstances beyond my control. There were so many times there was a problem with an order and it was late coming out. I would explain this to a table but they usually were upset and declined to tip. Other times I made mistakes - we all do, and I would apologize but people would use it as an excuse not to tip. There are also certain cultures who tip very little or not at all.

So here's my question - how would any of you like to be docked part of a day's pay because you were having a bad day at work? Or maybe your boss was upset because your work wasn't done, and it was something you did not have control over, so part of your salary was withheld? I always tip in the US. I know that federal minimum wage for tipped employees is only a little over $2. Some states are higher - Ohio is around $5 - but many are not. If I'm upset with something that happened in the restaurant that was within someone's control, whether or not it was the server's fault, I talk to a manager or leave a message but I still tip.

I hate the system and I really wish we would start paying a service charge rather than having discretionary tipping, but I doubt that most restaurants will do that.

That said, I do agree that it's pretty ridiculous when you walk into a hardware store to buy something and there is a tip jar (I have actually seen that).

Posted by
6378 posts

Lindy, we've had several servers either straight out ask for a tip, or making a point of letting us know service was not included. Once in Windsor, about 12 years ago. T least twice in Italy this past year, Venice and Rome. One of them in Italy said "Service is included, but you can add more." And he made a point of saying it in English, even though we had been conversing in Italian. Ditto the server in Venice, who, although we had ordered and conversed in Italian, held up the menu in front of us and pointed to the place where it said, in English, "Service not included."

Grrrrrr.

Posted by
10359 posts

That's shameful, Lindy. In fact, any place that instructs on service is playing the customer. It never happens to us. We live in France and one is native French, I'm fluent. But it has happened in Paris to new expats who don't speak well. Was it a restaurant from a guidebook? That would add to the problem.

It did happen to us in a Rick Steves restaurant in Murren, Switzerland. Lesson learned, avoid American guidebook recommendation.

@Carlos--I was with American friends, Angelenos, in Barcelona in September. This was a return visit to this particular restaurant for them, big greetings with their waiter, but at the end this waiter told them tip wasn't included. We told our friends it wasn't necessary to tip. Nobody really cared. Food and wines were excellent.

Posted by
932 posts

I have never had a Paris waiter ask for a tip, although I typically do round up a few euros at most places.

Only time a waiter asked me for a tip was in Berlin (at Dicke Wirtin's, a famous place that draws lots of tourists), but never has that happened to me anywhere else in Europe.

I think with more waiters taking payment at the table with the electronic card readers lends itself to the pushy question vs paying with cash. That was the situation when I got asked at least.

Posted by
7024 posts

how can someone live on 2 dollars an hour

Nick, in all honesty, most servers make enough money to bring their hourly wage up to that of other people, and in many restaurants, even higher. If that didn't happen, people would stop working as servers because it is very hard work, and you're dealing with screaming children, food messes, irrational customers, especially those who are inappropriate (like the guy who yanked on my apron to get my attention) and chefs who scream at the servers when they ask for changes to a customer's dish. But it's the inconsistency in the wages you receive that is especially hard, especially when you are trying to budget.

I'm very glad I don't have to do it anymore.

Posted by
15705 posts

Federal law allows for someone to get paid less on the chance they might get tipped

What the law says is that an employer can pay an employee less if that employee is expected to make tips. However, if that employee is not making enough in tips to make the minimum wage, then the employer must make up the difference.

Posted by
6378 posts

if that employee is not making enough in tips to make the minimum wage, then the employer must make up the difference.

Frank, the employer is supposed to make up the difference, but it doesn't always happen that way. In fact, back in the day when I was a waitress, my employer took more out of my check for social security than it should have. When I asked why, I was told the company assumed I was making that much more in tips.

Mardee,

the guy who yanked on my apron to get my attention

my favorite was the guy who put his hand on my thigh, up under my skirt. I quietly moved aside. The assistant manager was watching, and later said "Boy, I'm sure glad that was you and not [the other waitress.] She would have screamed and dropped the tray!

Posted by
3034 posts

I'm confused. Never heard of tipping anywhere in Europe other than rounding up or an extra Euro.

I guess I need to re-read the protocols.

I also found it out to tip when there is no server.

Posted by
2267 posts

Anyone complaining about tipping in the US should look to their portfolios/IRAs/401ks, calculate the ratio of CEO pay to median pay on all the positions held, and then consider where the complains should really be made.

Posted by
14580 posts

Out of control is relative. Depends, where I am, in the USA or Europe, (I follow 2 different policies), if I am a regular customer, esp. in Paris and Berlin, who the server is, etc.

In Germany I adhere to the custom of rounding up or telling the server when paying in cash the 10%. is for him/her.

In the USA and here in CA, I leave anywhere from 15% to over 20, maybe 22% for good measure. In the USA I tack on the tip amount to the credit card, unless I feel I should hand it over to the server in cash. That depends too. If I happen to tip an amount that goes towards compensating the server's miniscule wage in SF, that's immaterial. No problem on my part.

Posted by
15705 posts

back in the day when I was a waitress,

Laws have changed. Every month, employees have to report their tip income to their employers who must file this information with the IRS. If the total tip income for the restaurant is less than 8% of sales, then the employer must make up the difference and file an additional form with the IRS.

It's very complicated.

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/tip-recordkeeping-and-reporting

Posted by
196 posts

Hey Bets, I thought is was the law in France that service was included on all bills whether the written tab said "service compris" or not. I haven't been back to Paris since 2018 so maybe things have change. It was traditional to leave a couple of euros for good service but not be pressured to do so. I also understand there is a difference between "service compris" and tipping due the laws requiring wage compensation since servers (unlike here in the US) are considered to be professionals entitled to full benefits.

Posted by
7024 posts

I think with more waiters taking payment at the table with the electronic card readers lends itself to the pushy question vs paying with cash. That was the situation when I got asked at least.

Jojo, I agree - I felt much more compelled to leave a tip in Europe when that happened.

Posted by
10359 posts

Correct Tom.

Our experience, as French speakers, is the server comes over with the reader, we tap the card or insert it, he asks if we want the paper receipt and it's finished. Card readers don't even have a tip line. There's never a hint or insinuation of a tip. It's totally unheard-of to a French speaker.

I'm so sorry some servers in Paris are getting pushy with Americans. The reputation of the wacky US tipping system is making the rounds, and it sounds like some are cashing in.

Posted by
3363 posts

I’m on Maui right now. Last night at dinner, the server presented the machine at the table to pay and the 22% tip amount was already selected! I thought that was presumptuous!

Posted by
932 posts

The reputation of the wacky US tipping system is making the rounds, and it sounds like some are cashing in.

But there has been this sharp divide between what Americans are accustomed to doing at home and what is expected in Europe for decades if not forever, so what is it about "right now" or at least in the last few years that has changed and some restaurants / waiters in Europe are pushing for tips?

One reason I still like "cash" is for paying for a restaurant meal in Europe with the proper change plus a euro or two, and I have never had any waiter angle for a tip in that scenario, only when the card reader is brought to the table...here in the US, you have to be vigilant and check the bill for added "service" charges, and then choose to pay or not, and this is on the increase here, too.

Posted by
8654 posts

. . . so what is it about "right now" or at least in the last few years that has changed and some restaurants / waiters in Europe are pushing for tips?

Surely someone living in Europe can talk to some servers and see what they have to say.

My theory is that the industry has learned that Americans will insist on tipping big, and many will ask them what's appropriate, so the servers help them out by informing the customers of their preference up front.

Posted by
5062 posts

In the U.S. tipping is way beyond getting out of control. A tip jar at a hardware store, a carry out only pizza joint, and the counter at a self service gas station? This country has gone nuts! And not just with regard to those who should be tipped, but also the percentages. I remember the early 1950s when tipping was 10%! Later it grew to 12, then 15, then 20, and now ??? Jeez! In the U.S. we need to pay people a living wage and cut out all this nonsense. Oh, I forgot, that would hurt the corporate bottom line.

Posted by
4478 posts

I agree with TC. Prior to Covid, I only tipped for table service. Since Covid I have tipped in other circumstances to help people catch up from losing income during Covid and to help them deal with the current inflation.

Posted by
7080 posts

Well, I am going to the US this summer and I guess I'll have to plan an extra tip budget 🤔... Thankfully not a huge deal in the context of a relatively brief trip.

Reacting on this, though:

I remember a waiter asking for a tip on my first trip to France in 1963. He reminded me at the door that "le service" is not included on the bill, and I told him "le service" was on the table.

That 1963 waiter was right! I wasn't around back then, mind you, but service has only been included by law for the past forty years or so.

Posted by
2590 posts

This was a very interesting round in this continuing discussion here on the forum regarding tipping.

I'm thinking about a practical example here in the USA -- dinner for four with cocktails, a bottle of wine, and dessert drinks (port, for example). The difference between tipping 15% on the subtotal not including liquor versus tipping 20% on the total total could easily be $25, probably even more. If people on all sides of the transaction start to expect the latter, then the former will feel like you're being cheap or rude. That's a bad trend.

The comments about servers being subject to things beyond their control (like the kitchen making a mistake) should also include all the other factors that aren't really germane to the service provided -- what mood are the diners in, did their team win, did their day go poorly, was there a natural disaster on the news, and so on. Taking those factors out of the pricing starts to have a real justice and equity component to it. (Let's not go to how the appearances of the employees influence behaviors of the diners)

Posted by
755 posts

Last spring I had a waiter who DEMANDED a tip from me in Italy. Also in Italy, I had a waiter who brought me my change minus several euro, and when I told him that I wanted the rest of my change, he said “That’s for me!” And another time, after having a late lunch with a waiter who cleared everything off my table and all the rest of the tables, gave me my bill, and obviously wanted to go home, I left cash for my lunch and only my lunch on my table and walked away, only to have him call to me down the street and when I turned around he was waving the cash at me like “Where’s my tip?” I firmly believe that we are recognized as American and therefore expected to leave a generous tip, which I will do when it is service above and beyond. And I was a server myself when I was young and I know in this country anyway, it’s generally a hard way to make a living for many reasons that I won’t go into here, but when I have nightmares to this day, they are about working in a restaurant. But the point is, we have really messed with the long-standing gratuity culture in Italy.

Posted by
945 posts

I remember @ 10? 15? years ago in the US, wait staff began asking "Would you like the change?" when paying for a $41 tab, for example, with a $50 bill. That was the beginning of cheeky and caught everyone off guard.

Posted by
294 posts

In the U.S., I hate them bringing the cc machine to the table and standing there while you do/don't enter a tip and insert/tap your card.

I much prefer they leave a paper copy of the bill so I can look it over, make sure it is correct and decide on an appropriate tip amount. Sometimes they even bring the dang cc reader while you are still eating!

The cc reader is something recent. I might have to start paying for restaurant meals in cash only. So I need to practice my, "Sorry, no cc. Leave the ticket. I'm paying cash." Then go about finishing my meal.

Even when I'm paying with a cc, I tend to leave the tip in cash so I know the waiter gets it and not management.

Posted by
4478 posts

There are restaurants in the US that now charge an automatic service charge on all bills. That will definitely affect how much I tip. I'd rather raise the servers' wages and have a no-tipping policy.

Posted by
380 posts

What bothers me about the tipping culture in U. S., especially over past 3 years, is prices for food in restaurants have skyrocketed … 30%-50% in casual and moderate places. So servers automatically get that same bump if I keep my tip at 18-20%. But yet there’s often pressure to up the % to 25 — sorry, but no. (During Covid, on rare occasions when I’d pick up carry out, with business way down, I’d often tip then 25-30%. But that’s not case now. )

Posted by
2236 posts

Is there any chance it’s because there is no tipping line on the credit card readers they bring to the table in Italy & France (only places I’ve been the last few years) that servers feel free to ask? If you say “yes”, then they add that on before they put the card in. I usually just hand them whatever I’m giving in cash.

In the US I have no problem hitting the “no tip” button and then leave whatever I’m going to tip in cash. I had a “stupid me” with one of those new machine they bring to the table in the US because it didn’t look like the tip “took” so I hit the button more than once. The machines in the US don’t give a receipt at the table, so the server has to (sometimes reluctantly) go somewhere and fetch it. Needless to say, the tip had taken the first time and I didn’t realize it until I got the credit card statement. That won’t happen again.

Jane, the bartender told me next time to “accidentally” tip the drink into his lap. Good thought but not sure my aim would have been accurate. Memories…

Posted by
9044 posts

Having worked in the restaurant industry in Germany, the reason why so many servers let you know the tip is not included is that so many people believe the service charge is the tip. When you look at your bill, there is nothing tacked onto to it, everything is included, the tax as well as the service charge. The restaurant gets that service charge, not the server. When your schnitzel costs 14.40€ on the menu, that is all you pay on your bill. There is nothing extra added on.

If you are not sure how to leave a tip, ask your server. Do not leave money on the table. In a busy place, someone can sit down at at table before it gets cleaned off and can take your money.

Pay cash if you don't like the card readers. How many people got their CC info stolen in the US because their card was taken away to be read someplace else? Doing it at the table makes sense and is safer for you, especially when traveling. If you want to add a tip, tell your server, they can put it on the total for you.

Posted by
1189 posts

I expect Americans are being asked for tips because the servers know they are very used to having to tip and will likely give a good amount. They would not try this on with other Europeans.

In the U.K. service is usually added to bills at 12.5%. You can ask for it to be removed or reduced. If it isn’t added I’ll always tip 10% but only if there’s table service, not where you order at the bar. Many people don’t tip here or only leave a couple of pounds but I always do.

Posted by
4595 posts

As a non-American, I can say it isn't just Europe that has caught on to the US level of tipping....when school children in Tanzania say they want to be safari drivers because they make a lot of money from the tourists (tourists usually being prefaced by 'American'), it tells you something. Wages in other countries need to be compared to the local economy, not the home economy of the tourist.

Posted by
11516 posts

Is tipping getting out of control?

The question should be "WHEN did tipping go out of control?"

Posted by
8654 posts

Do you tip at self-checkout or vending machines?

Yes I always tip the person who is doing the work. Very generously too.

Posted by
4305 posts

What bothers me about the tipping culture in U. S., especially over
past 3 years, is prices for food in restaurants have skyrocketed …
30%-50% in casual and moderate places. So servers automatically get
that same bump if I keep my tip at 18-20%.

Minimum wage in my neck of the woods almost doubled in the past 10 years, but at the same time tipping also rose. Shouldn't it have been the other way?

Posted by
15705 posts

The best was yesterday. I was going to order a pick up from a local restaurant online. I was asked if I wanted to leave a tip for the staff. (In the UK). I place the order online, they cook it, put it in a bag, and I pick it up. And I'm supposed to tip?

I decided to order elsewhere.

Posted by
4003 posts

I was talking to a friend last night and she told us this story.
She sent food to a friend who had a death in the family. After the delivery they called her and asked for a tip saying the receiver did not tip. She felt intimidated and tipped. Talk about nervy.

Posted by
8654 posts

I saw a report recently of at least one restaurant in the US that had a separate tip line for kitchen staff as well as the server on the bill.

Posted by
932 posts

I saw a report recently of at least one restaurant in the US that had a separate tip line for kitchen staff as well as the server on the bill.

Back in the 80s, I had lunch at the Four Seasons in NYC, a famous "business lunch" place, and paid with a CC. There were places on the CC slip to tip the waiter, the wine steward, and the "captain" who I never met as far as I know and to this day don't know who or what a restaurant captain is. It was intimidating, and I simply tipped the waiter...

In the US, I always tip waiters for table service. I never tip anyone when I place the order at a counter, pay at the counter, pick up my order, etc. Recently in Paris for 3 weeks, ate out a couple of times a day, and never once did anyone ask for a tip, and generally I did not tip. Unfortunately for waiters there and elsewhere in Europe, back when you typically paid cash, it was easy to "round up" a few euros and leave small tips, but now with the contactless payment devices they bring to the table, tipping is going away.

There was a corner cafe near out hotel where we ate many meals during our stay, and we had splendid service from the same waiter every time. On our last night, when he approached with the card reader, I paid him with cash, and gave him a 50 euro tip and thanked him for his service and joviality during our 3 weeks. He was a bit overwhelmed by the gesture, and very grateful, and it felt good to do that for him.

So tip, or don't, in accord with local custom and how you feel about it. I don't understand people feeling pressured to tip for counter service anywhere, particularly in the US - just skip those screens and pay what you owe. I never tip in those circumstances. I never order meal delivery in the US, prefer to pick up to go orders at the restaurant, and I only tip when someone from the wait staff brings the food to my car; if I have to go inside to get the food, I don't tip. If I used uber eats or whatever, I would tip the delivery person, but again I have never done that so it is a moot point...

Posted by
6378 posts

I don't usually tip for counter service, but our small town has a non-chain coffee shop where some friends and I meet weekly. There is usually only one person at a time working there, doing everything, including making excellent coffee drinks. There I do tip.

Posted by
4305 posts

A coworker had a guy out to fix his garage door this weekend, He was charged $75/hr PLUS there was a tip option on the debit machine.

Posted by
46 posts

Tipping is an etiquette question, so whenever I am going somewhere new, I google "tipping etiquette [location]" and read a couple of articles.

For the US, I know that means 20%+ for restaurant dining, and whatever I feel like for take out or counter service, in Canada, I do 18-20%, in Austria/Germany, I round up to the nearest euro in the 5-10% range, etc. I totally get that tipping is irritating, particularly where the use of POS machines is causing it to spread like kudzu, but I am still going to do what custom dictates, with extra for exceptional service or because I feel like it.

Posted by
3262 posts

Allan's post reminded me of... Quite a few years ago my husband was very sick in the hospital for a long time. Our garage door jammed. The repairman came out and I told him to just get it down and I'd worry about it another time. I didn't tell him why. Well, that guy climbed up on our loaded shelving to the ceiling on his back and unscrewed and rescrewed the entire brace/door. When I saw what he'd done and it working, you are darn right I tipped that guy well! The key is: he did not ask, but he provided a service above and beyond. Maybe I had a face like a deer in the headlights, I don't know. But I will never forget his effort and how much it helped me that day.

That being said (I think I'm getting a little grumpy in my older age) if you ask me for a tip, you will NOT get one. If you are standing at a counter, you will not get one. I expect service at a table for a tip for food service. On the other hand, Bob tipped for ice cream cones today...but that's his right.

I just came back from Spain. I will admit I did not tip other than rounding up if using cash on the Camino as it was bar service largely (I mainly used Apple Pay). There were two meals that were outstanding, received lots of service and the employees were charming. They got big tips. So maybe I'm getting cheap and grumpy...or maybe I'm just coming to my senses. LOL