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Coperto

I have to chuckle when some of my first time in Italy American friends join me for dinner and see their bill is higher than expected. It's the Coperto ..an additional charge for "bread and tableware" for each guest. Usually printed right there on the menu ..about 2 euros. Consider it a option not to tip, which Italians don't do anyway

Posted by
1769 posts

The coperto doesn't go to waiters, so why should you consider it a option not to tip?
I thought US americans to be used to higher prices at the counter thanks to the "plus taxes" scam.

Posted by
792 posts

you tip waiters in Italy? They are paid a salary unlike the USA. The coperto goes back to the owners who pay the waiters

Posted by
1112 posts

darioalb, Better a plus tax of 5% than an included IVA of 20%.

Posted by
3112 posts

I also chuckle at first-time-in-Italy friends who ask if they can get around the coperto by not eating any bread.

Posted by
261 posts

Very few restaurants in Italy offer bread that's worth eating. I wouldn't pay 2€ for it either.

Posted by
7186 posts

If coperto is added then I leave no tip at all.

Posted by
1769 posts

The 20% vat is always included in the prices displayed in windows whereas you discover about the 5% taxes only when it's time to pay. Hence it's an obvious scam aimed to tourists. Like not writing about mandatory tips on menus.
You can't eat without bread + they can't bring the bill at the table to make you go away = cover charge. And it works, I get all the bread and all the time I want for less then 2 €.

who pay the waiters

Like the rest of your bill minus the owners profits, taxes, other fixed costs etc. etc. I can't see why tipping or not tipping should be connected with the cover charge. It would be like not tipping because they don't give free refills of tap water.

Posted by
1160 posts

The ordinary VAT rate is 22%, but most essential goods or services have reduced rates. Restaurants pay 10%.

Posted by
11700 posts

Um, isn't it a surprise for just about EVERY foreigner to the U.S. to see a dinner (or bar) bill higher than the total of what they ordered?

I thought coperto was illegal in Lazio, although not the rest of Italy?

Posted by
11683 posts

I am with Bets. If you can afford to travel to Europe, you can afford a few euros extra in accordance with the local custom.

The coperto is not a charge for service by the waiter. It is to cover the expense of bread, table linens ( laundry), dishes and glassware ( washing), etc.

In the thread about getting charged for tap water in Switzerland, someone pointed out the rationale—they still need to provide a glass, which then needs to be washed.

Posted by
11700 posts

Like Lola said, if I have it right then no, coperto is not a tip but a service charge for linens, oil and other table accoutrements in a restaurant or at sit-down service in a bar. The way it was explained to me is that it's an overhead versus a service fee? It is not a legal charge in Lazio (Rome is in Lazio) but there they might make up for it with a small charge for bread instead.

It made sense enough that we've never blinked at a couple of extra euro on the bill. It's just a different way of making ends meet?

Posted by
11981 posts

Mike of Boston
Are you sure 5% or 9.5% that's what we pay in Calif) sales tax added later is better than 20% VAT included in the price?
All I care about is I much I pay in total.
5% added to a $10 glass of wine in America on the bill is way more than a €8 bottle of wine (tax included) in Italy.
When I go to a restaurant in California, to see the real price of a dish, I take the menu price and add 25% to it.
The 25% represents the 9.5% tax plus the approximately 15% tip added to the menu price. If in your state the sales tax is only 5% then you'd add 20%.

Posted by
9450 posts

darioalb I am curious: Do you tip servers in Italy? I have read that most Italians only round up a euro or two, if they tip at all. When is says Servizio" of a certain percent isn't that a mandatory tip versus the *coperto?

Kathy I think they officially charge for pane in Roma.

Posted by
14014 posts

Adding to Roberto's comments, it drives my friends crazy when they go shopping in the U.S. for anything because the total bill is a lot more than the price on the item. Those who live in VAT countries expect to see the check-out price on the items they choose from the shelf or the rack. That's why I tell them all to go shopping in Portland OR. ☺

Posted by
6907 posts

Where we live it's 7% tax and we usually add 20% for the server whose wages depends on tips, and who has been working to ingratiate himself by telling me his name, flattering our egos with "good choice", and trying to upsell. Next the computer may print tips as high as 25% on the bottom of the bill, giving the customer a feeling of being cheap for leaving less.

Going out to eat in the US can be very unpleasant with all these hidden monetary and psychological transactions. Ugh. 2 euros for coperto is easy-peasy.

Posted by
9450 posts

That's why I tell them all to go shopping in Portland OR. ☺

Chani, If you come to Portland shopping, I'll escort you!

Posted by
11981 posts

Laurel, I don't leave tips in Italy and none of my friends and family does. If you pay by credit card, the card slip you sign doesn't even have a line to add a tip.

Darioalb used to work in restaurants so I'm sure he appreciated the extra when he got some (probably from American tourists).

For those of you who think that the American system of tipping in restaurants is good, I suggest you read this article and then reflect.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/18/i-dare-you-to-read-this-and-still-feel-ok-about-tipping-in-the-united-states/?utm_term=.9b68bfa88755

Posted by
6907 posts

"I'm sure he appreciated the extra when he got some (probably from American tourists).

A French couple we traveled with in Sicily last month very discreetly slipped tips with compliments to people who served them or musicians. These tips and compliments were in turn accepted discreetly and appreciatively. Obviously, the French couple felt fortunate, were generous, but also were always discreet. The only reason we knew is that we shared a table for 4 with them one night during our 2-week tour, because as you know, tipping is not the norm in France either.

I'm adding this tidbit in case there are people who feel fortunate and want to share. People serving you in hotels, restaurants, tours, work hard and are happy to know they are appreciated--even if it's not the norm or expected.

Posted by
9450 posts

I do not tip in Italy, either, Roberto, except to round up a bill by a euro or two (i.e., 78 becomes 80 euro). But I am curious about darioalb's thoughts. I would so much prefer the U.S. would go to a real wage for restaurant workers. I really dislike that front-of-house workers often have to share tips with kitchen workers/back-of-house. If the server is making the $2.13/hour or whatever ridiculous amount it is, they should get the whole tip. The others are paid at least minimum wage anyway. I would happily pay 15-20% more on average to know people were paid adequately and had benefits.

Posted by
22 posts

"If the server is making the $2.13/hour or whatever ridiculous amount it is, they should get the whole tip."

Servers in the US don't earn just $2.13 an hour, although they would like you to believe that so you will tip more. The American federal government requires a wage of at least $2.13 per hour be paid to employees that receive at least $30 per month in tips. If wages and tips do not equal the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour during any week, the employer is required to increase cash wages to compensate.

Whether $7.25 an hour is adequate compensation is another story but wait staff, like other support staff in a restaurant, earn at last the federal minimum wage.

Posted by
4 posts

Hi, I am an hotelier in Florence and specify that tips couldn't be demanded by any Hotel and Restaurant staff as strictly prohibited by the labor contract. It goes without saying that a tip for a good service ( max 10% ) is always welcome when deserved, but it is against the constitution to ask for it by any staff, even the taxi drives.

Posted by
11613 posts

I always tip the barista, there's sometimes a glass on the counter for this. I often see people put their receipt with a €.20/more coin on top of it. I think it's a caffeine thing and I am happy to do it.

Posted by
1060 posts

"Where we live it's 7% tax and we usually add 20% for the server whose wages depends on tips, and who has been working to ingratiate himself by telling me his name, flattering our egos with "good choice", and trying to upsell. Next the computer may print tips as high as 25% on the bottom of the bill, giving the customer a feeling of being cheap for leaving less. Going out to eat in the US can be very unpleasant with all these hidden monetary and psychological transactions."

I think this is one reason why 'fast casual' restaurants are becoming more popular in US. The tipping pressure / cost goes away. Also, when ready to leave, no waiting for the server to bring the bill, go away to process your CC and then come back.

Posted by
11981 posts

It's part of the American marketing tactic of showing you a price that is not the real amount you end up paying. Hence the trick of adding taxes, fees, tips, to the displayed price. It doesn't happen in Europe because prohibited by law, but otherwise I'm sure they would also add the 20% VAT at the register instead of the displayed price.

https://youtu.be/23ZRWypu6lI

Posted by
315 posts

Beware of suggested tip % at the end of a ticket in US. It is often based on tax included. It is common to not tip on tax. On recent Italian trip some/some not eateries added coperto. We also may have added up, tip or not tip. All were appreciative.

Posted by
792 posts

indeed Roberto ...look at the cell and cable bills ..no where near what is advertised

Posted by
8715 posts

A restaurant owner in NY, who owns a few restaurants, said he would start to pay his servers a proper wage and let customers know they didn't have to tip.

It bombed. The customers felt terrible not tipping so they did instead. It's part of our culture in the U.S. so we do it. We know that when we get a bill there will be tax added to the menu price and then we leave a tip. It has nothing to do with tourists. It's like that for everyone.

I am not happy that in a few London restaurants the bill will arrive with a 12.5% tip already added.