Basic Tipping Rules
We’ve all had those moments where we are suddenly stumped with how to handle a tip. In some countries, the subject is an etiquette minefield and if not handled correctly, you could find yourself as an instant villain. Questions arise such as – do you tip someone even if the service was poor? Do you still tip if a service charge was added to the bill? Do you tip your hairdresser? What about the cab driver?
One act that should be so simple has created a realm of politics and is often the cause of many an awkward moment. But we’re here to help you set the record straight so that next time you’re paying for a meal, you can reach for your wallet knowing that your dignity will still be intact.
When Should You Tip And How Much Should You Pay?
When in doubt, stick to the “10-15%” of your bill rule and always tip for good service – be it a waiter, a cabbie, or your hairdresser.
If you’re ordering in, then it’s common courtesy to tip the delivery man for his efforts. Consider the length of his journey, the weather conditions, and the condition your food is in before settling on a fair tip. £1- £2 pounds is a reasonable range to work with.
Things can get tricky, however, when you end up with more than one waiter or you opt for the buffet dinner. Who gets the tip then? Instead of rushing out the door in a panic with the flighty decision not to tip at all – we suggest you consider leaving a small token of appreciation for each of the waitrons who made an effort to assist you. In this instance, 60p to £1 per person is acceptable.
What’s The Difference Between A Service Charge, A Cover Charge, And A Tip?
To muddy the waters just a little more, some restaurants and hotels include cover or service charges into their bills. This essentially means that you are already tipping for the service as guided by the figure on your bill. You might, however, want to make sure that these payments reach the pockets of the servers and bellboys. Some establishments keep the money and pay portions out to their staff as they see fit and Jim who helped get your luggage to the car might never get his fair share for his efforts.
In a case like this, you can always query with management on how their system works and if you were overly impressed with one of the waitrons, you can insist that the service charge makes its way to them – or if you are feeling generous, you could give an additional tip at your own discretion.
What’s Better – A Cash Or Card Tip?
With so many cashless payment options, fewer people are carrying hard cash in their wallets. This is no train smash since most businesses have systems that allow you to tip with a card.
On asking waiters what their preferred tipping method is, however – they all preferred cash. This is because they do not have to wait for management to distribute their earnings and the money is at their immediate disposal.
You may also want to consider independent servicemen, such as car guards in South Africa. They won’t necessarily have access to card machines and cash in their currency is the only useful tip.
We suggest that you get into the habit of always keeping a few notes in your travel wallet if you’re traveling, and remember to exchange your money for the correct currency.
Is It Ever OK Not To Tip?
While horrid service can be a damper on anyone’s parade, we urge you to stick to your role and tip your service provider anyhow. Stick to the minimally acceptable amount (10% of your bill) and let your money talk for you.
You can take your grievances up with management. The fact that you still tipped your waiter will keep your slate clean and you will remain the good guy in the unpleasant scenario.
Tips For Tipping Etiquette Around The World
While the above tipping rules apply to most parts of the world, each country has its own quirks that you might also want to take note of:
- Brazil – when tipping in Brazil, make sure to be discreet since this nation prefers to be subtle when it comes to business transactions.
- Austria, Italy, and Russia – tipping isn’t a regular practice in these countries but it is courtesy to round up your bill.
- Asia – many Asian countries believe that good service should always be expected and tipping isn’t necessary – in fact, in some cultures, your tip might even be politely refused.
- Netherlands – In the Netherlands, the tip is already worked into the bill and an additional tip is not expected. No one will be offended, however, if you do decide to give an additional contribution.
When In Doubt, Be Generous!
Tipping customs can change as and when countries decide to change their laws. If you are really concerned about sticking to a country’s tipping etiquette, speak to management and they will give you the direction you need – this shouldn’t be an awkward question to ask.
If you really don’t feel like broaching the subject, you can simply round up the bill. Bringing a little of your own culture to the table is also acceptable and you there is certainly nothing wrong with showing gratitude. And who knows, you might be making someone’s day!
- The Rules of Tipping That Everyone Should Know – Washington Post
- Etiquette 101: Your Guide To Tipping Around The World – CN Traveller