Friday, June 30, 2006

It must suck to wait tables in Europe

Waited on two European guys last night. A Brit visiting his Slovic friend in the mid-west. They both ordered large meals, were very satisfied with the quality and the service, but they leave a crap tip. This is not an isolated incident either. I've found most European visitors are crappy tippers. 10% is about the best in their minds, and then they work backwards. I got the 10% on this table.

I know it isn't just me this happens to, I've talked with waiters from all over the country who get bitten by this. Could the waiters of the USA unite and buy advertising space in all the major international airports. We could put up signs like this:

International Visitors:
We the servers of the United States welcome you.
We will be taking good care of you, and will serve you
and be polite.
In return, we expect you to tip better than 10%.
That crap may fly where you're from, but it might
garner a boot to your ass here.
Enjoy your stay,
Your servers.

And of course, we'd have it translated into multiple languages, and would have a tipping chart with wallet sized copies right next to it. Maybe we could bribe the fight attendants to pass out sheets containing the info as well.

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London Guy said...



I have waited tables for teh last 5 years in a Michelin starred fine dining Restaurant and am now a Manager of a casual dining restaurant in London.

We generally receive very little Tips beacuse

a. In Europe ,catering trade is not exempt from minimum wage laws and therefore , the wages are living wages ,especially in larger cities where there's a masssive labour shortage.

b.Most Restaurants add an automatic 10 to 15 % (12.5 % seems to be the most popular percentage) Service Charge on the Total Bill regardless of covers,therefore to receive a cash tip on top(The Credit Card Slips are always closed) is to have done rather well.

BTW,I have served a large number of Americans over the last 5 years and only two have ever left me a tip.Most asked ,"Is Service included?" and I always replied "Thanks ,there's 12.5 % Service Charge added to your Bill".Not one ever
offered to increase it to 20%(which is the average tip in America).

This post is not to criticise Americans but to say that people world over are the same.Some of them are real Gems who one remembers through years,Most of them are decent people and a few are complete c***s.

Duckie said...

If you think about it, things that are "customary" vary from country to country. On Waiter Rants blog he has one post about tipping in this country and other countries, and it's shocking! you must read it!
God Bless

Cricket said...

I can't find it now, but there was a recent study that showed that the "average" tip in the U.S. is actually something under 12.5 percent. Plenty of people think 10% is a generous tip in the U.S. They were all in my f$$$ing section tonight, too. "Thank you, you were wonderful," now have $5 on our $80 check. To wait tables somewhere where I was paid a living wage (or even close to it) and make a few dollars from those genuinely impressed by my service would not, at all, suck. When I travel to countries where service charges are included, or where tipping is not expected like it is here, I leave a few dollars. (And if I go to an Outback in another country, some pins they don't have--seriously, if someone came to my section from an international OB offering to tip me in foreign pins or money, I'd have to literally not have money for gas to get home to take the cash--heck, I'd STILL take the pins and sell them to co-workers).

Interesting side note--I had a website at one point that listed local (by country) tipping customs/expectations, and it said for North Korea, China, and a couple other places: "None--TIPPING ILLEGAL." Now, waiting tables in a communist country--THAT could suck.

d.a. said...

I wait tables for a large chain in the UK. They pay us below the minimum wage and make it up to the required amount using credit card tips. Cash tips range from about 10% down, as you say, but I guess it averages out at about 5% when you consider plenty of people leave us nothing, or stick it on the credit card where it is then taxed and called wages.

I guess its how they make their profits, but having done an 11 hour shift while everyone in the entire country was watching the England match (including two of the male wait staff who were, in a rather sexist way, invited to listen to the match downstairs with the manager), I want all my tips, dammit!

Great blog, by the way.

Beth said...

At least you're not by Canada. I swear, they know better but don't care at all.

Lobster Boy said...

Depending on how you get there, I'm a half day's travel from Canada (not counting a plane). Though you're right, we don't see too many Canucks here. I work with a couple of people formerly from Canada though.

Lobster Boy

jenni said...

north korea and china are totalitarian dictatorships. they are not communist, no matter what they say.

Paul said...

As noted above, many European countries include tips (service) in the price of the bill. Nonetheless, it's the responsibility of the traveler to KNOW the customs of the land in which he/she is touring. After all, Americans get a bad rep for going overseas and assuming that everything's just like at home, so Europeans should not be immune from similar criticism. For example: don't expect coffee in France until after dinner; don't order a cappuccino in Italy after about noon; don't tip a bartender in the UK (offer to buy them a drink instead); etc. etc. Therefore, when in the States - ADD A TIP, g-dammit!

Patricia said...

No, it doesn't suck here in Europe. And that's because here the waiters are paid a normal salary. Tips are actually a bonus that you may or may not have, because they are completely optional, waiters don't live on tips, they live on their salary just like everyone else.
Before ranting against european customers, please remember that you are the exception, not the rule. The rest of the world doesn't HAVE to know that for some obscure reason in the US there's this weird salary/tipping thing on waiters.
When an european gives you a 10% tip he's being extremely nice to you. Usually tips in europe are just some loose change left on the table as a sign of appreciation.

Papadog said...

I agree with Patricia. In Europe we have a legal minimum wage and to be honest I though that was true in the US. A tip is a reward for good service, not to make up for the bad pay of the employers.

Brad #1 said...

Ooooooh, Patricia, 10% is a nice gesture??

Just like Paul said right before you, it is the traveller's responsibility to know what the tipping procedure is in another country. What makes the "nice gesture" of giving below the normalcy allright?

I don't really know what the cost of living is in Europe, but I'm sure that its less than here, and we don't include a service charge on all bills, unless there is a standard for the particular restaurant.

Europeans don't tip here because they can play the "I didn't know" card. That's just anothter way to continue to be a cheap-ass.

If I ever went overseas, I wouldn't care what their customs were, I still would tip accordingly to the service I was provided. They add an automatic 12.5% to my tab, I'd make up for the rest of the 7.5%, guaranteed, regardless of if I planned of going back.

Europeans, as a whole, are cheap, and will continue to be cheap, as long as they can get away with it. I'm thinking about adding a "service charge (gratuity)" to every European's bill when they come in, just because of that. Hell, the place right next door allready has.

Skwerly said...

Haven't been to Europe, but I did manage a trip to Peru a couple years back.

I paid a U.S. standard 15% tip on each food bill- quite rich by Peruvian standards, but it's what I'm used to paying.

If you've ever worked at a job that depended on tips, you would know better than to ever pay only 10% or 12%, unless service was bad. That's just being cheap!

Kimberly said...

After spending 6 month in Montenegro, Yugoslavia I can tell you it depends a lot on the cost of living at those countries. There most people only make $200- $300 a month. Tiping is done based on a scale of $1-$5. If you tip $5 you will get amazing service. Of course that is just there =)

Anonymous said...

What an ungrateful fool!
10% for good service should be good enough for anybody.
The customers are not your employers.
Your employers are your employers.
Look at the salary before you take the job.

I am british and I lived in the States for over 12 years. Nobody ever gave ME a tip :-(

Anonymous said...

the europeans are poor. That is the first thing Americans need to understand, they woul dtip you more but Europe is a bit more rich than mexico. In US an average salary is 50k a year, that in EU is huge, Europeans make about 20k a year on avaradge, senior stuff makes 50-60k. So usually 90%of the europeans will not tip more than 5$ on a meal, even if they spend 70-80$ for it...which is very rare. Usaully an european doesnt spend more than 30-40 dollars on a meal. Also they go out to eat once or twice a month! Usually Europeans cook themselves. There is a VAT tax in europe which basichally takes 25% of income of each european on top of their 35% income tax. Europeans are slaves, they work just as hard as the americans but they make 3 times less...Europe is very socialist, very high tax very anti-capitalist and very very anty business! So expect low tip from Europeans and be happy if you get 10%