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Jun 12, 2008 11:22 PM

Do Canadians generally tip 15-20%

I assume tipping in Canada is similar to the States, but I wanted to be sure that it isn't more like Europe.

Don't wanna be an Ugly American...


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    1. That's the norm. No worries.

      1. I'm surprised to hear that. My waiter friends here in Honolulu find that the majority of Canadian's they serve tend to tip very sparingly or not at all (10% or less). Must be they think its not an American custom?

        12 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          Not sure what the exact tax percentage is in Hawaii, but in general, taxes are much higher in Canada. Perhaps people are using a tipping system based on taxes in Canda -- ie. American way of doubling the tax for the tip. Maybe the system works out well in Canada, but doesn't work here in the States.

          1. re: Miss Needle

            I will tip on the total - before taxes. I will also use my discretion to tip more or less if I've had horrible or amazing service. I always like to reward great service.

            I won't mind you, tip less if the food was poor - that has nothing to do with my server.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              People only double the tax to figure the tip in certain US states, where the sales tax is ~8% or so. Many states have much lower sales tax, or none at all, so that principle is both unheard of and inappropriate.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                I used the double the tax as an example to illustrate a point.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  And, yes, I perhaps should have been more explicit, saying something like some patrons of NYC restaurants double the tax.

            2. re: KaimukiMan

              I generally tip 15% for regular service, more if better, none if horrible.

              I have heard that in the US, wait staff get taxed on their tips based on the restaurant's total sales. So if the govt is assuming tips at 20% and a waiter really only gets 15%, they're paying taxes on money they didn't make. Also, the minimum wage for people who get tips is something like $2/hr. This may account for why Americans are more generous when tipping, since it's only decent when the wait staff gets such a small wage. In contrast, in Ontario, the min. wage for liquor servers is $7.60/hr, and tips are declared voluntarily on your income tax form.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                From what I can tell, the standard is the same as in America (at least in Toronto), but the attitude is different I think.

                This is a BIG STEREOTYPE, but a lot of Canadians I know are slightly less generous with tipping than a lot of Americans I know. It might have something to do with the Canadian government being more socialist than ours, and since they pay so many darn taxes on nearly everything, they feel it's the government's duty to look after people.

                It's quite the opposite in California, where I know a number of people who brag about over-tipping by more than 100% when they like the service. It's like they feel proud that they can give a $50 or $100 dollar bill to some waiter and really make his day. To me this seems tacky, but I also know a number of servers who say that this is not at all uncommon, and it's almost like a game where they scout out people who they think are likely to leave huge tips, and they give them free drinks and stuff. In a good week, they might make a couple thousand dollars from tips alone.

                I really don't hear like anything like that north of the border.

                1. re: markml

                  Re: tipping in California

                  I could see big tipping like this in CA and perhaps in Las Vegas, but is this really the norm across the rest of the U.S.? I mean, do they do this sort of thing in Nebraska, Iowa, Alabama, etc.? And do they do this sort of thing in Applebees and Red Lobsters and places like that? I have this feeling that overtippers are a part of a small subset of diners, but I'm not sure I could go as far to say that this is the norm.

                  But if it is true, let me know, and I'll quit my job as a Canadian surgeon and move to Des Moines and get a job as a waiter. Hours will be better for sure :)

                  1. re: moh

                    I've worked in both Los Angeles and New York City as a server and found this to be not uncommon. Over 100% is very rare, but I'd say nearly every shift someone tips 30 or 40% at least (and I'd call myself a good, conscientious but not flawless server). It's not always the biggest overall spenders, though they do tend to tip consistently pretty high. It is always very, very appreciated whether it's to show off or not, and can make up for a night of otherwise bad tips.

                    1. re: Olallieberry

                      I suspect it is less uncommon in the larger cities, but i could be wrong!

                      There are a larger number of wealthy people in U.S. vs. Canada, even just because of the larger population base. It could be that it makes them much more noticeable?

                      Any how, just a few thoughts. I welcome dissenting thoughts or counter theories. May well have to consider a change of careers and location!! :)

                      1. re: moh

                        A number of my college buddies in California were big tippers, and by no means wealthy. I also know some well off people who were comparatively stingy. It's definitely attitude more than wealth.

                        I'm not sure if it's a California thing or not to give big tips, but the first time I got scolded for under-tipping was by a friend from the midwest, who tipped $5 when the sum of our bills was $15 (we were having lunch at some diner). I foolishly thought that his tip was covering both of us, so I only added $1 to the pot (which would have been about 12% of my sandwich before tax).

                        He got really mad at me and gave me a story about how those waitresses live off the tips and that not everyone is fortunate enough to have food served to them.

                        1. re: markml

                          markml, you make an excellent point about attitude being more important than wealth. And it is certainly true that those who work in the industry are much more likely to tip well, since they understand first hand the reality of living off of tips.

              2. I start at 20% and go down for, as necessary, for bad service.

                1. I don't think so. I think that custom has been transmitted to Canada needlessly. In BC (which I believe is where you're headed), servers get paid a wage, which is at least minimum ($8/hr, higher in fine dining), then they get tips on top of that. Americans are known as notorious over-tippers where I live, not that anyone seems to have problem with it.

                  My BF usually tips around 17%. I usually pay when we go to fine dining places, and the service there is usually better than average, so I tip 18%-20%. We always tip less if the food was bad; tips are shared quite often. If the food sucks and the service is great, we tip cash (not on a credit card) and tell the server that the money is for them (not the kitchen).

                  However, my friends leave a standard 15% for good service (there is no "great" service to them), 10% for mediocre and pennies for terrible. This is actually reasonable to me. Many parts of Canada are experiencing extremely high unemployment rates. This had led to people being employed as servers who are neither sufficiently experienced nor suitable for the work. I can certainly think of a few experiences when the service has been terrible, and as the restaurant is paying the server's wage, I feel disinclined to pad it. Other times, however, you can tell that the restaurant is understaffed, and the servers work their butts off. And a lot of the time, the servers are young and are only working for discretionary income. Really, I'm likely to tip a woman in her thirties better than a 17-year-old. (Then again, the woman in her thirties is usually better ta the job.)

                  I really think that 12%-15% is standard where I live for restaurant service. And that's for good service.