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Fair amount of tip at a restaurant

I went yesterday at Vino restaurant in NDG. Excellent Italian food. But when I paid my bill, I was surprise that the preselected amount of tip on the credit card machine was 17% (after taxes)! So, I choose to put tip in dollar instead of percentage.

For me, 15% before taxes is a fair amount of tip. And when the amount exceeds 200$, I think 10% is fair. Am I wrong?

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  1. yes, that is very unfair.
    if the bill exceeds 200 dollars you should still tip what you normally would. waiters should not be punished because you choose to eat somewhere expensive. an expensive restaurant probably makes waiters serve fewer tables so you get more attention, and they have more experience.
    i always tip 15 percent after tax if service is good.

    edit: the only exception would be if you buy a 500 dollar plus bottle of wine, then I think you might tip differently....

    1. people have been tipping 15% since at least i was a child (40+ years ago) and i think that's low. i'm always a 20% tipper, unless the service is really bad. Little mom & pop places i'll even tip more. a few dollars extra when i eat out may make more of a difference to them than it does to me. and i'm not rich (actually, currently very underemployed). but i used to be a server.

      and i agree with Kpaxonite - why would a higher bill mean a smaller tip?

      1. Folks, before y'all pile on (as tipping threads tend to do, and the question the OP asks is ripe bait for such a fest), be aware that (1) the OP is talking Quebec, not Manhattan, and (2) he's posted twice at Chowhound.

        I will now hold my fire accordingly.

        16 Replies
        1. re: Karl S

          Here in montreal the average tip is still 15 percent, 18 at some high end business style places. And there is definitely no custom of decreasing tip percentage as the cost increases.

          1. re: kpaxonite

            good to know. and thanks Karl S., it is true - living in L.A./S.F. all my life means I'll have a different perspective.

          2. re: Karl S

            Yes, Canadians (including Quebecians) should be held to the same standard. I have worked in the industry for years (in Canada) and 10% is considered low.

            Remember this: MANY establishments are now taking advantage of their staffs tip earnings, requiring them to pay a house charge. The house charge ranges from 2%-5%, from what I've witnessed. I think it's wrong, but even when a server is not paying out to the house, 10% amounts to very little when the night is through. The "preselected" gratuity amount posted on the machine serves to subtley educate the patron about what is typically expected for satisfactory service. In Canada, the preselected amounts are generally between 15% and 20%. I'm not sure where people get the lower numbers from. We have very similar standards as in the U.S. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g15...

            I'm with kpaxonite on this one: If you are at an expensive restaurant, you should expect to tip more, just as you expect to pay more for your meal.

            When I decide to go out, I look at what I am able to afford - tip included. If you want to save money, there's always MacDonald's, right? :

            )

            Cheers! Hope this helps.

            1. re: MissEElizabeth

              House charge? You mean the server kicks back a % to the business??? Hmmmm. I think that would be illegal here in California.

              Oops. Just realized I'm asking a poster who posted 4+ years ago. :-(

              1. re: Midlife

                But I still get notified when someone replies! I imagine that would be illegal in California, but I live in Canada, and there's little legislation on it either way. The business is extremely corrupt here, and I don't doubt the same is true in many places in the States.

                1. re: MissEElizabeth

                  It's also illegal here for the house to deduct service fees and interest on credit card charges from servers' charged tips. What about Canada?

                  1. re: Midlife

                    I don't know if it's illegal, but it definitely happens. I worked for somebody that charged all staff 5% off their credit card totals each shift. A total scam, and service staff here don't feel empowered to do anything. They just complain and then shrug when anyone suggests they should do something about it.

                    1. re: MissEElizabeth

                      It's certainly legal in the UK and is fairly common practice. The government's code of recommended best practice suggests restaurants should be open about what happens with service charges or tips paid by card. The openness should include the % that the restaurant retains. It's perhaps no surprise that few restaurants are, indeed, open in this way. It is entirely legal for the restaurant to retain 100% of a service charge. Discretioanry service charges are fast replacing old fashioned tipping in many restaurant sectors in the UK (particularly so in the London area)

                      Of course, none of this is an issue if the terms of employment are fully understood by a prospective employee and s/he can establish what their likely weekly/monthly/annual income will be. Which, of course, is what generally happens.

                      1. re: Harters

                        I have always understood the UK to be very different in its overall approach to service in the restaurant industry for one, we in Canada (and the US, I'm sure) have a different definition for gratuity than for service charge. Gratuity is always for the person serving the food and also, more frequently, those preparing it. A service charge is a mandatory, predetermined amount that all parties should be aware of prior to service. The politics of all of this is pretty dirty, and I certainly won't call it fair just because it's considered normal for some countries/regions.

                        1. re: MissEElizabeth

                          Tipping (or paying a service charge) is always discretionary in the UK. My sense is that old fashioned tipping has declined in recent years - customers feeling why should they volunteer to pay more than the menu price. I base some of this on a relative's experience driving a taxi (yes, I know different industry). When he first started, about 12 years back, he reckoned he'd get a number of tips each shift, now he might get only a few in a whole week.

                          I think that it's that decline that has seen the increase in the service charge replacing the tip. Few customers will dissent from paying it, whereas they might well have tipped only a small amount or nothing. As such, it means servers can better predict their weekly income.

                          Of course, it's even better in those countries, like France & Belgium, where service is inherently included in the menu price and nothing further is expected.

                          The politics are just as dirty in the UK. Restaurant workers are amongst the most vulnerable of employees. You can have as much legislation as you wish about minimum wage, worker rights, health & safety, etc but you will still see exploitation.

                      2. re: MissEElizabeth

                        It is illegal and should be reported to the Labour board. When I'm in charge at places that have tip outs ( to the busser or bartender) I want no part of it. Server gives them the money directly, that way no one can accuse me of anything. I will mediate between the parties if there is an issue but I don't want to touch that money!!

                        1. re: LexiFirefly

                          Thanks Lexi, you are certainly unique in the industry then. Can I ask where you're from?

                          1. re: MissEElizabeth

                            Toronto. I've also worked in Vancouver and Alberta. Also if a potential employer dislikes this agreement it is a HUGE red flag for me. If they are willing to scam their employees who else are they scamming?

                            1. re: LexiFirefly

                              Ah, right. I heard Ontario has legislation on this that Alberta doesn't. I know this because I was working somewhere that was skimming two thirds of our earnings and we were trying to make a case for it. I recall that there are a couple provinces that can respond to these issues, but for Albertans, we are thus far out of luck.

                              1. re: MissEElizabeth

                                Shitty. I believe the ndp want to bring it forward as national legislation. If what you say is true I hope it passes! Solidarity sistah!

            2. You are wrong.

              If everything is fine you tip 17% MINIMUM.

              If the service is good you tip 20% or more.

              If you are not particularly happy you leave just 15% and make a point of speaking to the manager to try to resolve your problem.

              The tip percentage never decreases based on the cost of the meal. However it is thoughtful to increase the tip percentage when you're in an inexpensive spot like a coffee shop.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Kater

                If you did not read up, the commenter is from Quebec and talking about dining in Quebec; tipping percentages in Canada have not been inflated as in dining meccas in the US (and US tipping customs are not instantly applicable outside our borders), and there's a different issue in terms of working terms between the nations, et cet.

                1. re: Karl S

                  That would have no impact on the notion of tipping less in an expensive restaurant even if it were true.

                  1. re: Kater

                    I was referring to your 17% standard that you shouted in all caps.

                  2. re: Karl S

                    They have been inflated - I promise.

                2. If you think 15% is fair (and I'm in agreement with that) then tip 15% and screw everyone that says it should be more.