I did a guest post for The Observer in the UK. Here’s the link. I hope some American servers spring to my defense!
Many thanks to the crew at The Observer for running this article. It was all in good fun. Cheerio!
by waiter | Jul 25, 2008 | Uncategorized | 161 comments
I did a guest post for The Observer in the UK. Here’s the link. I hope some American servers spring to my defense!
Many thanks to the crew at The Observer for running this article. It was all in good fun. Cheerio!
Share this post with your friends!
I totally agree! I guarantee most of them know they have to tip 15%. Assholes lol.
I totally agree too, we do know that you crazy US folks do things differently ;p
I would like to apologise on behalf of my nation for sucking at tipping.
Ahh the Brits are hating it! If I didn’t have to register I’d totally be all up in there defending your hono(u)r
What you also have to bear in mind is they are all Guardian readers.
Who most probably all work in “the city” and wouldnt bother getting out of bed for less than a millionty $ an hour as they are all infinitely “better” than us normal plebs.
Speaking as a Brit, it might help to know that it’s mainly through your website that I knew to tip more, so behaved more appropriately when I visited the US a year or so ago.
10% or close is completely standard in the UK; a different culture I guess.
You’ve received quite a few vitriolic replies on that website! The main difference that I can see between the US and Europe is that in the US tipping is to pay the waiter a decent wage, whereas in Europe its to reward a great meal and service.
As a European, I like our way of course, but when in the US – I tip 15% because thats whats done. And come on – everyone knows you need to tip more in the US!
But I still like to reward good service, and punish bad service. 10% for bad waiters, 20% for great waiters – everything else at 15%.
Julia, your description of Guardian readers made me laugh out loud – in the UK they’re (we’re) considered more along the lines of sandal wearing liberal bleeding hearts than billionaire city workers – you’re thinking of the Times!! That aside, I’m in agreement, as a country, we’re a total embarrassment in the tipping stakes!
Well done on the article, I also get many British and European customers and cringe every time I hear an accent. It’s just too bad that most of the comments are so negative. I love serving and find the solutions of finding another job and go change the system really ignorant.
Susan: To be honest a broadsheet (i know it isnt anymore)is a broadsheet in my head. Apologies 🙂
As an American server also, I will gladly back up everything you’ve said, and also add that it’s nothing personal against the Brits. In my experience, the majority of foreigners are a pain in the ass to wait on, and are bad tippers. The bottom line is, if you want to be treated nicely, you follow the customs of the area you’re in. When in Rome…
Ach, apology not required. It made a refreshing change!
As a Brit, I’d like to apologise for my fellow countryfolk and their stinginess. I don’t think they mean to piss you off – they’re just tight.
If it’s any consolation, they stink at tipping in this country too. Every time I go for dinner with my parents I have to top-up their tips from my own wallet. It’s embarassing, really.
Phil (a smugly generous tipper)
Man, what a pain to register on their site. lol
they should consider themselves enlightened or else stay on their side of the pond.
What I find most disturbing about the comments over there is how much they look down on servers – they keep saying you should get a real job, etc. If I’ve learned nothing in life it’s to try not to judge other people based on their employment – you have no idea why someone makes the choices they do.
Hilarious how most of them suggest lobbying the government.
Their defending the right to be an ignorant tourist to an American is stereotypically ironic.
Waiter. Your rant was kind to the Britts. When I was in the UK I noticed they were the nastiest people in the world to any one in a service position. I found a little bit of courtesy and a fair tip worked wonders over there just like it does here.
Wow, they really hate you over at the guardian! Apparently you need to get a real job, or overturn the system, and stop asking Brits for handouts to supplement the meagre serving wages over here.
What’s funny is, I live in a city that gets a lot of tourists, and make much less than my friends who work waitstaff jobs, but still tip ~20% when I’m out- because I know I’ll end up running into waitstaff socially and in a situation where there’s an equal balance of power, it’s embarrassing to be known as a cheap skinflint. Maybe social mores are different in jolly old england? I guess they’d look down on waiters just for being waiters, even outside a restaurant situation? God bless their ingrained social hierarchy. Of course, over here, we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.. Choose your poison.
In conclusion, people who read the Guardian are:
Did I miss anything? I like all the comments telling you to fight the system that underpays waiters….WHEN YOU’VE WRITTEN A BOOK ABOUT IT and all they’ve done is whine in a comment.
Woah, there, Angry Receptionish! Not all people who read the Guardian are idiots or assholes. I, myself, read it. I should point out that most of the broadsheets (and ex-broadsheets) in the UK have published similar things with similar responses in the not too distant past.
As it is, speaking as a Brit who has worked in this industry for more years than I’d care to remember, I’m absolutely ashamed of my countrymen. I don’t think they seem to understand that if wages were to go up then the cost of eating out across on your side would dramatically rise. I say: hate the system not the servers.
My professor, who is British, told us that British service-people were not afraid to let their customers know they thought they were idiots.
Wow, they are ripping you a new one over there. Bet your book doesn’t sell well there.
People just don’t like to be told they need to tip a certain percentage when they consider it an extra they give for good service. Period, end of story.
people sure are touchy.
Gotta love the WellDoneFillet reference though…
Very bizarre comments section, I agree. Basically the line of argument seems to run thusly: “We don’t know about this 20% rule and we shouldn’t be expected to!” And this from the nation that gave us the guide book? Very strange.
Wow! The reaction of the british readers is to say the least, funny! They sure are going to want to read the book – They should read the book then they might have a better attitude towards you and your ex-profession.
I think the important thing people are forgetting here is the number one rule about eating out. “Don’t f*ck with the people who handle your food.” If you don’t believe me watch the movie “Waiting”, and while they do show it to the extreme, I know people in the restaurant biz and it does happen. Just remember, if the service is good show it, if it was bad they know it, but if you’re in a bad mood or just being a d*ck, you deserve anything you get.
It was through Waiterrant that I, a stingy Brit, was rehabilitated. I first visited the US in 2003 and am ashamed to say that I don’t think I tipped at the 20% level — I had no idea about it!
However, I found this blog in the meantime and on my second visit last year, I tipped and tipped in some Karmic attempt to make up for it. So please don’t instantly think all Brits will be asshats when we tip. Education is key!
No, I don’t suppose your predisposition and bias towards British (and probably all foreign) clientèle had nothing to do with performing your duties in a substandard manner.
The fact of the matter, my unemployed “artist” friend, is that your contemptuous attitude towards patrons is reflected in your service and responded in kind by the gratuity you receive.
It is of no doubt in my mind that you will receive less than 10% of praise in all your future endeavors should you choose not to grow up.
Good day to you.
Wow Waiter, you hit a nerve with this one! Their comments were frankly disgusting. Europeans complain until they’re blue in the face about American tourists, and yet they can’t be bothered to live by their own “when in Rome” attitude when visiting the US. Simply amazing.
I love it whenever a lot of people’s response to a tipping article or argument is, “Get a real job.” Where would they be if every waiter/waitress in the world went out and a got a different job? Oh, right, no more eating at restaurants. That is such a last-ditch argument for people who can’t come up with a better one.
I was taught to tip, and tip well, by my grandfather. Then after spending 3 years waiting tables, I really understood it for myself. I was making $2.35 an hour in North Carolina, plus tips. I know how it is.
I’m from New Zealand, where we don’t normally tip servers, and I moved with my partner to Tennessee last year. When we found that the state minimum wage for tipped labour was $2.14 per hour, we were absolutely appalled. That’s not a living wage by any means!
So now we tip 20%-50% every time. It’s just not fair otherwise.
If Americans, generally speaking, spoke a different language to us Brits maybe then we’d find it easier to go for the When in Rome idea. I suspect we’d see you in a completely different light, in more ways than one… You are, after all, johnny foreigners.
(a) Fair wages – higher food charges – passed onto the customer.
Or (crazy idea I know…)
(b) Fair wages – higher food charges – smaller portions passed onto the customer.
Just a thought… 😉
Rule of thumb in Florida restaurants.
Q: “What’s the difference between a Canoe and a Canadian?”
A: “A canoe might tip.”
Well, I threw in my 2 cents. But from the way they are talking about I wouldn’t be surprised to hear one of them say that they should be allowed to drive on the wrong side of the road, because that is how it works there. Maybe it’s just me, but don’t you learn the most basic customs before traveling abroad in order to side step any faux pas?
As a Scotsman I would say guilty as charged, in my case I am ashamed to say due to ignorance.
Since I started reading your blog in 2004 it not only made me aware of custom of tipping when abroad but from the comments section from people in the serving front line of the universal crap conditions that wait staff have to endure.
Has made me more humble as a result and I am more tolerant with not only waiters but all workers in the service industry.
Suffice to say that I was prepared when visiting Florida in 2006 with my family and hopefully gained some favourable ground back for UK visitors.
Ah, I see you’re braving the vicious waters known as Guardian commenting…
No worries, the bark’s worse than the bite. I’m sure that the book will do well on our side of the pond, especially with the Bourdain love.
I read halfway through the British comments, Waiter, before I had to quit. My blood pressure went up at least 10 points and my right eye was beginning to twitch (well, not really). Forgive the Brits, Lord, for they know not what they do! I, too, would have left a scathing comment, were it not for the fact that I had to register on the site. Keep a stiff upper lip, Mate!
My friends and I visited NYC from London last month and were always v. careful to tip 20% or so, until the place that added 25% to our bill without asking. Hah! Not on your nelly, chum, especially as the food and service was nothing to write home about.
I’m always shocked by people who behave badly and cheaply in restaurants – 1) we are all human beings and 2) these people have access to your food, fool.
Even when I was about 13 and my friends and I would go to a local restaurant we’d always tip. I dunno, I’ve just always been told it’s polite. But yeah, being a brit I would only do 10% ish, and still do. Depending on how drunk I am….
I think what’s annoying is that if you’re in another country you should expect that it has different customs, even if they do speak the same language. You should take the time to do a lil research. It’s not like it takes much effort to look online.
My brother-in-law is British. He and my sister come to the States ALL the time, and it still pains him to tip 15 percent. I (or my sister) always just make sure he left enough. Or if I’m with them, I offer to pay. It’s just hard for him to get with the program apparently.
We get into this argument (well, fight, quite honestly) on the Tripadvisor Florida forum constantly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told Europeans, “in the US the custom is to tip 15 to 20 percent. You’d certainly follow the customs in Japan, or Morocco, or Argentina, wouldn’t you? Then follow the custom here.”
WOW! What a reaction! Over the top or what?! I mean these are the people who would complain and whine if the service wasn’t good enough. So they want good people working in restaurants but they just don’t want to pay for it.
My blood is boiling with their arrogance….
Waiter you have my full respect and support!
I’m seeing a lot of “get mad at your managers, not at US.” Sounds like bastards trying to pass the buck instead of realizing that the world works differently over here and complying with local traditions. ::shrugs:: Assholes come with all accents, I suppose.
From London: We mean no harm.
Over-reaction from all I’d say. Very amusing article though, thanks.
This is not about stinginess, it’s about custom (obviously). All tips compensate the server for placing themselves in a position of social inferiority. In Europe, tips congratulate good service, in the US they also augment wages. Tourists have a responsibility not to be ignorant, so certainly there is culpability, but all countries produce dumb tourists who painfully flout local custom, including the US.
I think tips to augment wages is a sly and exploitative way for restaurants to make their prices seem lower. As a socialist Englishman this seems like sneaky capitalist manipulation embedded in custom, but that’s just the way it is and I respect it as much as I have to respect that men in the US like to have the ends of their dicks cut off (I think you call it circumcision)
Here in NZ tips are never expected and it removes a whole level of bullshit. But the kiwis are mighty down-to-earth people.
An article that caught my eye recently made reference to the fact that a number of large chains were using aggregated tips to top up sub-legal wages to the legal minimum (after they’d creamed off a percentage for “administration”, of course); one example cited was of a waiter whose basic wage, before tips, was £3.75ph. So the quaint British idea that service staff are paid a decent wage before tips is obsolete even here, let alone on the left of the pond.
(disclaimer: I’m a Brit, a Guardian reader, and notoriously tight… er, sorry; I’m working on it)
When I went to New York, I made a point of reading a guide book (I think it was the Lonely Planet one) which suggested 15-20% or double the tax, so I went along with that.
Tipping is really something that varies so much in different countries that you really need to make sure it’s something you know.
something that I noticed a lot of people commenting on over at guardian – how if you got tipped something like three dollars or something, that would be minimum wage, and therefore then theoretically you would have no reason to complain.
since when does 7.xx come anywhere near the cost of living in NYC? Hell, I’m in Indiana in an area where cost of living is much, much lower than that, we don’t live extravagantly at all, my parents both make substantially more than that, and we have money troubles.
as a waiter, i find that brits may be “mean” in the tip sense but at least they’re usually polite and pleasant as far as customers go. those douchebags that commented on the observer are tightwads who hide behind feigned self-righteous indignation over a supposed unfair wage practices to save a pound.
but french, italian, spanish, and many south american customers i have to deal with working in miami are worse. i’m generalizing but these people tend to be obnoxious, rude, and boorish and to get $5 on a $200+ check is normal. but there have been many that my co-workers and i have gotten nothing. and something like that can ruin an otherwise good night.
What a bunch of…what do they say over there…”wankers”…they have posting over there. Geez. Don’t want to tip, don’t freaking tip. Just don’t try to justify it by saying “oh wah, the system is flawed.” I am so over that excuse.
If someone is that tight fisted and stingy, then fine. Don’t tip. Practice saying “I’m just a cheap, badly brought up git.” To thine own self be true and all that. Just for all that is good and holy, don’t try to say you don’t tip because you are in some way protesting an unfair system or trying to encourage someone to get a better job. My whole entire ass.
Was it just me or was anyone else reading those comments with a British accent in their head?
methinks that probably wasn’t the best choice of posts to present to the British (judging by the comments) in order to promote your book 🙂
eh they should all just abide by the “when in Rome” philosophy
Bit of a different response here to the Guardian website! I’d always do a bit of research before I visited a country on tipping, social mores (what gestures are rude) etc., just seems common sense. Doesn’t matter if it’s US or Azerbaijan. Lots of my fellow countrymen don’t seem to bother though – must be the island mentality, although things do seem to be improving, slowly.
Having said that, I do think paying less than a living wage to waiters and having them dependent on tips to subsist is pretty scandalous, but tipping at UK levels isn’t going to bring down the system, just hurt the waiters.
It’s funny how vigorously the fact that every single waiter in the US gets screwed over by his employer still gets defended… people, if your life depends on the 15 % tipping, something is horribly broken. Other jobs, even customer-service-related ones, don’t depend on tipping. So, in the end, it’s all your fault, by letting yourselves getting screwed over.
I am a Brit, and I will always tip more if I ever go to the US!
Fine example of blaming the victim, there, foo. Do you still think women in short skirts are asking for it too?
ok I went over and let a post to hopefully educate them but given how many Brits has posted to whine on Waiter’s story I do not know how many will bother to reaqd down that far.
I feel for the fellow servers in tourist towns like NYC who will have to deal with the Brits who can finally afford a US trip dies to the depths the US dollar has fallen to of late. The bargain travel is pure evil on tipping dontcha know!
And foo stay out of the States if you do not like our system! It condesending on to lecture us on what we should do. Our system is what it is -its too established to change as to change it would essentially destroy it as we know it. Wages are 2.13 hr vs $7.10 is the fed min wage with employers paying about 8% in payroll taxes on wages so you want to triple their labor costs plus added taxes and labor is the 2nd largest cost behind food in a restaurant. SO you want to double the cost of your meal AND tip 10% on top of that?
And Waiter why did you let em set up up that bad -you could have used the word Euopeans vs Brits you know?
Part of the truth is that we are embarrassed by the whole palaver. Most of we Brits are just as afraid of tipping too much as too little.
And here “tip” generally means “the change”. So if I eat a plate of food costing anywhere between, say, 6 or 7 and 10 pounds, I am going to put down a tenner and be on my way. If it was way over 8, approaching 9, I might add a couple of quid coins to the change. (Last week in London I picked up a bill for 35-pounds-something. I put down two twenties and we left. Perfectly natural here but only 14% or so. 12% service is often in the bill already BTW. I cannot remember if it was so in this case.)
Oh, and over here it depends where you are as to whether you even tip anything at all. Restaurants, yes; pubs, no; cafes; maybe.
But you are all correct, when in Rome, 20% is the number. I will remember it. Oh, and always tip in cash, no?
You know, because of the current exchange rate, when you Brits visit the states you are getting TWO dollars for every ONE pound. Your money has just doubled. So, don’t complain about the system. If you’re going to come here – find out the customary amount to tip and tip it.
Stop being so stingy and tip properly.
That’s true on doubling your money. I went to Zimbabwe last week and now I’m a gazillionaire.
The Brits can be incredible jerks. My “Uncle” is originally from England. He stated that his old country men often try to take advantage of him when he visits because they think he is American. I hope you give them “sneezers” next time.
I agree with them. Tipping needs to be ended; like one poster said after the article it is just another example of “lack of transparency” in the US – It is archaic, outdated and just plain stupid to be tipping servants.
Some of those British responders seemed genuinely offended by the national criticism. Perhaps someone should remind them of their “Jerry Springer” musical and the anti-Americanism that it boasts.
I love it! The Brits I encountered where usually VERY rude.
I have to say that despite all your years in the hospitality industry, you haven’t embraced what it means to be a server. Honestly, if you didn’t fixate on the tips and the behaviour of customers, you wouldn’t end up frustrated. Who on earth doesn’t have to take crap from others in the course of work?
Furthermore, Americans do not tip when they are overseas. And this is so even when they’re in Asian countries where people there do a more difficult job, have a great service attitude (ie, Japan), and where health insurance is a privilege rather than a right. Americans are also not known for respecting local customs wherever they go, preferring to behave loudly and boisterously as if they owned each place.
If you have decided to make waitering your lifelong profession, you should try to get more meaning out of it than focusing on how many dollars each table will yield. As a rule, tourists, regardless of where they come from, will WANT to tip for genuinely good service, and feel resentful for being asked to pay extra money to a patronising person whose disdain for tourists shows on his face. Instead of demanding tourists to research on local customs, you should be making these people feel welcome when visiting your country, because you are an American, then a waiter. Since Europe and Asia generally do not have a mandatory tipping rule, how on earth are people supposed to know that American servers, who seem to think they’re too good for the job, expect tipping even when service is bad?
with the state of the dollar against the pound we can afford to give 20% easily. I would have thought most people go to the states from the UK would know the score.
Wow, you’re totally getting beat up over there on that website. I think this is a cultural thing that will just never be agreed upon. I like their system better (in which tip isn’t an obligation but a reward for good service), but since that isn’t how it is here in the US I always leave a tip. Sigh. Oh well.
The comments given in response to the Guardian article are hilarious. Everything from how evil America and Bush is to how people need to fight for change to a system (and I guess they want to do their part by not tipping?).
The fact is, it is the norm and custom in the US. Get over it. This was a constant argument with a British and South African friend when they visited my home. They were generous in purchasing the occassional meal, but I also had to go and tip behind them every time (I live in a small town and of course would have to patronize these restaurants again).
They kept claiming they shouldn’t have to subsidize a flawed system. Well sorry, if service was included in the meal, the meal price would be higher. Again, get over it.
I also found it funny how the commenters on the Guardian article find that the fact that sales tax isn’t included in the price of the good upfront to be deceptive. Why is it so hard to do math on a standard tax rate? I know when I buy something that there will be a 6% sales tax on my bill.
As someone who has lived overseas for the last 20 years (including the UK), I have learned to accomodate local custom (though I still tip everywhere I go particularly when I know someone is earning a lousy wage – it’s just a nice thing to do). Americans are constantly berated as being ignorant and insular – but I think the comments on the Guardian article prove that every nation is full of the ignorant and insular – and bloody minded.
We Americans are too used to having abuse heaped on us be it for our culture or our government – and we just sit back and bloody take it. But wow – make one little remark (completely justified) about the Brits – and watch out for the backlash!
Let me say that the stereotypical Brit is known overseas (in all countries I’ve been too) for their arrogance and poor treatment of the common worker. And hey, my best mate and my boyfriend are Brits (and they aren’t like that, but they recognize that it’s a sometimes fair stereotype!). Whereas Americans, while they are perceived as loud and brash, are also perceived as kind and generous (well – this is not in Europe, but in developing countries, and I’m far more concerned with my reputation in those places than in Europe – scoff).
I think the Guardian readership needs to put a sock in it.
Kim- waiters are not your SERVANTS! you think TIPPING is archaic and outdated? its your attitude that is archaic and outdated if you think that people who chose to be waiters/waitresses are your SERVANTS. That comment made my blood boil more than the comments over at the Guardian.
“When in Rome…” You don’t like the system? Go to the grocery store and make your own damn food. Or stop at a McDonalds. I cannot believe the audacity of some people.
Oh and Lillian, I do believe the waiter should be concerned about the kind of tip he receives. That’s how he earns his living (though of course you feel the system is flawed and shouldn’t be this way – get over it). In the same way that I provide good service to my clients because I know it could depend on an additional contract. I also enjoy what I do and have the integrity to do my job well – but the fact is, good service be it to customer or client will lead to future business. The way it works.
Although I’ve never been a customer of the Waiter, I imagine from the way he writes his blog and describes his life as a waiter that he was unfailingly polite to the couple in question. He even made positive comments about them, and how polite THEY were.
Such a self-righteous attitude. But that’s just so – British.
Wow alot of responses to this one. I as a bartender in a family bar and grill agree that not all people who go out to eat know the correct way to tip. Now those from other countries should at least read up on customs and tipping protocol before traveling. I did that before we booked an all inclusive resort in Jamica. They do not ask for tips til you check out. Then there are envelopes provided each one for a different person who helped make your stay great. ( i.e. house keeping, restaurant, bar, etc…) Just like anytime one travels they research the destination first. So I have no pity for visitors from Europe or anywhere. All it takes is a moment to read up before you go on a trip.
There are tons of Americans who don’t tip correctly, it is sad. I just had a small group today who ran up a bar tab of over $100.00 and they tipped me $13. Actually the guy who signed the charge slip wrote in $5.00!!! It was very hard for me to remain composed. Another guy slipped me $8.00. I was thankful but thought…WTF!
Servers and Bartenders make pretty good money when you combine wage and tips, but we are a rare bred who can put up with the B.S. that customers give us. I think we should make Min. wage plus 20% for all we do. Who do you think polishes the flatware and glassware, fold the napkins and scrubs the bubble gum and crap off the bottom of the tables? Who is the one who cleans the bathrooms after your kids have gone in and trashed the place and wasted all the soap and paper towels? Not to mention clean up after the lil chits who crumble crackers and puke on the diningroom carpet. We also rush the cooks to get your food out quicker and slide that extra sour cream to you at no charge. Pretend we care that its your Birthday (some actually sing) We don’t really care if its your 1st pregnancy or your wife left you and you just have to dump all your woes. We don’t mean it when we say you have a beautiful family when you get drunk and whip out your wallet of photos. BUT…that what we get paid to do. You tip..we make you happy and want to return again and again. So for those who feel you shouldn’t have to tip…Hit the Drive Thru window.
That’s your job. If you don’t like it get another one.
Both sides here are just plain embarrassing. I’m from the UK myself. I didn’t know about customary tipping until I read this blog. Now I do it.
The comments on the Guardian re always acidic, pseudo-leftist and critical. They’re mostly wrong. Especially when they attack Americans for the actions of the American government.
It’s just as bad to assume that all Brits are poncey limeys as well. We aren’t. Most of us know about tipping and so on.
I should probably add a couple of things here. In the UK, servers are not exactly part of a profession. In high-class places, yes, everywhere else, no. For the most part, they’re teenagers, who provide acceptable service. That’s why tipping isn’t customary. They’re paid the minimum wage regardless, so it’s a reward for exceptional service here.
However, this isn’t the case in the US. So when in the US, those of us with any sense tip 15 – 20%.
Many of the comments on that blog were quick to suggest that the Waiter “get a new job”… wasn’t the whole point of that article TO PROMOTE WAITER’S NEW BOOK? Clearly, Waiter DID, in fact, get a new job. Many of those comments also seemed to suggest that waiting tables is not an honorable profession; perhaps those people can enjoy waiting on themselves at fast food restaurants next time they are in our country.
The “get a new job” crowd has a point. It’s not our problem that in the game of life, you’ve been relegated to serve others for pennies on the dollar. Whether you “choose” the profession or are “forced” to take up the apron due to your lack of education, talent, will, and/or drive, you knew what the job pays. If you’re looking for anything on top of that, you’re just begging. Quit bitchen.
As a foreigner in the UK, I always find British attitude towards service in general and hospitality staff in particular very disturbing. In my experience, Brits are very uncomfortable with the idea of “serving”, whatever the business activity. Either you are the customer on top, or the server at the bottom. It’s the Manor House “upstairs/downstairs” mentality brought into the 21st Century.
Instead of thinking of waiters as professionals whose training and experience actually improve the dining, making it faster and more enjoyable, Brits consider it a necessary evil, kind of something to put up with when you dine out.
Don’t be too surprised by the vitriolic calls to “get a real job”. For those idiots, “serving” cannot be a job that any decent person could bring themselves to do. In other parts of the world, it is accepted that no honest job done with professionalism will debase you. Over here, waiting tables is voluntary humiliation, so the majority view is that you don’t deserve to be paid more than a pittance.
Regardless, the system is what it is. If you don’t like it, by all means, stay home. When you’re not sitting at that table in whatever restaurant, someone else is. All of us in food service WON’T miss your business.
Have a great day!
Nice lesson in how to stop people from buying your new book. I was really looking forward to buying it in a few weeks time but as I’m a brit and cannon fodder for all the brit bashers on here I might just stick to stereotype and wait until it is available in the library or download it via torrent. And yes, I do tip 15-20% while in the US
the majority of comments on the site kept saying to complain to some higher authority, the only thing that’ll get you, if anything, will be your termination papers.
i have dealt with people like these and after a few complains, a couple of unsavory words and a punch thrown i have come to hate these people immensely. for aanyone who is think that the writer is being dramatic, try being in his/her shoes for one shift and try to be on your best behaviour.
I’m surprised you wrote that for all British people to see, because it seems that you made almost all of them mad! But I think you did a good thing, trying to keep them informed of the tipping courtesies and all. Good post, as always!
First I want to say I love your site. However, I am a born and raised American and I resent having to tip. Why do we have to tip someone who is merely doing their job? Why is it my responsibility that the restaurant does not pay enough to cover minimum wage. My job is critical and can mean the difference between life and death sometimes, and yet I am do not get a tip, or a thank you. In fact most people don’t even know I exist.
If the job does not pay as well as you want, change jobs. If you can’t change jobs, well, remember the old adage, “beggars can’t be choosers”
I’ve noticed in the UK that the richest people are the nicest to servers. As you get further down the pay scale, the civility goes down too. (There are exceptions, of course. I met a pair of extremely nice yuppies the other evening. I know, crazy world.)
Nice thread going on over at Fark:
Phil H, don’t be such a baby.
hey phil h, lighten up dude, he didn’t mean you.
what foreigners don’t always understand is that many americans MAKE A CONSCIOUS CHOICE to make their living off the service industry for the sole reason that you can make a very good living off of tips.
i know people who have worked in the service industry since their teens that now own their own homes and cars and do better than people with prestigious college degrees.
compared to say, retail store employees who get paid hourly plus commission (maybe) waiters and bartender often make more than people who work “real jobs” and make very handsome livings working the service industry their whole lives.
we make this choice even though we’re aware that our employers are allowed by the government to pay us below federal wage standards. we’re aware of the earning potential offered by working in a good house.
so if any of you read this post and think waiters should “stop whining” and “get a real job,” you know what? GO FUCK YOURSELF you ELITIST TOSSER and keep your wanker ass on your side of the atlantic, alright?
(hey waiter, if my post is too um, emphatic, feel free to delete or edit as you need. I’m posting this after three margaritas and a very long shift.)
Well I think its about time someone defended the Brits in this matter! The only problem here is cultural difference.
In America you pay your service staff below minimum wage on the expectation they’ll make enough money to live from compulsory tips. I would conject that this practice is far worse than not tipping & should be the focus of your resentment.
In England we pay our service staff more, but the knock on effect of that is that you only tip 10%, & then only if you felt the service deserved it. It is a bonus for good service, not an additional expense of the meal.
As such if a Brit tips you 10% you can take that as a sign that they were happy with your service. If they don’t then I suggest you improve your service. & as many Brits here have pointed out, when we are actually aware that tipping at 20% is the norm in the US then we tip 20% (provided of course that the service was excellent).
You have of course fallen into the American stereotype of not even trying to interpret another persons culture & simply blaming/resenting them for being different. Is this the American Dream?!
Alex – in America tip according to American custom. We don’t care how you tip at home, and you can feel free to tip any way you like.
If you can’t respect OUR culture, stay home.
Mel basically wrote what I had always thought for years. Thanks, Mel for putting it all into words for me! 🙂
I was in New York a couple of years ago and at least one restaurant and the limo we hired had prices that were advertised as “Tip included”.
Do the waiters/drivers in these places expect a cash tip on top of this? Do they get the money from the bill?
I’m an American. In 1989 I stayed three days at a village inn in Yorkshire, where the custom was to run a tab for the whole stay, then add a tip for the servers upon leaving. I added what I thought was reasonably generous but not excessive. The landlord, checking my credit slip, actually told me I had put down too much. I was surprised, of course. I asked him to advise me and he named a figure half what I had written. I changed it accordingly, thanked him, and went on my way. When in Rome . . . ; it works both ways.
Here at home I tip well (I hope), especially in places where I intend to be a regular. In a nice restaurant, that’s $20 minimum, whatever the check, or 20% if the check is over $100, up to a max of about $50. People in my town seem to be glad to see me back, and I get very nice service. If I don’t, I just don’t go back.
Once here a waitress brought my firsts and the entree right on top of each other, and didn’t ask whether I wanted dessert. I read the signs: the cook wanted to go home (it wasn’t late at night) and so did she. I left 10% to the penny and I’ve never been there again. Pity, because they have a pretty nice menu, but that I can get at home with a little bit of skill and effort.
Looking forward to your book, Waiter. I hope you’ve included the water story from your early hospital internship, and the one about Carl and the cigar. But if not, consider them for another book, or for re-posting–two of your best in my opinion.
Your article is nonsensical. Most people from the UK and Ireland (where I am from) do not know that in the US it’s customary to tip 20%. In Ireland 10% is the average tip. I only ever tip when the service is good, which means I often don’t tip at all. For instance, last week myself and 6 friends had dinner in a place and we got there over an hour before closing time. The waiting staff were not attentive and we were waiting over half an hour for starters and a further 20 minutes for our main course. At no point did our waiter apologise or explain the wait. He got a tip of ZERO euro’s.
The Observer readers are posting angry comments because, in our culture, if we were being paid under minimum wage we would take the radical step of getting another job. Why should customers who are paying for expensive meals pay an extra 20% on top? Why don’t you go the whole hog and introduce a 20% service tax on top of the sales tax. God forbid wait staff should actually take action about being paid under minimum wage. And writing a book about waiting tables does not constitute ‘taking action’.
From Lillian’s post: “Instead of demanding tourists to research on local customs, you should be making these people feel welcome when visiting your country.” Lillian, dear, if that’s your attitude, do the world a favor and stay home.
“Why should customers who are paying for expensive meals pay an extra 20% on top?”
Because it’s the custom. Why is that so difficult for you to understand?
“Why should customers who are paying for expensive meals pay an extra 20% on top? Why don’t you go the whole hog and introduce a 20% service tax on top of the sales tax.”
Making the waiters’ pay dependent on the level of service means that the tip has to be within the discretion of the customer. So the staff have an incentive to provide good service.
Once the staff start to regard the tip as a right, no matter what level of service they provide the system breaks down. It’s the duty of people who receive bad service to refuse to tip and if the staff complain let them know in no uncertain terms of why there is no tip for them.
I’m not going to bother to register on their site as over the years, I’ve wasted a ton of time on Brits and Kanucks. If somebody that is going to comment would just say, “You know, the French understand this when it is explained to them.” I spent 20 years in NOLA traning the French. They get it, eventually. That comment will light ’em up pretty effectively.
Sir, as a server in New Orleans, where we make $2.13/hour, i most whole heartedly agree with everything you said in that article, i have been in the service industry almost 10 years now and love my job, but foreigners, of any sort, are dreaded by everyone. whether they actually know better or not is to be debated, but the replies you got on this article you wrote are, for the most part completely ignorant… i suppose the brits would rather have all restaurants be buffets where they could serve themselves and would not have to worry about handouts.. thank you for doing what you do, and saying out loud what we all say behind closed doors…
Sorry, got to agree with the comments on the article. And as for ‘having’ to tip a certain amount? Um, no, that’s why it’s a gratuity.
I do feel it’s rough that waiters are paid below minimum wage. But then fight to change the system, not the customers. And if you’ve got multiple tables then even a 10% tip is adding up to a substantial hourly rate. I’m sorry, but if you don’t like it then get a different job.
I agree with Anonymous. The tip is an extra, not a required. If it was meant to be required, include it on the bill. Otherwise, be grateful for any amount you get!
You are not entitled to a tip. You must earn a tip. And that tip is up to the person giving it, not you! Be grateful for any penny you get or change jobs. Sheesh!
apparently guardian readers have a collective stick up their ass. Anyways, why should they complain about a few bucks here and there when they are paying half of what they would back home with this dismal exchange rate?
gah! I went to read some more comments and my blood pressure rose again.
Yes, you should learn basic local customs before traveling. This is not complicated. All you have to do is read the first chapter of a guidebook to know the tipping rate.
Funny, when I visit the UK all my family there laughs at the fact that UK servers fall over themselves for us because they know the yanks are great tippers.
Another great,funny post. Though I can understand that some people might get defensive about the topic,I don’t think they should be mean when commenting.Anyhow, thanks for the laugh Waiter 🙂
Here’s what I posted over there:
I realize that most of us are basically talking past each other at this point, but I read all the way to the end of the comments and wanted to add my bit.
I really, really hate tipping. I really do. However, I also know that it is customary here in the US. When I go out to dinner by myself, I try to take as little of the waitstaff’s time as possible, since (a) I usually know exactly what I want and (b) I know they can make more money with more people. Although I resent being seated at the back or next to the kitchen, I rarely complain. And I tip at least 16% on the check (as others have mentioned, a quick way to calculate is to double the sales tax, in my case 8%). If you don’t like tipping, go find another system — this is the one we have here.
I find it hilarious, however, that some of y’all are complaining that “management” should pay the servers and not expect the “customers” to do so. Where the heck do you think management gets their money except from customers?!? This way, as many, many others have said, you at least have some say as to the amount.
I can’t help but notice that people who tell us Americans that we’re supposed to be so concerned that other nations don’t like us are being more obnoxious that I think most American tourists would dream of being. I’m tired of being told how to behave by people who don’t know us, and I don’t really care anymore what you think of us — just try to behave like grown adults when/if you come visit and follow the customs of the country you are visiting.
We in the UK would prefer a meal to cost 20% more with no tip. Tipping is embarassing.
To be quite frank, i’d rather be ridiculed for being a non tipping nation, than for the disgraceful way i have witnessed American people treat waiters.
You might not get a tip from a Brit, but you’ll almost certainly get good manners.
And as for the guardian being read by millionaires? WTF, its a traditionally left wing newspaper, which supports the ideals of socialism, trade unionists and therefore the working class?
I always love the comments like “don’t like the pay, get a real/other job. Always makes me love.
I wonder if people realise that if really everyone on the lower steps of labor would quit, there would be no one to clean up behind the. no people to do dishes, no garbage pickups, no street cleaning etc.
Ignorance realy seems to be bliss.
Heads up waiter 🙂
I love your blog and wish you the best in your career as a writer. However I must say your constant rants against bad tippers is getting a bit tiresome. Your anger is misplaced. Blame the system that makes you depend on tips not your customers.
I’m from the UK and have been reading WaiterRant since it’s inception and I can tell you that you have changed the way that I tip, both at home and abroad.
I visit New York city a couple of times a year and because of you I am well aware of the tipping customs and make sure that I tip appropriately, never less than 20%.
My friends say that I’m crazy, because it’s just not done over here, but I know what’s what.
So, thanks to you, there are probably a lot of surprised waiters and waitresses in New York that served me in malice, but then got something that they weren’t expecting from a Brit.
If only every British person who dines out read WaiterRant and acted on it, you could say that you’d changed the world…
I’m an American living in London and I can’t tell you how many fights I get into with my Brit husband over this topic. I will happily tip 15-20 here and he freaks out.
I agree with the more enlightened Brits who’ve commented on here – if you go to a foreign country, you find out what the customs are and you stick to them. It’s only polite, whatever your personal feelings are. I found out about the right way to tip in the US from a friend who’d been there a lot, and about the reasons for the high level of tips expected (by UK standards) from talking to a couple of off-duty waiters in a bar in New Orleans. So I try to stick to the rules.
But it works both ways. I asked one of the New Orleans waiters would she tip in an English bar. “Oh yes”, she said. “But you don’t need to”, I replied, “it’s not what we do”. “But I couldn’t not give a tip to someone”, she said “it wouldn’t feel right”. When in Rome…
PS – ignore the people on the Guardian site. Most of them are just exhibitionists. They’re as representative of general opinion as the people who call into US talk radio.
Ha! This thread and the one over at the Gardian are hilarious. I’m a Brit living in Australia (I know, dread combination) but I know the tipping rule in the US and wouldn’t dream of not leaving at least 20% when in the US. In our (partial) defence, the occasional comment highlighting that the problem may arise because of British embarrasment at not understanding the rules properly are probably near the truth. Brits hate to feel uncomfortable in social situations; the solution – add 20% to their bill and they’ll all happily pay up.
The Guardianistas have certainly got their knickers in a twist about this one, you’ve managed to hit a nerve close to their heart – exploitation of the workers – but they can’t bring themselves to be part of the solution – pay the extra to make up the shortfall in the hourly wage. A typical Guardianista conundrum.
2 countries separated by a common language.
A ‘Tip’ in England is something you give to your server as an additional thankyou for excellent service. Even if you tip 0% the staff still get paid.
From reading this Blog I understand that the ‘Tip’ in the US is the service charge, that you should pay 15-20% as standard – with anything on the top being for excellent service.
I still find it odd that if the bill comes to $100 I am expected to leave $120+ and that a restaurant doesn’t pay it’s staff a decent wage in the first place .. but I think that a lot of servers find it equally absurd.
But it’s no stranger than an item marked $10 will cost me $11.36 at the till because of tax.
I think that if most of us Brits were aware of this they would be happy to pay – or at least would mark up all the menu prices by 20% (+tax) and decide whether they wanted to eat somewhere else.
Great publicity for the book in the UK though.
I’m pretty sure a whole load of Brits will buy it just so they can find things to be angry about.
I find it strange that a US Server gets paid more or less depending on what the customer orders.
I can’t imagine it’s any harder to serve 4 salads and a bottle of perrier compared to 4 steaks and a bottle of expensive wine .. but the tip will be so much more on the steaks.
Just one final question;
If I buy the book for £10, where should I send the extra £2 to.
Aw man, you’re book is available today, but my bookstore won’t have it till tomorrow 🙁
Yay, now I know what my waiter’s name is 😉 It’s not just British people. My parents are from Hong Kong (although non-Chinese) and are terrible tippers. Now when they visit me in Canadia, they just make me fill in the numbers on the credit card transaction.
I just read the magazine article again! My brother called me from the other room to say ‘Have you read this? It’s so funny!’ and I got to say ‘Oh I read him already. Go Waiter!
I read your review in the Globe and Mail, and have pre-ordered the book. I wish you the best of luck. One question I’ve always wanted to ask: Let’s say I order a bottle of champagne that adds an additional $300 to a check that would have been, say, $100 without any alcohol. Let’s also say you did not recommend the champagne, and did your usual “good job” serving the table. Would you expect to be tipped 15-20% for the total cost of the meal? Or just the food portion? If I had instead ordered a $40 bottle of wine, would that change things? Does it take more effort to open a $40 of wine vs a $300 bottle of champagne? I want to do the right thing, but it feels like someone ordering an expensive bottle of wine is nothing more than a winning lottery ticket to a waiter.
I think there are a lot of sweeping statements here, and some of them unfair. I think a lot of British people do their homework and find out how much they should tip and do. Obviously, there are going to be those who don’t, but don’t judge a whole nation on a bunch of arseholes, sorry, assholes.
I’m British and I live in Spain, and if you think we’re mean when it comes to tips, you should see what the Spanish leave. I’ve seen them leave the change to the closest euro, and cross culture group eating out sometimes ends in “discussion” about how much of tip should be left, especially if the service hasn’t been particularly great.
Good grief, those comments! The British sure are doing a stand-up job of living up to the stereotype of being first rate arseholes! Wonderful article though, Waiter, and thanks for sharing.
I GOT MY BOOK!
I am so goddamn excited to read it. I’m bringing it to work to read during breaks.
Goodness, you got them all riled up! I was laughing as I read most of the comments – such self-righteous, pompous indignation!
Read your piece in the Observer. I found it very entertaining to say the least. Well done!
I soooo badly wanted to post on that article and explain how the hourly server wage is basically there to cover the taxes on the tips we claim…and for those lucky enough to be offered it, the rest of the money goes to health insurance. I’m a waitress in PA, where minimum wage is $7.15, and servers make $2.83. If I had insurance through work, I’d get $0 paychecks…as it is, I only get about $50 every two weeks because of taxes. This is something most people don’t know, and I’d LOVE to enlighten them!!!
As a grad student who usually goes out with groups of people who have a variety of income and hunger levels, separate checks are a way of life. We’re always clear about needing them up front and I know I tip well. (I think my friends do, but I usually don’t look over their shoulders when they pay their bill; it’s rude.)
And well, when we were in college showing up at places like Shari’s late at night (it was open 24 hours) and some of us wanted full meals and some wanted desert and some wanted appetizers and there were always two girls who just wanted coke–well separate checks was the only thing that made sense. We didn’t care if the food all came at the same time. (some of us purposely ordered dessert first!)
I think it’s a matter of what kind of restaurant you’re going to. At most of the family/chain restaurants I don’t feel bad at all about asking for separate checks. Franchises especially should have computer systems that work for this. But on the rare occasion that I’m at a really nice restaurant with a group of friends, I might put it on my credit card and have them pay me back, especially if the place looks slammed.
I do agree that customers who ask for separate checks at the end of a meal are complete jerks!
This comment section & the Gaurdian one have been very entertaining, both poles apart but equally funny/stereotypical/vitriolic – here’s my deal, I’m a Brit who visits Canada & America a lot, I almost always get good to superb service and tip 20% at LEAST in those cases, if your service is poor you will only get 10%. So if you pre-judge me on my accent and wait poorly, your tip will be poor, perform to the high standard I know you can and your tip WILL be worth it. Now I have to admit on occassions my travelling companions have taken some education on this matter, but I have won thru’ and they now tip well, especially after after one waiter chased them down after a poor tip – I PMSL as I’d tipped him well 🙂
If you expect a Brit to tip poorly and treat them accordingly your prediction will come true, sadly it may come true even if you treat them well 🙁 , it’s a mixture of causes, mainly ignorance, sometimes stinginess, but often your own countrymen tip poorly, what’s their excuse? The fact is both our countries have poor tipping a**holes, and you ain’t gonna know till the deed is done, I recommend the chase them down approach – sick ’em boy!
As per a few others here, as a Brit I have to say that your blog is the ONLY reason I’m even vaguely aware of tips and how much to tip!
There is no way we would tip anyone 20% here… or there wouldn’t have been. After reading your blog I have done it a few times, so I’m blaming you for my lack of cash.
I live in Oregon, so don’t deal with sales tax. I usually have a budget in mind when eating out. I like to tip as close to 20% as possible and consider that when chosing what to order, so that the tip is included in my budget. Is it acceptable to ask the server what the tax rate is, when visiting other states, so that I can take that into account with my budget? I’d rather order something less expensive to make sure I don’t short the tip.
Many years ago I worked in (and eventually took over the running of) a small restaurant in the North of Scotland. We had a lot of American tourists through the door, and unfortunately I have to say that they were about the worst tippers of the lot, with the possible exception of Belgians.
The best tippers were the local fishermen, who were in just as soon as we opened at 7am (we opened early for breakfasts – the restaurant was beside a ferry port). They’d stumble in off their boats, desperately hung over, just as soon as they saw my car out front, and order huge cooked breakfasts and gallons of coffee. Later in the afternoon they’d be back, with big bags of prawns or scallops or fish. Of course, they always got prices off the “special menu” too…
I am a Brit who has lived in NYC for 33 years.
I quickly learned the local customs when I first arrived and consider myself a reasonably generous tipper – 18-20%.
I just listened to the interview on NPR and have this observation. Our (no longer) anonymous Waiter explained the appeal of the job by recounting the thrill he experienced on his first night working as a waiter when he discovered he had made $250 in tips. This was cash and nine years ago. I would say that was a pretty great day’s pay for a totally untrained worker and we still have not included the hourly pay nor the percentage declared to the IRS).
I think waiters should apply the same logic I and my fellow freelancers use. Divide the amount of money you receive at the end of the week (or the year in my case) by the number of hours worked and if you feel underpaid consider if, with your qualifications, you could do better elsewhere.
Assuming that was an eight hour shift $36 dollars an hour is pretty good money now let alone 9 years ago.
Work the averages.
Yes I must agree that some people are bad when it comes to the correct amount to tip.
But at the same time you waiters may be unrealistic about what you deserve for “clueless” service.
I generally tip 15-20% depending on the service level. 15% for acceptable service, 20% for someone that went the extra mile being especially attentive, friendly, and being certain our drinks are full and any special dietary needs are emphatically addressed. An occasional wow server will get more than that.
Will I tip less? Yes for really BAD service, it can go down to 10%. I don’t really leaving any zeros, but there are times I wanted to.
New concerns: Some places (especially in Florida) adding automatic 15-20% tips to the bill. I’d like to choose please! I’ve yet to encounter bad service in an environment like this (but have encountered rudeness in one Thai establishment in Hollywood, FL. There will be hell to pay if I ever get BAD SERVICE where the waiter gets the automatic tip.
Regarding cash tips, there is something I’m never sure about. If I’m paying for a meal by card, quite often the card machine has a box for entering a tip amount. Now, I always leave that on zero and pay the tip in cash, but I feel awkward leaving it at zero. As others have mentioned, here in the UK waiting staff generally get a decent wage without tips, but I’d prefer them to get the tip “off the books” anyway. I’ve ended up just not bothering paying by card any more, and always carrying cash when we eat out.
What do other people do?
Long time reader and first time poster here at waiterrant.
Personally I had no idea that there was a minimum acceptable tip to be given until I read this blog. I guess like most Brits I assumed that our nations obsession with restaurants were more similar than I’d thought, including pay structures.
So I am fairly embarrassed that English customers in an American eatery are viewed as an unwanted annoyance by many of the staff. The trouble is so many of us just don’t realise that we’re doing anything wrong. To my shame I’ve been across the pond twice without knowing this and must have come across as a jerk. At least now Guardian readers are aware though!
Although I wouldn’t worry too much about the responses there. Some of those liberals would be more concerned about the coffee being ‘fair trade’ than the staff being paid fairly.
Also, I’ll be buying your book, based on the excellence of your blog.
I think you guys are being a bit harsh on us English folk.
You’re tipping idea is totally outrageous. You SHOULD get paid the minium wage, that’s just common sense!
When I lived in the states, I sure did tip what I was supposed to and sometimes over what I should have.
But look at it this way, if everyone’s economic situation is falling to pieces, then the customers don’t have the extra money to tip.
Yes a tip should be left, but everyone is feeling the pinch lately, so maybe you should lighten up?
If you’re feeling the economic pinch, then don’t eat out!!!!!
Give me a break.
the economic pinch is everywhere. In pubs, restaurants, super markets. It can’t be helped. The whole world is falling economically.
Being an American raised around many Irish and British (English)close relatives I say to all Americans “shocked” by many Irish and English tourist attitudes towards America and American customs welcome to the club….my Irish mom warned me early in life about the omnipresent pernicious grateuitous anti-All things American (it really has zero to do with the U.S. government that’s just an excuse for their childlish bigotry; PC doesn’t allow them to make fun of most people except of course Americans) culture that exists in Ireland and the UK…..it’s one reason why I’ve never once been to a St. Patrick’s Day parade in NY or Boston even though I spend most of my time in both citites and NEVER refer to myself as anything but American, no hyphen. I was raised in a very multicultural environment but because of my mom and dad and relatives was surrounded by Irish and British “culture” especially food and “traditions” but belive me it hasn’t stuck into my adulthood and I know I would never be treated as anything other than an barely tolerated “yank” over there.
I’m always game putting these people in their place when visiting my country especially NY or Boston. If you think all Americans are ‘dumb” with a perpetual goofy smile on their face you have another thing coming. There’s nothing goofy or passive aggressive about Americans in the part of the country I live in…they can be just as obnoxious as any European,Englishman or woman or God help us smarta**ed Irishman or woman.
You foriegners all seem to have a hard on for NYC: don’t expect stereotypical “Yank” behavior here…you’re in for an awakening.
Amusing: usually when I’m accompanied by my girlfriend who’s American of Puerto Rican background these Euro tourists are all smiles and very pleasant but when I’m alone and it’s just plain old boring me who looks just like them and has a name similar to theirs they can barely hide their contempt. If I should mention any familarity I may have with their customs and traditions you can see they’re barely hiding their contempt for a “Yank” who thinks he’s one of us which ironically I’m nothing of the kind but their innate bigotry and ignorance prevails.
This is how pathetically PC most of these foreign, especially European, tourist are. Americans in general are far more geneuinely accepting of differences in people and culture and that’s one of the real ironies here considering how Euros consider Americans to be very insular and provincial even if I live as a racial minority in a city of 8 million people while they live in some small city of town in Euroland where their family has lived for 500 years.
I have a very Scottish surname but you remind me why I’ve never visted nor desire to vist Scotland. Please return the favor.
you guys are taking it WAY outta control. Bashing us europeans. Not all europeans are bad, just like we know that not all Americans are bad.
How many Americans have always had the assumption that English people have bad teeth and drink a lot of tea. Just like English people stereotype Americans to be fat lazy people.
We all know that isn’t true for the most part, so just lay off a little.
When I lived in America I enjoyed my time, I liked the people and felt very welcome, but not everyone was like that. No some people were jerks. It works both ways across the pond, so ease up.
LOL in defense of my nation and our crapness at tipping, I never learned about tipping until I moved to France! I’d only ever seen it in films before then. Tipping is very much an imported idea into Britain, perhaps not with rich people however in working class areas, a restaurant where tipping is ‘en vogue’ is automatically ‘posh’, a person that tips is considered to have ‘more money than sense’ and is in a way almost extravagant.
When I first moved to the continent when I was 18, I had quite the culture shock when it came to tipping. Through living in France, Spain and Portugal, I became accustomed to it however when I moved to Korea, I found that a tip is an insult!!!
Now I am very very happily married to a lovely American man and living in Germany and even though I have a very international lifestyle, I still find it difficult to shake the working class ideas when it comes to tipping, whereas he is pretty strict at working out the 15% thing. It’s not that I am stingy, it’s just that I actually grew up on the poverty line and old habits die hard.
As an aside, a few European cultures find it incredibly strange and false just how friendly American servers can be. Sometimes it can even be interpreted as being smarmy. For us things are quite clear cut in that you aren’t ‘overly nice’ to people you don’t consider to be friends. We find it odd and quite disorienting when American servers are overly friendly with us because well….where we’re from, that’s behaviour only reserved for friends and where there is genuine care and like.
It really amuses me just how much Brits and Americans expect cultural similarities just because of the speaking English thing. My lovely man and I have come across so many cultural differences that we never expected and in some ways I understand more of German culture than American but still…It’s a fun learning curve and I wouldn’t swap my man for the world.
To the American servers on this board, please don’t look unkindly upon Brits, the people you deal with probably find tipping a foreign concept and are confused by so much niceness. LOL. Once Brits realise that American culture isn’t the same in spite of having the same language then they may start to learn the different social conventions such as tipping.
As a former server (halleluljah to former!) I completely agree, foreigners frequently use ‘ignorance’ of our customs to get away with less tipping.
I have to say, while the lack of insurance and other benefits is a huge negative to the way restaurants are run, I like the idea of tipping well to supplement a server’s income. I have traveled quite a bit and have NEVER had the level of service overseas that I get here most of the time, and I think that is because when you are not dependent on the tip, you don’t stride nearly as hard. Especially when some of the nicer restaurants (from what a Brit server friend of mine told me) the servers do get a % of their sales as their tip, it is just added into the check so the guest doesn’t have to figure it out, AND potentially not pay it. In that case, all someone might care about is racking up high cost items on the bill, not about the quality of service.
From some of the comments on the Guardian website, I gather this practice may have changed a bit since I was there, in that case, I feel for the Brit servers as they try to adjust to being dependent on tips.
So all you Brits think the American system of tipping is flawed. (I am an ex pat) I say stay home and eat in Britain where you get lousy service, no choices of salad dressing,no choice of types of potatoes or rice. In fact you get what is put in front of you so eat it or shove it. Then get charged a mandatory % for the pleasure.
I remember ordering a chicken sandwich. When it was slung down in front of me it was filled with chopped up breast bones among the meat. I waited for 20 minutes trying to cathch the eye of the waitress and had no luck. I finally marched into the kitchen and asked for the Chef. He didn’t apologise, just assured me that I wouldn’t have to pay for it.
Give me American service every time AND I TIP AT LEAST 20% or above.
I’m South African, but worked in England for a while. I don’t particularly remember the tips being terrible over there, but I did get paid pretty well. What I do remember is how much we all hated American customers! They really were the most ignorant people I’ve ever come across. The chinese were fun … they couldn’t talk any English, enjoyed the beer, said please and thank you & always tipped. I know the old people generally didn’t tip in the UK, I don’t think they mean to be nasty, they just don’t understand that they should. Also, in any other service industry in the UK they don’t get tipped and earn min. wage, so lots of people just don’t think it’s necessary to tip a waiter. Until reading this article I wouldn’t of known standard tip was 15% – 20% in US, I just know that a tip is expected there, but I tip in most places. I have no issue with the article though, if anything it’s educational, but the comments are a bit brutal, I never found the service in the UK bad, and have never enjoyed cuisine such as theirs before, so why so mad?
Quite funny Brits don’t like American customers, Americans don’t like Brittish.
I know what it’s like to rely on tips only, over here (SA) we get 3% commission on our sales if we’re lucky. Management always comes up with an excuse not to give it to us, so we live solely on tips! However, with the very high cost of living and very little income standard tips over here are still 10%, if the waiter’s crap they don’t get a tip at all, if they’re great, then give them a better tip. Funny though, even in SA the American customers piss me off!
I’ve now started working at a video shop/internet cafe … more of a fixed salary. Thought I was escaping the Americans, and you won’t believe it … they’re just as annoying in this industry as in F & B.
The knicker-wetting comments over at the Observer pale into insignificance compared with the anti-Brit apoplexy here!
It’s certainly plain rude to visit another country and not do a bit of research on local customs, but that’s what it is most of the time – ignorance rather than stinginess.
Damn, the comments were closed by the time I read this!!! I was ready to tear some of those Brits a new one! “In Britian we…,” “Why should we subsidize a flawed system…,” “Why not ask your employer…”
Well, assholes, this IS NOT BRITIAN. In fact, you are a GUEST IN OUR COUNTRY, how RUDE and ARROGANT of you to not PAY RESPECT TO OUR CULTURAL CUSTOMS?!
Assholes, assholes, assholes. I had always given Brits the benefit of the doubt, I will now make an effort to give each an every one dirty looks. Bastards.
also to Lurker:
Just because you’re clear about separate checks up front, does not mean they’re any less of a pain in the ass.
I, personally, refuse to split the check more than three ways, period. Want separate checks? Go to McDonalds! Or come to a nice place, bring some cash, and have a little class, huh?
British people need to stay on their side of the atlantic and get buttfucked by the German. Lolly British faggot cunts. With your crooked, yellow teeth and biscuit-munching habits. Fugly pieces of subhuman shit.
I’ve worked in many British resturants, some good,some bad and the worst, bad but think they’re good.
One pub resturant thought they were the bees knees and incredibly snobby with it. I will always remember the reason I left this one as an under Chef. A waiter appeared at the line and said ” This steak is raw!” The chef, who happened to be the head chef,asked what table, checked the order and said ” but it was ordered rare” The waiter replied “I know”. “OK” said the chef”pass it over” He was standing at the grill about 25 meters from the line. The waiter, without blinking an eyelid dropped the steak to the floor and with dexterity that Maradonna would have been proud of, dribbled the steak across the kitchen to the chef who also without blinking an eylid, flipped it onto the grill gave it another 2 minutes, dropped it back to the floor, dribbled it to the line where the waiter plucked it up onto the plate and re-waited it to the hungry customer.Irony of ironies, the customer, at the end of the meal, sent a pint of Porter to the chef with a “good meal, well prepared!”
I left working there at the end of the shift.
Whoever made the “separated by a common language” quote is right on. I think that if most of those stingy Brits were given a menu that said clearly on it “Service charge not included, recommended range 15-25% of post-tax bill” they would pay up cheerfully. What you in the US call a tip would be a service charge over here, and Brits aren’t stupid – they know that a service charge isn’t optional. However, they hear the word “tip” and think “bonus money I give to great servers above and beyond what they normally get”.
Also, I hope that “john” either gets an education or gets his typing hand cut off. Yeesh.
– a Brit so steamed about some of the spew comments here from both sides that she’s commenting on a yearold post…
What is everyone’s problems with Canadians?? We tip the same here and most people know to tip. Maybe you’re just getting our cheap tippers while they’re on vacation.
Bad tippers are bad tippers everywhere.
Found this while stumbling
Now, you are payed a shit wage, so it’s nice when people tip, but over here in England, waiters get a decent wage… we have no tip rules, we rather tip to make it a nice even no. or give any and all loose change, be thankful you get tipped at all, 90% of jobs don’t tip.
BTW, thats no an excuse, its a fact, and if we give any tips it’s usually 10%. A good stratergy is to make it clear that tips are expected, or just charge service charge.
Why oh why are people stereotyping us? For fucks sake it’s the Guardian!? Noone in their right mind reads that shit! Just because some people dont tip that well we’re all regarded as stingy bastards? I recall many stories from Waiter about being badly tipped and even stiffed and that was by americans a lot of the time! Yet all thats forgotten now the fucking Guardian readers decide to get involved? Jesus Christ please use your brains theyre there for a reason. Plus I agree that it’s all about education. When eating out I was too young to understand and my mum always tipped well. As I got older (19 now) my friend taught me what a good tip is (20% btw) and it’s been that way ever since. So please dont stereotype!
The correct definition is SHITBRITS!
Here’s an idea. How about actually making a stand that a minimum wage should apply across the board, irrespective of whether you work in an office or serve people coffee. The fact that the US can claim to have a minimum wage and then say that certain people aren’t deserving of that for some reason, just because they work in the service industry is ludicrous – get some balls and fucking protest for your minimum wage, otherwise it isn’t in any meaningful sense…a “minimum” wage.
A tip is meant to be a gratuity that is optional and based upon the quality of the service, not a mandatory payment to shore up the tightness of their employers.
For all you moan about British people, were you to come over here and get a job serving drinks you would be paid an actual minimum wage of around $9.54, plus any tips that you actually earned through good service…and if this display of fiscal generosity made you faint and pass out then you could be whisked away to a hospital, brought around and put back on your feet by our NHS, free of charge.
What a dreadful, antiquated society I live in that provides for its citizens in such an unbridled fashion. I guess you’d have to be the “land of the brave” to put up with much of this shit when it is fed to you as candy, just with a funny shit-flavoured aftertaste.