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Tipping in China


Pan
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While I wouldn't tip in a hotel restaurant - where the wages are certain and fair, I would do it in private taxis, pedicabs, at hair salons, in hotel restrooms and in smaller restaurants. Now that the "iron rice bowl" of socialism is breaking down and more people are struggling in an increasingly privatized economy, any help is welcome.

Persons over 60 might refuse a tip, but I doubt it............pragmatism is increasingly trumping national pride.

I usually left a few kuai on the table...........following the European style of tipping.

What guidelines do other people use?

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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I'm waiting, myself, to see the answers to this one!! It sure wasn't back in '84 and '85 during my first visits, but it was in the 90s.

I too am waiting for our forum participants living in China to comment on this. My experience is a little more recent: 1999. Most of the places do not expect or accept tips. Those which do (typically in big cities like Beijing or Shanghai) would impose the mandatorily customary 10% service charge (or 15% in some upscale places). In either case, tips have been included in the bill when you pay, so usually patrons just pick up all the changes. Read the fine prints on the menu.

Mandatory service charge is very common in Europe and Asia. North America is the last place where this is not a common practice. (And thank goodness for that)

When I used to work as a waiter, I hated European customers. They all assumed that tips were included in the bill (which weren't) and usually just left me with a quarter or a dime for tips.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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To come to the rescue, tipping is not done ANYWHERE, period. There may be some places, like a hotel restaurant or a high end restaurant, that will include a service charge in the check, but that is it. Potentially, you could tip the bell man when they bring your luggage to your room in a hotel, but they don't exactly expect it. Anywhere else, tipping is not expected, nor is it required, but if offered, it would probably be accepted. An interesting experience, during a recent stop in Shanghai, in the ash tray in my room was a bunch of small bills that the couple before me (foreigners) had left, but the maids never took the money until I explained to them it was left for them to have. Susan G's strategy is very much along the lines of how it is in the US, but I think its overdone. Most of those people will already be doing whatever they can to get extra money from you (a few drivers will try to short change you a bit, giving you a 5 or 10, but not the singles, unless you demand them). Private taxis? As in not using the meter? In those situations, like pedicabs, they typically set their own prices and will try to rip off westerners, trust me, they will find a way to get a fair price, tipping is definitely unnecessary.

If you are willing to give tips, they will rarely be turned down, unless the people don't understand why you are giving them the money (which could happen in some places), because its free money. It is not required, nor is it expected, so it just depends on your own thinking. Perhaps I'm a bit harder because I am Chinese.

Okay, I just thought of one place where tipping is acceptable. If you are on a english tour, the tour guide will go through a little speech at the end of it encouraging you to tip the driver (and indirectly the tour guide as well). In this situation you don't need to tip (I've been on Chinese tours and never has the guide brought it up, but the English guides will always bring it up because they know the foreigners will throw them some money), but you may end up looking like a cheap bastard, because all the others will tip.

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I heard “TIPS” is standing for:

T=to

I=insure

P=proper

S=services

I think you could tip anyone in anywhere if you want, and I am sure people are glad to take your gratuities. In Chinese we have a word笑纳“Xiao Na.” It means, “accept your gifts or tips with a smile. ” :smile:

When I was studying Introduction to Hospitality in China, the Chinese textbook said, “In China, all labors are liberated after 1949. No one will be offended by tipping.” As the communist's view, accepting tips is equal to slaving you by yourself.

Today, the government is not totally socialism anymore, and the Chinese people follow Adam Smith’s theory more than the Marx’s. It is never wrong to tip a person well, who served you well. In my opinion, bribing is the most efficient way to reach your goals; as the same way, tips would save you more money to get the best service.

If I have two customers are calling a waiter at the same time. One ordered lots, but his tips are poor; and the other one did not order too much, but he is a good tipper. As a waiter, I would not really care about you ordered a Shark Fin soup or a Hot/Sour soup. At this situation, whom would be the one I running to first?

...Come on, you know it!

We are under the same sky, and we share same common sense togerther. In any corner of this planet, “Only money will really talk!!”When I was in Europe, when waiter/waitress knows a customer who come from US. He/She would “Expect” to the guest leave more than the local customers.

Americans said, “Customer is the God,” but it is expensive to be a “God” here. In China, if you keep the American tipping standards, trust me, you would be treated as a god with a lower cost. I am not saying the services in China are on sale now, but it is really cheap at this time, and we all know the trend of services charges are going to.

Edited by Qing (log)

"All the way to heaven is heaven."

___Said by St. Catherine of Sienna.

Let's enjoy life, now!

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Mandatory service charge is very common in Europe and Asia.  North America is the last place where this is not a common practice.  (And thank goodness for that)

As a customer, don’t you think you got the worse services here than in Europe or Asia? I was a waiter in China, Switzerland and US, I noticed I had my worst attitude in the American tipping system.

As a waiter, I prefer to the European tipping policies. You could say I am even cheaper than some of the guests, but please think as my way.

If add tips in your bill, the server could still treat you badly. But the chance is smaller than you gave them less than 15% tips and still complaint the services were not good. When you dealing with a waiter/waitress, you are dealing with individuals. You can’t use the same way you arguing with Times Warner or Verizon, etc. For they take fully responsebilties of their families, and they have no right to argue with a customer. It is unfair to all the waiters that you saved your tips by take advantages of American tipps rules.

The food servers are hard physical labors, and they don’t get good benefits or career development. If they could find a better job, they would jump out of the restaurants in two seconds. Their only dream is to make more tips.

Compare with European people, they paid 15% service charge and with some extra, but many American guests still give me 12% tips in New Jersey and insisted they have doubled the tax.

I heard in American, people used to tip separately to captain and runners. That is the part of tipping art from European traditions. I know some of old gentlemen still give me cash when they was shaking my hand. For the young generation, some of them are tipping well, but they probably did not tip the specific person in right amount. Some of young people had math problems for they only know to double the tax. It is maybe good for waiter in New York City, but I heard the sales tax in Jersey City is only 3%.

God bless the food servers!!!

Edited by Qing (log)

"All the way to heaven is heaven."

___Said by St. Catherine of Sienna.

Let's enjoy life, now!

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Let me add my contribution and confirmatoin that tipping is NEVER expected in China.

In Guilin and some other tourist destinations, foreign tourists are making it very difficult for the ex-patriot community by tipping and by paying way too much for services. The locals naturally get greedy.

Please don't do it!

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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I went to mainland China last weekend, and tipping certainly was not required or expected. It seems that the cost of workers are extremely cheap so restaurant could afford hiring lots of workers. When I went to the restuarant, there were waitress that poured tea for us, and was extremely polite. I wouldn't find that kind of service at the same cost in other countries.

If you are planning to take taxi, might be a good idea to ask the local which taxi company is the best. There are some taxi drivers that will try to rip you off, if you think that the ride is taking a bit longer than usually, don't be afraid to ask the driver what he/she is doing(of course you need to know chinese).

Of course, you could always leave a bit of tip behind, just don't over do it. Asking the taxi driver to keep the small amount of change is okay.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My update is that my brother and father sometimes decided to tip in spite of what they knew and I dissented, but that no-one was expecting any tips.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I will share my China tipping story; Gary, perhaps the fact that it happened in Shanghai has something to do with it. My husband and I visited China in November 1999. Though we were with a tour group, we were "on our own" the first two nights in Shanghai. We went to a restuarant listed in the tour book, and the menu actually had some English in it. Between that and the little bit of Mandarin Jo-Mel has taught me, we managed to get a wonderful dinner even though no one in the restaurant spoke much English.

At the end of the meal, Bob handed the waitress his credit card. She returned with the slip and, as she handed it to him with one hand (before he even got a chance to look at it), she pointed to the line where the diner can add a gratuity and said, "You tip, you tip!".

Ergo, we concluded that tipping is alive and well in China, or at least Shanghai.

NJH

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Ergo, we concluded that tipping is alive and well in China, or at least Shanghai.

NJH

I'm sure they will make exceptions for Western diners sent to them by tour guide books.

It reminds me of my sister-in-law protesting when I calculated a 15 percent tip at a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco (that was some time ago).

"Ten percent is enough," she said. "They don't expect people to tip more than 10 percent."

My response was "I'm a laowai (Gweilo). They expect me to tip more."

That quieted her immediately, because she recognized that I had a "face" issue there.

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this is a bit of a random question, but Gary, is that picture taken in the Xintiandi area/site of first meeting of the Chinese Communist Party?

sorry, to make this about tipping...at some places, if they think they can get extra money out of an unsuspecting foreigner, then they will do so. If the waitress does that to you, you have every right not to tip her, but as Gary brings up, its also a bit of a face thing for some (similar to tipping on english tours as compared to Chinese ones).

Edited by chengb02 (log)
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this is a bit of a random question, but Gary, is that picture taken in the Xintiandi area/site of first meeting of the Chinese Communist Party?

You have a sharp eye. I blush to admit that it was in one of the interior lanes of Xintiandi, which I had to see from an urban design standpoint (and I happen to know some of the people involved in the design of the improbable man-made lake nearby).

Though the predictably trendy restaurants and shops don't do anthing for me, I think it's a good example of adaptive re-use, and let's face it, the longtangs would have been bulldozed for something ugly otherwise.

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Though the predictably trendy restaurants and shops don't do anthing for me, I think it's a good example of adaptive re-use, and let's face it, the longtangs would have been bulldozed for something ugly otherwise.

I took a closer look and saw the grey/red bricks and thats the only area that I know of in the city that has that unique feature...The area is nice if someone else is paying, but thats about it. There is a pretty interesting jewelry shop with reasonable prices (by US standards) on very unique designs that I stopped at last time, though.

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My response was "I'm a laowai (Gweilo). 

Is laowai/gweilo a more polite term to refer to a Western person than lowfan?

I'm not familiar with "lowfan", but laowai is more polite then "Gweilo" Gweilo is a beter-known term, however, which is why I used it to clarify "laowai."

Edited by Gary Soup (log)
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Is laowai/gweilo a more polite term to refer to a Western person than lowfan?

I would say that lowfan is a more polite term. Lowfan means "the old foreigner". Gweilo means "the ghost". Lo in Chinese is similar to saying "a guy".

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Lowfan means "the old foreigner". Gweilo means "the ghost". Lo in Chinese is similar to saying "a guy".

I am starting to understand how those cantonese speakers feel about my posts.....so, lowfan is just cantonese for laowai, yes?

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so, lowfan is just cantonese for laowai, yes?

I guess so. I know "lao" means old. I couldn't figure out which Chinese character is "wai".

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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