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Tips in Western Canada - all about them


jamiemaw
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How much do you tip out on average in restaurants? How do you vary the percentage for good, bad and ugly service experiences? Please feel free to be honest. :biggrin:

Have you ever stiffed a server without explanation?

And turning the tables, if you're an industry person, what do your tip averages run? Do people ever discount wine service? Are Western Canadians generally decent tippers? Do tourists (especially Americans) tip more?

And as for locals what demographic is the most generous? Hell's Angels management? Realtors with their pictures on their business cards? The least? Ladies who lunch, Rotary groups? Have you ever been surprised? What are the signals that you're dealing with a short tipper?

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Here Goes:

If we're talking in a general basis, it's honestly tough not to sound racist or classist about tippers. There are some awful prejudices out there about certain groups of people and I find many of them exist because they fall true for about 85% of their respective folks. In the interest of diplomacy, and not being an utter dick, I'm gonna shove all those aside and let anyone else who'd like to tackle those things feel free to do so.

Americans (who count for most tourists), though, seem to take advantage of their slightly-higher currency and value of dining prices here can be counted on to hit the 20% mark easily with a few extra bucks thrown in for good measure.

Those who come from countries where tipping is generally out of the ordinary seem to rarely hit th 15% mark, and it's quite plausible to get stiffed as well. If they seem to be savvy people/travellers, your luck increases. I find this isn't due to ignorance, but lack of comprehension of why tipping exists. (Small Point: Most don't realize that if tipping was abolished, service salary would be absorbed into other prices in a restaurant, and usually, it'd be the customer who gets the raw end of the deal.)

I've heard it all, "Don't tip on tax!", "Don't tip on wine!", "To figure out the tip, double the GST, carry the one, add two bucks and subtract a quarter for every item they're out of!". It's all quite funny, but these smaller rules don't seem to stick with any typical age, race, nationality or class-level.

Ladies who lunch/dine give varying gratuities, but 95% of the time, 4 ladies=4 credit cards, 6=6, 12=12, etc. Ta-da! Now I'll be labelled a misogynist!

I always leave at least 20% now matter how much things suck, since I have a relatively public persona in this industry, and it just simplifies things.

Who tips the best? Those who want to sleep with the staff. That never changes.

<3,

k

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Ah, to be in the industry and be one of the first to answer this very hot topic.

As a guest, I used to tip out at least 20% unless the service was abysmal (then it would be @15%). I now try to tip according to the level of service I recieve.

Because I am in the business, I realize that alot of what happens is beyond a servers control. I tip more on personality that on knowledge. Of coarse, if someone has NO answers to my questions and asks me if I want the red or white chardonnay, well, then all bets are off :laugh:.

It has taken me a long time but for the past year+ I really have very few expectations of my gratutiy. Sometimes I will be surprised, both good and bad but truly, everything equals out over the course of the year. I don't get too excited when receiving a 30-50% grat, nor do I get bummed out when I do not receive a good tip when the service has been excellent and the guests comment on the great service. Sometimes I wonder why someone would leave me 20% when the service has been less than my best. Like I said, it all balances out.

Just when you think that you have a certain "demographic" pegged, they then turn around and surprise you :raz:. Yes, Americans generally tip better than, say, Europeans, but I have had it both good and bad from both sides. Certain nationalities have gotten alot better over the years.

But the best are those that pay their very large bills with CASH :biggrin: . I wonder why that is?? :huh::huh:

Derek

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I always leave 20% good or great service. If the service is horrible I'm still leaving 15%, like Kurtis, I'm seen by too many people in the industry at tastings and events.

Cheers,

Stephen

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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I generally tip 15% for standard service, 20%+ for better. Even though I've worked as waitstaff, I don't understand the reason behind tipping. Particularly since in Canada, waitstaff usually gets at least minimum wage. I've worked equally difficult jobs for minimum wage (sales person in a high traffic retail store) and never got tips there, why should waitstaff get tips?

The only time I haven't left a tip, was when the waitstaff forgot my order. I was pissed, especially when she said that she "didn't hear" my order. To that I replied, "But you repeated in back to me," and she offered no response, no apology, nothing. I was with a large group, so she still got a tip, but not from me.

I've heard that servers generally expect 20%, but when I was a server, I didn't really care what I got (all tips were pooled, and I was only doing it as a favour to the owners, plus I think tipping is stupid for the reason I gave above). And before I get trounced on, I was a damn good server--so good that after I finished my term, I had to avoid the owners so they wouldn't guilt me into working for them again.

I think Western Canadians tend to be a bit frugal about tipping, particularly those from Prairie provinces (like myself). In Winnipeg, the only people I knew whose standard tip was 20%, were those who worked in the industry. Everyone else just tipped 15%.

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A quick bit of figurin' says that the average tip left at the HSG is 19 % That is using a years worth of numbers so a pretty accurate number.

I leave 15 to 25 % , usually more at the lower priced joints ( I leave great tips to the girls at the White Spot on Kingsway after brunch with the kids, lots of mess and each child has very specific orders ! )

Upon really crappy service , I want to leave a shit tip but I can't bring myself to do it. I do not think the waiter would get the point and just chalk me up to a cheap bastard. I was tempted to tell a server about all the things they did wrong but again, who am I to push me personal standards on someone else's restaurant. Maybe that is the way they do it there. I can always respond by never coming back.

Good luck with this topic Jamie, as it always brings the best and worst out in people. It never has a happy ending.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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A quick bit of figurin' says that the average tip left at the HSG is 19 % That is using a years worth of numbers so a pretty accurate number.

I leave 15 to 25 % , usually more at the lower priced joints ( I leave great tips to the girls at the White Spot on Kingsway after brunch with the kids, lots of mess and each child has very specific orders ! )

Upon really crappy service , I want to leave a shit tip but I can't bring myself to do it. I do not think the waiter would get the point and just chalk me up to a cheap bastard. I was tempted to tell a server about all the things they did wrong but again, who am I to push me personal standards on someone else's restaurant. Maybe that is the way they do it there. I can always respond by never coming back.

Good luck with this topic Jamie, as it always brings the best and worst out in people. It never has a happy ending.

I am sure revenue Canada will send you a thank you note...I saw them audit the Windosr Arms, in 1988 using your method.

Chef/Owner/Teacher

Website: Chef Fowke dot com

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In terms of how i myself do financially, i can't say that i track it to closely, nor do i make any attempts at disecting(sp?) which group of people will tip me more. It took me a few years to realize this but regardless of what class or country of origin someone is from they are sitting in my section, in the restaurant that i work. If i do a great job they will probably leave me a tip that is on the upper end of their tip scale, and they might come back and be a "bum in a seat" as they say on a slow monday night that i am working where i would have not even had that table sat. On the other side of things when i am out to dinner i tip fairly with an average of 20%, if service is lesser, i have been out and rounded up to the nearest dollar (the worst service i have ever recieved, but thats another story) and at other times left a 100% tip on a 300 dollar bill.

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There are many threads here on tipping.

Personally I never tip, and think restaurants should pay their staff a decent wage. If I have the problem with the service, of have exceptional service I will write (or talk) to the management. Its their problem to sort or reward, not mine.

If the meal is to cost 20% more I would rather that was honestly stated upfront, than implied as a "routine" tip. Why should I collude in a revenue evasion scam? Someone has to pay for schools and unemployment benefit...

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I think Western Canadians tend to be a bit frugal about tipping, particularly those from Prairie provinces (like myself).  In Winnipeg, the only people I knew whose standard tip was 20%, were those who worked in the industry.  Everyone else just tipped 15%.

I think it's pretty common here to 'tip the tax" - or to use it as a guide. I generally tip a minimum of the tax (14% total pts&gst) plus some to bring it up to 15% or so. For great service, I up it.

I've been a server - and I sometimes find that I fight myself over how much to tip. Some service is so atrocious that I don't think the server deserves a tip. I know it's hard work to wait on people - but I expect a certain level of behaviour from a server when I'm eating out. I've yet to not leave anything at all - but I've definitely left less than 15% for bad service.

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[host]

There are many threads here on tipping.

Yes indeed there are MANY and they're all over in General Food Topics.

Jamie started this thread to get a sense of what tips were like in Vancouver & Western Canada. This is not a thread to discuss tipping etiquette. Any comments that are not germaine to regional tipping will be removed. This includes thinly veiled comments like: "I refuse to tip 15% on a bottle of wine in Western Canada becasue an expensive bottle of wine costs no more to decant than a cheaper wine ..." You get my point.

This is a REGIONAL thread folks ... keep the discussion REGIONAL.

A.

[/host]

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In general when going out on the town in BC our tips are in the 15%-30% range. Some very close friends of ours who live here and family is from HK tips about 10% on average when eating in an Asian Restaurant. She was shocked at how much I left for a tip last time we ate at an Asian restaurant in Richmond together (20%). She had said 10% is expected and thats all you leave. Is that a HK thing or is she right?

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[host]
There are many threads here on tipping.

Yes indeed there are MANY and they're all over in General Food Topics.

Jamie started this thread to get a sense of what tips were like in Vancouver & Western Canada. This is not a thread to discuss tipping etiquette. Any comments that are not germaine to regional tipping will be removed. This includes thinly veiled comments like: "I refuse to tip 15% on a bottle of wine in Western Canada becasue an expensive bottle of wine costs no more to decant than a cheaper wine ..." You get my point.

This is a REGIONAL thread folks ... keep the discussion REGIONAL.

A.

[/host]

Indeed, I started this thread to determine our local tipping culture compared to others. I began it when I was pondering the fact (in an adjacent thread regarding Canadian provincial minimum wages) that tell us that, for the most part, Canadian servers are paid a larger base wage than their US counterparts.

So I was wondering if the convential wisdom that Canadian dining patrons tip a little less than Americans holds water. My (unstated and untried) hypothesis is that, in the US, a lower base wage and higher tips would find equillibrium with the opposite formula here.

And then we heard from Jackal10 from England, to whom tipping is seemingly foreign . . .

Jackal10 There are many threads here on tipping.

Personally I never tip, and think restaurants should pay their staff a decent wage. If I have the problem with the service, of have exceptional service I will write (or talk) to the management. Its their problem to sort or reward, not mine.

If the meal is to cost 20% more I would rather that was honestly stated upfront, than implied as a "routine" tip. Why should I collude in a revenue evasion scam? Someone has to pay for schools and unemployment benefit...

I've travelled frequently to the UK and have certainly noticed that the service culture, which is much less incented than here, especially at lower price points, such as the Casual Fine Dining sector, tends to be inferior. I believe that's as a result of several things:

1. The vestigial remains of a class-based culture, i.e. "us versus them", aka "attitude";

2. The lack of incentives via gratuities; i.e. your income is vased on your knowledge, speed and skill.

3. Inferior training, especially compared to Earls, Cactus Club, The Keg, Joey's Global, Milestone's et al.

These reasons partially explain why so many CFD sector owners and managers visist here from the UK, continental Europe and the US. I thinks its safe to say that some are flabbergasted by the depth of needs satisfaction training and sense of confident, entrepreneuial spirit demonstrated by young service personnel (especially in CFD) across Western Canada.

I would ask Jackal10 if he tips when eating out abroad? I would also remind him that restaurant service personnel pay taxes too, and that those taxes pay for "schools and unemployment benefit", shoulder-to-shoulder with the proprietor.

Of course Jackal10 must contend with a challenge that does not confront us here in Western Canada. That is the exorbitent cost of dining out in the uK, which in London, is approximately twice as much as Calgary or Vancouver. Sometimes wine is trebled from shop prices.

The reasons: dreadful transportation infrastructure and much higher rent and labour costs. Perhaps that might explain why we're a little more likely to part with a paltry 15 to 20 percent of our dinner tab.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Simple for me:

- Chinese Restaurant (like a real cheap one) 10% (even less if it's a noodle house)

- Lunch stops generally don't exceed 15% unless the service is REALLY good

- Dinner ranges from 20% to 30% but that only depends on whether I am paying and whether I am with friends who ALWAYS never pay enough into the bill (ie they don't even cover the cost of their food and then stare blankly at everyone like they are really wondering why we came up short on the tip)

- If I tip less percentage wise I will try to pay in cash.

- Exceptionally bad service will get very little to no tip and a comment on a napkin or card.

- Offensive service will get $0.01 from me as a way to say "this was so offensive that leaving no tip would be too good". Thankfully I have never done this in Vancouver. Generally I will try to talk to the manager before it gets to this point.

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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In Vancouver I tend to tip 12-15% on the before tax amount, but will give a larger percentage if the bill is very small (say under $20 each person). I have no problem not tipping or leaving a very small tip if the service is very poor as, after all, waitstaff are paid minimum wage and there are a lot of people out there who work just as hard but earn no tips.

I am from the UK where tipping is often a cursory $5 or so left on the table top, but I do adhere to the saying "when in Rome..." so do try to respect local norms.

My parents when they visit Vancouver have a hard time with this and think that even 10% is excessive!

Elizabeth

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook".

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I am sure revenue Canada will send you a thank you note...I saw them audit the Windosr Arms, in 1988 using your method.

This coming down the pike, one way or the other.

I had a fire-side chat wiith the staff re: what they declare for tips on their T4's

There has been some discussion of this in Western Canada ( just to keep in topic )

As the restaurants are getting more and more integrated with the computer systems and electronic credit card machines, tracking tips and taxes paid on thm is becoming easier and easier.

We have been warned that this is coming and to get our houses in order.

Waiter "A" declares 10 to 15 % of his wages as tip revenue. This is a good rule of thumb, used throughout Vancouver. Let's just say, for example that their tips are twice as much as their wages ( 200 % ) - you can see the problem and the direction that it is taking.

What I am worried about is that if tips become something that I have to track and add to their T4's, am I also paying employee benefits like CPP and the employer part of the income tax for. ( Side note: For every dollar that the employee pays in income tax, I also submit $1.50 for them as well. as well as CPP and EI. So you can see where this would start to worry the employer. In our restaurant, taxes and benefits on tips would make a very, very serious chunk of year end profits disapppear, possibly making the restaurant nearly a non- profit society.

Chef Fowke, not only would this be an administrative nightmare, it would probably cost the service industry lots of employees as they have been living on the fringe and would not be able to support themselves in this "taxable" situation.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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15% is the starting point, 10% is usually the minimum (rounded down) and no more than 25%. Tip on wine is a flat 15% and caps out at $30 max (assuming a $200 dollar bottle of wine ordered). I will round up for small meals and round down for expensive ones. All tips are based on pre-tax total.

officially left egullet....

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As Vancouver is truly a mélange of different cultures, each one comes with their own tipping standards.

With fine dining restaurants, I leave at least 20%. This also includes high-end Asian restaurants, such as Sun Sui Wah, Imperial, Kirin, etc. If service is poor, I either tell the mâitre'd or leave 15% and a nice little note. People need to realise that just leaving a poor tip for poor service doesn't always equate to that - many servers will just come to the conclusion that you're a cheapskate.

With casual fine dining restaurants/chains, I tend to hover 15-20%, as lesser amenities are offered, less formal wine service, etc.

With the average casual ethnic food joint, it depends on what establishment it is. Usually I try to ask if the waiters actually get to keep tips at the specific restaurant. If so, then I leave at least 15%. If not, 10% or less.

On the issue of tipping, I find myself in confusion sometimes. Does the house often split the tip in the end (to a certain %), regardless among the staff? Because I have heard from friends that should you ask for the sommelier for wine recommendations, you would leave him a tip. Also a tip for the person taking your jacket, bags, etc. Is it expected they all individually get tips, or would that just all translate to what is left at the end of the meal for the waiter? I think this is the case in the US, but am not sure about Vancouver.

This of course doesn't apply for valet parking, where tips are expected for their service. But for everything else...?

Edited by kontemporary (log)

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf

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i'm not in the industry, but i am in a tipping industry so i always have a tipping karma thing in my head. depending on the type of restaurant and food i go out for, on average, it's usually 15%-20% for standard service and up to 30% for exceptional service. chinese restaurants, usually around 10%-15%. when there is awful service, i'd love to be able to tip way less, but my conscience gets to me. :rolleyes:

Quentina

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chinese restaurants, usually around 10%-15%. 

why?

..................................

&

i agree that, in general, americans tip better. but i was working in a restaurant that was adjacent to a marina where the majority of american boaters had large $$. there is a tipping culture amongst the wealthy in the U.S., a flamboyance perhaps, that is just not as prevalent here.

........................

&

for the last year or so i have had the humbling exerience of fishing around the bottom of the tip jar, scraping together a couple days' busfare. granted, as a barista, i expect far less tips than i would as a server in a licensed restaurant. i do not necessarily feel this disparity is justifiable, i just don't expect most customers to recognize good coffee service as readily as they might good table, or wine service. again, with exceptions, most customers just think we have 'the good beans', press a button, and pour some fancy milk.

a fellow co-worker and i discussed how the tips at a successful commercial drive coffeehouse far outweigh those given in our successful west-side address. so what is it? our clientele on the west-side are, on average, far more wealthy but generally seem less willing to part with the good stuff. obviously there are major exceptions, but per capita tipping, if you will allow the phrase, is measely.

i'm going all overtheplace.

i want to think that tipping rises commensurate to a recognition of the crafting of good (coffee) service. but i'm not sure if this is happenning...

[meanwhile, friends working the bar in seattle and portland report minimums of $50-60, and often far more, per shift. ]

i do not mean to derail the thread of conversation but merely add another dimension.

Drew Johnson

bread & coffee

i didn't write that book, but i did pass 8th grade without stress. and i'm a FCAT for sure.

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Here in BC, I tip the same as I do when I'm traveling.

20% standard.

More than that if I had a wonderful experience, and/or if I am dining in an establishment where I am a regular.

15% if the service is off/poor.

If the night was an abysmal screw-up, I have left as little as 10-12%. Though I don't do it often -- maybe three times in the past 2 years or so.

Edited by Xando Head (log)
Food Lover -- nothing more, nothing less
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^ what percentage of BC restaurants subscribe to:

1. Every waiter gets their own tip and it is their's to keep

2. All tips are pooled and split amongst staff

3. One of the above with a tiered system of tip 'skimming' for the head waitor and kitchen staff

4. Something else? Explain.

I know many chinese restaurants just pool and divide and I recall being at a hard rock cafe and the waitress mentioning a tiered system of 'skimming' so I am curious how many places do what.

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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My standard tip is 20% of the bottom line price on the bill (i.e. including tax). Sometimes more if the service was excellent, or as Kurtis said, I want to sleep with the waitress. Sometimes less if the server him or herself was awful, but I never punish the server for things outside of his/her control.

This thread (along with Kurtis' thread about your server's other job) got me thinking about how different we are from, say, Europe. It seems to me that Vancouver is no different from the rest of Canada in that being a waiter or waitress is rarely a primary career choice. Contrast that with European countries (italy comes to mind, but I'd image there are others) where being a career waiter is not just a way to support yourself while you try to earn a living at something else.

Am I correct in that assessment?

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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