Tipping around the world: keep the change?
Photo credit: Sam Truong Dan
Does this sound familiar? You’re sitting in a restaurant and the waiter is clearly having a bad day. After you’ve paid the bill, they’re suddenly all smiles? Or, you pay a taxi driver and then they makes you get your own suitcase out of the boot? Giving the right amount of tip is not just a matter of opinion, there are also cultural differences at play.
In both Germany and the UK, tipping is less required that in other countries and this can make this ancient custom pretty confusing. According to most of my friends and family, somewhere between 5% and 20% is normal. But, friends in the hospitality industry are more generous. There are also other things to think about when it comes to tipping. What if you order something to be delivered? Are you supposed to tip at the bar for every drink? Isn’t the hairdresser expensive enough already? And do I have to tip someone I know I’m never going to see again?
Tipping in England
The main thing to remember is that tipping is totally voluntary. It’s supposed to reward and motivate good service. In England, employees of the service industry generally earn “enough”, so you are able to tip less for bad service if you feel this is justified. If you know how expensive renting in London is, then you can also assume that a waiter’s salary without tips doesn’t go very far. When the bill comes in an English restaurant, it’s a good idea to get your glasses out and look for a “Service Charge” that might have already been added to the bill. Otherwise, 10% is an acceptable amount to tip.
You could save the tip in bars, but it can help with subsequent service to be a bit more generous. It might mean your drinks make their way to your table a bit faster!
In the more touristy spots, there are people offering “services” and trying to get a tip in return. If you are sprayed with perfume on your way out of the bathroom, the Guardian advises you to just keep walking.