Q. What’s the difference between a Canadian and a canoe?
A. A canoe tips
Yessiree, my fellow Canajuns. We of the Great White North, home of hockey, basketball (yep, go look it up), the best military pilots in the world and dried potatoes in a box, have a reputation as miserly tipping travellers.
I have heard anecdotes – don’t know if they’re true or not – that if Canadians enter a restaurant, the greeter will put them at a table that will be served by someone they don’t like very much.
Again, I don’t actually know it’s true or not, but it could be.
I think some of the reason is because many of us Canadian travellers simply don’t know if or how much is appropriate.
In some countries such as Japan, tipping may even be interpreted as an insult.
So how is a traveller to know?
Firstly, do your research. Spend some time with a Frommer’s or Lonely Planet, or talk to someone who has been to your destination.
There are some modern-day Neanderthals insist that 10% on the pretax total is enough. “They’re already being paid. Besides, they’re lucky to have my business.”
Fortunately, those troglodytes can safely be ignored.
Generally speaking, 15% to 20% on the pre-tax total of your restaurant bill is about right.
“But what if the food stinks or the service sucks?”
The tip isn’t the place to reflect that. Call the restaurant manager and tell her there’s a problem. It’s not fair to not tip the server if the food’s not good. She didn’t cook it. Same if the service is lousy. Why refrain from tipping the kitchen staff if the service sucks?
Let the manager know, and tip the proper people directly through the manager. “See that the kitchen staff gets all of this tip,” then give the manager the tip amount.
Same if you’re paying by credit or debit card. Tell the manager that the tip belongs to whichever party didn’t screw up things.
“But there’s already a 10% or 15% gratuity built into the bill. Now what’s appropriate?”
Crap, I hate it when places do that.
But anyway, that amount is usually split between service staff. Ask if you’re not sure. Then it’s appropriate for a 10% to 15% tip. And remember, that tip amount goes directly to the service provider, not in the general shared amout. If it’s at all possible, give the server’s tip in cash.
But like it or not, tipping doesn’t stop at the restaurant. Bartenders, hotel housekeeping staff, concierge staff, etc etc… Certainly, tipping isn’t required but giving them a tip – even before they haven’t actually served you yet – will go a long way in getting you good service. Something as small as a crisp $5 bill can make the difference.
So, fellow Canadians, let’s put that old joke to rest. Tipping properly to the right people is a good courtesy that simply makes sense.
Got a tip about tipping? Agree or disagree? Let me know through the comments portion of this post or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!