How Much To Tip: Survey Finds One-Third Left Nothing

The Huffington Post Canada  |  Posted: 04/12/2012 12:22 pm Updated: 04/12/2012 12:54 pm

Tipping for service is almost a reflex in North America -- people add 15 per cent to the bill automatically, for anything from restaurant tabs to hairstylists. Or do they?

A recent study by in the United States found one-third of customers had not left a tip when they received what they perceived to be poor service, while 20 per cent said they tipped less when the economy wasn't doing as well.

But when it gets down to numbers, trends seem to be moving toward the opposite end of the spectrum. In the survey, 51 per cent of respondents said they tip 16 per cent or higher, while seven per cent go all the way up to a 21 per cent. That practice could soon even be the norm, as restaurants' handheld terminals have started offering up "20%" as the default option when paying by credit or debit card.

In Zagat's 2012 summary of Toronto restaurants, the restaurant review publisher found Vancouverites tipped 16.5%, Montrealers left 16.7%, and Torontonians handed over 17.1% for their bill. Those numbers were all lower than any of the U.S. cities surveyed, including San Francisco (18.6%), Chicago (19.2%), Boston (19.4%) and New Orleans (19.7%).

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SEE: The tipping practices from countries around the world:

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  • United States

    A tip of 15-20% is customary for good to great service, 10-15% is common for poor service and 20% and up for excellent service. What about your barista? Well <a href="" target="_hplink">that's complicated</a>. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: larryjh1234</a>)

  • Mexico

    While a few restaurants will add a tip to the bill, tipping in Mexico is basically the same as in the US. For good service, a tip of 15-20% is customary. (Photo from AP)

  • Canada

    As in the US, a tip of 15% is expected. Customers can tip up to 20% for exceptional service. (Photo from AP)

  • Italy

    Italians tip very little, usually under 10%, or up to 5 euros unless it's a very expensive meal. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: junojp</a>)

  • France

    A 15% tip is included in the bill by law, but a small extra tip can be left as a sort of "thank you." The extra tip can range from a few coins on a small cafe meal to about 5 euros on a more extensive meal. (Photo from AP)

  • Germany

    Trip Advisor recommends that <a href="" target="_hplink">diners leave a small tip on top of what is included by the restaurant</a>. This amount should be small, between 5-10%, and should be paid by handing the waiter physical cash for the exchange. It's customary to round up to the nearest round amount (leaving 20 euros on an 18 euro check). <a href="" target="_hplink">Commenter/American expatriate living in Germany bookmanjb concurs, writing</a>: <blockquote>12% is included in the check for service. For so-so or bad service, you leave nothing. For good service, you simply round up a little. For example, if your check comes to 28 euros, leaving 30 euros indicates that you are VERY satisfied with your server; if you add those 2 euros to the 12%, it's about 20%. </blockquote> (Photo from Flickr:

  • United Kingdom

    Many British restaurants will include a mysterious "service charge" that usually goes to the restaurant owner. Diners can ask for this to be removed or lowered and add their own tip to go directly to the waiter. A customary tip is between 10-15%. Most Brits don't tip in pubs. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: Adam_T4</a>)

  • Switzerland

    A 10% service charge is included in the check, but it's customary to round up to the nearest 10 (50 for a meal costing 47) for particularly good service. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: jules:stonesoup</a>)

  • Singapore

    Most restaurants will include a service charge in the check, and it's fine but not customary to surpass that amount. (Photo from Flickr: balyho0o)

  • Israel

    A tip of 10% is considered standard. If service is excellent, a tip of 15% is generous. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: Mr. T in DC</a>)

  • Turkey

    At inexpensive restaurants, a few coins can be left as tip. At higher end places, the restaurant might add a 10% service charge to the check. (<a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: Rubber Slippers In Italy</a>)

  • Egypt

    Most restaurants will include a tip of 10%-12%, and it's customary to add an extra 5% on top of that. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: snowpea</a>)

  • India

    More and more Indian restaurants, across price points, <a href="" target="_hplink">are adding service charges</a>. Before, in most restaurants a tip of 10-15% was considered standard and should still be added to bills where the service isn't included. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: Brood_wich</a>)

  • South Korea

    Tipping is not customary, though some hotels and restaurants will add a 10% fee to checks. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: whologwhy</a>)

  • China

    Tipping is very uncommon, and sometimes even considered rude, at restaurants. (Photo from Flickr: InterContinental Hong Kong)

  • Hong Kong

    Unlike in the rest of China, a tip of around 10% is average at most middle of the road spots and upscale restaurants will usually include a 10% tip. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: VirtualErn</a>)

  • Japan

    Tipping is not expected and rarely ever happens. It can even be considered rude, depending on the place. The waiter will get their cut in the form of a 10% service charge added by the restaurant. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: samantha celera</a>)

  • Iceland

    Given the high prices of almost everything in Iceland, tourists and locals alike are not expected add a tip to the check. Waiters will accept small tips but it's not customary to leave anything. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: acme</a>)

  • Australia

    Tipping has only recently become the norm at Australian restaurants, where it's now customary to leave a 10% tip for good service. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: Sarah_Ackerman</a>)

  • Chile

    Some Chilean restaurants include a 12% service charge, but diners can ask for it to be removed. If no tip is included, a tip of 10% is considered generous. (Photo from Flickr:

  • Brazil

    Typically a 10% tip is included in the bill, and it's not expected that a diner will leave an extra tip. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: snowpea</a>)

  • Argentina

    While tipping isn't mandatory, many people tip for good service. Locals usually tip around 10% while tourists typically shell out a bit more. (Photo from AP)

  • Costa Rica

    No tipping is customary, but a 10% service charge is usually included. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: Victoria Reay</a>)

  • Panama

    A 10% tip is customary, but 15% is generous to reward great service.

  • Guatemala

    A tip of 10% is customary, although some places will add 10% to the tip. (Photo from <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: La.blasco</a>)