MONTREAL - Everybody's got their two cents' worth on tipping.
Whether tapped out on tipping or generous with gratuities for food and drink, patrons and servers don't always see eye-to-eye on tips, say experts.
"A tip is our way of saying thank you for doing a great job," says etiquette expert Margaret Page.
As soon as it becomes expected, then it's part of a person's wage or salary and it's not optional, says Page of Etiquette Page Enterprises in Vancouver.
"And that's not the intention of the tip," she adds.
Page said a 15 per cent tip is the standard for a good meal and 20 per cent for a really good meal with "exceptional" service. She said the tip is added before the tax, which of course goes to the government.
Tipping has been making headlines recently after those on the receiving end, who got nothing for their efforts, acted on their discontent.
A woman who left no tip gained Internet notoriety after spending almost $140 at a restaurant and writing: "Single mom, sorry" in the space reserved for the tip. A photo of the bill was posted on social news website Reddit by her server.
The photo of the woman's bill has gone viral and been viewed more than 600,000 times, sparking much online commentary about her behaviour.
She did write on her credit card bill, however, "Thank you, it was great."
"Oh, that's just wrong," said Giuseppe, a waiter at an upscale Montreal restaurant known for its service.
He acknowledges that the tip is always at the customer's discretion, but he does expect between 15 and 25 per cent for the service that he gives.
"Service is about trust," said Giuseppe, who didn't want his last name used or his establishment identified.
"We are building a relationship."
Tipping was also in the news when a Pizza Hut employee in Des Moines, Iowa, became so upset after a woman didn't give him a tip that he allegedly pulled down his pants and urinated on her front door, a local TV station reported.
The woman apparently said she didn't have the money for a tip. It was reported the delivery man was fired after his manager viewed the incident on security camera footage.
Website tipthepizzaguy.com says drivers should be tipped because they bring dinner to your door.
"Your tips are greatly appreciated. It's what keeps drivers moving," the website says, adding drivers should get a gratuity even when there is a delivery fee, because that fee goes to the business.
Associate prof. Bruce McAdams estimates that tips from full-service restaurants bring in $6 billion a year to the Canadian economy, based on a 15 per cent tip rate. But he noted it has to be questioned how much is being declared and how it is distributed among staff.
In Canada, there's an expectation that restaurant tips be between 15 per cent and 20 per cent, he said.
Tipping, however, is a "social norm," said McAdams, who teaches at the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Guelph.
"We tip because we don't want to look like a cheapskate or it's expected," he said from Guelph, Ont.
What about those tip bowls at coffee shops and fast food restaurants?
Page said it's not necessary, but it's always nice if customers want to drop some spare change in the bowl.
Rodney, a regular at a pub in Old Montreal, says his tipping "depends on what change I have."
While it isn't the same level of service, Rodney said he does tip $1 for every beer he drinks because "it just seems fair."
Technology is also playing a role in tipping at times.
On wireless payment terminals used for credit cards, the tip has been automatically set by some restaurants at 20 per cent and consumers haven't readily accepted it, Page said.
"I can tell you almost immediately in Vancouver that those restaurants reset their terminals."
For those unsatisfied with their restaurant experience, Page said refusing to tip doesn't send a clear message because some customers just don't tip and not all cultures have the practice of tipping.
"If you're really unhappy, you need to let the management know or let the waiter or waitress know why you're unhappy."
Please be civil, she advises.
"What's critical in this is your tone of voice."
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'Best Butt' Discount
One woman was surprised to find that along with her veggie bowl, she received a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/best-butt-discount-customer-receipt_n_1819442.html" target="_hplink">discount for having the 'best butt'</a> and being the 'best looking' person in the fast food joint.
Dry Cleaner Gaffe
A customer got quite a surprise when he picked up his freshly-laundered shirts. The anonymous consumer, dubbed <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/27/dry-cleaner-dubs-customer_n_1834484.html" target="_hplink">'Asshole, Alex'</a> apparently had the cleaning bill comped.
Two Burger King employees were fired after a customer noticed that his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/17/burger-king-f_ck-you-receipt_n_785143.html" target="_hplink">receipt read 'F*ck You'</a> where it would normally say 'Thank You'.
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The "Pennies in Water" Tip
"I'd say the strangest tipping story I can remember involved a long-term server at a restaurant in which I was the general manager. My server was having a bad night, and toward the end, a dinner party broke all tipping etiquette rules and left him nothing more than about 20 pennies...in the bottom of a glass of water.I'm still not sure why it happened, but the server scooped up the pennies, followed the party into the parking lot and threw them at the departing customers. A fight ensued and the cops ended up getting called. They ultimately hauled my server away in handcuffs and charged him with attempted assault. The charges were later dropped." <em>Story via David Bakke, Editor at <a href="http://www.moneycrashers.com/">Money Crashers Personal Finance</a></em> <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/take-tipping-quiz-what-kind-of-tipper.html" target="_blank">Take the Tipping Quiz: What Kind of Tipper Are You?</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/puuikibeach/6746802715/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: puuikibeach</a></em>
The Gift Card Tip
<strong>Story 1:</strong> "I got a customer who tipped me with a $15 Walmart gift card. He said he would not tip cash because bartenders and servers use it for drugs!" <strong>Story 2:</strong> "After drinking two Long Island iced teas and falling asleep at my bar, a customer went to pay her tab and had exactly enough money to purchase the drinks. She really wanted to give me something, and went through her bag and found a Wendy's gift card. 'There's just enough for a Frosty on there, enjoy!' she said (while I was thinking that a Frosty wasn't going to pay my rent). She was nice about it, so I kept my mouth shut even though I don't even like Wendy's. I carried it around for a while, and when I did finally try to use it on a road trip, the cashier swiped it, looked at me and said, 'sorry, sir, this gift card has a balance of zero."< <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/crazy-tipping-story-rush-limbaugh.html" target="_blank">Crazy Tipping Story: Rush Limbaugh Edition</a>]</strong>
The Make-Out Bribe
"I was working at a restaurant in Washington, DC, and there was this guy sitting at the bar. After chatting with him a little bit, he told me he'd give me a $100 tip if I would make out with him. Skeevy, but this would have equaled around 500% since he only spent about $20. I politely declined, saying 'I can't do that, I'm seeing someone right now.' I'll be honest, I would have done it, and I wish I did (especially after I learned that my boyfriend at the time was cheating on me). We chatted for a while, and I kept telling him 'I'm sorry I can't do that.' As he was leaving, he stopped, and with a completely serious look said, 'if you want to go to Paris, I'll take you to Paris.' I think he was serious." <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/restaurant-policy-debates-should-credit.html" target="_blank">Restaurant Policy Debates: Should Credit Card Payments Be Limited?</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/taniasaiz/4546732837/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: TaniaSaiz</a></em>
The "End Of The World" Tip
"One interesting story came on the eve of one of the many dates (yes, this has happened multiple times) in the recent past when the world was supposed to "come to an end." I think it was in May 2011. A server of mine came to me at the end of the night and said she just got a $100 tip on a $20 tab from a single guest. She mentioned it to the customer to make sure he didn't make a mistake. His response was, "No, it's all yours. The world is ending tomorrow, so I won't have time to spend it." He clearly wasn't trying to eat cheap on this night!" <em>Story via David Bakke, Editor at <a href="http://www.moneycrashers.com/" target="_blank">Money Crashers Personal Finance</a></em> <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/must-try-cheap-eats-in-7-cities.html" target="_blank">Must-Try Cheap Eats in 7 Cities</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pixagraphic/4244292846/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: pixagraphic</a></em>
<strong>Story 1:</strong> "Here's a tip: find a different line of work!" <strong>Story 2:</strong> "While signing the tab for her credit card, a customer decided to give me a verbal tip as well. She looked at me and said I had the eyes of a serial killer, I should be careful when I walk around midtown because I might scare people." <strong>Story 3:</strong> "I had a guy write on the tab, 'Don't stand up in a canoe.' Um...." <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/service-debates-when-are-requests.html" target="_blank">Service Debates: When Are Requests Unreasonable?</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tigerzeye/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: lifecreations</a></em>
The Trippy Tip
"Back in the early '80s I was a hostess at a Pizza Hut. One very busy lunch rush, I was carrying a pitcher of soda and a tray of ice-filled tumblers out to a table I had just seated when another customer stuck out his foot and tripped me. I held on to the soda, but the tray went flying. I can't swear he did it on purpose but if he didn't, it was awfully clumsy of him. On the chance it was deliberate, for the rest of his visit, I was absolutely fawning. I filled his glass several times, pre-bussed his table, got his dessert when the server was busy and generally killed him with kindness. When I went to clear his table, two slips of paper lay there. A $5 bill was under one marked 'for the waitress.' Under the other was a $20 bill marked 'for the hostess, with my apologies.' My grandmother was right about catching more flies with honey!" <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/which-dishes-bring-home-bacon-look-at.html" target="_blank">Which Dishes Bring Home the Bacon: A Look at Restaurant Mark-Ups</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/audin/2045716381/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: Audin</a></em>
A Tip For Kicking Someone Out
"I was bartending at a super-busy bar and these two drunks were sitting on the stools, making out with each other and bothering the patrons. After a while it became clear that they had too much. I went around filling drink orders, and when I got to them I just told them that the only thing they could order for the rest of the night was water. Cut. Off. They were super pissed, railing about how 'stupid' the bar was as they gathered their things and left (nearly falling over). Yeah, they didn't end up tipping me after they paid, but another customer more than made up for it when he turned to me, said, 'thanks for getting rid of those a--holes' and put a $20 down on the bar just like that." <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/would-you-pay-to-have-your-silverware.html" target="_blank">Would You Pay to Have Your Silverware Replaced?</a>]</strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/macsurak/776733587/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK</a></em>
The 200% Tip
"It was 12:55 AM on a Saturday night and three friends and I needed a late-night pick-me-up after a night of hopping around to a few shows. We were in Kansas City, Missouri, visiting my in-laws and some friends. After much debate, we decided to stop at Winstead's since my husband had raved about their delicious milkshakes. We walked in, and the nice waitress told us they closed at 1 AM, but if we ordered in the next five minutes, we could stay. How nice is that? So we quickly decided and ordered a vanilla Skyscraper (a milkshake that serves at least eight-10 people and comes in a giant pitcher that looks like a flower vase), some fries, onion rings and The Winstead (a burger).Our food came within a few minutes and we began to chow down. It was getting close to 1:15 AM, and we began feeling bad because we were the only ones in the restaurant and all the employees were cleaning up. This is when we all decided we were going to leave a very big tip. We finished up and left almost a 200% tip. As we were walking out the door, the friendly waitress yelled "Thank You!" to us, and we were on our way. But as we were walking to the car, we turned around to see a dancing waitress waving money in the air. We were thrilled as well to give a little extra to make someone's night that much more special." <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/8-totally-overrated-ingredients.html" target="_blank">8 Totally Overrated Ingredients</a>]</strong></strong> <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gemsling/542274369/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: gemsling</a></em>
The $100 Tip
<strong></strong>"The best tip I ever got was from a regular guest of mine who couldn't secure a table in my station but could watch my busy night. On his way out of the restaurant, he shook my hand and said, 'You work too hard.' He tipped me a hundred dollars on the one night I didn't wait on him. Never did beat that." <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/tipping-quiz-results.html" target="_blank">Tipping Quiz: The Results</a>]</strong>