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Meanderings of a Working Travel Agent

Tipping Me over the Edge

I had a good chat on QR77 this morning about tipping around the world.  Now it seems that tipping has become quite controversial – at least  in Canada.  We have become subject to the tyranny of the machine – this machine

blog tipping

You see in the olden days you would get the bill and you would peel off some notes and then maybe add a couple extra for the tip.  Close up the little wallet and off you go.  Nowadays the Machine is handed to you with the prompt for a tip – usually starting at 18% – and you have to do this under the supervision of the server.  Look they are generally pretty sensitive to this as well as they look away across the room or engage your partner in conversation – usually starting with “any plans for the rest of the evening?”. 

So now that we have been trained to add in a tip – no matter what – then what happens when we travel?

My first trip to Japan we had a free day from our tour so wandered out into Tokyo and found a cute little place for lunch.  Our server was so sweet so when we paid (cash) for our meal my husband left her a tip.  Imagine how surprised we were to find her chasing us down the street because we had not taken our change!!!  You just don’t tip in Japan apparently – except when you stay in a Ryokan (a traditional type Inn) where it is customary to tip the lady who prepares your kimono.

Go to Egypt and it is a totally different thing – you tip everywhere.  I am told that it is not greed but the culture of paying it forward.  Luckily as Canadians we are used to tipping – but we are not used to haggling.  At least I am not.  And this is another way you can insult people in the market.  Accept the first price they tell you.  You have to haggle I was told by an Egyptian friend.  It is part of the deal.  The seller is not going to feel good about the sale unless he has had a good price negotiation with you.  I think it is all part of the “theatre”.  You offer a lower price and he clutches his heart and says “Oh, so you want to see my wife and children starve to death!!”

China used to be the same as Japan but alas we tourists from N. America are just ruining it for everyone and now that we have spread the tipping habit it is becoming the norm there.

There are many people however who are getting a bit fed up of the tip option on the cash machines – especially when you have just gone into Macs to get a slurpy.  Seriously? 

Talk about tipping me over the edge…


2 Responses

  1. In the ‘good old days’, the recommended or suggested tip in Canada was easily calculated as double the GST, but now the machine shows minimum 18% and it is calculated on the total which includes GST and PST. There are a number of countries where no tipping was expected including Italy and Australia, but American tourists have raised the expectation that a tip will be forthcoming and in tourist areas, sometimes the waiter will be very pushy asking straight out for a tip.
    Recently on Rick Steves Italy forum, there was a heated discussion because one traveller was suggesting that a reasonable tip in Italy was 20%. After a while, the thread was stopped and most comments deleted.

    1. Hmmm – I really think 20% is a lot and as you say here in Canada it is now calculated on the total including gst and pst. Interesting that the comments had to be deleted from the online forum. It certainly is a divisive subject.

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The Travel Lady Blog

The Travel Lady

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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