To Tip or Not to Tip? Tipping Around the World

Tipping may not be the most controversial topic, but it certainly arises different comments and colors from one country to another. It is interesting how people from one country at one historical point decided who to tip, how much and under what circumstances. Years may pass and these variables may change, new generations are going to tip other workers and under other circumstances.

In Venezuela, for example, we tip a lot of workers, but we don´t tip a large amount, 10% or less is what we use to tip. Tipping the hairdresser, the girl who does your nails, the mechanic that goes to your house or the delivery boy is optional. But tipping at restaurants is almost mandatory, some places even have little signs explaining they do not charge the service and that they would be really grateful if you tip (they have a salary, however, it is not like they work for free). The boy who helps you pack your groceries at the supermarket almost always gets a low tip, and the guy who “takes care” of your car when you park in the street also gets a small tip. Taxis never get a tip, they are already expensive enough.

Taking advantage of the Venezuelan Diaspora, I have asked some friends abroad how people tip where they live. In the process, some coincidences were found and some surprising stories as well.

How to Tip around the World

In Florida, Seattle and other places in The United States, everybody tips. Tipping is as common as breathing, and their tip has to be generous, 18%, 22%, and 25% are usual percentages people give when they receive good service. When the bill arrives, there is always a suggested percentage and not following it is considered impolite and can get you in trouble, even if the service is awful. The waiter may even call the manager if you don’t want to tip. Most of the time, these workers’ payments are very low and tips are all they’ve got. That’s why this is such an important issue.

Mexico’s restaurants have to give you a good service to earn their tip, and it is usually 10% of your bill, maybe a little less. There is also the case of old people working in supermarkets, helping you pack your groceries at the checkout. This happens because their retirement pay is too low, so they have to continue working and this is one of the jobs they usually take. If you happen to go to a Mexican Supermarket, make sure you leave a generous tip, they will be grateful.

The French Don’t like Tipping

French people are not very prone to tipping. Most restaurants already include 10% tip so waiters don’t really make an effort to be kind to you or treat you well, especially in Paris where, apparently, they can even get mad if you ask too many things. So, when service is good, make sure you tell them and give them some tip, this may get the message across.

Panama has a suggested standard 10% tip when the bill arrives. You can include it in your pay and use your cards, while in other countries you have to do it in cash. And you can tip a lot of different workers: hairdresser, taxi drivers and supermarket boys alike. It is not mandatory and it depends on how well your service was.

Argentinians expect a 10% tip at restaurants and also for delivery services. At the supermarket, something curious happens from time to time. You can find the Boy Scouts helping people pack their things to raise money for some special event. However, most of the time, you have to do that yourself using your eco-friendly bags. It is also common to offer some tip, although no percentage is suggested, to the repairman that goes to your house and fixes your TV or any other appliances.

English People Tip less, If at all

A very good friend of mine lives in England and has worked as a waitress. She told me English people are somewhat stingy and if in the restaurant, you pay first and then go to your table. It is very common not to leave any kind of tip. The usual amount, when they do tip, goes from 1 to 5 pounds (1 to 6 dollars); it is not a percentage of the total bill. Supermarkets don’t have a person there to help you with bags, neither gas stations. So, tipping is not something that happens regularly.

Asian people have a bad reputation for being the worst tippers, but my friend who lives in China couldn’t answer my Facebook questions since most social networks are banned over there. Getting in touch with her is not an easy task. Maybe next time, I can gather some more information. As the Venezuelan Diaspora continues, people disconnect from their family here, but at the same time, connect us with the rest of the world.

About Isabel Matos

Isabel is a Venezuelan translator that struggles to find a voice and to prosper in today’s political turmoil and tension. She is also an undergraduate English teacher and is currently pursuing a Master’s in English as a Foreign Language. Translator, teacher and always student, she is interested in how language shapes reality and how women and men negotiate power through discourse.

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