Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tipping: An insult in Japan, expected in the U.S.

Anyone remember this scene from Reservoir Dogs?:

Touche, Mr. Pink. Though your sentiment may not be warmly embraced by the professional criminals sitting around you, it turns out other countries definitely feel your plight.

"Everyone has a different interpretation of what's expected and acceptable when showing your gratitude; too much or too little can offend,"Misty Ewing, director of public relations at Virtuoso, tells Forbes.

Regardless of how you feel about shelling out extra dinero for a cab ride or sit-down dinner at a restaurant, here are some top Forbes "tipping" tips for the globetrotters among us:

  • At luxury hotels in Japan, if you try to tip anyone from the wait staff at a top restaurant to the hotel concierge, your gesture will be perceived as a rude and flagrant show of wealth. On the other hand, if you skimp on tipping at any restaurant in the United States or to a concierge who has helped fulfill multiple requests, you probably won't be welcome again.

  • Take a taxi anywhere in South America, and rounding the fare up to the next dollar amount is sufficient as a tip. If you're in an African city such as Cape Town or Nairobi, however, you need to tip 10% for a cab ride.

  • Going to India? Taking a taxi there means there is no need for gratuity at all.

  • In most countries in Europe, the service charge is included in the meal; it's customary to add another 5% to 10% for gratuity, especially in high-end restaurants. If no service charge is included, add 15% to the total bill. For taxis, 10% is the right amount to tip, and for hotel porters, give the equivalent of $2 per bag.

  • In China, giving 3% is expected at restaurants, while in Hong Kong, 10% to 15% is the norm if the gratuity isn't included in the bill. For taxis, you don't need to tip in China, but in Hong Kong, you should round the fare up to the next dollar amount.
So many cultural rules. No wonder so much gets lost in translation.


Stephanie said...

I wonder why we are so tip happy here? I think I over tip. It felt odd not leaving a tip for a meal in Europe except for something nominal.

Glad you liked the Lagerfeld article. I think I am going to subscribe. It's only $8!

Frugal in Virginia said...

Thanks for sharing!

Bonjour Madame-
I think the U.S. tips a bit more, at restaurants in particular, because the servers get paid differently here. In a lot of other countries, servers are getting a pretty standard wage. (Even in Ontario, Canada, servers make nearly $8/hr wage.) In most U.S. states though, servers get paid less than $3/hour, needing higher tips to supplement.

I agree though; I think I over tip at times. I waited tables for years so I have some extra sympathy for servers. :)

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