Automatically Adding Gratuity Only To The Bills Of Foreigners Is Pretty Much Discrimination

If you’ve ever traveled abroad, surely you’ve been told things like, “You don’t have to tip at restaurants in Europe” or other local customs you can expect to encounter. But servers at restaurants in Burlington, Vt. aren’t so sure an influx of travelers from Quebec  are clued in to how tipping works, so some are just adding gratuity automatically to those bills. Awkward.

Seven Days in Burlington says a couple restaurants have admitted to the automatic gratuity.

At least two eateries admit they allow servers to add an automatic gratuity on the bills of diners who appear to be Québecois. Why? Because Canadians are presumed to be bad tippers. A few local servers even have a nickname for the surcharge: They call it the “Queeb tax.”

Some might argue that using words like “presumed” is just another way of saying, “discriminated against.”

A table of locals who happened to speak French at dinner noticed the discrepancy on their bill, which at first just seemed to be an expensive meal. But when the woman looked closer, she spotted an 18% tip. When she asked the waitress why that was so, the server replied that since they’d been speaking French, the restaurant has “kind of a policy” to include the gratuity for parties that appear to be from Québec or Europe.

Once the group explained, the waitress removed the extra gratuity and the party still gave her a 15% tip. The woman had a similar experience when speaking French at least twice at another restaurant, where the owner explained why her servers were instituting the extra gratuity policy if they wanted to.

“If the Canadian customers were tipping at 15 percent, I wouldn’t let them do this,” she says, adding that those patrons haven’t been tipping.

This kind of situation is just begging for lawsuits — assuming you know how someone will behave based off their appearance, sex, disabilities, demeanor or any other characteristic and treating them different than other customers is discrimination. But so far, there haven’t been any complaints, notes the Vermont Human Rights Commission. National origin is one of the state’s protected classes under its “public accommodation statutes.”

Instead of discriminating, how about educating, says the local chamber of commerce. Perhaps if restaurants translated menus into French with a polite reminder — that while restaurants in other countries might factor gratuity into the cost of the meal, voluntary tipping is customary in America — we could avoid this while situation.

*Thanks for the tip (pun intended), Doug!

Are Burlington Restaurants Discriminating Against Québecois Customers? [Seven Days]

Comments

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  1. That guy. says:

    Well, if they don’t pay that 18% “tip”, it’s not like they are going to get charged with Theft of Service, or Defrauding an Innkeeper. They don’t have to pay it, so it’s not like it’s a charge applied to a group of people.

    It is just a little insulting…and it can dupe someone who intends on paying the bill, and leaving a tip, to tipping twice.

    • Oh_No84 says:

      I went to Quebec for business in November.
      They expect tips in Quebec, its not like Europe. Quebec people know how to tip.

      Tipping is stupid and makes no sense at all. Business should just pay their workers a normal wage and raise their prices to cover it.

      • chiieddy says:

        I was just there last month and the wireless card machines have a tip button and you can do % or $

        • Oh_No84 says:

          Yeah, i forgot the mention that.
          In canada even quebec, they hand you the CC machine (most places have wireless so you can do it at your table) and you enter in your tip directly into the machine by either an exact amount or by %.

      • Weekilter says:

        That’s not what this article is about. You have a problem with what the common practice is start a petition to change it. Just don’t whine about the standard way of adding a gratuity to served meals in the US.

    • Bob A Dobalina says:

      Waah waah waah! If people don’t verify their bill, that’s their problem

      • soj4life says:

        No it is not. It is not their problem when business randomly add charges because of what a person looks like or their native tongue.

    • bluline says:

      If restaurants stopped screwing servers and simply added a service charge to all checks this tipping nonsense could be eliminated outright.

  2. MutantMonkey says:

    Is there any way we can get rid of tipping all together and just encourage restaurant owners to pay their staff better?

    I think we should try to adjust to not having tips as expected income and instead make it what it appears it should be which is a reward for service above and beyond what is expected.

    • That guy. says:

      I like tipping.

      If service is just passable, things get done without incident, I tip 15%.

      But I like being able to express my gratitude to a good server, or annoyance with a bad one.

      I was on a family vacation, and it wasn’t going very well. Lots problems like places being closed when we showed up, injuries, getting lost, etc. The highlight up to that point was a meal at Texas Roadhouse. We had never been to one before, and the server was VERY nice. She even gave us a free fried onion thing.

      Because she elevated the whole mood of the vacation (as well as being fast and attentive), I gave her a $50 tip. (The meal couldn’t have been more than $50 itself, just two people). Sure, that was a lot, but it made me feel good and made her feel good. She deserved it, and I like being able to do that now and then.

      • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

        I think the idea is that they get paid a normal minimum wage, hopefully the equivalent of 15% in tips, but tips would still be left for exceptional service, like in your case you could leave $10 or $20, which would supplement an actual living wage. I would love to see that happen myself, and I’d bet your waitress would be grateful for a more predictable income.

      • Oh_No84 says:

        Technically if service was “meet requirements” you would tip zero.
        If service was “exceed requirements” then you would tip something.

        Why should the server get a bonus for doing the bare minimum?

      • AssaultLife says:

        I do exactly the same.

      • bluline says:

        Even if tipping was eliminated as the standard way to pay servers, you could still tip if you want to. Tipping started out that way, as a reward for exceptional service. But it evolved into a salary scheme that enables restaurant operators and certain other business owners to avoid paying their staffs by shifting the burden on us. It’s ridiculous.

    • Auron says:

      No we can’t do that. Why you may ask? Because then menu prices would have to be adjusted upwards to reflect the increased labor cost and potentially lose customers, the establishment may have to cut hours in order to cut employee hours, etc. It all comes down to having to pay people more instead of customers “voluntarily” adding to the employees wages.

      • LadyTL says:

        If that was the case why aren’t cafes where you don’t have to tip going out of business? It’s almost as if people don’t mind paying slightly higher prices in order to not be gouged ever higher on tips.

      • A.Mercer says:

        Raise the menu prices, pay employees a regular wage, and eliminate tipping? Good. I am all for it.

        • shepd says:

          You missed the “lay off some employees” part.

          • RandomHookup says:

            That seems pretty speculative on the commenter’s part.

            • shepd says:

              I’d be really surprised if eateries weren’t charging the most they could for the service they provide already. If they’re not, economic theory says they would be out of business.

              Economics 101 also says that increasing prices results in lower demand except for Giffen goods, and eating out certainly isn’t one of those things.

              Restaurants are one of the places were staff are directly impacted by how much is sold.

              Of course, as with everything, there’s exceptions. A restaurant with a staff of one, for example, would lay no one off it it managed to stay profitable.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Really? They can afford to pay servers $20-30+/hr?

          When there’s an Event in Atlanta, Mellow Mushroom staffers can make a good $50+

        • dks64 says:

          What’s a regular wage? I don’t think I’ll make $15-25 an hour without the tips. You really think restaurants will be willing to pay that much to their employees to make ends meet? That $10 burger would now be $20, easily.

      • kanenas says:

        “No we can’t do that. Why you may ask? Because then menu prices would have to be adjusted upwards to reflect the increased labor cost and potentially lose customers” …

        But you’d pay the same or close to it either way.

        • dangermike says:

          I have a feeling it would end up being more expensive. The amount of help necessary, like the amount of fresh ingredients to stock the kitchen, may vary. A good manager will make good predictions on how much to have, but even the best will be wrong from time to time. By having the majority of the cost of the wait staff handled on a per-tab basis, any miscalculation is reflected immediately by the collection of fewer tips. If you have an extra waiter on a fixed hourly wage, you’ll have to pay him some minimum number of hours (typically 4) regardless of how short a shift he might work. In this case, miscalculations have a larger impact on the restaurant’s bottom line and in light of the inherently speculative nature of such decisions, the right management decision would be to hedge their bet by increasing prices to cover the occasional bad prediction.

      • RandomHookup says:

        You are assuming that business would drop off because the menu price (including service charges) increased. That might be accurate, but there is enough of a backlash against tipping (and as long as customers knew) that you don’t really know.

      • MsEllenT says:

        Funny how most of the world pays their servers a living wage and is still somehow abundant in restaurants. My question is, why can’t Americans wrap their heads around paying a living wage to servers? Why are Americans incapable of joining the rest of the planet in paying servers a proper wage?

        • msbaskx2 says:

          And why is it only restaurants? The Jiffy Lube seems to do okay without tipping. The dry cleaner. The gas station. My insurance broker. The deli that makes my sandwich. The landscapers.

          All of these businesses (and more) have managed to operate without an arcane, arbitrary, infuriating tipping system in place. Why on earth do people really believe that restaurants just can’t do it?

        • dks64 says:

          What’s a living wage? Most service jobs don’t pay a living wage, what makes you think restaurants will give the servers that? I also tip out the bartenders, food runners, and bussers, you have to remember that the pay for those positions would have to increase a lot too. I like the system how it is now, I can actually pay my rent with it.

    • Jawaka says:

      Please!!

      I’d even take this over ala-carte cable TV packages as much as I want that.

      I don’t care how you do it. Raise your prices, cut serving sizes, whatever. Just stop trying to guilt me into making up for the fact that you’re too cheap to pay your staff a living wage.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      I good with getting rid of the tipping system.
      Pay people the min. wage, not less than min. wage where tip is suppose to compensate.

      Let people tip if they want to but don’t make it so the worker get screwed is they don’t get a tip.

      I would like to tip, only when someone does something extra.

      • DeeJayQueue says:

        Currently in 8 states there is no difference between tipped minimum wage and regular minimum wage.

        In pretty much all of the rest of the states, tipped employees make at least the minimum wage of the state via their tips or if they don’t, the employer has to make up the difference.

        Check out this chart for more details:

        http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm

        And for the definition of “tip credits,” and some rules about tipping:

        http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/tip-pooling-credits-service-employees-29804.html

        Basically, when tipped employees are making more than state minimum wage via their tips, the employer can pay them less per hour, but when they make less than the state minimum wage via their tips, the employer must pay the difference,

        So, either way, servers and waitstaff are at least making minimum wage at all times, usually more.

        • Hi_Hello says:

          i read about that but then throw in the fact that employee would fire somoneone if they have to cover the empolyeer for not bringing in enough tip.

          Contracted delivery driver get paid only on tip.

    • kcvaliant says:

      No, I hear this all the time and it would be stupid.

      Imagine a wait staff, that gets paid the same regardless of service rendered. You will get best buy type service. Once the prices raise, there is no, well you did poorly I am not tippingwell. It would be theft of service.

      Right now is perfect, you pay for the food and service seperately. The store gets it cut from food and you can let the server know that they did a good job wit the tip. If not, I hope the manager would call the cops for a patron stealing food from them by not paying the listed price on the menu.

      Changing it kills that, people just need to read their bill.

      Then add the fact that quite a few would quit going to the resteraunts over price increases.

      • LadyTL says:

        Given many people’s attitudes on tipping, you are supposed to tip a certain amount despite bad service. When you add in that waitstaff will give poor service based on their assumptions on how you will tip, all it shows is we are getting bad service now while still having to pay more. Why not take tipping out of the equation?

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Horrible service (The waitstaff was shit)? 0%. Bad food (there was a problem with the food, but not with the order or delivery)? 10%. Passable service? 15%. Great service? > 15%.

          • LadyTL says:

            According to many commentors here and other people, doing that means you are a cheapskate and should go out to eat at all. Yes what you suggest is reasonable but tipping in the US has snowballed out of control into subsidizing instead of tipping, particularly if people want to try and make 20% into the new standard for stand service as many people here have said.

      • DeeJayQueue says:

        Here’s a scenario played out in many restaurants right now.

        You get seated by a host, a server comes and takes a drink order. If you order anything from the bar (not necessarily alcoholic… some places have fancy fruit teas and lemonades now) the bartender makes those. The server takes your food order. A runner brings your food out. The manager checks on you to make sure everything came out ok.

        How do you justify a tip in that situation? Who are you giving the tip to? By my count there were 4 people in that equation, and that’s not even including the bus crew or the kitchen staff.

        What if the server did great but the food runner had to ask who got what (they always do because they didn’t take the order) or they made a mistake and dropped the food on someone, or brought the wrong order to your table? Or how about if the food tasted wonderful but your drink glasses stayed empty the whole time? Then there’s having to stand around at the front of a mostly empty restaurant while the host is out back catching a smoke, but otherwise the service and meal were great? How do you divide up a tip like that?

        Without coming off like a prick I mean.

        • tungstencoil says:

          To answer you seriously: the restaurant (internal) policy handles distribution of tip amongst tipped support staff and the waitstaff (runner, busser, bartender).

          If you have a problem (runner drops food on someone; wrong drink; etc) the waitstaff has a responsibility to inquire/investigate and you, as a patron, have a responsibility to bring up your issue. If it isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, you tip less. If it is, you tip more. No problem? Tip more.

          I worked in restaurants for the better part of 15 years, busboy/waiter/bartender. It all works out.

    • Weekilter says:

      So you’re saying wait staff should be forced to live on the less than minimum wage that the establishment gives?

      • LadyTL says:

        How about restaurants pay the minimum wage they are supposed to if their waitstaff gets bad tips? Or just pay the real minimum wage instead of asking their customers to pay it for them?

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Sure. Restaurants can just start charging 50% more for every meal.

      Be careful what you wish for.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      No. It’s part and parcel of the foodservice industry…there’s no realistic way that it’s getting extracted without an act of Gawd…or Congress. Neither of which I would recommend holding your breath for.

      • msbaskx2 says:

        But why is it only restaurants? The Jiffy Lube seems to do okay without tipping. The dry cleaner. The gas station. My insurance broker. The deli that makes my sandwich. The landscapers.

        All of these businesses (and more) have managed to operate without an arcane, arbitrary, infuriating tipping system in place. Why on earth do people really believe that restaurants just can’t do it?

    • Bob A Dobalina says:

      So you would demand this for all commissioned sales people?

    • soj4life says:

      Business owners will bitch and moan. Wait staffs will bitch and moan. In the end, businesses will charge you even more than if you leave a 20 or 25% tip. If you can change the culture of the food industry in this country, then we can have the same system that they do in europe.

    • dks64 says:

      I’m a waitress and prefer the tipping standard, even on my bad days. There’s no way in heck my employer will ever pay me a living wage. Ever.

  3. Tunnen says:

    The Quebecois tip, but not in the ordinary way. They just expect you to go get the 15% from the rest of Canada….

    I’m kidding, just playing on the West coast stereotypes =P

  4. Coffee says:

    This happens a lot. Where I used to wait tables, we had automatic gratuity added for parties of six or more. Now, there were a lot of European customers, and they’re typically shitty tippers – the stereotype is true – so if they were non-English speaking, some waiters would get the gratuity added and not mention it, then collect a 10% bump to their tip. I always disliked the practice immensely, and to this day, I will never tip above the minimum auto gratuity if a waiter fails to mention it. In fact, I’ve been tempted to call the manager and complain because waiters who “forget” to mention adding it are lying 99.79098% of the time.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      I just researched the statistics and it’s actually
      99.79063% of the time and not 99.79098%.

      Next time check your facts before posting.

    • Jawaka says:

      Why are we so quick to assume that the customer tipping the employee to make up for lousy pay is the way to go and not the way foreign nations do it where the employer pays the employee?

      • atomix says:

        Nobody assumes its the best way. It’s the way that society is, and at this point it’s too late to change that.

        Societal inertia is strong when an industry and infrastructure has been built around it. Why are we so quick to assume that driving on the right is the correct way? Why don’t we just start driving on the left?

        • frank64 says:

          The restaurants benefit in that if it is slow they aren’t paying a lot of money having waitstaff waiting around.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            Exactly. If there are more customers, the waitstaff is paid more, and they’re doing more work.

            If there are fewer customers, the waitstaff is paid less.

        • Jawaka says:

          So we as a people can send a vehicle to Mars but doing away with tipping in favor of fair pay is too much to ask for?

        • thedarkerside.to says:

          “and at this point it’s too late to change that.”

          That’s a very defeatist attitude. Please hand over your American passport and move to France.

      • Weekilter says:

        It’s nice to wish that things were different but they’re not. We’re in the US and we’re not in Europe.

    • Jawaka says:

      Or in other words, Europeans aren’t shitty tippers, you just have a shitty boss or a shitty job.

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    Québecois are foreigners? Who woulda thunk? The best way to avoid situations
    like this is for everyone to speak perfectly, the language of the country they’re in.

    s/

  6. dragonfire81 says:

    Proud Canadian here. MOST Canadians I know follow the same standard tipping customs as the U.S. Now of course, Quebec is a bit of a different beast but assuming ALL Canadians are bad tippers because people from a certain area of Canada do not tip much is not right.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      Quebec IS different. We live right on the border in northern Vermont. Frequently when we went to Montreal or any of the smaller towns along the way we got very bad service in restaurants or stores because we didn’t speak French and were thought to be non-Francophone Canadians.

      Once in a while, when they discovered we were American, service and attitude did improve – but not always.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        It’s true. Stereotypes are generally based in reality, whether it’s PC or not. And Quebecois tend to be fairly dickish to non-Quebecois.

    • sbaldwin76 says:

      Canadian and Qubecker here, and even here in the Queeb we tip just like in the rest of the country :)

  7. dragonfire81 says:

    Also, I’d like to point out that people from other cultures who may be “shitty tippers” aren’t doing it to shaft servers and/or just be dicks. They are doing it because in THEIR cultures tips/gratuities are handled much differently than in most of North America.

    What can appear rude to you could well be just standard custom for them.

    • LadyTL says:

      But Americans are entitled to their tip, America is the only place that does it right after all. It’s not like we need to learn other customs exisit cause our way is the best.

      • atomix says:

        You echo the sentiment of Jawaka above. Nobody is saying this is the best way. But it’s the way things are done here. Changing the tipping system would be a massive shift in psychology and the service industry. The wheels are turning too fast to change it now.

        This isn’t imperialism. It’s inertia.

  8. Nacho216 says:

    This is par for the course down in Ft. Lauderdale. 18% is automatically included on EVERYONE’S check.This means that no matter your origin, you still get hit for the tip, even if say, your waiter spills a water glass in your lap, which happened to me, they are still going to get you for your 18%. I say, if a waiter or waitress is guaranteed the tip, where is the incentive for good service?

  9. one swell foop says:

    I could be wrong, but but a lawsuit won’t do anything really. It might get the 18% gratuity back, but that’s it and unless you had a very expensive dinner, your court costs would exceed what you got back. Discrimination is only illegal if it’s based on age, sex, race, or disability…maybe something else, too exhausted to think more about it, too lazy to google it. Quebecois is not a race.

    • shepd says:

      >Quebecois is not a race.

      Bzzzt! :)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distinct_society

      • binkleyz says:

        Better yet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected_class

        National Origin is one of those pesky “Protected Classes” defined by the (US) Civil Rights Act of 1964.

        • one swell foop says:

          They’d have to prove that they were being discriminated against because they were Canadian. Sounds like they are being discriminated against because they are Quebecois, not Canadian, however, the restaurant owner’s language is too broad and doesn’t help his case.

          That federal act applies to employees. Not to all groups in all situations, but there may be state laws or local ordinances that are applicable.

          Ten to one says that if one of the people charged extra decides to bring suit to get their 20 bucks back, the owner would refund the tip and then institute an across the board grat added to every table.

    • maxh says:

      “Something else”, at least in Vermont, includes national origin, as the article says.

      • one swell foop says:

        Yeahyeahyeah, then they have to prove a number of other things, and they have to pay a lawyer to win back the ten bucks they spent on tip. That’ll happen.

  10. ferozadh says:

    Queeb tax lol…that’s classic. To be fair, most French Canadians think of themselves as French first, Canadian second. Here’s their chance to be treated like their European brethren.

    • highfructosepornsyrup says:

      True dat. Sadly the French consider Quebecers to be Canadian first, French never so…

      • thedarkerside.to says:

        They don’t even consider some of their own citizens French (e.g. those of Moroccan descent)

  11. shepd says:

    It’s important to note that servers in much of Canada get only slightly below regular minimum wage (In Quebec, regular minimum wage is $9.90, whereas servers get $8.55), whereas in the US I believe it’s about 1/3rd of minimum wage.

    Thus, if you’re tipping to help make up their salary, someone from Canada is likely to tip less unless they know this fact. Obviously, though, restaurants are loathe to tell their customers they pay them so little that you can panhandle for more money.

  12. Hartwig says:

    ” that while restaurants in other countries might factor gratuity into the cost of the meal, voluntary tipping is customary in America”

    Unless you choose not to tip, and then it’s mandatory.

  13. dush says:

    I don’t think Québecois is a protected class. It’s just poor business practice to do this.

  14. kanenas says:

    Perhaps these restaurants should simply raise their prices, pay the waitstaff some more, and write in big letters on the menus, receipts etc. “NO TIPPING.”

    Problem solved.

    • Robert Nagel says:

      The problem will then devolve into service. Some people are more likely to do their job with an extra flair if there is a direct and prompt financial response. Ask any commissioned salesman. If you take away tips some workers will take a severe pay cut. Any server worth his or her salt will be making significantly more than minimum wage, even in down and dirty diners. It is a way for the system to produce happy servers, happy customers and screw the taxman out of a not insignificant amount of money.

      • CheritaChen says:

        I know this is the common rational for why we maintain such a stupid practice, but what the hell is wrong with just hiring well-suited people and leaving the surly ones to do some non-customer contact job instead? Or maybe increase the pay for increased performance (which would of course require the manager to actually observe how well their staff perform)? I say this as a person who knows she would never make decent tips as a server. It is a damned hard job, being nice to so many people who are not always nice in return, and getting everything right when things are busy.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          Yup. This is why the foodservice industry hasn’t failed everywhere else in the world. And, by extension, every other industry period.

          Accountants don’t get tips. Neither do pilots, or doctors, or physicists, or the fry cook at McD’s.

          They either do their job well and get to keep it, or they do their job poorly and get fired.

      • RandomHookup says:

        It’s also possible to give servers a cut of their table. Say, it’s 10-15% of the bill. They will be paid at the same level as before. Just like any employees, if they do a crappy job, they get fired.

    • arcticJKL says:

      Or why not just raise their prices, pay the waitstaff some more, perhaps lay off some staff if needed, and allow tipping.
      Since tipping is voluntary and all.

    • Weekilter says:

      And you _know_ that this is a distinct possibility, eh? NOT.

  15. SJPadbury says:

    If the server is the one making the decision that they don’t trust the customer to tip, as a customer, my response would be to insist that it be removed, and then meet their expectations, by tipping 0%.

  16. Delicious Spam is delicious says:

    or alternately we pay our servers a living wage.

    • arcticJKL says:

      Wouldn’t that just raise prices and make the next rung of employees not be earning a living wage?

      • thedarkerside.to says:

        How so? If the gratuity is expected (let’s call it an employment tax) then whoever goes to the restaurant has to factor it in already.

        It’s this stupid argument that is so cherished in North America that companies get to advertise the net price, because “that way the customer knows how much taxes they pay”. Seriously, what do *I* care? I have to pay it one way or the other, but if stores would be forced to advertise with the gross cost that I have to pay at the till it would be way easier for me to compre prices / budget my spending.

        THIS is just the same way. They are essentially screwing the consumer over by hiding the real cost of the product until the check arrives.

  17. The Gray Adder says:

    European custom is to round checks to the nearest euro. Service charge is typically added to the check. We American servicemembers were informed of this as we arrived in Frankfurt.

    Still, how can you tell a German tourist from a German green card holder? You can’t.

  18. joshyz73 says:

    While I do agree that adding a tip to a bill is kind of underhanded (what if the server doesn’t DESERVE a tip?), I must say I do feel for a lot of these servers. Where I live in NY (state, not city), we are so close to the Canadian border, there are more Canadians at our malls and restaurants than there are Americans. I know several people who work in these restaurants, and they are continually complaining about the Canadian customers and the tips that they don’t leave. A friend waited on a group of 10 or so. They order appetizers, dinners, desserts and drinks. The bill was almost $300. They left about $2 for a tip. Now, knowing my friend, they would have deserved at least the customary 15% tip (which would have been $45). These are the same customers that will then go into the mall and purchase 10 $800 purses to take back to Canada (I’ve seen it happen). This isn’t a fluke either. Very few of the Canadian customers tip more than a few cents. I’ve heard that several people have had to quit, because now that they don’t make anything in tips, they can’t live on their meagar hourly wage (which is usually about $4/hour, depending on the establishment). In fact many of us have wondered if it is just plain rudeness/stinginess, or if wait staff in Canada is paid far more hourly, and the Canadian customers just assume they don’t have to leave a tip.

  19. Gameover says:

    I like how the article says that even without the 18% auto gratuity that they “still gave her a 15% tip.” To be honest I get how this is a bad practice because it is discriminatory but at the same time, I work as a server and have worked several restaurants that have a large volume of foreign customers and unfortunately even though at two of these restaurants it was written in the menu to inform the customers of standard tipping procedure it didn’t make as with most cultural issues they just didn’t seem to grasp the premise since it was so foreign to them (or simply didn’t care for it). Whatever the reasoning I get that it’s not right so I think the only suitable answer is to put an automatic gratuity on all check in these restaurant with high volume foreign tourism. Will locals like it? No. Will there be complaints about how unfair it is? Probably but I suppose it’s better than screwing the employees or discriminating against certain customers

  20. thedarkerside.to says:

    Doesn’t “Gratuity” come from the same root as “Grateful”? So, they automatically presume people are grateful?

    As for Europe and tipping: It really IS a sign of “thank you” for good service as it should be, not just an employers way to weasel out of paying his employees a decent wage.

  21. Cerne says:

    ?

    It’s customary to tip in all of Canada including Quebec. That being said French Canadians have a bad reputation as travellers, but they also love suing people so these restaurants should be careful.

  22. Boothinfl says:

    Ah, yes, the query familiar to every waitperson in Florida: “What’s the difference between a Canuck and a canoe? A canoe tips!”

  23. Aliciaz777 says:

    Why do we even call it a “tip” anymore? A tip is something someone leaves voluntarily. Tips aren’t supposed to be mandatory but I’ve seen a lot of receipts lately that have it on there as a mandatory part of the bill. And if a customer doesn’t tip, servers complain. So, how about instead of calling it a “tip”, they call it a “fee”. When one thinks of the word “fee”, they think “I must pay” but with tip they might think “I don’t have to pay if I don’t want to”.

    Call it what it is: a fee.

  24. binkleyz says:
  25. jasonq says:

    Let me be clear – I believe the practice described in the article is a bad one.

    But since when are tourists not responsible for educating themselves on the customs of the countries they visit, including how to conduct oneself in a restaurant?

    • benminer says:

      They are but that doesn’t mean all do.

      • jasonq says:

        In speaking over the years to folks who wait on foreign tourists, I gather that it’s rather more common than “some tourists.”

        Yes, this is totally anecdotal.

  26. Uncle Don says:

    You know what, I didn’t hire these people (waitstaff, bartenders, etc.) so I’m not paying them. I expect good service for the overpriced food and drinks I get at a restaurant. If I get less I complain or don’t go back. OWNERS: Pay your employees and quit expecting me to pay them.

    No tips from Uncle Don……no one pays me extra when I do a good job, they just let me keep my job.

  27. crispyduck13 says:

    You know what’s really enfuriating? People who travel to other countries without educating themselves about basic local customs. Jesus people.

    The restaurant owners should have posted a sign on the door or something, you can’t add a tip like that unless it’s posted somewhere (and of course you can’t do it based on nationality).

    • segacs says:

      You know what’s really infuriating? People who make assumptions about those from other areas without educating themselves about *their* basic local customs.

      If you’d ever bothered to visit Quebec or to do a bit of basic research, you’d know that we have identical tipping customs here as you do in the US. If people from Quebec aren’t tipping in large numbers, it’s probably because they’re getting poor service or rude treatment from the staff. Or maybe they are equally likely to tip, but someone at that restaurant hates them and is making negative and unfounded assumptions about them.

  28. BagOfDoughnuts says:

    You know what? How about we address the real problem? Because it’s not just foreigners that have a problem tipping properly. ALL OF YOU HAVE AN ENTITLEMENT PROBLEM! You think that because you are tipping, the server is suppose to treat you like royalty. F that S! Your tip is rent for the space you are taking up. If you sit at a table for 3 hours and only tip 15% you are a jerk. If you sit at a table for 40-80 minutes and tip 15% you are in the clear. As far as QoS goes: 9 times out of 10 when you get poor service it is generally not the servers fault. I think all restaurants should have an auto gratuity policy for all it’s customers. The good tippers know they can add money on top of the gratuity and the stupid people can just gripe about their 18%. You need to look at that 18% as though it’s part of dining. I don’t work in the restaurant/bar industry anymore but when I did it made me hate people.

  29. tungstencoil says:

    One thing the whole “don’t tip the staff and raise the prices” crowd misses:

    Restaurants can afford to over-staff the front-of-house tipped employees because of the low relative cost of the labor. In this manner, they typically front-load staffing around rush times, and then trim back as the rush concludes. If they’re extra-busy or some people don’t show up, the extra staff absorbs the workload, leading to a (presumably) better service experience.

    In the back-of-the-house, they stage labor very tightly, and just one person being late can throw off an entire service. Paying the FOH staff a wage commensurate with what they make today (not just minimum wage, mind you) would entail changes to the scheduling model. This would impact service (if you don’t believe me, go to Europe sometime).

    I’m not saying tipping is good/bad; I actually have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, nowadays it is so totally expected that I don’t believe it drives superior service. On the other hand, nowadays it is expected so there’s an impetus to do it, and it’s a good way for normally underemployed folks to make a real living while providing a valuable service.

    • msbaskx2 says:

      That is completely illogical.

      How does every other business in America manage the ebb and flow of their workload? How do others manage when one member of the team doesn’t show up? How do they deal with their rush times?

      • tungstencoil says:

        No it’s not – let me guess, you’ve never worked in a restaurant. That’s also not what I said.

        It’s not that a business cannot (or does not), it’s the way that they do it. In fact, restaurants with tipped staff do it now with their non-tipped staff.

        What I’m said was that it’s *difficult* and would result in changes. Currently, full-service establishments benefit from the fact that front-of-house labor is very, very cheap. Where having a line-cook or second dishwasher come in 2 hours into rush, shift-over-shift, saves a fair percentage of your labor cost, the same is not true for tipped staff. You can have 5 or 7 tipped staff for the relative cost of a single dishwasher. This means you can over-staff and not worry about unexpected ebb/flow. Yes, they still manage it, because even at $2.13/hour you’re spending money, but not nearly at the same rate.

        I’m speaking from real-world experience, not made-up assumptions. Go work in a restaurant, and marvel at how quickly they’ll send a line cook home when the lunch rush even seems like it might slow down in a little while, but they’ll be fine having a server or two with just a table or two lingering over coffee, saying “we’ll cut you in ten or fifteen minutes, run some food”.

        Other businesses (and the BOH in restaurants) manage it by hedging bets. That works, it’s just a different model, and results in *less* predictable performance when the ebb/flow goes against the bet.

        • tungstencoil says:

          So, to conclude (I’m nothing if not verbose), the whole “add 15% to the cost of the menu items and pay the servers more” actually changes the entire model much differently. That’s not inherently good or bad, it just is.

          And for further real-world proof, check out:

          1. Restaurants in Europe; some countries add 10% to the bill and you don’t tip, others pay a living wage and the service model is, indeed, different.
          2. Non-server restaurants during non-peak times. Try going into a Chipotle at 3:00 in the afternoon with 8 people in line and see what happens… or a 24-hour Denny’s at 3:00 AM on a weeknight. It’s different.
          3. Even non-food establishments during non-peak times, like a retail store. If no one is there, it’s not a big deal that only one line is open. However, just 6 people wanting to check out at the same time makes it difficult… and the establishment is far less likely to staff an additional cashier “just in case” at $10/hr versus an extra server in a restaurant for $2.13/hr

  30. kataisa says:

    Automatically Adding Gratuity Only To The Bills Of Foreigners Is Pretty Much Discrimination

    No, it is not discrimination, it’s a legit fight-back against ugly European arrogance and self-entitlement.

    Europeans and Canadians and everybody else visiting the US know well enough about its tipping culture, but many refuse to tip simply because they are not Americans and therefore they believe they don’t have to tip because “only Americans do that”.

    So adding the gratuity makes sense, and many restaurants add gratuity already when there’s more than 4 or 6 people dining, so good luck trying to sue. Next time avoid the hassle and tip your service people.

    • thedarkerside.to says:

      “Europeans and Canadians and everybody else visiting the US know well enough about its tipping culture,”

      Really? How do you know? Is there some indoctrination happening the border where the boarder guards quiz visitors on their knowledge of American culture before they are allowed to enter? Who’s showing some “ugly arrogance” here?

      • kataisa says:

        Really? How do you know?

        For real? It’s printed in all the tourist books/maps/pamphlets that tipping is expected in the US. Not only that but visitors to the US tell their friends back home about the infamous tipping culture.

        Foreign tourists who have money enough to visit the US are usually educated enough to do some basic research about a country they’re visiting, and since tourism is a service industry then there’s no logical reason for visitors to be ignorant about how tipping works in the US.

    • Villnius says:

      Actually, in most provinces of Canada, it’s customary to leave a 10-15% tip. 15% is traditional, but most people leave 10%.

      On the Canadian side of the border, more often than not, it’s the Americans that don’t bother to tip. Since you believe it’s not the custom here to tip after a restaurant meal, are you perhaps as guilty of “ugly European arrogance and self-entitlement” when you visit over here?

    • cspirou says:

      “No, it is not discrimination, it’s a legit fight-back against ugly European arrogance and self-entitlement.”

      Wow, way to contradict yourself in one sentence.

  31. sbaldwin76 says:

    I have to say, I don’t get this whole issue. I live in Quebec, and just as in the States and the rest of Canada (both of which I have also lived in), we tip the usual 15%, more if it’s really good service. Sounds more like an ill-informed assumption on the part of the restaurant (or possibly crappy service from the waitstaff) rather than a cultural misunderstanding.

  32. segacs says:

    First of all, I live in Montreal, and the expectation here is to tip 10-20% depending on service, just as it is south of the border. If Vermont restaurants are doing this, it’s discrimination plain and simple, because our tipping customs are identical.

    Secondly, we pay 5% GST and 9% PST on restaurant meals. The compound tax rate is approximately 15%, so people here have a habit of “tipping the tax” since it’s a convenient way to quickly estimate 15%.

    Thirdly, our wireless credit card or interac machines usually allow you to input the tip when you pay. If the restaurants in Vermont aren’t equipped with similar machines and are expecting a supplementary tip to be left in cash after the bill is paid, many people don’t carry around much cash — especially US cash if they’re just across the border for the day or the weekend — so maybe that’s why they’re seeing less tips? In that case, they could just train the server to say something like “would you like to add a tip to your total?” before passing the card, so that would clue people in politely.

    There’s a lot of discrimination against francophone Quebecers in Vermont, which is really dumb of them since we make up their primary business market. But I sincerely doubt that anyone who doesn’t live in Vermont would bother to read up on the processes for filing a discrimination complaint, let alone make the trip to appear at a hearing. I hope this gets resolved through negative publicity.

  33. crummybum11 says:

    I prefer Japan, where they punch you in the face if you try and leave a tip.

  34. Rubyredgirl123 says:

    As a Quebecer… I find this insulting. Seriously, do you really believe we don’t tip in Québec? The standard tip is 15%.

    If these servers think that Quebecers don’t tip because it’s not done where we live, they are the ignorant ones who don’t know how it works in another country. Not the other way around.

    As with any other region, there are cheap people. I am sure it happens that some Americans don’t tip. Perhaps these servers are not getting tips because they are providing bad service? I would look at that way before assuming that people from another country don’t know how to tip.

    We know how to tip, but if your rude because people are speaking French in your restaurant, then you get what you deserve.

  35. Bob A Dobalina says:

    Since they do tip in Quebec, the lack of tipping is more than likely due to their French/Canadian inherent hatred of Americans

    Servers have families to support. They don’t work for free. If the Canadians don’t follow the honor system, they should be charged outright. They are getting the service so they should have to pay for it.

    • sbaldwin76 says:

      “due to their French/Canadian inherent hatred of Americans”

      ……. wow. Do you just assume that anyone different than you hates you? Or is there some traumatic personal experience behind that bit of ignorance?

  36. RolloTomasi says:

    Full service restaurants, as currently constructed in the USA, simply could not survive if tipping was eliminated and that financial burden was shifted to the restaurant. Or, the quality of server would go down dramatically as their pay was slashed. For the house to go from paying employees $3.60 an hour to $20 an hour (what a decent server in a decent restaurant expects to make an hour)… well, simply put, no.

    • fertig says:

      Some states pay minimum wage or higher and the restaurants don’t die at a faster rate (although the failure rate in general for restaurants after a few years is pretty high). Also–I don’t believe that service would suffer enough. The economy is so terrible that people will actually agree to be waiters and waitresses for minimum wage and would be sufficiently afraid of losing even that crappy a gig to still be effective servers.

      If people are so deterred by higher priced food–when they’d end up paying the same anyway after tipping–well then let them go spend their money elsewhere.

  37. blink says:

    If you don’t like to tip, don’t eat in a restaurant with wait service.

  38. MuleHeadJoe says:

    Holy cow … if I were to see an automatic “gratuity” added to my bill, and I wasn’t forewarned and agreed to it before service, I would completely ZERO out the tip. No tip for attempted theft.

    That being said, I always leave a >reasonable< tip unless something goes horribly wrong. Here's an example of how to get a lousy tip: use me as your practice dummy for improving memory skills (i.e., you don't write down my order, even tho I asked for something non-standard or off the menu) then serve me food either that I did not want, or just prepared incorrectly. Some of that may have been the chef's fault. But mostly it was the waiter's fault. Tip? Sure: "write it down next time". I gave him a couple bux on a 30 dollar meal.

  39. NoCtrl says:

    We tend to over tip, especially for really good service. Around twenty percent average and more as a percentage on lower cost meals. A $20 tip on a $50 meal is not unusual. Such a little amount to make someone’s day. But if the tip is automatically put on the bill, that’s all they get. Maybe I’m wrong but it pisses me off.

  40. Caveat says:

    I would have argued against the automatic addition until I got into an argument with an Italian acquaintance who is dead set against tipping due to her socialist brainwashing that makes her self righteous whereby she is convinced that tipping is demeaning to the person getting the tip. She refused all logic such as the fact that servers get paid less in America because tips are considered a wage supplement and the IRS taxes server income based on assumed supplemental income from tips. Even the point that the converse of when in Rome do as the Romans do, that is when in America do as the Americans do, did not deter her from conviction. Fortunately she came to America once to visit and hopefully will not come again.

    As one that lived a couple of years in Quebec, I have found Quebecers in general to be very rude and nonconformist, so I understand why they would be charged extra. However, the majority of people in Quebec considers themselves a nation (official position) and they definitely should NOT be linked to the rest of Canadians that are generous and kind hearted (not to mention they speak English better than a lot of Americans).

  41. tsume says:

    The way it works here is they run your card and leave you the merchant receipt to sign. On the receipt you sign, there is a spot to write in a tip amount. Later when the waiter collects the signed receipt, the tip amount is entered into the credit card machine before the batch of transactions is processed at the end of the day.

    Not as nice as the credit card machines you have up there, but we also don’t have any chip and pin cards either.

  42. nikalseyn says:

    Tipping has now become something of an automatic thing for people to do. I have seen people give a tip for really crappy service. I never tip unless the service is above and beyond the normal service expected. To do so everytime you are served at a restaurant only encourages bad service.

    When in Europe I expect to be gouged for an automatic gratuity. It is obscene, but that’s the way the Europeans do it. I have no choice. Here in the US we do not tack it on automatically. To do so just because the customer “appears” to be foreign is grotesque.

  43. some.nerd says:

    It’s not discrimination, it’s fact. Having worked for 3 years as a server in New England, I can in fact confirm the Quebecois are perhaps the worst non-tipping group, and often the most smug and condescending. Good for VT!

  44. cspirou says:

    They should just do the charge to everybody regardless of origin. Get rid of this dance where it’s ‘expected’ to tip and just be blunt. Stamp on that 18% for everybody and then there is no issue. Giving customers the option to punish the waiter never resolves bad service anyway.

  45. msbaskx2 says:

    The only suitable answer is the one that cheats the customer? Alrighty then….