In America, the average tip is 15 percent, but in some countries patrons aren’t expected to leave a tip at all. I realized this during a trip to the pub for my biggest American “What in the hell do now?” moment to date.
I’d bought my pint from the bar, in the traditional pub fashion, and I’d ordered and paid for my food there, in the traditional pub fashion. Sitting at my table, waiting for my food (the service was amazingly slow), I realized I had no idea how people were expected to tip in this country. So I went to find out.
“Pardon me,” I said, sliding into the one empty seat at a table of 50-something ladies next to mine. “I know this is terribly rude, but I’m new here. How does tipping work?”
“I don’t know,” a woman with an amazing accent said. “We’re from Australia. We just see a tip jar and throw in some change. Usually, though, it’s …”
“Fifteen percent,” we both said.
Yeah. That was no help at all.
Here’s how tipping works in England: it depends on the type of establishment.
In America, wait staff are paid worse than children in a Third-World sweatshop and depend on tips as part of their salary. In England (and much of Europe), wait staff and bartenders are typically paid quite well and tips are just a bonus.
So in England, tip like this:
- In pubs, don’t tip unless you just won a sporting bet or are flirting with the barmaid.
- In restaurants where servers take your order at the table, tip around 10 percent.
Rick Steves, American travel author and host of PBS’s “Rick Steves’ Europe,” suggests in Europe, tip five to 10 percent. No more. Exceeding a 10 percent tip is considered “culturally insensitive.”
Really? A good tip makes your server angry? I’m going to be loved over here; I just know it.