According to journalist Jake Edmiston, Canadians have a bad reputation south of the border - at least when it comes to leaving tips at restaurants.
Apparently, many restaurants in Burlington, Vermont have started adding automatic gratuities to their bills if they suspect the patrons are from Quebec, and one server said he regularly gets a $3 tip on a $100 bill.
A tip that small would be bad news for a server in Canada, but at least minimum wage for servers in Quebec is $8.55. A server in Vermont can be paid as little as $4.10 an hour, so tips are really important.
And our reputation extends beyond Vermont: back in 2009, a popular New York-based blog called 'Waiter Rant' asked servers to name the world's worst tippers. Canadians were among the most frequently mentioned. According to Steve Dublanica, who runs the blog, "Canadians have a rep - deserved or not - as bad tippers."
So what gives? Are we a nation of cheapskates? One explanation offered by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, a Montreal-based food writer, is that Quebec is "a gastronomical hotspot," and that the province's residents "have high standards for service and high standards for food." So maybe Canadians are discerning about service, not stingy.
But another possibility might be that we're just not comfortable with the whole notion of tipping. Back in 2007, a study of Canadians found that most of us won't tip less than 15 percent in a restaurant (not sure servers in Vermont would agree with that finding), but that we're less sure about how to tip in other places.
Restaurants: The consensus seems to be 15-20 percent on the before-tax amount. If you're feeling generous and the service was good, you can always add some more.
Bars: In the States, a dollar a drink is the rule, but up here we're not so strict. Basically, anywhere between 10 and 20 percent works, and you can always say "keep the change."
Hotels: There's a lot of tipping to be done when you're staying at a hotel. If you use the valet service, you should leave them a tip of between $5 and $10 when you pick up the car (some people also tip when they leave it). For room service, the standard is $2 a day, or a lump sum at the end of your stay. If someone carries your bags, you should give them $1-2 per bag. And if a member of the door staff hails you a cab, he or she gets a buck or two as well. Phew.
Hairdresser/Massage: Just like at a restaurant, you'll want to give your hair stylist or masseur/masseuse a 15-20 percent tip on the before-tax total. If someone else washes or blowdries your hair, you should tip them as well, between $5 and $10 a person.
Cabs: Anywhere from 10-20 percent works - around $5-6 on a $40 fare is the right ballpark.
Or, if you want to sidestep the whole thing, try this: don't drink, stay home, grow your hair, live with back pain, walk, and don't eat. Well, I guess you have to eat. Maybe take up cooking?
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