Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Was

2 Aug

I overtip.  I admit it.  I’ve been a server a few times in my life and I didn’t enjoy it one iota.  So now, though I know that many do like serving, I know how hard it is and I overtip.  When planning for our trip I did a little research into the tipping habits in other countries and I learned that when servers are paid a fair wage, tipping is considered a bonus and is typically kind of small.  Some servers overseas even translate a big tip into a hand out and aren’t appreciative.  I’d like to still give tips but not if it’s going to offend someone.  That’s kind of the opposite of what I’m attempting to do, after all.

Servers in more touristed areas have become somewhat used to Americans tipping big so my attempt at trying to follow the local custom might not be appreciated but it’s not for lack of trying.  Many travel sites and the venerable Rick Steves suggest checking with your hotel as to what the sitch is for their city.  In the meantime, here is an article from Wall Street Journal and below is some info I got from a great book by Mary Murray Bosrock titled “European Business Customs and Manners“.

AUSTRIA

The word Bedienung indicates the bill includes a service charge.  If the tip is included, the words Bedienung Inclusiv should appear at the bottom of the bill.  If the tip isn’t included leave 10 to 15 percent.

BELGIUM

The bill usually includes a 15 precent service charge – dienst inbegrepen (Dutch) or service compris (French).  Leave a small change as an additional gratuity for exceptional service.  If the bill doesn’t include a service charge – dienst niet inbegrepen (Dutch) or service non compris (French) – leave a 15 percent tip.

GERMANY

The bill usually includes a 10 to 15 percent service charge (Bedienung appears on the bill) but round up one or two euro when you pay at the table.  If bills don’t include a service charge leave a 10 to 15 percent tip.

FRANCE

The bill usually includes a 10 to 15 percent service charge (service compris).  You can leave small change on the table as an additional gratuity for exceptional service.  If the bill doesn’t include service charge (service non compris), leave a 10 to 15 percent tip.  If you’re unsure whether a bill includes a tip, ask.

ITALY

Most have a cover charge.  In addition, the bill always includes a 10 to 15 percent service charge.  Servers expect small change as an additional gratuity.  When you order coffee at a bar, pay at the register and get a receipt, leave a tip on the bar with the receipt.

NETHERLANDS

The bill may include a 15 percent service charge.  As an additional gratuity, round up the bill to the nearest euro.  If the bill doesn’t include a service charge, tip 5 to 10 percent for excellent service.  Give the tip to the server or bartender; don’t leave it on the table.

SWITZERLAND

Tipping isn’t common in Switzerland.  By law, all hotel, restaurant, café, bar, taxi and hairdressing services include a 15 percent service charge.  Locals, however, usually round up restaurant bills.  Feel free to do so as well, if the service is exceptional.

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