Restaurants Add Mandatory Tipping for French Canadian Customers

Are Québecois bad tippers? Canadians that visit restaurants in Burlington, Vermont, got a little surprise when they noticed that they were being charged automatic gratuities when servers guessed that they were Quebec:

A few local servers even have a nickname for the surcharge: They call it the “Queeb tax.” [...]

Owner Sandy Kong says that while the restaurant doesn’t have an official policy, she lets servers decide whether to add a gratuity.

“If the Canadian customers were tipping at 15 percent, I wouldn’t let them do this,” Kong says of her waitstaff. But the Canadians are not, she alleges. On a single day last week, Kong says, one party left a $3 tip on an $80 bill; another left nothing for the server on a $90 tab.

Kathryn Flagg of Vermont's Seven Days has the story: Link

Is it wrong for restaurants to add mandatory tipping?



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Great, now I can receive poor service and still have the priviledge of paying the server for it. I have not tipped servers and then let the manager know the poor service was the reason for the lack of tip. Leaving a poor tip based on poor service, makes a customer look cheap, not unhappy.
Paying the server based on sales, from the owner, encourages a higher table bill, thus higher total sales.
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Haha I didn't know Québécois didn't tip (I'm a Québec decent French Canadian who has spend most of my life in not-Québec provinces. I speak the language but am not familiar with the Québécois culture). I live in Vancouver, and people tip here as a matter of course, regardless of service. I don't know where 'Blow and Dry LLC' got their information from, but I have a lot of friends here who are servers. Also from personal experience, everytime I've ever eaten out, I, or someone in my group, gives a standard gratuity. Perhaps people of different and relatively recent immigrant backgrounds don't. But if you are in sync with the local culture, tipping between 10 and 15% is the norm in British Columbia, Alberta, and the Maritime provinces (including the Acadian French parts of the Maritimes. Acadiens are a culturally and historically distinct group of French speakers connected to the Louisianna Cajun).

I do have a story from my friends who went to Australia several years ago. The waitress saw her tip and said to my friends "You must be Canadian" And they said yes how did you know? And the waitress told them that Canadians tip 15%, Americans tip 10%, and Australians tip nothing.
When I was in the EU part of Europe, we weren't expected to tip. We even tried to tip a friendly and helpful cab driver in Salzburg, and he refused it! But when we were in non-EU European countries it was the norm to tip. We ate at a restaurant in Split, Croatia where we left the tip on the table rather than in the cheque book. Since he didn't realize we tipped him yet gave us the most withering look of hatred.

I don't think it is fair to enforce a tip (in situations where is isn't expected. I feel differently if it is a large group. Usually you are informed of it from the start. Ex: "Since you are a group of over 10, there is an automatic gratuity of 18% calulated to your bill"). Obviously in Québec they have a different tipping culture. Maybe they generally tip less. Maybe they use it as a reflection of the quality of service. I think they can offer a printed suggestion on the bill in English and French that tipping X percentage is customary in Vermont. In English so they don't feel singled out. And in French since they appreciate their language being used and are prone to be less hostile when it is offered willingly, and for clarity if their English isn't strong. (<-- sounds like a typical resolution coming from a Canadian lol. My Trudeau-esque multicultural brainwashing is obviously showing.) If they still don't tip, that is their prerogative. It's their money.
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I don't mind the surcharge if the place is good.
Her's the dilemma. Serving staff hears customers speaking French as they come in. Staff thinks, "Great. No tip for me today," and proceeds to deliver poor service. French customer thinks, "This is really poor service. I'm not going to leave a tip." (in French, of course).
Staff sees no tip and goes, "Just what I thought. A lousy tipper."
Catch-22.

I think the French are less "polite" (or more open) than other Canadians, and will definitely let their dissatisfaction show in their tipping, when another person may be more forgiving. However, I know examples of French people leaving pennies even when the service was good, or insulting the wait staff in French when they think the staff can't understand them.

I kind of like the idea of the gratuity being added on to the bill. In the Philippines, I didn't really have to worry about tipping, but sometimes left some of the change from the bill anyway.
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I completely agree. If it's not optional, it's a surcharge. In the UK there's no way restaurant staff can work for less than the national minimum wage (currently £6.08 per hour (~ $9.66)). Tipping is optional in the UK and is usually about 10% on top of the bill unless a 10% service charge is included. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/04/restaurant-tipping-around_n_662268.html covers the custom of tipping in 25 countries (in parts of China and Japan it's considered rude and it's not expected at all in Iceland).
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