Tips for tipping: When should we tip and how much?

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The rules of tipping have changed over the past decade, we hear from an etiquette expert on when and how much we should be tipping – Oct 5, 2018

It is always a bit of a guessing game. How much should you tip at the end of your meal?

“Tipping is meant to be something extra that is given for exceptional service, but the challenge is there is so much variation on who receives tips and when and that makes it very challenging,” said Toronto-based etiquette expert Lisa Orr.

While it can be a bit of a grey area, Orr said there are some things that we do know.

“We only tip for personal service — not professional service. Personal service is anyone who looks after you personally, people like your hairdresser, your dog walker, waiter, waitress those are all people we should consider when thinking about who we should tip,” she said.

READ MORE: Best tipping practices for travel overseas

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Orr says a good rule of thumb is to tip around 18 per cent for good service.

“Fifteen per cent [is] at the low end, 20 per cent at the high end and that is a pretty major increase over the last decade,” said Orr.

That is for meal service, before tax. For taxi service, Orr suggested 10 to 15 per cent and for a bartender $1 or $2 a drink is an acceptable gratuity.

A 2017 study by the company Square examined tipping tendencies across Canada and found the national tipping average is 13.8 per cent. That is across a number of industries and services.

Ontario came in just above average at 14 per cent. The top tippers in Canada according to the study are in Prince Edward Island at an average of 15.2 per cent. British Columbia tippers trail the pack at 13.2 per cent.

READ MORE: House tipping practice triggers debate between restaurants and workers

If you have a bad experience or bad service Orr recommends still leaving a tip, just maybe less of one.

“The challenge is there are so many people involved when it comes to putting together a meal that if you had one component that isn’t great, should you punish all of the people?” Orr said. “My preference is to tip at the low end of your percentage, so more in the 15 per cent range and then go have a conversation with the manager.”


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