The Waiter from Waiter Rant wrote a guest post on The Guardian’s blog on British Tourists and the way they tip. This didn’t go over too well in the comment section.
When I return with the drinks the couple asks me about some local tourist attractions and a nice conversation develops. I discover my customers are a recently retired couple from Leeds visiting the United States for the first time. They’re wonderful people. Polite and well mannered, they remember to say please and thank you – something American customers often fail to do.
But I can almost guarantee these nice people are going to leave me a horrible tip.
Waiters, unlike servers in Europe, are not paid a salary. In the state of New York servers are paid $4.60 an hour. That’s below the state’s minimum wage of $7.15 an hour. The expectation is that our tips, coupled with a small hourly wage, will raise our compensation to the minimum wage level or above.
Whether you think it’s fair or not, American waiters depend on tips for the bulk of their income. Many British customers aren’t aware that the customary tip is 15 – 20% of the bill and unwittingly leave a substandard tip. They think $5 on a $100 check is perfectly acceptable. It isn’t. (There are also Europeans who know about American tipping customs but feign ignorance to save a few bucks.)
After one too many bad tips, American servers develop an antipathy toward customers from the UK. I know one server who cringes whenever he hears someone speaking with an English accent. And if you think I’m being mean xenophobic, I’m not. British nationals working as waiters in the US don’t want to wait on their country folk either.