To tip or not to tip – that is the question

15%, 10%, 20%??  What should we be tipping to people who perform a service for us and is it okay to go against that?  According to

Gratuities are seldom included in Canadian restaurants.  It is customary to tip approximately 15% on the total bill before tax, 20% for exceptional service.  Approximately because tipping is personal and if 10% is your personal choice then tip 10%; but 15% is customary and (rightly or wrongly) expected.

Trip advisor reminds you that tipping is not required, but it is custom as serving staff are often paid low wages and depend on their tips. 

I started thinking about this topic this morning for a couple of reasons.  I go through the same Tim Hortons drive thru every Monday-Friday.  Almost always I give them 0.20 cents – $1.00 tip depending on the bill because I really love the customer service they provide and it’s always the same girls and I worked at Tim Hortons in University and I KNOW that every penny given for a tip was VERY appreciated.  My window Tim’s girl always is so thrilled when I leave a tip and smiles just a little bit bigger then normal and that makes ME feel great!

When I am in restaurants I rarely follow the 15% rule of thumb. If a waiter/tress is great I leave a big tip – sometimes it can equal up to 25-30%, if they are brutal (and it has happened though rarely), I leave $1.00.  If they are just average, good, but not great, then I leave them approximately 15% after tax which is more than fair I feel. 

I also leave tips for the lady who does my hair and the ladies who give me manicures, Pedicures, waxing and massages.  Again I leave what I feel they deserve.  Now I go to a ritzy salon for my waxing and massages and I pay a fortune for this service so sometimes my tips can be a bit small (15% max) but that’s because this salon raises their prices often and it’s a bit much for me to pay so much on top of the astronomical charges I already pay for the actual service.

When I worked at McDonald’s when I was 15, I was promoted to “hostess” meaning I conducted the birthday parties for kids and gave tours to school groups and community groups that came.  I had to be Ms. Smily Sunshine 100% of my day and I was still paid my minimum wage even though I worked much harder those days than I did on days where I was just front-counter staff.  We were not allowed to accept tips 😦  However, one day, a woman who had booked a birthday party for 10 kids and three adults came with 20 kids and 7 adults.  I was unprepared.  She apologized and I worked my butt off that whole morning making sure every kid was smiling, every kid was fed,  every adult was happy and everyone was safe.  I had to make extra loot bags, run up and down the 18 stairs to the children’s room about 20 times and by the end of the day, when the mother pulled out a $50.00 bill for a tip – you are damn right I TOOK IT!  I deserved it.  I felt I deserved it, I feel like no boss should deny their employees tips in the food industry IF it is offered and not asked for.  I was so good that day that two of the other parents there booked birthday parties and requested ME be the server.  I smiled and appreciated the praise – but I won’t even lie, the $50.00 in my pocket, made me happier then the praise that day because I was exhausted and still had one more party to go before my day was done. 

Tipping, in the end, in Canada is optional.  I just ask people to remember that everyone is suffering in this economy and if you CAN afford it, remember to tip people who are providing a service to you – they are NOT being paid well and if they do it with a smile and high energy – reward them. 

This message has been brought to you by the letter….nah…HAHAHAHA

XOXO Nikilee

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