Don't tip the waiter

04/13/2012 - 11:58

I don't know how many of you watch the quiz programme L'Eredita' but the other day there was a question about what was against the law.....the answer TIPPING WAITERS IS AGAINST THE LAW.My father-in-law always said you must not tip, and we thought he was just keeping his money in his pocket, but it was well founded.I see many English and Americans leaving tips in restaurants in Florence......Pass it on , tell your friends and family they can save a little on their holidays by not tipping. The cover charge can be up to 10% anyway.


Well, I find it absolutely impossible to believe that giving a tip to a waiter in a restaurant is against the law in Italy. I had a good about, and found nothing beyond many discussions about whether it is a good idea, whether the restaurant owner snaffles all the tips, how to deal with tips and credit cards, how to try to ensure the waiter gets the 'service charge' etc. etc. I can't help feeling something has been misunderstood, or the statement referred to some ancient law. It is, of course, quite possible that this law has not been repealed (they never are) but I remain convinced that tipping - while voluntary - is not illegal in practice.

I guess that technically, it could be described as "black money". How many Italian waiters would declare their tips? Personally, I prefer a service charge. I hate tipping when I go to America. I think that tips are derogatory. A worker should be properly paid for his/her work. And, in any case, we, as clients are paying for the service, whether through a tip, or a service charge.

Most places in Italy, France and many other countries service charge has already been included, and always was. Unfortunately many British and (probably all) Americans seem not to comprehend. I recall an evening in my local restaurant when my fellow diners were adjusting the shares of the bill so that they could leave an appropriate tip, when the chef (one of the family who own it) impatiently took over, extracted the exact amount from the pile of money, and walked off quite happy - as if to say "what are they buggering about at". Habitual tipping is yet another thing we have to blame Americans for. In USA now a "tip" of 15 - 20% is expected. Bloody ridiculous. Apparently it's because certain states are allowed to pay below minimum wage to waiters, in anticipation of their tips earnings. Which needs sorting. I was intrigued to find that if you are really peed off with your waiter you give him 10% (out of your hard-earned) in order to render a suitable insult. Some insult! TK

We were having the very same conversation the other day with some friends who are the only permanent british ex pats in our town (that will be ruined then when we arrive!!)  They tip only for food/service when it's not included on the bill if it's good/great food/service.  In fact because they have a lot of friends/family coming to stay in the places which they frequent regularly the bill is often reduced - we've noticed that beginning to happen too - as well as the first round of drinks etc on them - don't mind if I do!!!

Agreed La Dolcevita, the only tip that happens in my local restaurant is when Danilo tips the bottle of grappa into my glass at the end of yet another perfect meal. In fact we've just this minute got back from there; so refreshing after our experiences in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago! TK

it only works if the owner passes on the service charge to the employees.  Alot dont, especially if you pay by credit card.  I would pay the amount on the bill by card, and leave the tip in cash. 

Why do people feel the need to tip in Restaurants, after all it's only another service industry, and why should you pay extra for someone doing their job correctly. If I get my car serviced or Suit dry cleaned one doesn't tip. I know some people tip hairdressers, but would you tip your Doctor, Nurse or your Dentist?? Fair enough if there is a cover charge, which in Italian Restaurants normally covers for the bread and water on your table, but an additional 10-15% for just carrying a pizza to your table is ridiculous. It is a preposterous custom, now getting out of hand, that is only compounded by (in my opinion) American traditions being globaslised.

Well I would assume that my doctor or dentist earns a vast amount of money, whereas waiters earn pathetic wages - often below the legal minimum - because the restaurant owners expects them to make up the shortfall in tips.   As someone who was a waiter in London for a couple of years, I can guarantee the veracity of this - also that some managers took the entire tip pot as their own.    In Italy its a bit different, waiting on tables is a career, not something to do when you have no better option.  In Sicily you literally leave the spiccioli for the waiter, and certainly not more than a euro - and I agree the American customs are becoming entrenched over here.   In Naples you pay the barista 10 or 20 cents for a glass of water with your coffee, because he doesnt get paid much - if at all, by the bar owner.  So its not something you can be too generalised about.  At least here though if you dont tip you dont tip.  The waiters dont run after you screaming down the street!  

Agreed Ram, I know only too well how low service industry wages are, BUT, it should not be up to me or any diner for that matter, to make up the persons wages to what are the relevant perceived Fair Wage. It is a persons choice to work/accept conditions that exist in that industry and therefore should except that the wage they get paid is just that. Not wishing to get embroiled in a Social Standards v Living Wage debate, my point still stands that if you work in a chosen industry be it waiting tables or hospital portering, then you should accept the wages you are given as fair or seek other employment not rely on others to up your income. The rights and wrongs are for individuals conscience but tipping for a service is plain wrong as it unfair to others involved in the service i.e. Chefs, KPs etc and encourages the Black Economy which as we know thrives in Italy anyway. So if you wish to tip that is a matter for oneself and not tipping should not be frowned  on a only carried out by penny pinching misers: but if the cap fits.........

In reply to by Flip

I don't like 'tipping' as a general rule, and completely agree that the American idea that it is 'obligatory' is wrong. However, I live in a fairly touristy, (that means 'seasonal') area, and although in February the restaurant is staffed by 'the family' (who I discourage people from tipping), in August the waitress is probably from Greece or Romania,and I think it is nice to give her a small tip. Clearly this doesn't go on the credit card, and it is 'under the table' so she can pocket it discreetly. Dunno - it's a personal choice - which is what it should be; and if the serviice has been lousy or she's been frowning - then it isn't deserved, and you don't offer it.

In reply to by casapasta

CasaPasta, there sre many UK and Irish families living in the Bagni area, which I'm sure you;ll get to meetin the fullness of time.

i rarely tip in restaurants unless there has been some particular situation or the designated person has been especially attentive/efficient/extra kind etc and is NOT the owner or family member of the owner.I t isn't necessary and most more important restaurants in bigger cities have already included your service charge etc.I know a number of restaurants where the waiters ( real ones not just plate carriers) earn EXCLUDING tips over Euro 1.300 per month ( paid 13 months per annum + 28 days paid holiday pension and social security etc:TAXI drivers are self employed and do very well and also one is not obliged to tip AND i make a distinction btween tipping and keep the small change.Anyone who tips the dentist perhaps ought to be seeing a physco instead if you must at least tip the young receptionist or assistant if she's nice  

I was in a Sydney restaurant last month and told the head waiter "We Europeans don't do tipping" so could he please let me know the tipping protocol? Naturally he said he couldn't POSSIBLY suggest etc etc until I told him that in the absence of a suggestion I would have to assume service was included and just pay the bill. At which he hastily suggested that 10% would be considered normal, so I tipped 10%. Service had been impeccable, but the tip added $A50 (€40) to the bill for dinner for TWO! TK

I have a general problem with this tipping malarky as............a 10% tip can be for service if you just order a coffee, a starter and main, or the full blown meal with bubbles and wine (as I guess SirTK did with his $400 bill !). But, if you happen to select a 10 Euro bottle of house wine OR a 50 Euro bottle of 'high quality' wine, the waiter is not doing anything different BUT he gets a massive increase in tip just because you have asked for a more expensive beverage ! Also, are you not paying 10% on the IVA as well to the waiter? So, you select high price products, the service is the same but the waiter gains from your 10% all ends up ! S  ps: my general theme is, if I'm happy with the service (and I usually am), I leave a few euros, certainly no more than 10 ! surprise

Maralyn, I was only against tipping €40 because, as per discussion above, I'm against the whole principle of tipping. It was a €40 "charge" for service that in a cheaper place would have been maybe €10. So just because the waiters concerned work in a different place, one gets €40 for doing his job, the other gets €10 for doing the same job. Fair? - I don't think so. Sensible? - I don't think so. For the record, we ate their standard menu and drank moderately, but it was Rockpool so it was always going to be expensive. Australia is generally expensive because Wall St hasn't yet demolished their currency in the same way as they've demolished the euro and the pound. But you can always go to Doyles and get a plate of fish 'n chips for a mere €35 plus another 10% for what they laughingly call service blush. cheers, Terry

For me, it actually depends on the server because if he or she did the job well then he or she deserves a tip. Indeed, one should try to tip servers with cash at each possible chance. Swipe fees and other issues may prevent them from obtaining the total amount. You can pay for your meal with an installment loan.