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    Aussies Are Sharing The Reasons Why The USA's Tipping Culture Wouldn't Work In Australia And It's Super Insightful

    "If we do [start taking] tips, there's precedent for other American business models like a $2 minimum wage. This culture is poisonous."

    If there's one thing that separates Australia from our friends in the States, it's tipping culture.

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    Generally, tipping — the act of giving an amount of money to someone who has provided a service — is considered unnecessary in Australia.

    A customer handing cash to a waiter
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    That's because Australian workers operating in service industries — like hospitality, beauty and hairdressing — already receive decent pay under award wages.

    Close-up of a hairdresser's hand drying blonde hair with a hair dryer and round brush
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    Awards set minimum wages for employees based on the type of work they're doing, the level they're at and the industry they're in. As a rough example, the national minimum wage in Australia in 2021 is $20.33/hour.

    In comparison, service staff in the USA are paid a much lower wage. This means they rely on tips — which are usually 15-20% of a bill — to supplement their income.


    That's not to say tipping doesn't exist in Australia. Often, Australians will give a bonus to dining staff for great service or pop a note in tip jars at registers. The difference is that it's not mandatory or expected of customers.

    A hand putting money into a tips jar
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    It looks like things might be changing though, with a more Americanised form of tipping being implemented in some restaurants in Melbourne.

    A customer being handed the credit card on bill paper
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    Reddit user u/ZanePWD pointed out that five out of five of the restaurants they had recently visited "kind of forcefully suggested a tip" while tallying up the bill.

    A restaurant filled with customers
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    This led them to ask: "Has this always been a thing or has American culture slipped in?"

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    In response, Australians shared their thoughts and experiences with tipping — and it resulted in a very insightful discussion about why it wouldn't work and shouldn't be implemented in Australia. Here are some of the top-voted replies!

    1. "I spent years bartending in some pretty low-end and extremely high-end bars in Melbourne. I never ever asked or insinuated for a tip. It's not our culture — and as staff we get fuck all from it anyway. When I did get tips, I pocketed 100% of them immediately. It's a stupid culture to give a tip to a worker for a fine job and that they only see a tiny fraction of it."


    2. "The service is built into the cost of the food. Why else am I paying $10 for bottled beer? If it’s expected, I won't be back. In America, tips are expected because the wage is so low and they look down on you if you don’t want to pay it, when they should be getting paid a proper wage instead of having a constant performance evaluation every time some asshole snaps his fingers. Tipping leads to poor or stagnant wages."


    3. "Been asked before about tipping — I've always said no and gleefully given them a run down on the history of tipping. We [Australia] don't have a cultural background of slavery and the majority of immigrants who came here from Europe did so to get away from nobility bullshit. We have zero need for tipping."


    [Editor's note: If you want to read up on the historical origins of tipping in the USA, here's a good start. The general gist is that tipping began before the Civil War, but was used as a practice further down the line by restaurant and cafe owners to keep wages of formerly enslaved Black people extremely low.]

    4. "Please let's not add this additional social complexity to our lives."


    A hand taking notes out of a wallet
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    5. "Went to an Italian joint in Carlton a little while back that slapped a 5% service charge on top of your bill AND then were pushy about tipping/gave a very surly response when declined. Get absolutely fucked."


    6. "Rather than implement tipping, we should address the fact that most restaurant and cafe owners are wage thieves. Greedy pricks, the beloved small business owners, have gotten rich by exploiting kids, international students and other vulnerable workers."


    7. "I don't tip and I find it tacky if places actually ask for it beyond a tip/donation bowl at the register. Lots of people help me and are nice whilst doing their jobs — hairdressers, supermarket staff, people in shops, doctors etc. — and we don't feel obliged to pay them above the agreed contractual amount. In the US, it's employers using the tipping system to underpay their staff (not just waiters, hotel staff and other customer-facing roles too)."

    "I really really hope tipping doesn't become a thing here. Yuck."


    8. "When I was living in Canada, whose tipping culture is identical to the US, I worked in a new venue of a chain restaurant who was 'trying something new.' They added 20% to their prices, refused tips from customers and increased staff wages. Instead of being paid $12/hour and relying on tips, I was paid $20/hour. It was awesome! They trialled it for three months and customers HATED it. Eventually they went back to 'the old way.'"

    "It's just so incredibly ingrained in US/Canadian culture [ and] hard to change something so insidious. People genuinely believe that wait staff don't deserve a living wage and only deserve your hard-earned cash if they 'work for it' (exceptional customer service and putting up with being treated like shit). I'm glad it is the way it is here [Australia]."


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    9. "Got into a discussion with a Yank about this on holiday in Germany. She looked at me with an incredulous expression and said 'But what happens to the business if they've got bad wait staff?' I replied and said that if they're bad at their jobs then they should be replaced, not grossly underpaid. It's not my responsibility to manage your staff for you. Get an effective hiring manager for fuck's sake."


    10. "In Australia, we already 'tip' them by paying them more when we buy our food."


    11. "My family all put money into a Christmas fund and one of the things that pays for is a massive dinner out a few days before Xmas. We go to the same place each year, they're really great with service and we're not a small party. Dad usually tips them 20% of the bill or $200, whichever is more and each year we get amazing service. It's pretty much the one time I'm okay with tipping. But yeah, outside of a large, loud and chaotic extended family meal, I'm a pretty big no to tipping in general."


    12. "Oh, they're trying. Stand your ground. A lot of these services take the tips electronically, which lets the proprietor keep it. And if we do take tips, there's precedent for other American business models like a $2 minimum wage. This culture is poisonous. If you really like your waiter and want to give them extra, do what the Americans do and slip them a bill when the manager's not looking."


    A waiter holding an EFTPOS machine
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    13. "This is Australia. I have a hard rule that if they present the Eftpos with the fucking tip option, I always click through it. I do tip sometimes, but only when I really want to. And it's only when it's exceptional food or service, or any other reason I choose to. Not because it's customary, or expected or awkward. It's also pretty cringe when people tip to look like big shots."


    14. "Happened twice in the last two weeks of dining out, one at a fancy restaurant in Fitzroy. It's very awkward when you select the 'no tip' option and they are standing there holding the POS machine, staring you down. We didn't get a goodnight or bye on our way out."

    "'Don't tip and ruin the culture here.' This was one of the earliest cultural lessons I got from my Aussie friends when I moved here and I plan to stick to it."


    15. "I'm from France where we don't tip, unless we have incredible service in a small cafe or bar, but we tell them to just keep the change. Considering how the service is always much better here than back home, I often have the feeling that I want to do a nice gesture in return. I know tipping is a big no here, so instead I bought chocolates for my favourite local places for Xmas."


    16. "Overseas people tried to tip me once as a cleaner. I explained that we don't do that here. You will not get better service by tipping me. I do my job well no matter what. They just did not get it. It took 15 minutes of back and forth before I walked away."


    17. And finally: "In recent years, hospitality staff have been made up of large portions of overseas students/backpackers. Because of that, many see no problem asking for a tip. It's uncomfortable to say no, just like it's uncomfortable to say no to a beggar or a pushy sales person, but you gotta do it, man. Tipping only serves to shift responsibility for staff wages from the employer to the customer."

    "Knowing that, I just say 'no' or press 'continue' without a second thought."


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    Reddit responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

    Australians, what are your thoughts on tipping culture? And for any non-Aussies reading this, what do you think about tipping in your country?