rules on tipping abroad always changing
by PAUL CAPLAN,
Q: I'm travelling to the Czech Republic. I wish neither to be embarrassed nor to offend. Are there specific rules for tipping and if so, can you enlighten me? Are they different from Canada?
A First, let's understand that the act of tipping has cultural implications and your question reflects your sensitivity to this fact. Certainly, in North America, tips, although designed as something given voluntarily, have almost become an expectation.
Tipping, until recently, has been at the discretion of the person being served, but rules have evolved. In fact, in some countries (not the Czech Republic), it is frowned upon or even considered demeaning.
One may argue tipping is really the manner in which restaurateurs avoid staff costs and that the service provided is the responsibility of the restaurant. The fact is, if it were so, your bill for your meal would likely be higher.
In some European countries, while there may not be an additional service cost, the menu prices actually reflect the restaurateur's costs. In other European countries, as in the Czech Republic, you may find the tip has been automatically added. This is usually stated at the bottom of the menu, but in Prague, with the influx of tourists, especially from the U. S., expectations and practices have changed. Some "etiquette authorities" suggest you still add a little extra, about 10 per cent.