Blog causation: the night I posted about how Australian restaurant service is worse, we had perhaps the best service that we’ve had at a not-that-expensive restaurant. I was so moved that I left nearly a 9% tip. But, to continue my previous post, here are other differences a no-tipping system makes:
1. The best part: when you are done with your meal, you can head to the register, pay, and leave. Poof! You don’t have to have that whole round where you wait for a bill, and then you wait for the server to come back and collect your money, and then you write in a tip after that. You get up, you pay, you’re gone!
2. The no tipping custom here is combined with including the tax in listed prices. This means that the total amount you pay at a restaurant is simply the sum of the menu prices of what you ordered. This is so cognitively different from the US that to this day it blows my mind.
You don’t necessarily have “your” server the way you do in the US. Other people may fill your water glass and do other peripheral tasks, but in the US one server is the star of Your Restaurant Experience. That’s still often the case here, but also often ensemble performances where the person who takes your drinks order is not the person who takes your mains order, etc..*
4. That thing where your server writes a cheery little thanks with their name and maybe a smiley face on your check? Rarely happens here.
5. No delicate way to put this, but there’s less of a vibe here of some servers approaching their job as a distant cousin of sex work. Obviously in the US it makes sense. Anyway, I’ve never had any illusions about flirtatious servers, but if you think it happens because you’re charming, hilarity awaits that hypothesis in Oz.
Incidentally: this is all a bit tempered because there’s a move toward tipping in Australia, particularly at the higher end. Nobody turns down a tip, of course, but the more expensive the restaurant, the more likely it is you’ll see a hopeful “Tip _____” line on your receipt. Also, there are plenty of tip jars in cafes and such, but these are neither as giant nor ubiquitous nor pleading as what you see in the US. So it will be interesting to see how the norm continues to evolve.
* What we call appetizers, they call entrees; what we call entrees, they call mains. Their way makes more sense.