A cultural “tip” from your friends at EC San Francisco

Many foreigners are shocked when they come to the US and realize that they are supposed to tip people for their services. It is customary to not only tip bartenders and servers at restaurants, but also to tip taxi drivers, hairstylists, barbers, valets, bellhops, as well as others. In general, for a food bill you tip 15-20% of the total bill. This is because servers and bartenders rely on tips to make a living. Restaurant and bar owners pay workers minimum wage and those tips are then shared amongst the chefs, dishwashers, hostess, etc.

The rule of thumb is that if you can’t afford to tip, then you can’t afford to eat out. Here is the experience of Hyeunjung Oh, a.k.a. Jenny, and her thoughts on tipping.

(Kelly, Senior Teacher, EC San Francisco

Today's "tip" -  carrots are good for your night vision..
Today’s “tip” – carrots are good for your night vision..  (puns are a part of language fluency)


 Tipping culture is one of the big culture differences between USA and Korea. In USA, if the person does a service, you should give some tips to him or her. It’s like a service charge. Recently, the average of paying tips is 15%. However, in Korea, I’ve never given tips for service. I take it for granted because they are there for treating us and take money from the owner. Moreover, there are many “self” things in Korea. For example, water is a very common self service thing. In some restaurants taking side dishes is also a self service thing. So when I first paid for food  here, I felt I should pay too much money.

 I wanted to know why we should tip in USA, so I searched on the Internet. It said tipping  is a way of rewarding waiters for good service (with high tips) and penalizing bad service (with low tips). It can be a standard of their service. Besides, tipping is a kind of attachment. It make to exchange warm-hearted feeling between waiters and customers. Therefore, I could understand more about tipping. And from now, I try taking tipping for granted. It is just cultural difference.

(Jenny, S. Korea)

Just a note  –  it the service is terrible, or the food is no good, don’t tip.  Since you will never return to that restaurant, you risk nothing, and you send a message that they should try harder.

(Karl, Senior Teacher)