Tipping in Australia

I’ve decided to come out of my usual blog mould here and put forth a question for discussion. It involves tipping at restaurants in Australia. This topic has been floating in my head for quite awhile, and what pushed me into voicing it out came from a couple of ‘awkward bill dances’ during recent meals, and a controversial article by The Age “Waiters’ tips grabber by owners‘.

I know that tipping isn’t mandatory in Australia, but it’s probably widely appreciated. Over the years I’ve been blogging, I’ve adjusted my tipping patterns constantly as I learn from the people I dine out with.

Tipping-in-Australia-7110.jpgCurrently, I’m more likely to just round it up at cheap places, but have started being quite generous at cafés (10% or more), because service is usually exceptionally good at most brunch spots. At casual to mid-range bistros (for bills ranging $35-80 per person), I’d probably go in the vicinity of 10% if the service is good, but not always. However, at fine dining establishments (for bills of more than $120 per person), I sometimes struggle to justify reaching 10% simply because the price of the meal is already quite steep.

If service is mediocre or bad, I won’t leave a single cent. And where service is equal, I find I’m more generous at smaller (family-run) establishments than at big-name restaurants. And if possible, I try to leave a physical tip in cash rather than factor it into the credit card bill.

How much I tip also depends on the people I’m dining with. Late last year, I had rather average service at a somewhat pricey restaurant. But when the bill came, one of my dining companions said ‘if I don’t leave a tip, I’ll feel very bad’. So the whole group ended up overcompensating by tipping over 10% for bad service.

Now it’s over to you. What I really want to know is, from a diner’s perspective, how do you approach tipping at:

1) Cheap eateries (eg: Asian joints)
2) Cafes
3) Bistros
4) Fine dining establishments

Don’t be shy, even if you don’t tip at all, I want to know!

I’d also like to know whether the recent article by The Age changes anything? To discover that your gratuities are going into the pockets of the restaurant owners rather than the floor staff who’d provided such good service can be pretty upsetting.

As for readers who are in the hospitality industry, I’m also curious to hear your point of view. How do you feel when a table doesn’t leave a tip? Do you find rounding up offensive? And are the gratuities earned waiter-specific, shared amongst all staff, or does the restaurant owner take it away from you?

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