Canadians Hit With Mandatory Tips In Border Towns By American Servers: Should A Tip Ever Be Mandatory?

Burlington, VT – Ah, mandatory tipping … next to breastfeeding and circumcision, you’re unlikely to find an issue other than tipping that is guaranteed to get people on the internet at one another’s throats than policies surrounding the practice of gratuities.

Mandatory tipping is even more fraught with controversy, as the surcharge added to bills by servers in arbitrary situations (parties over four, five, or six), in the estimation of many diners, takes away the agency of the customer to tip as they see fit, thus converting a tip into a kind of unspoken and secret surcharge, one that oftentimes makes the diner feel that the whole concept of a tip based on good service has been negated.

But a lot of restaurants post signs warning diners of a mandatory gratuity on parties larger than four or so. And one can kind of understand the logic since a server stiffed on a large group may end up losing money on their shift overall.

But in Burlington, Vermont, the issue of mandatory tipping has become somewhat controversial in the media after it was revealed that servers in the area had been tacking on gratuities simple because parties — small ones — contained Canadians, who in their estimation don’t tip well. As a rule.

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One local owner, Sandy Kong of the Asiana Noodle Shop, tells ABC that she allows servers to use their judgment when tacking on a mandatory tip. Kong explains:

“But some Canadians come in, they spend like $100 or $150 and they leave the wait staff maybe a $1.00 tip. It happens pretty often. I realize that the Canadians think it’s discrimination, but on all the receipts it’s printed out on bottom—’we suggest an 18 or 20 percent tip.’ … Asians do it also. But it seems that Canadians tip the worst.”

Many other servers in the area admitted to tacking on a tip when waiting on non-American diners.

Do you think that a mandatory tip is ever acceptable, and should the server make that determination based on how likely they believe a party is to leave a tip?