Is tipping offensive in non-tipping cultures?

I’m from the USA but I’ve been living in Trinidad for five years now, and aside from tourist areas or grocery store bag boys there is 0 tipping culture here. People just don’t do it, not at bars or haircutters or barbers etc.

I live in a very blue collar, working class area with pretty much 0 tourist traffic. I make almost daily use of share taxis and maxis, these are cars and large vans that travel a set route and you pay by the seat. So you know getting a taxi it is going into the city, and it will pick up people until it is full to capacity.

Every so often I forget and tell the driver to keep the change, like I did today because me and my son were waiting under a eave for a car in a pounding rainstorm and most drivers either stop working or refuse to pick up people when it is raining. Having like ten taxis ignore us, and then one guy flashed his lights multiple times to make sure I saw him. Well the total was six dollars for two seats, I gave him a ten dollar bill and told him to keep it. He was like WHAT?! I said keep the change and thanks, he gave a kind of scowl. :smack:

I was thankful he stopped and picked us up where no one else would, when I told my wife of it she said OMG you did that again! I have asked her to explain just what is so offensive about a tip but she can’t explain it, she has said you want to tip you need to give like a very large amount of money like 100 dollars. Needless to say I cannot afford to give a days worth of minimum wage for a short taxi ride, and she is like then you don’t tip at all.

Ok I just don’t understand this, is it really offensive to tip in a non-tipping culture?

Coming from a largely non tipping culture and preferring it by far to tipping culture, I can at least tell you that I would thank you to not encourage tipping. So it’s offensive to me :slight_smile:

Tipping police is definitely frowned upon

In Australia: it’s not offensive. Taxi drivers, bar and restaurant staff will happily accept a tip if you offer one.

I suppose there might be a situation where it’d be considered an insult or a mistake, but I can’t think of one off the top of my head.

It’s the tipping culture itself that I find offensive. If you want to give someone some extra money, I see nothing wrong with that. But the expectation that people should pay more than the agreed upon price strikes me as passive-aggressive bullshit, if not outright false advertising.

From a non-tipping culture, the only places where tipping is somewhat common (but not expected) would be taxis and restaurants. If I get a taxi and I’m happy with the service I might tell the driver to round the fare up a dollar or two, or hand over a $50 for a $46.27 fare and tell him to keep the change. It’s usually accepted with gratitude rather than being an insult, it’s a little extra the driver gets to keep.

Restaurant, paying by card, not unless the service or food was really really good. If by cash, again usually round it up a bit and kick in an extra couple of bucks.

I haven’t ever experienced someone reacting insulted if I told them to keep the change.

I’ve been followed out of a restaurant in China by the waitress who didn’t want to keep her tip. The taxi drivers were equally opposed to accepting anything but the exact fare. In other countries tips have been accepted with a scowl. I’m guessing the local laws are against their ‘charging’ more than the correct amount?

I remember in SF, early 80’s, there were (then new) organized tours of Japanese.

When the bus discharged them at the hotel, each was given a 1 dollar bill to give the doorman (or whoever). Apparently, in Japan at the time, to “tip” implied that you though the recipient was unable to earn enough money to support himself and/or family. The our guides had to explain that, in the US, certain people’s income is based on the expectation of tips, and to not tip would be taking a persons earned money.

So there was once a significant chunk of people in a culture which considered it offensive to tip.

Would not be surprised if traditional Asian cultures agreed on the point.

Here in the north of Italy there isn’t a lot of tipping. You’d offend no one if you did it, but they’d probably think you a fool.

*“Does your company allow you to accept tips?”

“No, Ma’am, but if you do, I’ll lie like hell to save you!”*

Germany is certainly not a non-tipping culture, but one where tipping is more limited and ambivalent than in the US.

Traditionally you do not tip your equal. Historically it was strongly associated with money flowing downwards in the socioeconomic hierarchy, especially in centuries past when many lower-level employees worked primarily for room and board and earned very little cash. Of course in modern daily life people do not consciously put it into that historical context, but there are still traces of that.

To this day you are not really supposed to tip business owners even for work that would receive a tip if performed by employees (e.g. a pub owner serving you,) but that is less strict than it used to be and today you can err on the side of tipping.

It would also be extremely insulting to tip a friend. (Can you do that anywhere?)

Funnily enough American tourists have a reputation in some quarters in Ireland as skinflints as they’re not apt to tip while visiting, even sometimes when the service provider has gone above and beyond for them. While tipping isn’t as enshrined (or as necessary economically) in Irish service industry it is still somewhat common to tip in restaurants, especially when you’ve received very good service and it is not uncommon too to tip taxi drivers. Some other types of businesses have tip jars too.

In some places, accepting a tip means accepting that the person who gave you the tip is your social superior. He is the patron, you are the client. If you like to think of your customers as social equals, you might be insulted by the superior-inferior relationship that is implied by the tip.

An Englishman once told me he disliked America because of tipping, and he swore never to come back. I told him the waiters and waitresses of America will be happy to hear that.

In certain situations, yes, tipping in friends is appropriate. For my last birthday my friends and I went out to eat at a nice steakhouse. The manager happened to be one of my friend’s fiance. It wasn’t explicitly stated beforehand, but it was generally understood we would be given some type of discount on the meal. When the bill came, that is exactly what happened. We then tipped based on what the bill would have been without the discount.

“Do they allow tipping on the boat?”

“Oh yes, sir.”

“Have you got two fives?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Well, then you won’t need the ten cents I was gonna give you.”

It’s funny, when I’m in the US or Canada I always feel uncomfortable about how waiters act like they your servant (at least that’s how it feels to me). Sir this and that and running around like they need you to sign off on a stay of execution or something.

I prefer (and am used to) staff that acts like your equal. They still expect a tip though (in the Netherlands btw).

India is non-tipping?

When I had a paper route, back in the 1970s, most customers didn’t tip me, except in December, when almost everyone gave me like, $5, and a few gave me $10. However, a few did. The paper was $5.25/month, and a lot of people gave me $6 and told me to keep the change. Seventy-five cents was more money in the 70s than it is now, but it still wasn’t huge-- however, not having to fish for change was almost a tip in itself. But it added up, and I appreciated being appreciated.

There was one really old guy on my route who lived alone, and always tipped me a dime. He’d always have exact change, plus a dime. I understood that in his day, you could see a movie for a dime, but you couldn’t even buy a pack of baseball cards for ten cents by the time I had my route. I thanked him, anyway.

Now, if someone my parents’ age (which was what most of my customers were) gave me ten cents every month, I would have thought that was really strange. I know waitresses who, when a customer completely stiffs them on a tip, it makes them mad, but they don’t automatically assume it reflects their service. They think the person forgot (especially if it’s a regular), there was some mix-up (one person in a party was supposed to leave a cash tip while another paid by credit, but it didn’t get communicated well), or the person just didn’t know the custom for some reason. Or is a jerk on a personal crusade to eliminate tipping*. However, when someone left a really small tip, like 5%, the waitress would wonder what she did wrong, or what was wrong with the food, because people use under-tipping to communicate dissatisfaction.

This may be why people think a couple of dollars is wrong-- why you should tip only if you can tip a huge amount. Maybe a small tip suggests that you expected something you didn’t get, and if you had gotten it, you would have tipped a lot more.
*The way to do this is to talk to management, and convince them to pay at least minimum wage; not to stiff servers, who get taxed as though they were tipped, whether they were or not.

In the US it’s probably even more of a custom that you tip if your friends are serving you in a tipping capacity (especially since they are probably comping some of your drinks or whatever). I would certainly tip a bartender or waiter friend - more than normal, in fact.