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Old 16th December 2007, 11:39 AM   #1
confusedinspain
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Default Tipping in Spain?

Hello everyone,

I'm a little confused by whether or not you should tip in Spain. I have lived in Spain for four years and have always thought that tipping was not normal. My Spanish friends tell me that they never tip. Some say that they might leave the excess change from a note - but would never dig in to their pockets to add more change, even if that meant that a bill of 49.80€ would only get 20c tip from a 50€ note.

But then I read this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7146650.stm

I don't understand. Is this Minister drinking in places I can't afford? My friends are admittedly mainly students and 'milenos' (I think that's the term for the 1000€-a-month people in madrid) so maybe they don't tip but the upper end do?

I thought starting a debate on this topic here would be a good way of getting to the bottom of this.

Thanks.
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Old 16th December 2007, 01:24 PM   #2
Beckett
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Me parto!!!!!!! That BBC piece is HYSTERICAL!!!!

Five minutes later....
Ok, I've finally stopped laughing. No, Spain, as a society, is not big on tipping. The way your friends act is pretty normal in Spain. An Argentine entrepreneur by the name of Martin Varsavsky wrote in his blog last month about how the Spanish could learn a thing or two from American-style tipping and his Spanish readers went beserk, proudly claiming their right NOT to tip and how leaving tips in restaurants was for wimpy, idiotic, capitalist pig, starting wars in Iraq, good for nothing yankees. In fact, the reaction was almost as strong as the reaction Ben got for his 10-annoying things about Spain post. So no, the Spanish, as a whole, are not generous tippers.

If you want to leave a tip, leave 8% or less. Anything more than that, will make you an object of ridicule amongst your Spanish friends. And the term you were looking for is "mileurista" (someone who earns around 1,000 euros or less each month.)

Last edited by Beckett; 16th December 2007 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 16th December 2007, 01:40 PM   #3
Ben
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We rarely leave more than 5% at dinner (it took years for Marina to pursuade me that this was normal!), and at lunch, if it is a menu del dia, the Spanish might just leave 1 euro or nothing at all! People harldy ever tip in bars for drinks of coffee, and if they do, it might only be a 20 centimos.
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Old 16th December 2007, 05:25 PM   #4
omeyas
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Seems that if you are not pleased with the service, rather than leave nothing, they leave the smallest coin they have, just so show that they haven't simply forgotten to tip, but they left what they felt it was worth.
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Old 16th December 2007, 06:07 PM   #5
deecree
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I didn't know service in Spanish eateries was good enough to deserve a tip.
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Old 16th December 2007, 06:09 PM   #6
deecree
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I once left a dirty servilleta as a tip in a place that told me to hurry up, finish off and get out.
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Old 16th December 2007, 07:04 PM   #7
Beckett
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deecree View Post
I didn't know service in Spanish eateries was good enough to deserve a tip.
Touché.

And yeah, Ben is right. 5% or less for a meal. I was being generous when I said 8%. All those Spaniards headed to the U.S. for the Xmas holiday are in for a rude awakening when they see the 18% gratuity added to their restaurant tab.

The New York Times wrote a story this weekend about all the European tourists, absolutely giddy because of the buying power of the Euro or the Pound, coming to New York City for a vacation spent shopping ´til they drop and dining out at expensive bars and restaurants. Two Spanish tourists, Iñaki and Eneko, two factory workers from the Basque country who were going to spend 2 weeks in New York City, were cited as an example of the new type of European tourist headed to New York City. They are middle class or working class Europeans headed for the vacation of a lifetime in the U.S. where they can buy all sorts of goods that are out of their price range in their home countries. Anyway, the NYTimes article had one little line that made me chuckle: "No word on whether the flush Europeans are tipping."
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Old 17th December 2007, 10:57 PM   #8
Culebronchris
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Interesting idea tipping. Don't pay your people enough and expect the customers to top it up. A bit like the people in the UK who stand outide Tesco begging for some bit of kit for the local hospital.

Maybe Spaniards were never stupid enough to accept the idea of a surcharge as some sign of generosity.
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Old 18th December 2007, 08:41 AM   #9
parubin
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The norm would be just to follow the norm.

In Spain I'd tip about 10% if I had a pleasant time, and about 5% if it was just ok.
In a night club, pub or the like, it is not neccesary to tip at all, although it is convenient to leave the coins given as change or if you are opening a tab, maybe something in between the 5%-8% range is expected when you settle it.

I go quite often to the US and I know it'd be an insult to leave anything less than 15% in a restaurant, even if the bill is outrageous and the service highly unproffesional for the price paid (it happens quite often in trendy upscale restaurants in major US cities). When you order a drink you know you should leave a couple of dollars per drink if you want to be waited againg.

Those are the widely accepted norms and it is convenient to know them and follow them when you travel.
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Old 21st December 2007, 02:05 PM   #10
Alan
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The last time I was in Spain, I bumped into an American guy. He was one of these unfortunate souls whose first language was Spanish and therefore was treated like a second class citizen.

Apparently, as a waiter he collected in the tips and then they would be shared out between the staff at the restaurant, including the ones behind the scenes: chefs, janitors etc. 15% was the figure he told me as being the acceptable tipping rate and if his customers did not leave a tip, it was seen as being his fault and he was to put the money in ANYWAY. It was possible for him to put a shift in at work and actually lose money.

I don't always understand the US . . .

About Spain, I too have been slagged off endlessly for leaving a tip. And hey, if you're a mileurista, what the hell are you doing in a café? You've got better things to spend your money on!
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Old 22nd December 2007, 12:40 AM   #11
Culebronchris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan View Post
And hey, if you're a mileurista, what the hell are you doing in a café? You've got better things to spend your money on!
You see! More for downtrodden poor. Strange how "the rich" are always keen to tell poor people how to spend their money.

"They say they can't afford a Sports centre but they always have enough for a packet of fags".

Humour. I know
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Old 14th March 2008, 06:57 AM   #12
saiguanas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan View Post
The last time I was in Spain, I bumped into an American guy. He was one of these unfortunate souls whose first language was Spanish and therefore was treated like a second class citizen.

Apparently, as a waiter he collected in the tips and then they would be shared out between the staff at the restaurant, including the ones behind the scenes: chefs, janitors etc. 15% was the figure he told me as being the acceptable tipping rate and if his customers did not leave a tip, it was seen as being his fault and he was to put the money in ANYWAY. It was possible for him to put a shift in at work and actually lose money.

I don't always understand the US . .
True the tips are shared but I think it's usually just the waiters and bussers (maybe chefs. I don't know I've never worked for tips). Sounds like your friend just had a rotten boss.

15% is for acceptable service and there are those that will not leave less than that even if the food has spit dripping off of the plate. 20% is for excellent service and upscale places.

The thing that I hate about tipping in the US is that if you have a party of 8 or more, the tip is added into the bill. You don't get a say. You can have lousy service and you have to pay it. Kinda like a copeta in Italy but much more!

I've been chased when leaving restaurants twice. Once in Spain and once in the US.

The first, in the US, I had a bill of about $11.20 and did not realize that all I had in my pocket was $12 so I left only $.80 tip. The waitress ran outside as I was getting into my car and asked if the service was okay. I should have explained to her the situation and that I would make it up on the next trip but I was a young teenager then and just said "It was great!".

The second, in Spain, I had a €13 tab and left the €2 change from €15. The waiter chased me down to give me my change.

Can't win for losing!

Last edited by saiguanas; 14th March 2008 at 07:00 AM.
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Old 26th May 2010, 10:44 AM   #13
MCP
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Do people think that people delivering furniture etc., from department stores should be tipped? We had a bed delivered a couple of weeks ago, I didn't give the men anything for their labour (which consisted of getting the bed out of the van and up to our flat in a lift), but afterwards I felt bad about it. I had to pay them in cash for the bed (minus the deposit we paid at the store itself); should I have rounded it up or something?
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Old 26th May 2010, 12:01 PM   #14
Culebronchris
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I used to deliver furniture and I was never tipped by a Spaniard. Brits always used to tip, often the Brits would give me a five or ten note which was pretty good considering that my hourly wage was 6€.
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Old 26th May 2010, 01:38 PM   #15
lenox
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If you want to leave a tip in Spain, then ask the waiter if it goes to the owner or the staff. You'd be surprised!
Apart from maybe brothels, there's almost no tipping beyond a moneda...
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Old 26th May 2010, 04:11 PM   #16
ribeirasacra
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A nice 3 year old thread.
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