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Post Reply Canada and tipping etiquette
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22 / F / NY
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Posted 6/3/15
I'm currently on vacation in Montreal (for a few days) and I am baffled with the tipping system, so I wanted to ask fellow Canadian users about this...

Today, I had lunch (and it was quite bad) at a small diner/bar type of restaurant with my mom and it was pleasant at first (the waitress was okay towards us; wasn't super friendly, wasn't rude either). After finishing our meal, the waitress gave us our check and proceeded to STAND OVER US... RIGHT NEXT TO OUR TABLE and glared at us while we paid our bill as if we were going to run away and not tip or something/not pay for our meal. What the fuck already -- this has never happened to me ever, in my life. But whatever. Anyway, I did light research and read that a 15% tip is standard. I still wasn't familiar with the Canadian tipping etiquette so we left a 23%ish tip ($10 CAD tip for a $43 CAD meal) to play it safe, but once the waitress saw us put down the money her face literally dropped as if I murdered her parents in front of her. Like seriously, she was so angry she grabbed the check/money and walked back to the register and started speaking in French in a very aggressive tone to another waiter, and I'm 99% sure they were talking about us because they kept glaring over at me and my mom.

We tipped around 20% yesterday at another restaurant and got a similar reaction (although not as severe) too. So far it's been like this at every restaurant (while tipping 20-25%) and it's getting to the point where I don't even want to go out and eat anymore. My first example is a bit extreme and could be an outlier, but at the moment the waitresses don't seem very happy about the amount of tip we're leaving. I'm just really confused at what we're doing wrong to receive such patronizing treatment. It's always cordial at first usually, until it's time to pay.

We don't eat loudly. We don't talk loudly. We don't eat messily. We treat the waitstaff with respect and are always conscious about saying thank you. We don't wave or snap our fingers. We don't order them around. We don't ask for a bunch of things (except for an extra napkin this one time?). No doggy bag... nothing. I'd say we are rather reserved, quiet, and don't cause unnecessary trouble.

So my questions are:

a) Is a 20-25% tip too little in Canada?

b) Is it rude to leave the tip on the table after the meal (it's typical to do that in the US)?

c) What is the standard tipping etiquette in Canada?

d) Are Montreal citizens generally rude... especially to Americans... or Asians, I guess? We couldn't speak French but it was obvious we were Americans based on our American accents. But we are also Asian. Quebec is a bilingual province (albeit predominately French-speaking). We spoke English, but we were aware not to be pretentious about it. I thought it was because we were non-French speaking Asians at first, but if that was the case they would be rude to us from the very start? Which isn't the case...

e) They kept asking if we were going to pay in card... we paid in cash. Do Canadians prefer card? My mom prefers not to use her CC overseas so we exchanged a few k to CAD instead. We have been paying with everything in tangible CAD... bills and coins.

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40 / M / USA
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Posted 6/3/15 , edited 6/3/15


I'm not from Canada but I've been there multiple times.

a) It's basically the same as the US. 15% norm, 20%+ for exceptional

b) No, it isn't rude. Same rules apply as the US. Give it to the waiter, leave on table or put on bill.

c) See a and b

d) I'm not sure how it is for Asians. I'm white, I know very little French but I don't have a typical "American" accent and I was treated fine by most people there. Generally speaking, if you make an attempt to use the primary language there and are genuine about everything they're pretty cool about it.

c) Never use cards overseas. UK, Canada, Spain and other countries are known for fraud. Plus it's just a general rule not to use cards at new places or other countries. Also, supposedly they prefer cash, but I don't know if that's changed. I went back in 2010 and again in 2012.

Honestly, it sounds like they just don't like Asians based on what you put there. You did everything right.
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22 / F / NY
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Posted 6/3/15

dotsforlife wrote:



I'm not from Canada but I've been there multiple times.

a) It's basically the same as the US. 15% norm, 20%+ for exceptional

b) No, it isn't rude. Same rules apply as the US. Give it to the waiter, leave on table or put on bill.

c) See a and b

d) I'm not sure how it is for Asians. I'm white, I know very little French but I don't have a typical "American" accent and I was treated fine by most people there. Generally speaking, if you make an attempt to use the primary language there and are genuine about everything they're pretty cool about it.

c) Never use cards overseas. UK, Canada, Spain and other countries are known for fraud. Plus it's just a general rule not to use cards at new places or other countries. Also, supposedly they prefer cash, but I don't know if that's changed. I went back in 2010 and again in 2012.

Honestly, it sounds like they just don't like Asians based on what you put there. You did everything right.


That's what I thought at first, but wouldn't they be rude to us from the start then...? The negative attitude began once it was time to pay the bill.
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29 / M / Atlanta, GA, USA
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Posted 6/3/15 , edited 6/3/15
Hate to say it, but people outside the USA tend to be a bit racist in comparison, especially toward Asians (so I've heard). Stick to 15% standard tips and don't worry about it too much. And it's pretty safe to be rude to customers as they're leaving, after all.
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20 / M / Nova Scotia, Canada
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Posted 6/3/15
As a Canadian, I'm kinda surprised that you got a reaction like that. I've never really eaten specifically in Montreal, but I've been to few nice places to eat in Quebec.

Usually 15-20% is what you'd tip anywhere that I've ever been. I can't imagine why they'd be mad at you for leaving a tip like that, and it's not as if leaving a tip on the table here isn't customary (That's what I do pretty much every time I'm out, unless I'm using debit.)

Most places don't really care one way or another if you're going to pay with cash or debit or whatever kind of card, really.

As for people in Montreal, I've met a lot of great people there. But just like a lot of other places, some people can get Xenophobic. I've lived in Canada all my life, and have never even left the country before, and when I've gone to Quebec, I have had a couple run-ins where I felt a little mistreated or even a little disrespected because of the way I spoke and whatnot. (I'm in a part of the East coast where our accent is easily noticible if we go any farther west than New Brunswick.)
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40 / M / USA
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Posted 6/3/15


You would think. Still sounds like they don't like Asians though. I did notice in my time there though that Canadians will sometimes treat fellow Canadians different if they don't speak French or aren't French-Canadian.
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22 / M
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Posted 6/3/15 , edited 6/3/15
This isn't a Canadian thing, this is most likely a French thing. The "French Canadians" are very racist and I mean very racist. If you speak English they will hate you until the day you die. I had a family member live in Quebec with his French wife and they used to egg and TP his house because he was English. I would just ignore it and Tip your usual 10-20%
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22 / F / NY
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Posted 6/3/15 , edited 6/3/15

francedude wrote:

This isn't a Canadian thing, this is most likely a French thing. The "French Canadians" are very racist and I mean very racist. If you speak English they will hate you until the day you die. I had a family member live in Quebec with his French wife and they used to egg and TP his house because he was English. I would just ignore it and Tip your usual 10-20%


I'd rather have the actual French look down on me than have faux French [speaking] Canadians treat me like shit... I didn't even get this humiliating treatment when I was in France itself.
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F / Halifax, NS
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Posted 6/3/15
They were probably just rude. It had nothing to do with them being Canadian or Quebecois. I'm canadian, my borfriend is quebecois. AND I've been to France. Rude people are just rude.

ALSO, I don't see you refering to them as faux french as putting yourself in a positive light. Were you perhaps rude to the wait staff?
Posted 6/3/15 , edited 6/3/15

deer wrote:

once the waitress saw us put down the money her face literally dropped as if I murdered her parents in front of her. Like seriously, she was so angry she grabbed the check/money and walked back to the register and started speaking in French in a very aggressive tone to another waiter, and I'm 99% sure they were talking about us because they kept glaring over at me and my mom.



Lol. You should have just stared at them. That usually works for me. I just stare at them until they stop acting like i should care.

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22 / F / NY
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Posted 6/3/15

dollymacabre wrote:

They were probably just rude. It had nothing to do with them being Canadian or Quebecois. I'm canadian, my borfriend is quebecois. AND I've been to France. Rude people are just rude.

ALSO, I don't see you refering to them as faux french as putting yourself in a positive light. Were you perhaps rude to the wait staff?


Like I said, I am very conscious about my actions/attitudes towards people IRL. I'd like to think we were being polite/had proper manners. How I carry myself over the internet =/= in person, and I've never had a problem with waitstaff/service workers in the US or internationally ever unless they were rude to begin with.
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54 / M / Tacoma, WA. wind...
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Posted 6/3/15
Sounds to me they were being rude to you.

It has been a while but I have eaten out in Vancouver, BC ,Victoria and places like Richmond, BC, I tipped the same way I do in the US.

Being the waitress was rude I would have taken back $5 while she was there just to make a point.... but I'm evil that way... doesn't sound like she deserved any more than a 15% tip anyway without the attitude.
If a wait-staffer is friendly then I start giving a better tip.
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22 / M / CA
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Posted 6/3/15
Prejudices is always a nuisance to deal with... Anyways I can only imagine their frustration be similar towards a poor man entering a high class restaurant be similar? Not to say exactly per se, but I think outside from potential discrimination, perhaps they were having a bad day, discontent of not following a 'code'? I dont know, but if its worth your time try and see if the restaurants you visited has anything negative in online reviews or what not. Anyways hope you can enjoy your visit with what's left.
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49 / F / Center of the Uni...
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Posted 6/3/15
I'm A Canadian, actually born in Montreal (though I haven't lived there much) and I have no idea. 15 % is the standard tip. leaving a tip at the table is common. Canada was a pioneer with debit cards so there's no problem however you want to pay (usually, some small businesses still only do cash)

Some Quebequois put their fellows in a bad light with xenophobic behaviour but that's more in non-city areas. Montreal has a rep for being very cosmopolitan and pretty chill.

Conclusion: must have been something unique to the staff/yourself. Don't ask me what. It's certainly NOT a failure of etiquette on your part.
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37 / M / SW Ontario, Canada
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Posted 6/3/15
Generally a standard tip in Canada is about 15%, so I'm not really sure why you got the reactions you did outside of just being unlucky with your serving staff. I've been to Montreal several times, can barely get by in French (to the point where I generally don't even try beyond saying hello and thank you) and have had little negative reaction at all. Maybe it is a race thing as others have guessed? I don't know for sure, but I'm as Caucasian as they come so it's not something I can honestly speak to.
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