Do Australians Travelers Really Not Know How To Tip?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Did you know that Australians are apparently the world’s worst tippers? According to whom? Waiters, bartenders, surly New Zealanders? Nope, the Australians themselves. Turns out, they’re self-avowed bad tippers, but not out of spite. As one Australian notes, it’s a culture thing.

We just don’t do it; it’s not part of our culture.

Some Aussies do try but we invariably get it wrong: the wrong amount, done the wrong way, given to the wrong person.

And that’s the main problem. It’s not that Australians don’t want to tip (although that’s part of it), it’s that we don’t really understand how the whole thing is done when we try.

So, next time a four-top group of Aussies sits down in your section in New York (oh man, this lingo is really bringing me back to my waiter days), be prepared to either have an awkward explanation as to the cultural differences between the U.S. and back home, or go home with a little less in your wallet, it’s your choice. Just remember, it’s not personal.

  • Clive R Joel

    I was a Casino dealer on Cruise ships for 15 years and always avoided working on P&O Australia ships and focused my attention to the US based ships. My last contract I was not so lucky—
    I worked on the Star Princess out of Brisbane which was basically a party booze gambling ship. We were understaffed and I worked the Blackjack, Roulette and Poker tables for sometimes over 4 hours at a time because we were rammed with Aussie pissheads (bundeberg rum) determined to gamble and gamble, fight, swear etc
    The House used to take approx $AU 20,000 a day and most of the time they used to win because the Aussies did not have a clue how to play. My job was to help them along their way and assist gamblers about what card to take blah blah in the hope that if they win they ‘Tip’ me. No such luck–I was nearly in tears after 3 months because we were in the most beautiful places in the world like Whitsundays Fraser Island Barrier reef etc and we did not have spot to piss in because we worked for tips. One particular day the house took a beating and it seemed like there were some big winners on Poker–Straight flush won $5000–Tip= $AU00000–On blackjack my table lost at least $AU10000 in the 2 hours I was dealing and at one stage I even boldly asked them how to put up a tip for the dealer– One chap who had a fortune in front of him from a $20AU ‘buy-in’ did and then never again. I had the Manageress on my case and a table full of total tightwad drunk Aussies on the other side . That day the House drop was $20,000 and they lost $45,000 and I was on the count that night after another 14 hour sea day shift and I counted up the ‘tips’ for the 6 dealers and the grand total was $12 AUS–$AU 2 whole dollars each–Culture my ass. Aussies are a joke and I got off that ship pretty lively and never forget my experiences in Australia. If you think I was on good wages?? Think again–$US400 a month–No wonder they have these 400 million dollar cruise ships out.
    Whenever I meet an Aussie in any service industry I so want to ‘stiff them’ but I go the other way just to make a point and tip well over the 15%. If I hear ‘Bugger that mate’ or ‘OK Champ’ I will not held responsible for my actions lol

  • Danielle Coelli

    In Australia the min. wage is huge, compared to every other nation. It would be considered very weird to tip your waiter, or anyone else. I worked as a waitress for 3 years only had it happen twice, both times we laughed and just added the money to the till. I am travelling to Thailand and have been researching tipping and it is confusing to know the right amount and to whom.

  • swanny

    Why should we tip?
    People get paid to do their job!
    We already pay for the food which is always overpriced.
    this is why we Aussies don’t tip, because it is just people trying to rip us off!
    Why do the Americans do it?

  • Simplified

    Heres the deal. Waiters also pay out of there own tips a thing called tip share, which goes to the busses, bartetenders who prepare their drinks, and sometimes hosts. This is around 3% of their gross sales. So if the tab is $100, 3 dollars automatically will go to tip share. So if you leave 15 dollars as tip, the waiter will actuall keep 12 dollars. If you leave $0, the waiter pays 3 dollars out of there own pocket and earns nothing. I just don’t get why foreigners don’t realize that they are in a different country with different customs. If I’m traveling to a different country I do my bloody research! Or at least I ask the server what is customary! The entire world is not Australia, nor France, nor Spain!

  • N.Y.C. Waiter

    I have been a server in New York City for over fifteen years. I can say without doubt that Aussies are the worst tippers ever. I have a explained the tipping system to them but they still leave 5 to 10 percent. I give good service and they are always super happy about the service but never tip well. I has an Australian party of four leave me $20 on a $500 check. They came back a couple weeks later and requested as there waiter. They said that I had given them the best service they ever had. Mind you I explained the tipping system to them and they still screwed me last time they were here. I gave them average service on this visit. I had a lot of other tables that were paying for my service and was not about to bend over backward for almost nothing from them. I did not give them bad service, I just did not do all the extras for them. At the end of the night they told me that things were good but you could see that they were waiting for that free dessert, like I gave them last time, when they tipped crappie. Did they really think that I was going to bend over backward and jump through hoops for them and give them free dessert for a $20 tip!? Keep in mind I clearly explained the tipping system to them and gave them a tipp calculator. They still screwed me on this visit. $20 on $450!

  • American tips are steep! Though of course you don't begrudge the person receiving it. It takes a bit of getting used to that your real bill is going to be 15% higher than the price as stated. Also price tags in stores don't include vat, so it can all get a bit confusing. In Europe generally and certainly in Spain tipping is not so standardised. It's a question of something small, loose change – the assumption being that the person is being paid a low but decent wage. I think there is a perception, right or wrong, that many Americans in the service industries simply can't live on their basic, so tips are essential.
    I would tip around 10% in Spain for a good, upscale meal but would never tip for a coffee or a beer – it isn't expected.

  • Amy & Kieron

    Very true – we went over to the US last year and most of our difficulties with tipping were down to complete confusion.

    Some of the problems we encountered included:
    – What do you do when the waitress brings you back change that was intended as a tip?
    – How much should you tip a tour guide?

    Despite this, I think we got it right most of the time. We aimed for a minimum 15% tip, made sure to tip housekeeping, bartenders, porters, valets, taxi drivers, etc and usually were shown gratitude. If we offended anyone with our inadequate tipping, we apologize!

    • TheExpeditioner

      It's weird, as an American, I'm usually taken aback when I realize I'm traveling somewhere where tipping isn't expected (a nice surprise). I think overall, it's safe to go with 15% no matter what. Even if it's high for someplace you're traveling, it's not like it's going to break the bank, and it's a nice gesture.

      And if it's a little low (like for a waiter in NYC), it's not too much less than what they were expecting. At least no one is getting stiffed.

      (Regarding the waitress bringing back change: that's expected. Just leave the amount meant for a tip on the table, or send it via PayPal directly here to

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