Life / Money

Hot tips: Gym etiquette, stage slight, and an 18 per cent gratuity

When using a credit card to pay, the suggested gratuity is often 18 per cent instead of the typical 15 per cent. One reader asks whether this is the new normal amount.

Torontonians tend to feel strongly about tipping, Karen Cleveland writes.


Torontonians tend to feel strongly about tipping, Karen Cleveland writes.

Whenever I use my credit card to pay at a restaurant, I see the gratuity that is automatically populated starts at 18 per cent, instead of the 15 per cent it used to be. What gives? 

There is no “right” amount to tip, but I agree that the floor is being raised for tipping in Toronto. Without overthinking it, I often default to that 18 per cent, too. A tip of 15 per cent is still very good, it is just that 18 per cent (or 20 per cent) is better. I already hear the groans of how expensive things already are here, which they are, but let’s be reasonable: If your morning latte is $2.80, tipping 18 per cent instead of 15 per cent is a difference of eight cents.

My hunch is that those of us who have waited tables or tended bar are more open to gratuity nudging up, because they know how much of a grind that can be, for a nominal wage. Tipping strikes a chord with Torontonians for a reason I’ve never quite understood. We feel really strongly about it.

For the person who's thinking, ‘well, a jump from 15 per cent to 18 per cent might not matter on a daily latte, but what about a $250 dinner’? If you can afford a lavish dinner, you can afford to tip the people that made that meal happen.

I get really frustrated by a few people at my gym who take over a half-a-dozen machines at the same time. I asked if I could work in and was given a dramatic eyeroll. I’ve seen them do this to a few other people. Rude, right? What can I do?

Ugh. Tell me they are at least wiping off of the sweaty equipment that they are hoarding. I find this frustrating, too. You literally can’t use two machines at once, so why lay claim to all of them? The next time you ask to work in and you get some sass, make an immediate beeline to another machine they are using. If they make a comment, ask if they are using all the equipment at the same time.

Regardless of how they respond to your completely reasonable question, mention your conversation to staff. The person’s behaviour might be consistently irking other clients and they’ll likely want to address it.

My friend and I are season ticket holders to a local theatre production. The people who sit behind us don’t respect the actors and talk through the show. We don’t want to change our seats because they are the best in the house. What should we do?

How awkward. I’m sorry to hear that. It must be awful to get stuck with that for a few hours, let alone the entire season. Don’t be shy about addressing this. By raising it, it sounds like the entire crowd and performers can potentially benefit. Can you make this the concern of the theatre attendants, those in the aisle waiting to help? If not, after the next performance, ask if they enjoyed it.

Have a nice polite chat then confide that you actually had a really hard time catching the entire show as you found them distracting. Hopefully they get they hint, but if not, you should absolutely raise it with the staff. If anyone should be moving seats, it shouldn’t be you.

Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland answers your questions about life online. Email her your questions:

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