Quebecers known as bad tippers when visiting Vermont

Are Canadians cheap or just used to tipping less than Americans?

Canadians may be known for being polite and nice, but apparently we're also developing a reputation for being bad tippers - at least Quebecers are.

Burlington, Vermont isn't far from the Quebec border and staff at restaurants say people from La Belle Province are developing a bad distinction.

"When you're busting your butt and it's a large table or even a small table of Canadians, you just don't want to leave it to chance that you're going to get a $3 tip on a $100 bill, said Niall McMahan, a server at one restaurant. He said about three quarters of Canadian tourists tip five to 10 per cent so sometimes servers add the gratuity on to the bill.

People at other Burlington restaurants had similar feelings about Quebecers.

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While many comments online from waiters to cruise ship personnel may call Canadians the worst tippers, according to the New York Times, Canadians on average tip the second most of any people in the world. Canadians tip 16 per cent and the only country that tips more is the U.S. at 18 per cent. The survey shows that we receive the third best service in the world with the U.S. receiving the seventh best despite paying the most for it.

Strangely, the country that provides the best service has no history of tipping. Bell hops to waiters won't accept tips in Japan and their service ranks well ahead of second-place Thailand. The worst country surveyed for service is Russia.

So it seems like when Canadians go to the U.S., they may just tip like they are in Canada and not the larger amounts Americans usually tip.

"We're definitely not cheap," said Rob Myers, a managing director at Synovate, to the Toronto Star in 2007. The company released a report showing we are among the best tippers in the world. "We're lower tippers, on average, than Americans. But in terms of the world, we are one of the countries that tips the most."

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Not knowing who or how much to tip seems to be the case for many industries on this side of the border. According to a Bank of Montreal tipping etiquette survey in 2007, most Canadians tip the standard 15 per cent in a restaurant, but we don't tip nearly that much for food delivery or cab drivers. About one quarter of Canadians don't tip at all for nail salons or spas.

"Canadians generally don't know who they should be tipping," said Nancy Marescott, director of the bank's Mosaik MasterCard program, to the Star in 2007.

Whether or not these Quebecers eating in Vermont know the American standard is to tip more, they don't seem to be making any friends with the Vermont wait staff.

With files from CBC

(CBC photo)