A distant time ago rzr_grl
shared a story
that provoked some interesting conversation about tipping.
Having been raised in the Bay Area I've come to know that tipping is the polite thing to do, etc. In the last two months I've had the opportunity to share that tipping heritage with other parts of the world. Reactions by the local wait-staff were varied:
Munich, Germany: Despite no evidence that tipping is customary (no cash left on bars, no tip jars) the wait-staff simply accepted the tips and wandered off. My impression was that they were not about to correct the dumbass foreigner that overpaid for the meal/drink/whatever. It should be noted, however, that credit card charge slips did have a space for tips, so I don't think the whole thing was crazy-weird to them.
Paris, France: Not only was tipping customary, but I got the distinct feeling that no matter how I tipped I was still tipping below their expectation. The service also appeared unaffected by the level of tipping - the wait staff always projected the impression that they were doing me a big favor by talking to me. Of course I was there for less than a day and was eating on the Champs Elysees, so I'm certain this had something to do with things. Had I had time to explore less touristy places things may have improved.
London, England (and the greater London area): Very similar to Munich, though I did see one tip jar at a small cafe in Farnham. Not much else to report here - Tips appeared to be marginally expected, but were not considered an automatic part of the transaction.
Tokyo, Japan: After enjoying a ramen and a beer I paid my bill, left a few 100 Yen coins (this is ~$1 per 100 Yen) on the table, and left the restaurant. About ten seconds later the waiter came chasing after me. He pressed the coins into my hand and, in very broken English, explained to me that I had accidentally forgotten some money on the table. He would not accept them back. None of the credit card slips had a place for tips. There were no tip jars. This extended to the various pubs that I stumbled across as well (There was an English Pub, and Irish Pub, and some crazy thing called a Canadian Bar all within about ten minutes walk from my hotel).