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Hey, Toronto, you’re not a great tipper (relative to Ottawa and Montreal)

(Image: Carissa Rogers)

(Image: Carissa Rogers)

Torontonians are a pretty parsimonious bunch when it comes to tipping, according to a recent study by Square, a San Francisco-based mobile-payment outfit. In a study of five Canadian cities, the company found that only 65.5 per cent of Toronto customers are in the habit of tipping at all, with the average tip hovering at 14.4 per cent. Compare that to Ottawa, apparently the number-one Canadian city for tipping, where gratuities average 15.6 per cent, and occur 76.7 per cent of the time. (Toronto is number three. Montreal came in second, while Vancouver and Calgary were more or less tied for last place.) Square didn’t release its methodology, so it’s not clear whether the results reflect straightforward restaurant tipping or a larger variety of tipping scenarios.

Unsurprisingly, all Canadian cities looked pretty cheap compared to cities in the U.S. An earlier tipping survey found that the lowest average tip across ten major U.S. cities was 15.5 per cent. (That said, the average percentage of customers who tipped at all the States was surprisingly low, at just 63 per cent—suggesting that Americans’ tipping mentality is an all-or-nothing kind of thing.)

Toronto’s lowish tipping average is sort of understandable—everyone has a crotchety relative or two who still thinks 10 per cent is plenty. But what about all these total tip-shunning desperados, who apparently comprise over a third of city’s population? Rumbles of tip-abolitionist sentiment have been felt in Toronto before, although they’ve never amounted to much. (In an online poll we published last December, 68 per cent of readers voted in favour of outlawing restaurant tipping altogether.) Maybe 2014 is the year.

Read on to see the tipping stats for all five Canadian cities.

1. Ottawa: tips 76.7 per cent of the time, with an average tip of 15.6 per cent

2. Montreal: tips 70.4 per cent of the time, with an average of 14.4 per cent

3. Toronto: tips 65.5 per cent of the time, with an average of 14.5 per cent

4. Vancouver: tips 62 per cent of the time, with an average of 13.4 per cent

5. Calgary: tips 59.4 per cent of the time, with an average tip of 13.3 per cent

  • Matt

    Please, please make an effort to add more applicable information to these articles. This study was done by analyzing data of restaurants that use Square as a form of payment. Those unfamiliar with Square, its a little device that connects to your phone where you can swipe cards for payment. MOST places that use these devices are start-ups, small restaurants, low volume restaurants, take-out, mobile restaurants and pop-ups. This definitely skews the results, as its not taking into consideration established restaurants, chain restaurants ect. Also it doesn’t take into consideration paying with a card, and tipping with cash; which is generally how I tip at any place with a bill under $100. So these results have absolutely no merit or relevance. I have no idea what the % of the types of restaurants are. How many people do you think tip their frie truck at lunch?

  • moleski

    I agree with Matt. I believe it is the practice in Toronto to tip in cash even if one pays for goods or services on a credit card, debit card, or by electronic means.

  • NA

    Cause stuff is more expensive in the GTA than those other places, and people don’t have as much money left over for tips.

    Situation explained concisely.

  • NA

    Or tip their bank teller
    Or tip their kid’s teacher
    Or tip their family doctor
    Or tip the grocery store checkout chick
    Or tip the sales goon who hassles them at their favorite clothing store
    Or tip their gas station attendant
    Or tip… etc

  • Henry Rychlicki

    Good Service = Good tips, as well as Poor service = poor to no tip, if you do not provide Good Service then you can call me Stiff Waiters, I grew up in the restaurant business and I would like to see Toronto wait staff take a page from the amazing Wait Staff in Chicago.

  • 1963TOM

    Hey why don’t you pay people in the USA food industry living wages like in Australia and Europe and forget tips.

    At restaurants there is some tipping here of just a few %.. The point is when you go a restuarant the food prices here and there are the same, add these mega tips and you are more expensibe and why when the wages in the USA are so low, given the prices.

    People are paid usd 15-17 per hour day shirf here in cafe’s and restaurants, and more in evening.s

    I think after going to the USA 10 times, Our restaurant scene is more varied and better than a lot of the USA. Too many franchise chains , much more indpendent scenes here.

    I have a more limited idea of Canada, but a relative said good choices especially at cafe level was better in Montreal and Quebec than Toronto. i think Canada would be more like Australia.

    Plus the coffee and tea is better in cafe’s here.

    Hey, even Australian version of McCafe is more like a proper coffee shop here, than the short changed cut down version in the USA and canada. With proper cakes, focacia’s etc, and yes proper crockery, not paper cups when you eat in store, even at Mac Donalds here. No time limit restrictions on Wifi either.Even MacDonalds McCafee coffee here is better than the stuff most Americans drink.
    We would not put up with the low elvel offerign you get even at McDonalds here.

    But McCafe was an Australian McDonalds invention with the first opening in 1993

    Even in industrial areas we have proper sandwich shops and the general food choices here is more than franchises.

  • Rico_Featherbutt

    But Henry, the hipster attitude comes free!

  • Matt

    Apparently it wasn’t even just restaurants. This is a quote from a cbc news article
    “The data was gathered from transactions made using Square’s mobile payment technology, and covered retail services that give a tip option to customers, including restaurants, taxis, spas, hairdressers and bars.”
    Why even post this in a news section? I’d be surprised if even 20% of the data came from Restaurants & Bars.

  • Michael

    No surprise whatsoever in this article. It is only getting worse. Torontonians are a wealthy but very cheap population who pretend they do not know better.