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Ask Louise: How to confront a bad tipper

In this new column, Louise Fox, founder of The Etiquette Ladies, answers all your social conundrums and questions about modern manners.

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Photo, iStock.

Dear Louise,

One of my good friends is really cheap when it comes to tipping service staff. If we’re at a restaurant, she doesn’t always give the standard 15 percent — it all depends on what she has in her wallet at time. At bars, she often doesn’t tip at all. I’ve jokingly made comments to her about needing to tip more, but she just shrugs her shoulders and says that she can’t afford to give more. Her behaviour really embarrasses me. What’s the best way to handle this situation? – R.Y. – Toronto

A tip is based on merit and is at the discretion of the tipper even though today it may seem more of a habit than a reward. To leave a meager or insufficient tip could be a real hardship for someone in the service industry. They depend on tips to supplement their wages and bring their income up to a decent level. Tipping is a way of saying, “Thank you for a job well done,” on your behalf or “I appreciate what you do.” One of the more important aspects of the tip is the effect it has of raising morale and encouraging better service. It is an incentive and helps a person in the service industry enjoy their job more.

What should you do? You might explain to your friend why tipping is important and how it generally pays off with better service. Then change the subject. You cannot be responsible for the behaviour of others nor can you change their behaviour if they are not receptive. There is no need to feel embarrassed . Continue to tip as you deem appropriate and express gratitude for good service with a verbal thank you.

Have a question for Louise? Email askaneditor@chatelaine.com.

Louise Fox, recognized as Canada’s Etiquette Expert, is the owner of The Etiquette Ladies and MannersTV.ca. She has over 20 years experience in hospitality and special event planning industries, and is Director of Eastern Operations of Civility Experts Worldwide and Certification Panelist and Master Trainer for the International Civility Trainers’ Consortium . She is a frequent guest on Breakfast Television, Entertainment Tonight, MTV, Business News Network, Global News and many others.