Yes – you are expected to tip just about everything.
No I don’t think it is silly and outrageous.
I am an Australian and we as a race do not tip at all. We expect to pay for a service and receive it and if we don’t THEN we get snakey and complain to management.
But Australian standard wages are far higher than in America under our FairWork agreements.
Currently the full-time minimum wage in Australia is $16.37 per hour or $622.20 per week.
Casuals covered by the national minimum wage get an extra 24% ($20.30 per hour) as their minimum
In America on the other hand: The Fair Labor Standards Act allows a minimum wage of $2.13 for tipped workers with the expectation that wages plus tips total no less than $7.25 per hour.
So – if you are a waiter for example in Australia, you would get minimum $20 per hour – but with very few tips.
In America you earn $2.13 or up to $7.25 per hour!
Which is precisely why we must tip casual service staff when we are in America.
For waiters at sit-down restaurants, bartenders, barbers/hairdressers/attendants at beauty salons, taxi drivers, tour guides, and food delivery folks, the tip should be calculated as a percentage of your total bill as follows: 10% usually means you aren’t totally happy, 15% usually means all was good, 20% for excellent, over 20% for outstanding. 15% and over is considered “normal”.
Whenever I am in America I check that the “check” has already added what is euphemistically called a “service charge”. It is always 20%. I take groups of clients around on tour so on a bill of $1,000 USD I am required to pay an extra $200 in tips.
Here is the question though: if two waiters in America serve a table of 10 people and there is a tip of $200 then that is going to work out to be more of an earner than the Aussie waiters doing the same job if the tip is split between the two of them. If it is split up into chief cooks and bottle-washers too then they are not earning much.
In my opinion incentivising anything is a good idea to make it work better. Take Communist China for example. Why work hard for $1 a day regardless of what you do?
If you go cruising or barging or on any water-craft you are always expected to tip generously. Envelopes are left on your pillow for this purpose. It is a great way of ensuring casual staff try their hardest. So go with it and embrace it, factor in the extra 25% needed for tips and taxes into every price.
And remember! – keep lots of $$$ in your wallet and always give the poor cleaning lady stuck underground in the public toilets 50 cents or $1 to take a pee (you, not her!) and remember how lucky you are.
You only have to go to a foetid uncared-for toilet to realise that!