Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sticky expectations #2

From the LA Times:

The Facebook CEO and co-founder was recently in the capital city of Italy celebrating the wedding to his longtime girlfriend on their honeymoon, but on the Web, the young billionaire is getting grilled for his tipping habits -- or lack thereof.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, stopped by Nonna Betta, a kosher restaurant in Rome's Jewish Ghetto, where they spent 32 euros, about $40, on a meal that included fried artichokes, fried pumpkin flowers and ravioli stuffed with sea bass and artichokes, the Telegraph reported.

The couple thought the meal was "very good" but not good enough to tip, according to the Italian publication Corriere della Sera, which posted the story Monday.

Waiters at Nonna Betta were surprised no tip was left behind, not only because of Zuckerberg's wealth but also because they are accustomed to generous tips from American tourists, according to the Telegraph, which reported Zuckerberg also did not tip at another Roman establishment the previous night.

But should Zuckerberg really be blasted for not leaving a tip? If Zuckerberg hadn't left a tip at a restaurant in the U.S., that would be pretty lame of him, but in Italy tipping isn't exactly expected.

From the Globe and Mail (emphasis mine):

(In Mr. Zuckerberg’s defence, some have pointed out that a service charge is already included in the bill.)

But some argue Mr. Zuckerberg has been unfairly cast as a tightwad.

“It is not customary to tip for meal service in Italy,” Jodi Smith, of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, told MSNBC. In the United States servers have a lower minimum wage – tips are expected to supplement their income. “In Italy, servers are paid a living wage and tips are for extraordinary meals and/or service,” she says.

But while it may be okay for locals to skip leaving gratuities, it appears travellers, particularly Americans, tend to be held to a different standard.

“Zuckerberg not leaving a tip is a bit of a faux pas, but really because of Italian expectations of Americans,” Kathy McCabe of travel newsletter Dream of Italy, told USA Today. “Americans absolutely have a reputation for tipping, and many Italians have come to expect a tip when serving them.”

What are Italian expectations of Americans when it comes to bail-outs?

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