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Mark Zuckerberg's Roman Holiday - Romulus and Ream Us


Joe H
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You know what they say. When in Rome ...

I'm unclear that there's any problem here. Not tipping appears to be fairly normal and OK in Europe. Also, any extra money might end up with the owner not the waiter anyway.

IIUC, in most of Europe waiters are paid normal wages, and/or the service charge is automatically added into the initial bill. Thus tips are left only for truly exceptional service, and are not especially large. They are not expected, and sometimes are actively discouraged.

There are those who would say that if someone is particularly rich he/she ought to be more generous. Examination of this viewpoint could start a spirited discussion, and I (a non-Facebook user) do not wish to defend Zuckerberg. But I would say that, if someone like he were expected to leave a generous tip only because of how much he has, then why wouldn't the same argument apply to all services he receives, or even goods? Should he leave 200% tips on meals in the US? Should he tip his doctor? Should he pay more than the tag price when he buys a hoodie? Or a Lamborghini? It seems a stretch.

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Respectfully but I disagree on this. Yes, "service" is included but leaving an additional 5 or 10% in cash for good service is quite common. As for Zuckerberg I am not a big fan of Facebook. Actually, not a small one either but that may be my age.

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According to Rick Steves

In Italy you tip if you really like the place, the food and the service; if the waiter was very friendly for example. In US a waiter has a small salary, but just because he will have a lot of tips: tipping is necessary; in Italy no, the salary is good and the tip is something exceptional, so a guest can tip or not and normally only the 10/20 percent of guests tip. Giving a tip to the waiter or leaving it on the table it is up to you. Leaving it on the table is the standard. If you pay your bill by credit card remember to tip by cash, this will be very appreciated. A ten per cent tip in a restaurant is what you can consider a good tip.

When I was in Venice, I had to scan the receipts carefully to see if service charges are already included. If not, then I tipped 10%. I don't think I was obligated to tip but I did anyway. I certainly wouldn't expect to get called out by a restaurant owner publicly over $4 of which I was under no obligation to give. And the food may well have sucked - lots of people say everything is fine even when it's not.

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I suspect the bottom line to this is that it comes down to personal experience. I've reperesented Italian, German and Swiss companies continuously for 30+ years and I also have sold in Europe for almost 15 travelling heavily there. Based on experiences dating back to the early '80's when I was taken out to dinner by Europeans who I worked for, they tipped regardless of whether "service" was included or not. What is important is that the "tip" was always in cash and rarely, if ever, more than 5-10%. I haven't really thought about whether I left more in, say, Italy than Germany but I've always left something unless the service was bad. Where, I think, many Americans make a mistake is that they tip 18-20+ per cent in Europe believing the system is similar to here. Frankly, if a check is E 50 and a 5% tip is left we're talking E 2.50 which could be the change if you pay in cash. In Mark Zuckerberg's case it is PR as much as anything else. Regardless of whether he left a little or a lot having profited by $10+ billion (perhaps double this a couple of weeks ago) I (and the UK paper) believe he should have left something.

Of course on the other hand it is entirely possible that I have been leaving far too much money "on the table" for far too many years.

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From Washingtonian chat:

Mark Zuckerberg:

Why is it so shocking that he didn't leave a tip? When I travel to a country where tipping isn't customary in restaurants, I don't tip. My understanding was that in Italy most people don't tip in restaurants, and the few that do only round up the bill a euro or two. Assuming that's true, why should he be held to a different standard just because he's rich?

Todd Kliman:

No, not just because he’s rich.

In European countries, it is customary that if the service is good, you leave some change. Zuckerberg left no change.

It is not customary to leave a tip if the service is good in Europe. I've been to Europe many times, read guidebooks about every country I visited, and none of them state it is customary to tip. Most of them say to make sure you don't tip if service charge is already included. I tip in Europe, and I think fortunate people should help the less fortunate, but making a big deal about not tipping on a 30 euro lunch is making a mountain out of a mole hill.

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