Canadian Shopping Etiquette

Whether you are new to Canada, or a hardened Canuck who just wants a refresher, basic shopping etiquette is a bit different here than from most of the world.

With the help of Trip Advisor’s Canada Traveller Article – Canada: Tipping & Etiquette, we have compiled a detailed lists of what to do, what to expect, and what we Canucks seem to take offense to.

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TIPPING

Aside from the food industry, where tipping is customary, giving a tip to a Canadian service worker usually results in endless thanks.


Restaurants

Most restaurants do not include gratuities in the bill. It is standard to tip your server 15% of the total bill before taxes or even tip more for fantastic service. While tipping is a personal choice, and you can adjust the percentage based on that personal choice, servers are accustomed to the standard 15%.

Often times, large groups will be automatically charged a 15% gratuity to their bill. This is specific to individual restaurants, but it is usually applied to groups of 8 people or more.


Hotels

Tipping room service, your room attendant or cleaner, the bell-hop, valet attendants, or even the hotel concierge when they go the extra mile is a great way to say thanks.


Other Services

Valets and taxi drivers are always good to tip. Aestheticians, hair dressers, and manicurists on average are tipped about 50% of the time, and their tip is usually slight. A quick rule of thumb on whether you should tip or not, is to decide if the service was good for you, and if you think the person deserves a little added thank you. If the answer is yes, go ahead and tip. A 10-15% tip is usually appropriate for these types of services.


Tip Jars

Coffee shops, fast food joints, and even some retail stores offer up tip jars for a small token of gratitude. Fun fact, most Canadian’s ignore these tip jars unless their service was exceptional. As a new comer, these tip jars are only a suggestion and not customary.


Tipping is a personal choice, but some things you need to consider

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Tipping is always a choice if it is not directly charged to your bill. However, the reason why tipping is so customary in restaurants and bars is because the minimum wage for servers and waitresses is less than the minimum wage for all other industries. Many people feel tipping is necessary, and that refusing to tip because your experience was poor is not the way to go. For example, if the food was poor or the service was slow because the kitchen was slow, it can be argued that your poor experience is not the fault of the server, therefore they shouldn’t be penalized with not tipping. However, if you have a rude server, you should potentially do more than just not tip. If the server genuinely ruined your experience, considered speaking with a manager about your experience, to maybe find out if there is a back story behind the poor service.

Also keep in mind that most servers are required to pool their tips or share a percentage with hostesses, bussers, the kitchen staff, or other workers in the establishment. If you choose not to tip, the server still has to tip those other support workers, meaning you may be causing them to pay the support workers out of pocket.

 

ETIQUETTE

Canadians are often looked at as particularly friendly people. We like common courtesy, alike the rest of the world, and generally try to maintain politeness when requesting service, or asking questions. Smiling, patience and a friendly approach will often be reciprocated when used in Canada.

That being said, here are some of our pet peeves:


Movie Theatres

Please do not use your cellphone (not even to check the time, or text a friend) while in a movie theatre. The light and sound are distracting. If you must leave your phone on, set it to vibrate, and if a call comes through, kindly excuse yourself and take the call outside of the theatre.


French-Speaking

If visiting a French-speaking area of Canada, try to speak French. While Canada’s education system is bilingual (English and basic French required), we appreciate it if you make the effort to speak the native tongue of the area. If you’re particularly uncomfortable, most will switch to the language you prefer to speak.


Accent

Yes, we have an accent. Yes, it is entirely oblivious to (most of) us. While we often have a British or French slant to our words, our accents are different from coast to coast.


Cowboys and ‘Natives’

The word Indian is pretty well stricken from the Canadian language. We have a long beautiful history with our First Nations, Natives or Aboriginal peoples. Also, our natives aren’t referred to as tribes, but as bands or nations.


Knowing Our Country

Many outsiders have no idea that you can’t drive from Toronto, to Montreal, to Vancouver in a day. Somehow, the size of Canada has evaded most travellers, so when peeking at a map, the distance between Toronto and Vancouver (4392 KM, or roughly 50 hours of driving) seems a shock. Take a quick peek at the legend, recognize the expanse of our land, and prepare for more local trips rather than a nationwide tour. Quite simply, our country is beautiful everywhere you go.

For more information, visit TripAdvisor.ca’s Canada: Tipping & Etiquette.