Tip top and top tip
I think I know why customer service can be so much nicer in north-america, than the service we get here in France.
The first reason is the one I mentioned here, telling about my friend’s misadventures with Cyrillus : sales and service is something noble in anglo-saxon protestant countries, whereas it is considered a low-key-not-worthy job in our catholic cultured France.
The second reason, after a two week holiday in Canada this summer, is now more obvious to me : Money !
In the States and Canada, waiters and shop assistants’ salary is based on one thing: the tip that you are going to leave them !
Service is NOT included in your bill, and it is common to tip around 10-15% of the total, to reward your waiter or waitress of his/her service. If you are happy with what you got, and you are generous, you can tip more of course, up to 20% or more !
Which means that waiters will be very keen on giving you the best service possible, to get the best tip possible ! (they may even “profile” you, to assess if you are more the “ego” type of guy, to whom they should pay a lot of compliments, or the “efficiency” type who must not wait more than 2 seconds, etc ..)
You may read more about this issue on Waiter rant, the waiter's blog, that's just become a book "Thanks for the tip: confessions of a cynical waiter".. (discovered thanks to Thierry's blog )
The result of the tip rule is that you usually get a good service, even if you come for the first time, because the waiter needs your money to make a living; and if you come back and were generous the first time, you’re bound to be really well taken care of…
Whereas in France, service is included in the bill and we usually do NOT give tips.
Thus our waiters do not care at all if they are obnoxious or nice with us, since they will not get paid more !
My conclusion is: maybe I will start to be more generous with my french waiter next time, and give more than a nice smile and thanks to the waitress who will be nice to me.
And maybe the top tip will get me the tip top service ?