maio 22, 2017

Brazil: Tipping & Etiquette

Grilled veggies and meat at America restaurant in Sao Paulo.

I was reading this traveler article about tipping & etiquette in Brazil and I came across with a few misunderstandings I would like to address here.

Tipping is the subject and they say: "Tipping in Brazil is typically not expected nor given."
This statement is not accurate if not wrong. At some places, a tip must be given. For example, at restaurants, bars, diners, self-services, nightclubs, casual Brazilian "lanchonetes" and pubs. Other places a tip is is pretty much expected, they are hair and nail salons, but I won't talk about them today.
The website goes like this: "At almost all restaurants and bars, a standard "serviço" service fee of 10% is included as a line item at the end of the "conta" or bill. This fee is not compulsory, even though it may seem so."
This is very wrong!

The etiquette says you may tip at all places where they serve you food. Which means if the food was brought to you by a waitress, waiter, or hand given to you from anyone who works at any place where they serve food, you need to pay 10% tip. It's very, very, very rude not to pay this 10% fee. Even when the service isn't perfect nor amazing you'll see Brazilians paying it. Why wouldn't you? More important, you don't want to be those ugly Americans on vacation in Latin America, right?

On the self-services restaurants where the workers only bring you drinks or desert, you still need to pay the 10%. It's not because they didn't bring you the main course, but because they served you either drinks or desert, also known as food. You might see 10% added to the bill,  but you also can leave some cash/coins on the table for it. It's not 15%, not 20%, it's 10%, and 95% of the times is in the last line on the bill "conta" for a reason. It's there for you to pay it!

* You should always check if they didn't include more beers, but this is also for another post.

How does it work? The 10% service fee that comes from each customer goes to a fish bowl which is shared at the end of the day (or week) with all waitresses, waiters and table helpers and cleaners. Brazil is not like the US where the tip goes to a person who worked on your table. You should notice how socialist Brazil is, and this part of the "even if you suck you still get a compensation".

Ok, let's say you didn't plan well for your vacation and you don't want to pay for it. Then, follow these steps:

1. Ask to talk to the "maitre", a French word for the restaurant's manager.

2. Explain with details what is wrong with your order.

3. Wait a few seconds for an apology, compensation or similar. 

4. If they don't offer a solution or anything close to that then you say why you wouldn't pay the 10% service fee.

After all, let me know how this works out for you.

Another day at America!

See the original article is here.

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