ronglimeng
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Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:35 am

I have several books in my personal library on the subject of correct behaviour in Eastern countries. You know, books that contain tips like presenting your business card with both hands to Chinese and Japanese businessmen, bringing small gifts along, not eating ice cream cones on the street in Japan, not blowing your nose in restaurants…stuff like that. I started to wonder if this was a one-way flow of information?

Firstly, I really only speak English, so I am unaware if there are any foreign language guidebooks that give travellers advice on how to behave in, well, let’s say the USA. Do such books exist, or are foreigners generally expected to understand US culture and social behaviour because it is supposidly well-known in the world through movies and TV programs?

Secondly, if you’re an American with any less-than-happy experiences with foreign travellers in your country, is there anything you would like to see in such a guidebook?
 
Newark777
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:10 am



Quoting Ronglimeng (Thread starter):

Secondly, if you’re an American with any less-than-happy experiences with foreign travellers in your country, is there anything you would like to see in such a guidebook?

Once saw a bunch of Middle Easterners standing up on the toilet in NY Penn Station with the stall doors wide open. I understand why they were doing it, but still very strange.

I'd be interesting as well to see what foreigners are warned to do and not to do when in the US.
Why grab a Heine when you can grab a Busch?
 
LOT767-300ER
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:15 am



Quoting Ronglimeng (Thread starter):
Secondly, if you’re an American with any less-than-happy experiences with foreign travellers in your country, is there anything you would like to see in such a guidebook?

I wish someone wrote a guidebook for Miami..
 
AOMlover
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:15 am

I can't answer your question but...
what's so wrong about eating an ice-cream cone on the street in Japan ?

I've eaten many ice creams on the street in Japan, not knowing I was doing something wrong. Is it particular to cones ?
Thanks to enlighten me !
 
NeilYYZ
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:40 am

Tip well, especially if you're Canadian, I've heard the canoe joke too many times! It's 15-20% Canadians, adding the tax up in the US doesn't make for a good tip like it does up here  Wink
It may be too early to drink scotch... But it is NEVER too early to think about it...
 
redngold
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:52 am

I think part of the reason you don't see guidebooks to behavior in the U.S. is because... well, we're diverse. There are several distinct areas of the nation that have different customs and language characteristics. For example, in the north there seem to be much more formal business customs than in the southern or western U.S. And California... well, it's its own place.

Lest I sound like an advertisement...

Browsing a store the other day I found an amazing little book that seems to really have the pulse of New York city, even better than some of the ones I used when I moved there twenty years ago.

http://www.amazon.com/Tourists-2008-Guide-York-City/dp/097939452X/

Don't be fooled by the name - if you absolutely must know the intricacies of Manhattan and the highlights of the other boroughs, then get it.
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Braybuddy
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:55 am



Quoting Redngold (Reply 5):
I think part of the reason you don't see guidebooks to behavior in the U.S. is because... well, we're diverse

Also, most foreigners visiting America have a pretty good idea of what's acceptable, and what's not, in America, coming from years of watching American films and TV shows. Although we can fall down sometimes: I remember a cop going ballistic in San Francisico when I took my beer outside the bar where there was some sort of fracas going-on.
 
csavel
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:18 pm

One thing they tell Europeans supposedly is never to pay a speeding ticket on-the-spot. Apparently a lot of European countries do that (is that really true?) . There was a German guy who got thrown in jail in Texas because the cop thought he was being bribed. Took two days to get him out. (I read this a decade ago, so it might not be 100% accurate)

Also things like right-on red when driving (I don't think they have that elsewhere but in Canada)

Don't talk politics or criticize US policies (even well-deserved) I mean you wouldn't go to X___ and criticize their policies, even if X___'s policies sucked. Suss out the local and find out his opinions first. Many non US'ians do seem to think they have carte blanche to personally criticize every US'ian for everything the US ever did. Those same people wouldn't be so blunt and aggressive about criticizing other countries, even if well-deserved, or at least would be more diplomatic about it.

I am talking personal experience here, as I got harangued in Germany for GWB and Iraq, some comments

Well you guys voted for him, why are you so stupid??? Why did you vote for him, why do you nose your way into other countries on and on and on.

"Well um I'm from New York, we hate him more than you do"

What's with you cowboys and your cowboy attitude?

"How the hell would I know, I'm from New York, Texas is as foreign to us as it is to you."

9/11 is payback chickens come home to roost!

Here I'm tempted to say, "My brother died in 9/11, he never hurt a fly, left a wife and six kids." Not true, of course, but I "am" from New York, I could've lost someone.

Again I am not saying don't criticize and the US has lots to be criticized for, but recognize the person behind the nationality and that the person may very likely agrees with you.
I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.
 
Dougloid
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:42 pm



Quoting Csavel (Reply 7):
9/11 is payback chickens come home to roost!

Here I'm tempted to say, "My brother died in 9/11, he never hurt a fly, left a wife and six kids." Not true, of course, but I "am" from New York, I could've lost someone.

You've got more patience with fools than I do. Probably best I stay home.

One thing we don't like here is self appointed experts from out of town.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
TWFirst
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:47 pm

I've seen several foreigners who don't understand that we queue up for everything in an orderly (or semi-orderly) fashion here in U.S.... and those who don't wait their turn, especially here in NYC, will face severe verbal reprimand!  Wink
An unexamined life isn't worth living.
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:35 pm



Quoting TWFirst (Reply 9):
and those who don't wait their turn, especially here in NYC, will face severe verbal reprimand!

Or more! I was in a bar in NY years ago and went looking for the toilets. I found them down the back, but honestly didn't realise there was a queue outside -- these people were standing along the wall. I headed straight for the door and was VERY quickly yanked by the arm to the back of the queue.
 
andaman
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:34 pm

I Finland I have seen some articles about visitor behaviour in US, about the cultural and other differences:

In US...

..... you HAVE to tip, not that common in Finland.
......be prepared to use cash, taxis don't accept cards, preferred in F.
......small talk is valued high, silence not tolerated like in F.

Other way around: when we had American exchange students in our high school, the Finnish hosts we advised to be careful when introducing the Finnish sauna culture to the American kids, they probably would see nudity in different way.
 Wink
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seb146
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:49 pm



Quoting Andaman (Reply 11):
In US...

..... you HAVE to tip, not that common in Finland.
......be prepared to use cash, taxis don't accept cards, preferred in F.
......small talk is valued high, silence not tolerated like in F.

Huh? I rarely tip because I can't afford it. I will give a tip when I feel the service was above and beyond. Normally I go places where I don't have to tip.

I use taxis maybe twice a year. The cabs I have seen around PDX and SEA do accept cards.

Strangers don't chat especially in the cities. It could be a West Coast thing, but the only time I ever hear people talking with each other is friends and family and even that is not constant and continuous.

Quoting TWFirst (Reply 9):
that we queue up for everything in an orderly (or semi-orderly) fashion here in U.S....

Queuing up orderly is an East Coast thing. The only time we have orderly queues in the Northwest is when autos are involved. We are an impatient people up here. We don't like to wait.

Behavior varies all over the United States. I think we need a guide book on how to act when in other cities. I don't know how to act in DTW or MIA as I have never been to those cities, but I have heard they act different than those in SFO or PDX.
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Newark777
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:54 pm



Quoting Seb146 (Reply 12):

Huh? I rarely tip because I can't afford it. I will give a tip when I feel the service was above and beyond. Normally I go places where I don't have to tip.

If you can't afford a tip, you shouldn't be going at to places that necessitate a tip. What you're doing isn't a good money saving technique, it's just cheap.
Why grab a Heine when you can grab a Busch?
 
ScarletHarlot
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:56 pm



Quoting Andaman (Reply 11):
......small talk is valued high, silence not tolerated like in F.

Even as a Canadian living in the US, this bothers me sometimes. My excitable American vendor is prone to interrupting me in meetings. I consider that to be rude. To him, he's just getting into my thought train and getting excited by it and jumping on board. He means it as more of a compliment than anything. He also cannot stand it if there is a pause in conversation. If he asks a question and nobody answers immediately, he jumps in to ask the question again - not understanding that silence can mean that people are thinking. When I brought him to our Canadian office I gave him a big lecture on what not to do.  Smile

Quoting Csavel (Reply 7):
Don't talk politics or criticize US policies (even well-deserved) I mean you wouldn't go to X___ and criticize their policies, even if X___'s policies sucked. Suss out the local and find out his opinions first.

If you honestly want a dialogue, you can find lots of Americans who will be happy to participate. I've had wonderful discussions with right-wing Christian Texans in which we both came to appreciate each other a bit more. But we approached it very carefully, as a sharing of opinions, not as a questioning of intelligence levels!  Smile
But that was when I ruled the world
 
ronglimeng
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:41 am



Quoting AOMlover (Reply 3):
what's so wrong about eating an ice-cream cone on the street in Japan

Sorry AOMlover, I can't remember the reference, but I do remember reading that in a guidebook. However, a colleague and I did go into a Baskin-Robbins (I think) on the Ginza in Tokyo and bought ice cream that we ate while walking on the street. We were pretty discrete though and avoided showing a lot of tongue action!


It is interesting that several Americans here would like to see a guide for behaviour in other American cities.

One thing I don't like from overseas visitors is the direct question "How much did it cost?" whether they're talking about my house, my car, or whatever.
 
andaman
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:54 am



Quoting Ronglimeng (Reply 15):

One thing I don't like from overseas visitors is the direct question "How much did it cost?" whether they're talking about my house, my car, or whatever.

'Overseas visitors' from where? For an example in the Nordic countries you shouldn't make direct money questions (salary, house etc) to strangers.
Actually we tend to think it's the Americans who want to talk about money  Smile Haven't experienced that myself though, the Thais do that a lot.
Chinese cookie in SFO: "You're doomed to a life of forever travelling abroad and to be able to afford it!"
 
ronglimeng
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 1:09 am



Quoting Andaman (Reply 16):
'Overseas visitors' from where?

Sorry, I should have been more precise.

My personal experience has been with a Singaporean, a couple of Pakistanis, and some Chinese. Maybe not a representative sample but I'll take a chance and generalise.
 
Delta767300ER
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:17 am

Most foreign tourists in the U.S. dont bother me at all. I welcome them and have never had any problems. Living and growing up in Orlando, Tampa, and Miami I have seen my fair share of foreign tourists. The only problem I have is the Europeans wearing speedos. LOL.

-Delta767300ER
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:24 am



Quoting Ronglimeng (Reply 15):
One thing I don't like from overseas visitors is the direct question "How much did it cost?" whether they're talking about my house, my car, or whatever.

That's interesting, and worth noting! It wouldn't be quite the same here, though, as people all-too-frequently talk about the price of their houses or cars. But it would be a BIG no-no to ask someone what they earn. Or a farmer how much land he owns (apparently this is the agricultural equivalent). I suppose the difference being that car prices, or house prices, are pretty common knowledge anyway, but a person's salary is private.
 
rabenschlag
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 11:23 am

At least in Germany, there are a few books, most of them, however, are not death serious, but rather humoristic. In the books that I read, the most frequent advice was not to take invitations to seriously. There have been reports of Germans actually showing up at peoples places in the US after they supposedly had been invited along the lines of "cool, you should come and visit one day".
 
treeny
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 11:52 am



Quoting Newark777 (Reply 13):
If you can't afford a tip, you shouldn't be going at to places that necessitate a tip. What you're doing isn't a good money saving technique, it's just cheap.

What total and utter rubbish!

First of all, a tip is optional. You tip when the service is, at the very least good or beyond the call of duty. I generally dont tip and it is nothing to do with being cheap or not. The staff are being paid, they choose to do the job so they should see tipping as a perk IF they behave in a way that justifies a tip. For me to tip, the service has to blow me away and go way beyond the call of duty.

I tell you the funniest thing about your comment though, I have never yet received service in the USA (or for that matter in the air and I think you will all know what I am talking about) that merits a tip.

So, if I was writing a guide book, the first thing I would say is watch out for tips included in bills at the end of meals because 9/10 times it wont have been deserved and DO NOT feel you should tip if you dont think the service was up to scratch.

Mark
 
ScarletHarlot
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:11 pm



Quoting Treeny (Reply 21):
First of all, a tip is optional. You tip when the service is, at the very least good or beyond the call of duty

In the US, while in theory a tip is optional, in reality, it is expected - and necessary if you want your server to eat and pay his or her bills.

Quoting Treeny (Reply 21):
The staff are being paid, they choose to do the job so they should see tipping as a perk IF they behave in a way that justifies a tip.

Food service workers make way under minimum wage because they are expected to earn tips. This is the law here. They also have to pay tax on imputed tips - not what they actually receive. So basically there is an expectation of a tip.

Quoting Treeny (Reply 21):
For me to tip, the service has to blow me away and go way beyond the call of duty.

In the US, this is not appropriate. In most states, restaurant staff are paid as if they are going to receive a tip and the labour costs inherent in your meal reflect this. Therefore, you are getting a bargain for your meal, on the back of the restaurant staff.

You may not agree with the tipping culture here, but if you don't leave a tip, all you are doing is causing your server to earn a very low wage. By federal law, a food service worker may be paid only $2.33 per hour, with $3.72 per hour imputed as tips.

http://www.dol.gov/esa/programs/whd/state/tipped.htm
But that was when I ruled the world
 
kmh1956
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:16 pm



Quoting Delta767300ER (Reply 18):
The only problem I have is the Europeans wearing speedos.

ANYBODY in a speedo is offensive to me....no matter how good the body, nobody looks good in a speedo. NOBODY.
'Somebody tell me why I'm on my own if there's a soulmate for everyone' :Natasha Bedingfield
 
AsstChiefMark
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:31 pm

Something I notice some eastern Asians doing is taking all the sugar and jam that's in the little rack on each table in a restaurant. It's like they don't understand it's only to be used by customers for use of their food.

I once saw a tribe of eastern Asian tourists come into a McDonalds and go straight to the soda dispenser without paying. They filled their cups and left without paying.

Also, someone needs to tell them that it's not acceptable to walk up to a buffet and fill a purse or tote bag with food. The food is meant to be eaten on premises only.

Are these behaviors acceptable in Eastern Asia? Or are they really trying to steal stuff?
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SBBRTech
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:10 pm



Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 22):
By federal law, a food service worker may be paid only $2.33 per hour, with $3.72 per hour imputed as tips.

That's way too low, specially for US standards, isn't it? How much do you usually tip - 15% ?
Down in Brazil they automatically include 10% as service fee in all checks.
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Dougloid
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:23 pm



Quoting Treeny (Reply 21):
I tell you the funniest thing about your comment though, I have never yet received service in the USA (or for that matter in the air and I think you will all know what I am talking about) that merits a tip.

An expensive and well developed rationalization for being a cheapskate.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
treeny
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:29 pm



Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 22):
In the US, while in theory a tip is optional, in reality, it is expected - and necessary if you want your server to eat and pay his or her bills.



Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 22):
Food service workers make way under minimum wage because they are expected to earn tips. This is the law here. They also have to pay tax on imputed tips - not what they actually receive. So basically there is an expectation of a tip.



Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 22):
In the US, this is not appropriate. In most states, restaurant staff are paid as if they are going to receive a tip and the labour costs inherent in your meal reflect this. Therefore, you are getting a bargain for your meal, on the back of the restaurant staff.

Thanks for the info and the comments......

I think what you have said makes interesting reading.....if what you are saying is true ( and I DONT doubt you) makes you wonder why the customer service in the USA is so bad.....if my eating and living depended on a tip, I would damn well treat customers better than they do in the US.

Sorry, really dont want to cause offence to anybody, especially our US fellow netters but service in the US really is pretty dire. Hence why I just think that this should be in the famous "guide book" we are talking about.

Cheers
 
ScarletHarlot
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:30 pm



Quoting SBBRTech (Reply 25):
That's way too low, specially for US standards, isn't it? How much do you usually tip - 15% ?

Absolutely, that is ridiculously low. It's almost impossible to make a living on the standard minimum wage, much less the one for food service workers.

I usually tip 20% if the service is good, 15% if it is okay, 10% if it is substandard.
But that was when I ruled the world
 
ronglimeng
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:56 pm



Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 28):
I usually tip 20% if the service is good, 15% if it is okay, 10% if it is substandard.

If I was writing the tipping section of the guide book, I would use ScarletHarlot's numbers as good reference points.

I'm surprised that Treeny's service experiences in the USA have been so bad. I think on-average that service in the USA is the best in the world (as I know it).
 
jcs17
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 6:33 pm



Quoting TWFirst (Reply 9):

I've seen several foreigners who don't understand that we queue up for everything in an orderly (or semi-orderly) fashion here in U.S.... and those who don't wait their turn, especially here in NYC, will face severe verbal reprimand!

Northern Europeans are obsessed with queues, you'd really think it was the national sport of Sweden. To get anything, you usually have to take a number.

Nothing is worse than having a European lecture you on politics, or say how stupid America is for voting for Bush (or Boosh... depending on where you are). I can tolerate a little bit of it, but at bars and such, I generally just put my money on the bar and walk out. We get it, Europe, you don't like Bush. You're superior to us. It gets so fucking old. I have no problem having a discussion on politics, in fact it's quite interesting and I enjoy them, but don't lecture me.

Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 14):
Even as a Canadian living in the US, this bothers me sometimes. My excitable American vendor is prone to interrupting me in meetings. I consider that to be rude.

Canadians have an odd reputation for being very polite, but I have found the exact opposite when they (especially those under 50) are abroad and in the United States. They will never miss an opportunity to remind you that they have free health care, how much they love Canada, how they do it in Canada, or how much Canada is better. In addition, you cannot meet a Canadian visiting the US or Europe that is not wearing something that denotes their nationality. I know some Americans are guilty of this too, but if I see one more Roots sweatshirt with a Canadian flag, I am going to snap.
America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
 
LH423
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 6:57 pm



Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 22):
By federal law, a food service worker may be paid only $2.33 per hour, with $3.72 per hour imputed as tips.

You misread that. At least, at least in Massachusetts the base wage is $2.67/hr for tipped employees. For non-tipped workers, it's $8/hr. Essentially, the money from base wage and tips must equal $8/hr before taxes or the employer must increase the worker's wage so it does so. Basically, that means if I work in a restaurant but at the end of the week my salary (base wage+tips) only averages out to $7.50/hr my employer must add on the difference so it works out to $8/hr.

According to the list you posted, that's the Federal rule as well. Base wage+tips must equal the federal minimum wage of $5.85/hr. Minimum wage is minimum wage. The only thing that changes for tipped employees is the way they get there (removing responsibility from the employer to the client). Also, state minimum wage, if higher, trumps federal. However, it's impossible to memorize the minimum wage of every state, so just assume they're not making a living wage and tip accordingly. I, call me generous (or lazy), will usually tip about 15-20% because I don't feel like doing the math. In Ontario it used to be fairly simple because the provincial tax plus GST added up to 15%. Now that the GST has been lowered to 5%, the tax is only 13%, requiring mathematical skills that I just can't be bothered with. So I usually aim for 20% or start lower and round up to the next dollar.

Quoting Treeny (Reply 27):
Sorry, really dont want to cause offence to anybody, especially our US fellow netters but service in the US really is pretty dire. Hence why I just think that this should be in the famous "guide book" we are talking about.

Coming from an Englishman, I'll take that with a grain of salt  Wink

North Americans (Canadians and Americans) are recognized as having some of the best customer service anywhere in the world. I'm sorry if you had a bad experience(s) on our shores.

LH423
« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
 
TWFirst
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:14 pm



Quoting JCS17 (Reply 30):
Northern Europeans are obsessed with queues, you'd really think it was the national sport of Sweden.

Well the French aren't. But let's not get started on the French...  Wink
An unexamined life isn't worth living.
 
Newark777
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RE: Guide Books-Visitor Behaviour In USA?

Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:03 pm



Quoting Treeny (Reply 21):

Your attitude is why waiters and waitresses here in the states hate serving Europeans. Tips are expected, unlike Europe, as ScarletHarlot stated very well.

Quoting SBBRTech (Reply 25):
Down in Brazil they automatically include 10% as service fee in all checks.

Here in the states they usually automatically include the tip for large groups, usually larger than seven or eight.
Why grab a Heine when you can grab a Busch?

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