Tipping—when, how much, who? The whole issue and concept of tipping is the bane of many people’s lives and especially if they are from non-tipping countries (many in Asia, quite a lot in Europe). I know that we personally prefer it when a service charge is automatically added to the bill and we don’t have to worry about whether we are doing the right thing or not.
This can be especially problematic when you travel, and we always hope the guide books will tell us the local customs.
We discovered that tipping in Poland can be a challenge as the etiquette is different and confusing for foreigners.
In most other countries, it’s quite normal to say “thanks” or “thank you” when the waiter/waitress comes to collect your money for the meal. But, tourists are horrified to learn that in Poland if you say “thanks” you are indicating that you won’t be needing any change back. This cultural slip-up can get very embarrassing and expensive, as the waiter/waitress is quite likely to play innocent and make you feel ashamed for asking for your money back. Or, they conveniently disappear, having pocketed all your change.
So, be very careful only to say “thanks” or “thank you” if you really don’t want any change back. Otherwise, it’s suggested that you say “please” (or nothing) when you hand over the bill and payment.
The general guide in Poland is to tip 10%, but obviously more if you get really good service. It’s not a good idea to leave a tip on your credit card (if you can use a credit card, as many places don’t accept cards) because the waitstaff then have to pay tax on the tip. So, it’s best to have some small change or small bills handy.
Luckily we found out about this from our apartment rental agency’s booklet, which we looked at before we went out, otherwise….who knows?