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Monday, March 13, 2006


Q: What's the difference between a Canadian and a canoe?

A: A canoe will definately tip.

I'll probably piss a lot of people off with this. Oh, well. Feces occurs.


Canadians are famous here for being poor tippers and always complaining about the currency exchange rate. That's funny, since the exchange rate for visitors from New Zealand and Australia is usually in the same ballpark, and those folks always seem to be generous. I should note though, over the years there has been a shift in Canadian tipping habits. Those from Alberta and British Columbia are good tippers. Those from Ontario and east aren't. Those from Manitoba and Saskatchewan are a "toss up."

The French don't tip. Ever. Period.

Germans and Suise (Swiss) always tip exactly 10%.

Japanese usually tip 15-20% and then ask if that is enough.

Visitors from London never tip, but those from the rest of the UK are very thoughtful.

Same with Dublin (bad) and Ireland (good).

Kiwis and Aussies are generous.

Polynesians, both domestic and foreign, never tip.

With the exception of Mexico, people from Latin American are usually very good about tipping.

Those visitors from the "middle east" never tip and usually want to negotiate the final fare. The idea that meter rates are fixed and nonnegotiable is alien to their thought process or cultural precepts.

The only guests that I've had from Africa were from South Africa and were the same as those from the UK.

On the domestic front, locals and kama'ainas (non-native Hawai'i residents) tip in the 10-15% range, except for those folks who live in the multi-million dollar homes. Those asses usually just let you keep the coins.


When I first started driving I was hit with a lot of "skips" or "fare beaters."

Usually it was teenage boys who would leap out of the cab at the stated destination and run off into their local neighborhood. Never to be seen again.

Short haul "skips" were an irritant but long haul "skips" were a major loss of income.

Today, I collect what I estimate to be the fare, plus a little more, before I do any long hauls out of town.

I have become pretty adept at spotting the local run "skippers" and just as we are arriving at the destination I hit the "door lock" button on my control panel. I've also removed the little door lock knobs on the rear doors so that they can't be "pulled up" from the interior of the vehicle. After I get paid, I release the locks. Crude but effective.


Generally, most people are pretty honest. When I get a passenger in the cab who is down on their luck and are just trying to get home, they will honestly state up front that they have only so much money and would I take them as far as that amount would cover. With very rare exceptions, I will take them the entire distance and "eat" the difference. About 90% of the time I will have future contact at a later date and they pay the full fare with a generous tip and a truly heartfelt thanks for the kindness that I had shown them on the prior occassion. "IT PAYS TO BE NICE."

The worst fare beaters are the folks who live in the 10-30 million dollar homes in Wailea. They usually are slovernly drunk and when you arrive at their home, within one of the "gated" communities, they have no cash. Only plastic. No cab company on Mau'i accepts plastic. I could call the cops but this is a low priority matter for them and the response time would most likely be over a hour. Just not worth the effort. Nowadays, when I get one of those destinations, I always ask if we need to stop at a "magic money machine" to get cash for the fare.


The best fares are people who work in the service end of the tourist industry. They know how expensive it is to live here and how hard all of us who work with tourists have to hustle to earn a buck. For these regulars I usually give them a free ride about once a month just to say thanks. I do run and record the meter, since the owner isn't quite as philanthropic as I am.



"Let's all be careful out there!"


Dogbait said...

Very thorough coverage of tipping. However, I'm surprised you say Kiwi's and Aussies and good tippers as tipping isn't a way of life here and one isn't expected to tip taxi drivers. I guess we realise that tips form a large percentage of the service industries wages in the US etc and maybe we are don't want to offend. From personal experience, I tend to give too much not really knowing what is expected so as not to offend.

june in florida said...

Hi Wil, ex cab driver from Hyannis Ma here . one of my fellow drivers on a slow night observed that the best tippers were gays, chinese and bartenders and if you ever got a gay chinese bartender you had hit the mother load. l agree that people in the service industry are the best tippers. As to teens and runners, i always got sneakers or coat as collateral. Try going in the house and telling dad you lost your sneakers again.Had a regular fare run on me once leaving his luggage in the trunk, l knew where he lived and got my money plus delivery for the luggage. l never did figure out his reasoning. later Wil, be safe.

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