No Tip, No Problem
Been wondering what is the proper amount of tip to pay in Beijing? If I'm a student and don't go out to eat with large groups I should give about 10%, right? WRONG. Whatever amount is written on the menu is exactly what you will end up paying. No tax, no tip. For the first time in my life, I can calculate my bills in whole numbers, without messing around with percentages and decimals. It’s so incredibly convenient... even if something here is worth part of a yuan, everything is counted in tens, not hundreds (you know who I’m talking about, Penny). Many stores don’t even take pennies anymore, making it silly to even bother carrying them around.
In America we have been debating over whether or not to eliminate the penny for years... why can’t we first figure out how to have tax figured into the bill before checkout? Or stop this funky .99 nonsense! We all know it rounds up to an extra dollar anyways. Another interesting part of dining out in China is that the check is normally paid before the food arrives, not after. Personally, I like this very much: I can expect to pay the same amount as the number shown on the menu without surprise fees, and I can enjoy my meal in peace without that awkward moment at the end. I won't be reminded of how much money I spent that evening, and I’m basically free to leave the restaurant whenever I please. I don’t really see a downside to this system... unless the food is nasty (like that would ever happen, psshh). For whatever reason, refunds are uncommon in China, but I haven’t had any bad experiences with this so far... just make sure to take a good look at whatever it is before paying. In the case that the bill gets paid after (which happens sometimes, especially in big chains and Western-style restaurants), most staff will withhold the bill until you call them over and ask for it. It’s kind of refreshing not to have the bill used as a way to pressure me into leaving, but I’m still not quite comfortable with yelling for their attention... I've tried waving my hands around and making puppy eyes to no avail. The best method is to simply get to it: 服务员 (FU WU YUAN)! They will come.