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I just came back from a recent trip in Guam and, as a French person that is not used to this habit, I didn't tip in taxi, restaurant,...

Is it customary to tip in Guam?

Sure, it is a (non-incorporated) territory of the US, but I felt that the culture was quite different to the one I experienced when traveling in the mainland:

  1. Staffs were always very friendly when I was leaving a restaurant (contrary to cold greetings when I forgot to tip in the mainland).
  2. No one made the remark that tipping is customary here (happened to me once in Vancouver - I know it is not USA, but Canadian habits are similar on that point).
  3. When paying in cash in the mainland, I was often asked how much I wanted to pay, meaning how much tip I wanted to give, before giving me my change. This never happened in Guam.
  4. I found staffs very 'present' in countries where tipping is the norm. But, except one "is everything fine?" after my order, I could eat quietly in Guam.
  5. Many places, especially in the Tumon area, cater to the numerous Korean, Chinese and Japanese tourists (e.g. they only had Korean menus), countries where tiping is a rarity.
  6. Prices were all tax included (from the answers to this question, I guess this is because Guam administration is simpler compared to the mainland). This is not related to tips, but it shows that the local culture is quite different.

In short, from all these 'hints', I never felt it was a mistake when not caring about tipping on the island. Do I have the right impression?

  • Did you check your restaurant bill carefully? – Michael Hampton Sep 17 '16 at 18:18
  • @MichaelHampton: since I was not paying by card, and asked exactly the as much cash as I was expecting, I didn't even take the bill. – Taladris Sep 17 '16 at 18:23
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    The Internet tells me that a lot of places, especially those restaurants in Tumon who cater to tourists from Asia, will add the tip directly to the bill, listed as a "gratuity" or "service charge". I have not personally been to Guam. – Michael Hampton Sep 17 '16 at 18:25
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Guam is a pretty interesting case, we do take a lot of things from the Mainland U.S. as sort of examples for how to run things, restaurants included. However, we also have our own unique way of doing certain things as well. As mentioned in the question many of the staff at our food serving establishments here will leave you alone after asking if everything is ok, this is a blessing to some, and an annoyance to others (my parents grew up in the Mainland US and are upset at any place where they have to flag someone down to refill their water, I grew up here and personally don't get upset unless someone got my order wrong or something like that).

In the Tumon area most places most likely do already add a tip into the normal bill just to make things go more smoothly for tourists of different cultures, you should be able to see on the check itself if it is marked that way (probably as a "service charge"). This Island's residents do pride themselves on hospitality however, so when you don't tip them when they expect it, they are still going to try to be nice to you, this is not a sign that tipping was not expected, it is actually just a symptom of the culture here that many people in our service industry will try to not show their disappointment to you directly.

Also, you mentioned paying cash, if you are doing that instead of paying by a card or a check, it is usually customary to leave the tip tucked halfway under one of the plates. This may be one other reason some people didn't seem upset while you were leaving, they may not have noticed until you were gone that there wasn't one there

seeing as the question is asked by someone from France, and tipping is apparently not customary there, I should point out the thing that might be obvious to some, but not to others depending on where you are from. Here in any establishment where you sit down and are served your food, it is customary to tip (again, do look at the check first so you don't end up "tipping" twice), but in fast food chain areas it is not. there are also take out places that might have a tip jar, if they do, they generally expect some tip, but they are most likely used to not everyone giving one, and they don't expect it to be large if you do decide to tip (though it is always nice if you feel like it).

This question about tipping in the Mainland US is pretty accurate in terms of when to tip and how much. The difference on Guam is mostly in the way tipping happens and how belligerent people are about it.

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What Trogdor has said above is spot on. As another resident on the island, most "sit down" places are expected a tip. But as with all things, service dictates.

I've had experiences of being really ignored in a restaurant. Waiting 20 minutes for the drink order, then having it go empty and not being refilled for the remainder of the hour and a half visit. With those experiences, I am more than happy to not leave a tip at all.

Then there are the gem servers who are spot on with said refills, let you know the status on your meal if the restaurant is busy etc. And to them I tend to give as much as my budget will allow that day.

Then you have average service, and at least to me personally I was brought up that 10% is the norm and I try to keep that, rounded up to the next highest dollar for ease of computation.

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    10% is the general area I was brought up to tip for too, and yeah, there are some servers who do a better or worse job than average, and that is something you are well withing your rights to account for when deciding how much to tip – trogdor Sep 18 '16 at 2:08

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