Tourists Scammed by Parisian Restaurants During Olympics

Tourists Scammed by Parisian Restaurants During Olympics

Paris is bustling with excitement as it prepares to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. However, behind the scenes, a sneaky scheme is unfolding in the city’s cafes and brasseries. These establishments are capitalizing on the influx of tourists, and even locals, by tricking them into tipping more than they should.

The tipping culture in France differs significantly from that of the US and other countries. While there is a mandatory 15% service charge included in the bill and menu prices are often higher to cover workers’ wages, it is customary to only leave around 5% extra tip, known as ‘pourboire’ in French, at most. Despite this norm, the upcoming Olympics are leading to a surge in the percentage of tips, according to experts and residents.

French restaurant owners are taking advantage of the ignorance of their international guests. By subtly encouraging patrons to tip generously, reminiscent of practices in American restaurants like Applebee’s, they aim to boost their profits during this lucrative period.

With an estimated 15 million travelers expected to descend on Paris, there is a concern among experts that these visitors may not be well-informed about the local tipping etiquette. This lack of awareness is being exploited by establishments to coax guests into leaving larger tips, creating a misleading impression that it is customary in France.

Dr. Olivier Babeau, a professor at Bordeaux University, expressed surprise at this strategy, suggesting that the surge in tipping practices could be linked to the upcoming Olympics. The fear of tourists opting to stay outside the city limits or resorting to cheaper meals, possibly American fast food chains, has prompted restaurant owners to employ dubious tactics to maximize their earnings.

As the city braces itself for the games, Parisian restaurants are resorting to manipulative methods to extract more money from diners. Worries loom over a potential decline in restaurant patronage during the event, drawing parallels to the experience of London eateries during the 2012 Olympics.

To address these concerns, Parisian eateries are adopting a guilt-inducing approach akin to practices in the US. With tablet-style tipping prompts featuring inflated tip options, patrons are increasingly feeling pressured to leave more gratuity than custom dictates.

Even locals are falling victim to these new tactics, with reports of Parisian waitstaff targeting both foreigners and residents for higher tips. The lack of distinction between tourists, who may be unfamiliar with French tipping norms, and locals, who are well aware of the customary practices, has raised eyebrows and sparked outrage among residents.

55-year-old Françoise, a television producer, voiced her dismay, stating, “I’ve been shocked in the past when I’ve seen waiters asking foreigners for tips. They were just taking advantage of them because they didn’t know that service is included here.” She added, “That’s bad enough, but it’s scandalous that they’re doing it to us, too.” This blending of deceptive practices toward tourists and locals has stirred controversy within the Parisian dining scene, casting a shadow over the city’s culinary reputation.

As Paris gears up to welcome the world for the Olympics, the spotlight on its dining establishments reveals a less savory side, where hospitality mixes with opportunism, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of unsuspecting diners.

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