A “Queeb tax”? What’s Next? A “Courtesy Toll”?

As even a casual reader of my work will tell you, The Hook is not one to suffer fools lightly – to say the least.

That having been said, even I was stunned to hear of the “Queeb tax” that has cropped up in the United States. For the uninitiated:  Restaurants in Burlington, Vermont, are being accused of discrimination after reports that servers are tacking on automatic gratuities to customers with French accents – a practice that primarily targets the Quebecois tourists who frequent the town.

And you thought The Hook was a loose cannon…

Barb Bardin, owner of Burlington’s Splash at the Boathouse, told reporters she is looking for ways to “educate” Quebecers and other foreigners on the practice of tipping.

Good luck with that, Barb. Have you actually met any foreigners?

She also says her restaurant doesn’t have a policy on foreign customers and leaves it up to her staff to determine whether to tack on an automatic gratuity. While I applaud the effort, I’m not so sure servers – or anyone in the hospitality field for that matter – can be trusted to do the “right thing” in this volatile day and age. People are out of control these days (just picture a drunken monkey with a hand grenade) and they continually push each other too far. Ten years ago, you would never have found a server with the guts to propose such an aggressive concept to an owner. But now the concept isn’t so ludicrous – unfortunately. Servers – and bellman, of course – shouldn’t have to fight back against the growing tide of fruit cakes that cross our path on a daily basis.

Of course, ten years ago I never would have used the word “douchebag”, never mind on a daily basis…

The end result of Man’s inhumanity to Man in the restaurant/hospitality field? A “tax” that is sure to lead to litigation and everyone knows what happens when lawyers get involved…

All Hell really breaks loose.


I have the best readers in the world.

  • When I asked you to read my blog, you answered: I have over 1,000 readers between both blogs!
  • When I asked you to download my book, you did so: 6,059 downloads in total!
  • You even sent your good wishes my way when I was stricken down with the flu.

Now I need your help again. I know, I know, I’m needy…

Steven and Chris is a Canadian talk show that covers all the bases, from cooking, home decor (both hosts are design gurus), fashion, health to the usual celebrity appearances. Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman never acknowledge it on-screen, but they’re a couple – and it shows! Their chemistry sets the show apart from the pack (it seems like there is a million talk shows out there these days, right?) and millions of Canadians – of both genders – love them.

Naturally, an appearance on their show would breathe life into my barely-breathing writing career. And so I turn to you.

I need your help to convince the powers-that-be at Steven and Chris that The Hook would make a worthwhile guest. I may not seem like an ideal fit for their genre, but I guarantee every single member of their audience has stayed in a hotel at least once in the past. My work appeals to EVERYONE. I just need to convince Steven and Chris of that!

stevenandchris@cbc.ca is their e-mail address and I’ve taken the liberty of preparing a short statement that you can “cut and paste”. I can be very thoughtful sometimes, right?

I am a fan of the Canadian bellman/author Robert Hookey, also known as “The Hook”. I think his particular brand of humor would appeal to your audience. His first book, The Bellman Chronicles, contains subject matter that everyone can relate to. Not only that, he’s housebroken, which is always a plus…

Appearing on this show would launch me to a whole other level – and hopefully allow me to sell more than 100 books! Perhaps I could even eat at a restaurant that doesn’t have a drive-thru window… Maybe.

I’d also like to extend an offer to anyone who decides to give me a few minutes of their time; if you can spare some time to help me out, I’d be open to hosting a guest post. If anyone has a tale of a vacation gone awry, or anything funny, let me know!

Thank you in advance, folks. You rock.


A shout-out to my newest blog buddy, Kristen Lamb and her best-selling tome, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. Give it a try, folks. You won’t be disappointed…

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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28 Responses to A “Queeb tax”? What’s Next? A “Courtesy Toll”?

  1. raisingdaisy says:

    That sounds like a sure-fire way to discourage the Canadian business they’re getting! I sure would be offended. If they have so much trouble with people from outside the country not knowing how to tip, how about a simple, nicely-phrased line like “We appreciate the customary 15% gratuity for good service” on menus and maybe inside the entry? Why slap a “tax” in everyone’s face? This sounds really amateurish – it would drive me away if I was from Quebec. Maybe when dear diplomatic Barb starts losing some of her customers, she’ll rethink her grand idea.

  2. becca3416 says:

    I think forced gratuity for ANYONE only brings negative results. When I waited tables I often had the option to grat tables of six or more, but I never did and always seemed to get better tips for it. Oh, and someone is patiently awaiting her new recently ordered book. I forgot her name. She wants to review it on her blog sometime though :).

    • The Hook says:

      She rocks.. Whoever she is! I appreciate the support; the road has been rough lately! I keep getting doors slammed in my face and a few “so-so” reviews. I know I have to evolve as a writer, but I need to sell this book before I can consider publishing another…

  3. Jo Bryant says:

    Americans are an interesting race…enough said I think.

  4. Sounds like that restaurant already has a courtesy troll.

  5. Did the email bit last week…! 😉 Hope it helps…!
    As for taxing a gratuity; kinda contradictory term really..!
    The old saying: You catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar, would seem to apply here.. I know, from reading between your words, my dear Hook; this is one of the ways that you entice money out of the patron’s pocket into your own…. This leaves them feeling good, with a desire to return. Nuff said…

  6. Theasaurus says:

    Speaking as someone from a country where tips are built into the service bill, it’s strange to be expected to leave extra money after you’ve already paid for your food. I try to remember to tip whenever I’m in a country where this is the norm, but it’s not a habit, so sometimes I forget. I wouldn’t mind Barb’s 15% surcharge, as long as it’s a blanket rule for all customers, and not just because I ordered my meal with an Australian accent.

  7. renxkyoko says:

    I’m gonna do that, Mr. Hook ! But I cannot download anything into my computer. I’ll just buy your book.

  8. Are they typically bad tippers? I mean, it sounds like it since servers are doing this. Doesn’t mean it’s right to do, just wondering. When I was a server, the only time we’d include the gratuity were large banquets, and it was 17% if I recall correctly. Had to split that with whoever else worked the banquet. I hated those… a lot of work and after splitting the tip – sometimes 4 ways – wasn’t worth the effort.

    Also, FYI… the link to that article at the bottom is broken… 😀

  9. Kanerva says:

    The queeb tax is wrong on so many levels. Perhaps the servers & Madam Barb should look at the service they are actually providing… truth hurts sometimes 😉

  10. TBM says:

    I was shocked when I moved to London to find out that people don’t tip. It is so ingrained in me to leave a tip. But I don’t like forced tipping. I don’t like being told what to do…and I don’t think I’m alone in this. Nagging goes nowhere fast.

  11. leah says:

    Proof that douchecanoery has no gender boundary. The river keeps getting more and more crowded.

  12. HoaiPhai says:

    Quebecers aren’t tipping? I’m a Quebec ex-pat living in Ontario for the past ten years and on thing you learn very early as a Montrealer is that the server expects 15%. They’ll curse you as you walk out if you don’t leave a decent tip. I found that when I moved here people were surprised by how well I tipped. I think that there maybe something else going on here. At any rate, targeting a certain group for this must be against the law and being forced to pay it based on who I was or who I was without some kind of advance warning would cause me to refuse, and if they called the cops I’d make a federal case of it.

    That being said, tip your friendly neighbourhood hotel worker!

  13. Pingback: Ten Terrible Things About… Kim Kardashian | The Book of Terrible

  14. Pingback: Why I Love My Job. | You've Been Hooked!

  15. That sounds pretty wrong, to randomly decide to charge a customer more or not, based on what the server feels. Over here (in Korea) where there is no tipping at all, I’d like to see someone try to get away with that.

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