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July 6, 2009 Miscellany: Tipping in Morocco

When I asked during stage, my Moroccan cultural instructors explained that tipping is uncommon in Morocco. Most Moroccans will leave a dirham or two for a nice restaurant, but no more.

But for non-Moroccans, that feels weird, if not rude, so tourists have introduced tipping. At this point, wait staff in most touristed cities expect it from their western clientele. Off-the-beaten-path folks will be surprised but grateful to receive any money beyond the stated price for a meal or service.

In general, my PCV friends and I leave small tips wherever we are. Of course, we live and eat cheap, but we usually leave an extra dirham after a 5dh cup of coffee, or after a 7dh plate of lentils. For tourists and travelers eating at nicer restaurants, just figure about 10%. More if it’s really excellent service, but less only if the waiter deliberately offended you. (Oh, and don’t expect him – and yes, it’s always a him – to keep your water glasses full. That really never happens.)

Also, you’ll be presented with a bill only at the zweenest, most tourist-friendly places. Everywhere else, they expect you to lounge around for an hour or two after the meal/coffee/pastry/whatever, probably ordering the odd coffee refill, and so would feel rude and presumptuous to assume that you were done as soon as you finished chewing.

You’ll pretty much have to tackle the waiter to get the check.

My PCV friends and I usually just remember what our meals cost, and leave correct change, plus
whatever tip, on the table and walk away. At some places, they expect you to walk up to the cash register (always near the door, in this case) and pay there, whenever you’re ready to leave. If the cash register is not somewhere obvious, as is usually the case, they’ll actually get indignant if you try to pay directly; they expect you to flag down (or tackle) your waiter, have him calculate your total, give him the money, and wait for your change. This can be a 10-30 minute process, which is why my buddies and I often just leave the cash and split.

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