Monday, July 27, 2015

Day 10 Canada, 30/06, To Whistler

Another decent drive today to get to the snow resort town of Whistler. I can't remember the name of the town where we stopped for lunch. It was a fairly grim place and as you can see, the area is very dry. We had a nice cool lunch in a Greek restaurant with T & B.


Eagles soaring.


Cyclists cooling off. The road to Whistler was quite a challenging drive along less well constructed roads, with steep hills and very winding roads.



The confluence of two rivers, as you can see by the water colour.


A toy maintenance rail vehicle winds along the river bank.





Rather odd child transport.


We arrived at Whistler and were whisked off to this centre for a lecture, some silly dancing pretending to be animals which was a lot of fun and a barbeque dinner


All quite interesting.




This is not such a long post, so here are a few thoughts on prices, service and tax in North America.

Compulsory tipping, and it being a facility on portable eftpos machines is rather alien to we Australians. I think casual waiting in Australia are paid around $22 per hour. In the US and Canada it is around $7. That could be $10 in our money. The argument over which system is better could be very long. I did not find service for tips in America any better than the service for proper pay in Australia. The service for tips in America could be awfully cloying at times. Just bugger off and let us dine in peace. Don't keep coming back asking if we are ok, if our food and drinks are ok, and if my cleavage is showing nicely. (serious lack of male waiters in North America)

We were mentally prepared for the tipping. What we were not prepared for was the shelf price. No matter what your bought, the shelf price showed tax free. A loaf a bread in the supermarket might be marked $3. At the checkout, taxes would be added and the loaf would cost you $3.30.

In Canada it would be a federal tax added, and in British Columbia, a state tax as well. Alberta where we also travelled had no state tax. In Toronto we paid  federal, state and liquor tax, all added to the shelf price. We paid at times an environmental tax in the US, but later we learnt this may have been an opt out tax.

I had the right money prepared for our bus trip to New York's Newark airport to come home, but it was $2 more, tax. No mention of that on any signage or websites.

Some may argue that it is good to see how much tax you pay when you buy something but I prefer the price on the shelf to be the the price I pay. I suppose the population is used to the system and make some easy automatic head calculations before buying something. Much to my surprise my phone calculator did not have a percentage key. So annoying. Many of you can recall you multiply by .the percent figure, but that does not add it. Too complicated. I quickly found a replacement app and downloaded it so I could enter a price and then plus what ever percentage I wanted. Mostly we roughly guessed, but a couple of times we wanted to check bills.

Prices varied widely as we travelled around Canada. At times things seemed incredibly cheap and then the same item a few hours drive away would be priced much higher. 

While we know full well airports are not cheap places to buy anything, the honour of rip off place for our whole holiday was at New York's Newark airport, in the adjacent state New Jersey actually. $15 each for a pretty average sandwich and the usual coffee was quite outrageous. In our money, add about 20%, so nearly AU$18.

19 comments:

  1. Andrew the odd transport for children is very popluar in Europe..In Europe tax is included in the price. So you know how much you must pay..In my opinion is the best poption.

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    1. Gosia, then they must have people from Quebec visiting.

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  2. I got caught with the added tax a few times in the early days of the trip usually after having scrutinised the unfamiliar coins for minutes to identify what I thought was the correct amount for the purchase.

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    1. Victor, you are so gay! I did the same thing on the odd occasion I paid for anything. Eventually I handed the whole paying thing over to R.

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  3. I just found out my own brother and his wife, went on their motorcycles with two other couples up through central Oregon, then eastern Washington, cut into Idaho and from there, on up into Canada, to Lake Louise and Jasper, before returning. The same places you went. 2300 miles they road, maybe it was more, on motorcycles, before their return.

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    1. Strayer, most interesting and a post of yours came through on my reader mentioning your brother, which I could not read in full. I have done the same, pulled back a post or accidentally hit publish.

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    2. He didn't want his picture online Andrew, so I took it off to make him happy. Anything for my brothers.

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  4. Some beautiful scenery. The sixth and the eighth look rugged though.
    I think I would prefer that people received a living wage, and didn't have to bow and scrape like windscreen wipers to get a tip. And I would definitely rather see the price I was going to pay.

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    1. EC, it is the Australian way I think, and I prefer it.

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  5. I've been to Oahu many times now and always find the service there to be so much better than it is at home. I think out of all the times we've eaten there, maybe one time we tipped 15% because the service was less great than usual. But there have also been times where I've tipped 25% because the service was above and beyond amazing.

    We are used to almost no service at all in Australia, so that is why getting attention from a server can feel cloying. A lot of times in restaurants the only time I see a server is to take our order and then to deliver the meals, then to clear the table.

    I don't mind a little more attention, even if it is a quick "do you need anything else".

    Oddly enough the place where we always get the best service in Australia is Hogs Breath. The local one here, the servers always introduce themselves, they sit down with you to take your order, and once they have delivered the meals, they always drop by to make sure everything is ok.

    Customer service is starting to become a lost art in Australia.. whenever I receive something that resembles it, I make sure to send an email or a letter to the company. I don't get to send many letters. :(

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    1. Snoskred, while I may well criticise our standards of service in the past, perhaps 15 and more years ago, I have no issues with it now. Those who serve us in cafes and restaurants are among our lowest paid and generally I think they do a pretty good job without being obsequious. The same mostly goes for in shops too.

      We had Hogs Breath here, but I am not sure they are still around.

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  6. I'm firmly on the side that prefers the shelf price to be what you pay and agree with EC that people should receive a living wage. I would find it very annoying to be constantly interrupted by a server, although as Snoskred says, once to ask if things are to our liking and did we want any thing else, but again, once would be enough.

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    1. Quite so River. Once is enough. They also tell you about specials and desert options, which we don't eat, and anything else they think might tempt you to spend more.

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  7. You're right about both the expected tipping and the shelf pricing. It's odd how easily you get used to it when you live there but now I think about it, I'm as annoyed as you. I like to leave a tip if I've received good service, especially in a restaurant I frequent relatively often as I think staff do remember if you treat them well. We go to our local Italian every couple of weeks and tip well (by UK standards) - about 12% and receive a warm welcome and good service every time.
    I enjoyed the tour up to Whistler.

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    1. Craig, your comment is interesting. If you grow up with tipping and tax added at the till, of course it would be easy, but you quickly slipped into the habit. Here, we tip in a restaurant, maybe a dollar or two each. Often it is rounding to the next ten dollars. If the place has not served us well, then the precise amount on the bill. There is no pressure to tip though.

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  8. Right! Unlike in Australia where we rarely see indigenous cultural items in cities, The Squamish Cultural Centre seems to take it very seriously. Ditto the totem poles and carved, red cedar portals in Vancouver. Of course tourists in other peoples' countries don't know everything, but I would liked to have known more, before going to Canada the first time.

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    1. Hels, without a doubt Canada is ahead of us with relations with native people. They seem to have a real respect. The history of the local people there and Britain is interesting.

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  9. I ask for tips not to be included in my bill as I like to tip the waiters myself especially if the service has been good and then I know they are getting the tip and not the restaurant. The price you see is the price you pay in the UK so I too found it very confusing when I was in Canada.

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    1. Marie, I heard that what you tip goes into a pool and the money is shared with behind the scenes staff, such as the cook and dish washer. Who knows!

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