Friday, February 22, 2008

To tip or not to tip?

When I was a very little kid, there was a sign in the parcel pickup lane of our grocery store that said "No Tipping."

I always thought this just meant that the guys who put the groceries in our back seat were not supposed to tip them over, although I could never figure out why they needed a sign to remind them of that. It seemed like common sense to me.

It wasn't until years later that I learned what a tip was and eventually put 2 and 2 together about the grocery store sign.

Now that I'm all growed up, I have to make decisions about tipping on a regular basis, and quite frankly sometimes I'm still confused about what it means.

Luckily, I found this website that pretty much explains it all, and because I'm such a giving person, I thought I'd share a few of the many recommendations they've listed for when and how much to tip in certain situations. Any commentary of my own will be in italics.

Fancy-schmancy restaurants:
* Food Server - 15-20%
* Bartender - 15-20% or $1 per drink.
* Wine Steward - 10% of wine bill.
* Coat Check - $1
* Restroom Attendant - $1

I HATE these guys!
Bell Hop:
* Keep small bills available for the purpose of tipping.
* Let the bellhop carry your luggage, even if it is one small bag.
* Tip the bellhop $5, in a first-rate hotel, plus $1 for each piece of luggage.
* Give the bellhop $5 for opening the room and showing it, even if you have no luggage.
* Make the exchange seamless. The money should be surreptitiously passed in a handshake or small, minor exchange.
(Travel tip... stay at Motel 6 to avoid this issue)

Hair Salon:
* Tip the stylist 10 to 15 percent of your total bill if he or she is the only person who worked on your hair.
* Give the shampoo person - if there is one - a separate gratuity. Typically, a shampoo person receives $1 to $2.
* Offer a 10 percent tip in a barbershop. If you don't get your hair cut very often but usually go to the same shop, consider a $5 tip.
* Tip the manicurist $1 to $3.

(tip for this pedicure? Priceless)

Maitre 'D:
* Keep in mind that a maitre d' usually receives no tip, except a smile, unless he or she performs an extra service such as changing your table, wrangling you a great window table or bringing in that diamond ring on command.
* Tip $5 to $10, depending on the above - more if you feel especially generous. If you're a regular patron of the restaurant, tip the maitre d' every few visits.
(or, tell him "Here's a tip... GET A REAL JOB!")

Cab Driver:
* Have enough cash in your pocket to tip at least 10 percent over the fare.
* Go beyond standard expectations if your driver performs an extra duty such as acting as a tour guide or providing beyond-the-call-of-duty baggage handling - or if the cabbie gets you there lickety-split on a heavy traffic day.
* Remember that tipping is not mandatory, but drivers rely on tips for the majority of their salary.
* Give the tip with the fare.
(recommendation: interest rates are at an all-time low right now so consider taking out a home-equity loan in preparation of your cab fare)

* Tip $5 to $10 in a first-rate hotel, depending on the concierge's efforts.
* If he or she helps you find a limo, obtains great seats at the opera or recommends a wonderful out-of-the-way restaurant, reward the service with a tip.

(May I help you with things you probably don't need help with sir?)
* Give the money to the maid personally, as a safer alternative, or hand the envelope to the desk clerk and write "housekeeping" on it.
* Tip a maid $3 per night in an upscale hotel, $1 per night in other hotels. If you stay for a week, a bit more (perhaps $5 to $7 a night) is appropriate.
* Reward extra service, such as bringing more soap or towels, with an appropriate tip.
* Avoid adding the housekeeper's tip to your hotel bill as you check out.
(add extra $2 if someone doesn't bang on your door at 6:00 a.m. while shouting "HOUSEKEEPING!!!")

Newspaper Carrier:
* Around the big holidays, in general the five-day-a-weeker can expect between $15 and $20, and the weekender between $5 and $15. Both? A generous gift is $25.
* You can go out and meet the delivery person and present the envelope with a warm handshake. Or, again, you can add it to your bill.
* As an alternative, a card in an envelope can be hung on your front doorknob with a rubber band and "Newspaper Delivery Person" written clearly on the front. Many delivery folk toss the paper from a moving car, however, and won't notice the card.
(to avoid this tip, cancel your newspaper 1 week before Christmas and renew the week after New Year's... so I've heard)

Postal Carrier:
* U.S. Postal Service regulations state that mail carriers are not allowed to accept gifts of cash from their customers.
* They may accept gifts of food and beverages, perishable items such as flowers and cookies and gifts with a retail value of less than $20.
* Tipping is never required, but is often done around the holidays by people who see their mail carrier on a regular basis.
(I suck at this one. I always WANT to tip but I never remember)

Rubbish removal for the Dustman: (this one only showed up as a British suggestion, although I admit I've never heard of tipping the waste removal guy, so maybe there is no recommendation for Americans here)
* Select a time of year when a tip will be most appreciated. Christmas is normally the best time, when the streets are cold and the work of your dustman is even more arduous.
* Find out what day he comes and make sure you are in the house at that time.
* Put however much money you intend to give him in an envelope. It is best to stick with banknotes, so £5 is a good start.
* Watch for your dustman of choice approaching, and then leave the house taking the envelope with you.
* Ask to briefly speak to him as he is about to pick up your bin. Discreetly say that you appreciate his work and give him the envelope. Try to avoid the other dustmen or neighbours seeing this.
* If he does not accept, just smile and place the envelope on top of the bin and walk away. That way he has no choice but to pick it up.
(so covertly British... almost like a spy operation!)

Casino Dealer:
* Give the dealer a tip appropriate to the service level. This is similar to restaurant service. Good service gets 15-16%; excellent service should get 20% or more. Base this amount on the amount with which you gamble.
* Bet for the dealer. Simply put a bet next to yours, and say, "Bet for the dealer" to the table. You still play the hand, but the dealer wins (or loses) the bet.
* Give the dealer a tip occasionally through the session. To do this, put the tip on the table away from your bet and say to the dealer, "For the dealer."
* Give the dealer a tip at the end of the session. Most casinos do not like you to hand the dealer anything, so as you are leaving, just put the tip on the table in chips or cash and say, "Thank you, this is for the dealer."
(Really? Give the tip at the END of the session? So what exactly IS 20% of nothing?)

Others mentioned at the web site in case you're interested, and this post wasn't quite long enough for your taste:
Coffee shop
Parcel delivery
Cruise ship
Wedding professionals

So as you can see, there are many opportunities for which to provide a gratuity. However, I think they left out one very important one:

Tip your helpful blogger as much as you can afford!
(old change from under couch cushions accepted)

Best tip of all: go to for generous donation of gratuitous humor!


damon said...

I've always wanted to know, what if the hairstylist, waiter, bartender, is a friend of yours? Do you tip more cause it's your bud, or less?

Sumthin funny, the 'word code' to leave this message was xTazeY.

Gen said...

Oh, you should warn a gal before you show something like those toenails! :-P

So, what if you're in a bar, do you tip the cocktail waitress 15-20% AND the bartender 15-20%? That makes drinking damn expensive!

Heather said...

Wow, those toes made me want to barf. Thanks a lot.

(My word verification ended in pay.)

Memarie Lane said...

A friend of mine worked her way through college as a waitress. She said anything below 20% was considered rude, unless the sevice was substandard.

There was a story here around Christmas, a guy that used to be a trash collector and knew the routes went out on the day he knew people would be leaving tips and went around stealing them. He was caught with about $200 in tips. So it does happen!

Mooselet said...

That old lady toenail picture was nasty! That's a job for a chainsaw, not a pedicurist.

Here's a tip - move to Australia where tipping is, generally speaking, verboten. If you're spending gobs of cash on a new hairdo that takes hours, or are dining at an upscale restaurant and get exceptional service then it's okay. Otherwise tipping is seen as insulting. Seasonal gifts are nice, especially with places you go to regularly, but are never expected.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

damonm55 - If the bartender is your friend, you should tip him more - for all the free beer he gives you.

groovy mom - I consulted an expert on this... my wife, who was a waitress forever. You only need to tip the cocktail waitress, unless you buy the drink directly from the bartender.

heather - Well, the post wasn't that shocking, so I had to add some spice.

marie - Our trash guys come around before sunrise, so they'll never see a tip from me.

mooselet - That picture reminds me of that scene in Dumb and Dumber where they gave the guys a pedicure. They used a grinder for that.

JD at I Do Things said...

I don't care HOW fancy a restaurant is, I'm not paying someone to hand me a towel.

We always give our postal carrier $20 in cash for X-mas. Is that different from a tip, tho? He accepts it graciously and always gives us a thank you card.

Thanks for posting all that info. As a former waitress, I can tell you: people need to know how (and how much) to tip!

JD at I Do Things

Gen said...

Okay, whew! That's what I've been doing. :-) Thanks!

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

julia - I had never heard that postal carriers were not allowed to accept cash, so I'm not sure if that's valid or not. I know lots of people who leave money for the carrier so it can't be that illegal.

groovy mom - No problem. It's handy having an expert in the house!

Anonymous said...

I just point at someone and tell the waitress that he will be taking care of the tip.--Bill

Karen MEG said...

Wow, that's a whole lotta tipping! I remember some spots in Europe, perhaps in fancier places in N. America, they have washroom attendants. It was always such a pain because I never had very much change, and all they'd really do is stand there and hand you a towel once you finished washing your hands. It felt like you were paying to use the washroom. Especially annoying if you had to go REALLY badly!

yoo hoo said...

That was such a nasty picture I will pay you, NOT tip, to take it away. gaaaarooosssss.

Mother Theresa said...

Why don't they just give waiters and waitresses a decent salary, so they don't have to rely on tips? It works in other countries.

Ed said...

Dust man, is that like a new super hero movie coming out? Man they are scrapping the bottom of the barrel now...

Oh, can I borrow that long toe nail, I've got a trip to Belize and Guatemala coming up and I think it'll cut through jungle just like a machettte!

Mom Thumb said...

I hate the whole tipping thing. Who decides what professions need to be tipped? Should I have tipped the woman who gave me a mammogram the other day? How much? What's the proper amount for a good boob smash? I'd like Mr. KIA to answer that.

I had heard that postal workers weren't allowed to accept cash, so I get our guy a $20 gift card.

Sandy said...

Wow. I've been overlooking a lot of my friendly neighborhood people I guess. I need a job to pay for the tips.

Hey! Now there's an idea. I could get a job that tips, then USE those tips to tip the people I haven't been tipping. Clever, huh?

Oh, and I'm going to start calling the garbage man "dust man." It's so much more refined, don't you think?

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

bill - How does that Bill-ism go again? Ah yes, I remember... "Many a true word was spoken in jest."

karen - Like my picture caption says... I HATE THOSE GUYS! When I was playing on the road back in the 80s, ALL the fancy nightclubs had those guys. The worst part is they used to stand there and watch you pee. I don't need that kind of pressure.

carla - How could someone even let that happen? I can understand fungus and all, but why let them grow all over the place? Yuk.

theresa - I guess it's because in the service industry, you are being rewarded for your level of service. My wife used to take home $250-$300/night when she was a cocktail waitress in a bigshot nightclub in Mpls (she served Prince many times). No club would ever pay that in salary.

ve - Dustman is funny. That actually would make a good parody.

mom thumb - A gift card makes sense. Especially if it's to a place that sells warm socks. I'll let Mr. KIA know about your question.

sandy - Maybe you can call him Dustman Hoffman.

Anonymous said...

A good tip is, "Do not pat a burning dog!"--Bill

Anonymous said...

Its very easy in this part of England, its your job, don't expect me to pay your wage twice just because you smiled when I walked in.

On the other hand us Yorkshiremen are said to have long pockets and short arms...

Anonymous said...

If your waiter is named Chris Cameron, tip him well. I hear he's pretty cool hehe. :)

Kathy said...

I agree with Theresa. I don't understand why tipping has to be necessary in restaurants. It would seem more fair to pay everyone a salary for the job they do. Like what if I want to pay the cook for an excellent meal, or for making it fast for me? Does part of my tip to the server go to the cook? I'm still a very good tipper, but it seems a weird system to have.

ps. I hate you for the toenail picture. For that you deserve having those nails clipped, boxed up and sent to you.

robkroese said...

I used to think that those signs that said "No passing" meant that you weren't supposed to pass the sign. I always thought it was dumb that they didn't just end the road there.

Sorry to hear about Austin.

TZT said...

That's some helpful info!
I always get stuck on hairdressers.
I like the idea of setting some blog-tipping standards.
Happy blog-hop!

Honeybell said...

This was great . . . I am not good at remembering how much to tip people other than the waitress/waiter . . .

One thing I've learned recently, in our area it's been customary to tip the pizza guy $3. Due to the increased price of gas we now give him $5. Apparently they aren't compensated very well for their fuel.


MYM said...

I got to the feet...why? why?

Maureen said...

Ugh... I HATE tipping and solely base it on the quality of service. I am insulted that some expect a tip and do their job poorly.

I think tipping is more an American thing; I would never even think to tip half the people on your list. I mean, isn't it their JOB to do it, and do it well?

I certainly don't get tips ... "hey, great report... here's a fiver!"

yellojkt said...

I always tip about 20%, but how about just building the tips for all these other people into the salaries? Yeesh, that is a lot of handing out small bills.

And I always leave the dust man a case of beer on the pick-up before Christmas so that all my rubbish gets removed after New Years.

Anonymous said...

i could of lived my life with out seeing those toes

Gale said...

How much do I tip you ??? When it comes to salons I am a great tipper. I tip anywhere from 10 to 20 dollars. If they make me feel good I am a happy girl.

Karl said...

Great post. Tipping is one of the biggest mysteries in the universe.

G said...

I always tip heavy on the scale. In NYC, we have tipped our garbage guys. I think that may be due to my son's unwavering affection for all things garbage (uh, excuse me - sanitation).

As a sidenote, I recall hearing the phrase father-in-law as a wee-one and thinking it referred to being a policeman. Kids.

markira said...

I hate tipping. Hate it. I still *do* it, and am fair-to-generous, but I hate it.

And I flat-out refuse to tip the mail carrier. That is their freakin' job. Also hotel housekeeping, unless I had a special request.

I think it sucks that we are expected to make up for the fact that service people are not paid well. Tips originated as a way of rewarding exceptional service (not typical service...EXCEPTIONAL), and now it is "required."

Perhaps I should spout this at Annoyances Anonymous instead. :D

Sam said...

Heres a tip: when confronted by a bathroom attendant, simply skip the sink, wipe your hands on your trousers in front of him, and walk out.

deborah said...

Jeff; if we seriously tipped each and everyone of these, no kidding, we'd be living the poorhouse! Hey, we're good and generous tippers I must say.

Now on the toes: I abhor feet; the pic you showed, is one reason. I worked in Podiatry for 4 years, and those are some of the reasons why I hate feet. It's amazing what people neglect in their shoes. Disgusting!!