Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tips on Tipping

Due to my recent fascination with the world of finance- them's words I never thought I'd hear out of my own mouth- I have been reading some financial blogs lately and came across basic yet very handy list of information on tipping, a point that gives rise to confusion or disagreement at times (what to tip a shoe shiner for the holidays? This is one dilemma to which I cannot directly relate, but I have my own quandaries.) Borrowed from the informative and useful site, Get Rich Slowly.

After browsing dozens of pages, I drafted the following guide. The amounts listed are based on averages or on consensus, when possible.

Food Service

Barista
No tip required, though many suggest throwing coins into the tip jar.
Bartender
$1/drink (or 15% of total bill). Pre-tip for better service.
Delivery person (including pizza)
10%, $2 minimum (also, also)
Maitre d’
$5-$25 for special efforts
Takeout
No tip required unless something special is done (also, also)
Waiter
15% for adequate service, 20% for exceptional service. For poor service, leave 10% or less. It’s okay to leave nothing for exceptionally poor service, but only if you’re sure it’s the waiter’s fault.

Hotel Staff

Bellman/Porter
$1 to $2 per bag, $5 minimum. (Or, just as many places say $1 bag, $2 minimum.)
Concierge
$5-$20 depending on the service. $20 if he does something exceptional. Nothing for directions.
Housekeeper
$2 to $5 per night, paid daily or as a lump sum at checkout. (Most sites suggest you tip daily.)
Parking Valet
A wide range of opinions. Everyone agrees that you should pay when your car is retrieved. Some say to pay when it’s parked, too. Most sites say to tip $2, though some suggest $5.
Room service
$5 minimum (unless gratuity is included in check)

Travel

Bus driver (not mass transit)
$1 to $2, if she handles luggage
Cab driver
10%, $2-$5 minimum
Chauffeur
10-15%
Gas station attendant
Nothing. Or $2-$4. There’s no agreement. (I’ve never seen anyone tip a gas station attendant ever.)
Porter/skycap
$1 per bag. $2 for heavy items, or if porter brings luggage to counter.

Personal service

Barber/Hairstylist
Again, little agreement: 10-15%, 15-20%, etc. One person recommends $5 to each individual who shampoos or blow-dries your hair! (also)
Manicurist
15%
Spa service
15-20%
Masseuse
10-15%
Shoe-shiner
$2 or $3

Other

Building superintendent
Varies —read more.
Coat checker
Most sites recommend $1 per coat, though one said $2 to $5 upon retrieval.
Furniture deliverer
It depends. Most of the time $5-$20. Some recommend simply offering cold drinks. (also)
Grocery store bagger
One site recommended $1-$3, though I’ve never seen one tipped in my life.
Mover
$10-$25 per person (also)

What about tipping at holidays? Tipping service people with whom you have regular contact can build goodwill. I found these recommendations:

Holiday Tips

  • Babysitter: one week’s pay
  • Doorman: bottle of wine or box of chocolates
  • Garbage collector: $15 to $25
  • Gardener: one week’s pay
  • Housekeeper: one week’s pay
  • Janitor: $15 to $25
  • Mail carrier: $15 to $20 (up to $20 non-cash)
  • Nanny: one week’s pay
  • Newspaper delivery person: $15 to $25
  • Parking attendant: $15 to $25
  • Personal trainer: $20 to $50 (tip discreetly)

Some points regarding tipping etiquette:

  • If you use a coupon or gift certificate, calculate your tip based on the total before discount.
  • Tip above the norm if:
    • Service is exceptional,
    • You’ve been a burden, or
    • You are a regular client.
  • Don’t tip if it’s not deserved. Poor service should not be rewarded.
  • In some circumstances, if you offer an initial tip — especially a large initial tip — you’ll get better service.
  • If you take up a restaurant table for a long time, tip extra.
  • Tip discreetly.
  • When in doubt, tip.

What about public officials? When is a tip a tip, and when is a tip a bribe? My wife and I tipped the judge who married us, but even then we had trouble deciding how much to give him. (We gave him $50.)

I suspect that tipping practices vary widely from region-to-region and, especially based upon the size of the city. As always, do what works for you.

For the record and in response to the anonymous comment below, I always tip my barista and think it would be pretty shitty not to.

2 comments:

Cinema Journal said...

Thank you! I think people need "tipping education." So many awkward/embarrassing moments when you go out to eat with someone who doesn't tip properly. Especially if its a place you go to regularly. So--many thanks for setting the record straight!

Anonymous said...

tip your barista a dollar for each drink. why should a bartender get a dollar for a bud? i was a bartender and felt it unfair that a soy latte should yield anything less than the reward for taking a cold bottle o beer out of the fridge.

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