2009 22/08

Here’s a tip

This is something that has always baffled me. Tipping. (Note: I’m going to be referring to tipping as it applies to the United States because that is really all I’m familiar with. Tipping amounts and customs vary based on country and region.)

Wikepedia says a tip “(also called a gratuity) is a payment made to certain service sector workers in addition to the advertised price of the transaction. The amount of a tip is typically calculated as a percentage of the transaction value before applicable taxes.” My husband said that tips actually stands for “To Insure Prompt Service”, “To Insure Proper Service”, “To Improve Performance”, “To Insure Promptness”, or something like that.

Regardless of what it stands for or if it stand for anything, tipping has become customary in our society. And, although it isn’t required by law, it is required by the laws of etiquette.

It seems that everyone these days expects you to tip them but how do you know when to tip and how much to tip? Here is what I know or do and then there are the parts that I’m not so sure about:

Restaurants: I’m a big supporter of tipping when and where tipping is due. I think waiters/waitresses have one of the hardest jobs on earth. They deal with a lot of crap! I know I could never do it. I also know they do not make much in their paychecks and depend on tips as their real pay. So, for waiters/waitresses who are good, I tip well. For waiters/waitresses who are exceptionally good, I tip big. You take care of me, I take care of you! This is one place where I never hesitate to go above and beyond when it’s due. Now, for those waiters/waitresses who are less than desirable….I still tip but am not so generous. Maybe even a little stingy.

Food Delivery: I think this one becomes a little tricky. Of course I’m appreciative that these people delivered my pizza or whatever to my house because I was either not able to go get it myself or I was just too lazy to go get it. The tricky part lies in the fact that the restaurant already charges me a delivery charge for having my food delivered. Then I’m supposed to tip on top of that. My husband said that the delivery charge is to “cover gas” for the delivery so of course tip is expected on top of that. So, I always tip food delivery people. However, the amount I tip depends on how quickly my food got to me, how friendly the delivery person was, and, this is a big one, the weather! If it is raining or snowing or really bad weather in general, I always tip more.

Curbside To Go: Whatever the restaurant calls it, I’m talking about calling your food order in to a restaurant, waiting in your car, and having a server bring your to-go food out to you. Do you tip for this? I don’t. I don’t know if I’m supposed to or if they expect me to but I look at it as no different than if I went through the Taco Bell drive through. What do you think?

Salons: I never used to tip my hair stylist. At least not until I started going to my current salon. Now I always tip. But I’m not sure how much to tip. I just kind of go with the flow and find a nice round number to tip up to. This is why I tip at salons: even though your hair cut seems to cost a lot the stylist themselves do not get paid a lot. There are a lot of behind the scenes costs in a salon. And I tip in response to the personal attention and care I receive. I love my current salon and stylist! And I think she would continue to treat me just as great even if I didn’t tip.

Spas: Ahhh, I love massages! I love manicures! I love pedicures! And, if you do a good job and I leave feeling relaxed and pampered, I will tip and tip generously! That being said, if I go to one of those nail places in the mall and get a mani or pedi I typically don’t tip. It isn’t because I don’t appreciate them less, it is because of the service I typically receive. From my experience, the people working in those places are not very personable, don’t make conversation with you, don’t go above and beyond, and really just want to get you in and out of there. Not really tip worthy.

Bellboys, Valet, etc: I guess this is where I’m really stuck. Here is what I usually do…if you help me with something (carry my bags, load or unload my bags) then I’ll tip you. Especially if you are friendly! But Valet parking…hmmm. I’m already paying for parking. I’m actually paying more because I valet parked. So, am I expected to tip the guy who brings my car around? Isn’t that why I’m paying more in parking? Now, if the guy is super nice and friendly, I’ll tip him. But what if he doesn’t even say two words to me? Do I still tip him for doing what I’m already paying for?

Other Delivery Services: When my husband has flowers delivered to me, do I tip the deliverer? Again, he’s already paying a delivery charge. And they are a gift, a delivery, that I was not expecting. Do I tip?

Other Services: As a general rule of thumb, do you tip the other service people in your life? For example:
• mail carrier?
• newspaper deliver?
• babysitter?
• dry cleaner?
• house cleaner/maid service?
• pet groomer or sitter/walker?

Out of all of those, and I’m sure there are more, I’ve only ever tipped my babysitter. Actually I wouldn’t even call it a tip. We have a regular sitter whom we love and we always get her some sort of Christmas gift. Sometimes that includes a little extra in her last paycheck before Christmas. Do I tip or give a bonus to all my sitters? No. I have a few sitters who only watch my girls every once in a while and I really don’t do anything extra for them. Please note though, I pay my sitters very well on a regular basis.

Ok, so that is where I’m at with tipping. I actually have no idea what to do in most cases. In general though, if you are providing me a personal service, be it serving me food or painting my nails, and you do what I think was a good job, you went above what was expected, you made an effort to make my experience enjoyable, then I’ll show my gratitude in a monetary form. But I won’t be as generous when it is expected out of me and I feel as though you didn’t do anything to deserve that extra gratitude.

What are your tipping guidelines? Do you tip everyone you come in contact with or are you a little more conservative? Is there a general rule of thumb that I’m missing?

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