Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tipping Guide: How to Tip for Every Circumstance

Knowing the proper tipping etiquette is important to anyone receiving personal services. These etiquette tips for personal services will provide the reader with gratuity protocol.

“When we can't get away for a vacation, we get the same feeling by staying home and tipping every person that smiles.” I must credit the source of this clever quote to Susie Spanos of the website Famous Quotes and Authors. It whimsically captures the exasperation and confusion we sometimes feel about gratuities or tipping etiquette.

I remember when I took my mother on a trip to Atlantic City. She became frustrated at feeling obligated to put a tip in the tip jar of the Casino’s restroom attendants every time she needed to use the facility. She asked me if it was necessary. I explained to my mother that restroom attendants provide  somewhat of a personal service by maintaining  the cleanliness of the restroom and by being of assistance  when needed. I explained to her that the restroom attendants probably make a very low salary and the tips help supplement that. My mother responded with her typical wry wit, “I’ll give them a tip – Get a different job!”

Not knowing the proper tip to provide for a particular service can make you as confused and exasperated as my mother was in the Casino restroom. This is a guide for those who want to tip and want to know the customary amount. This article covers some of the main tipping options or opportunities.

Tipping at Restaurants and Bars:

It is customary to tip10-15% on alcoholic drinks and 15-20% on food. Tipping 10% on the wine is perfectly acceptable. Deciding whether to tip the wine steward 10 or 15 % for the wine depends mostly on how helpful the server was in choosing the wine and serving it. Tip your waiter/ waitress 15 to 20 %, and tip the same amount for counter service. Your cocktail server and bartender should be tipped 15 to 20%. For free drinks in some Casinos, you should tip one to two dollars per round. It is customary to tip the restroom attendants and coat check attendants one dollar. Don’t feel obligated to tip the busboy unless he had to provide an extra special service such as cleaning up a mess that was above and beyond the call of duty. Tipping the Maitre d’ is unnecessary as well, unless he secures a special table for you or he provides seating for you in a fully booked dining room when you had no reservation. Tipping a musician that visits your table is discretionary, unless he played a special request. If such is the case, it is customary to tip him two or three dollars.

Tipping at Airports and on Amtrak:

If you are unaccustomed to traveling,  knowing when and whom to tip at the airport or on Amtrak can be unsettling. If you are traveling by air, the first place where you will encounter the gratuity dilemma is at the airport. It is customary to tip the porter or skycap two dollars per bag, or more if the bags are heavier than normal. Paying two dollars extra for curbside check-in is discretionary. If you arrive late and the porter or skycap helps you get to your flight on time, tip an extra five to twenty dollars. It is not necessary to tip charter pilots, flight attendants or other in-flight personnel.

If you are traveling by Amtrak, it is recommended that you tip dining car waiters, stewards and bar car waiters 15% of the bill. Tip porters one dollar per bag. If you are traveling in a sleeper birth, tip the sleeping car attendant five dollars per passenger per day.

Tipping at Hotels:

When staying in a hotel, tip the valet or parking attendant one to two dollars for parking or returning your car. If the Doorman or the Bellman for the hotel helps you with your bags in or out of your car, tip him one dollar per bag, but if he carries them to your room, tip him one to two dollars per bag.  If he hails you a cab, one to two dollars is a fair tip. For room service, if the gratuity is not included, tip 15 to 20% of the total bill. Tip hotel maids three to five dollars per day. If you are especially messy, tip up to ten dollars per day. It is customary to tip maids daily because you may have a different maid each day. Be sure to tip on the last day as well. If the hotel Concierge helps you with particularly hard to get theatre tickets or dinner reservations, tip him or her five to ten dollars, which can be made at the end of the stay or at the time of the service.

Tipping on Cruise Ships:

Check cruise ship policy in advance, but most tipping of staff for services rendered is done at the end of the cruise. Tip waiters and cabin stewards three dollars per day, per person. Don’t forget the bus boy. You should tip him $1.50 per person, per day. Tipping the Maitre d’ is optional. Normally a 15% gratuity is automatically added to your bill to cover the tip for the Bar Steward.

Tipping for Ground Transportation:

The customary tip for taxi, limousine, shuttle, or van driver is 15% of the total fare. You may want to tip up to 20% if the driver helps with the bags. Check limousine policy in advance because the rate charged for limos frequently includes gratuity.

Tipping at Hair Salons and Spas:

There are a variety of services offered in hair salons and spas. Tip your hair stylist 10 to 20%. If an assistant other than your stylist shampoos your hair, tip him or her two to five dollars, and make sure you give the tip directly to the assistant. The customary tip for a manicure or facial is 15%. Normally you should tip the spa massage therapist 10 to 15%. If you have purchased a spa package and the gratuity is not included, tip 15 to 20% to be split among the various service providers.

Tipping for Deliveries:

If you are having furniture or appliances delivered to your home, you should tip five to ten dollars per person. For flower deliveries, it is customary to tip anywhere from two to five dollars for normal size flower deliveries. For especially large flower deliveries, tip $20.00. For food and liquor deliveries, you should tip 15%, but never less than two dollars. For your daily newspaper delivery, it is customary to give only a Christmas bonus of $25.00 to $50.00.

Miscellaneous Services:

Tip the person who washed your car at the car wash two to three dollars per car. If your car is an SUV, tip three to five dollars. Tip the groomer of your pet 15% of the bill or two dollars per dog. Tipping pet sitters is discretionary, but if you do, you should tip the sitter 15%.

Tip Jars:

Dealing with tip jars can be really perplexing because we are beginning to see them everywhere. I get particularly perturbed at tip jars on the counter at coffee shops, such as Starbucks. Tip jars are out of place in coffee shops, such as Starbucks, fast food restaurants or any restaurant that does not actually bring your food or drink to your table. Tipping is not necessary in such establishments.

In conclusion, remember that gratuities are discretionary. If you don't think tipping is necessary in certain situations, then don't tip. If you think tipping in general is foolish and a nuisance, then don't tip. Remember, however, that tips help out workers who do a personal service for you. Such workers generally make a low income salary.  Though you aren’t morally obligated to tip, if you are using a service that is commonly known to be a service dependent upon gratuities, such as restaurants, bars, hair salons, valet parking and a few others, then one could argue that you should feel a moral obligation to tip if you were given good service.

Picture credit: Foxumon