To tip or not to tip

Now here’s a question I have for you. Who do you tip and when? In reading the comments to my post on Who reads the Washington Times?, Vintagecoils wrote in to say that as a newspaper deliver agent, he was tipped differently by Wash Post and Wash Times readers. That makes me wonder how much you tip folks like him, or the trashman, or the mailman, or taxi drivers, etc?

I totally get tipping servers, as a waiter myself for many years, the $2.25 you get per hour is a joke and if you are a good and consistent tipper, I’ll be jack-quick attentive when you come it. But a newspaper delivery agent? Or the trashman, mailman, etc? They get a decent hourly wage already, right?

And what about taxi drivers? I usually round up, for I hate change, but some folks tip taxis $2-5 per ride. Me, unless they are the last decent cabbie in DC, I say they’re already overpaid for a six-block ride. What about the hotel concierge who whistles for a cab? I would rather do that myself, thank you very much. In this town, those hotel lurking taxis are usually overcharging psycho taxi drivers.

Hairstylists are confusing, for they are providing a direct service and you wanna be sure they cut just enough and not shave ya, but they get a percentage of every charge and hourly to boot. Do you tip them based on cost or time or how many folks involved? I go to one where sometimes she washes my hair & sometimes her assistant does. Should I tip different if it’s two not one?

Is there anyone else to tip I am leaving out?

11 Comments so far

  1. Tiff (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2005 @ 10:14 am

    Gentlemen may feel differently about tipping hairdressers than I do, but for women, the coffiure is the ultimate accessory that makes or breaks the look, and it’s also the one accessory that’s least interchangeable. So a great style is worth money. LOTS of money. And it’s less about whether the hairdresser is making money without tips and more about demonstrating appreciation for his or her expertise.

  2. Tipped_out (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2005 @ 3:20 pm

    Tipping is a subjective ritual. I’m with you, Wayan, about the confusion of tipping. In the US, most of those in the service industry expect a tip, right? When did it become customary to tip, even sometimes when you get lousy service?

    How much do you tip the waiter/waitress if they provided adequate service? They didn’t go out of their way but they did enough, except for the occasional forgotten water or napkin when requested. 10%? 15%? or nothing? I don’t go around asking, each waiter/waitress how much they make – so if I knew what their hourly wage was, might I tip accordingly so they could pay the rent or pay off their Segway?

    Plus, not all restaurants distribute their tips fairly. What if the waiter sucked but the busboy was helpful? How do you make sure that busboy gets the tip and not the undeserving waiter?

    How about the cabbie? Do you tip him 20% b/c he got you home without getting lost? Or better yet, he didn’t kick you out of his cab when he heard you dry heaving out the window of his car?

    It would be nice to get rid of tipping altogether. When I was in Germany, friends from Czech Republic said we only need to round up the bill to pay it, no need for tipping. Regardless of the bill being 45DM or 49DM, we would leave 50DM (yeh, this trip was before the Euro hit the streets). If you did that here, the next time you return to the restaurant and you got the same waiter, I can surely expect “extra flavor” in my linguine, right?

    I assume the whole idea of tipping was to reward the service provider for doing an extraordinary job for which s/he is being paid very little to do by the employer (usu. a business in the hospitality industry). I think though sometimes this is no longer the case b/c of the horror stories I’ve heard from people who have worked at restaurants – getting back at someone for not tipping enough. So what should the guideline be for tipping?

  3. Tiff (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2005 @ 4:20 pm

    Actually, there’s a way to make sure the person who deserves the tip gets it.

    Tips left in the “waiter wallet” are often divided evenly among the staff, which I guess makes sense since at every restaurant I typically go to, three different people refill my water glass. But employees generally aren’t obliged to share “handshake tips,” put directly in their hands by the tipper.

  4. Don (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2005 @ 4:37 pm

    I have a number of mixed feelings about tipping, but one thing I have decided firmly: the fact that the person gets a good or bad wage is not part of my decision. I cannot go around attempting to introduce economic parity into the lives of everyone I deal with professionally. Your pay stinks? I really am sorry about that, but that alone isn’t a reason for me to give you a dime/buck/fiver.

    Beyond that, I feel like I am only going to tip people who have the ability to excel at their job. Waiters, cabbies and hair stylists qualify. Hotel maids do not, tho my girlfriend disageees with me.

  5. Joseph LeBlanc (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2005 @ 9:22 pm

    Nobody’s mentioned coffee shops yet… do you tip differently (or at all) when you are just getting plain brew than when you are ordering something with froth?

  6. Tiff (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2005 @ 10:30 pm

    I don’t tip anywhere that I have to go to the counter and order and wait around to pick it up. Tipping is for service, and the basic assembly of the goods I have just ordered and paid for isn’t service.

  7. wayan (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2005 @ 6:30 pm

    Tipped Out, you make a good point & one I wonder too:

    How much do you tip the waiter/waitress if they provided adequate service? They didn’t go out of their way but they did enough, except for the occasional forgotten water or napkin when requested. 10%? 15%? or nothing?

    I usually tip 20% if it is a place I go often and I get good service, keeps the service good when I come back. If it’s a place I’ll not return to, then it’s hard for me to go above 15%, unless it’s really good service. Then again, I figure my percent off the total bill, not pre-tax, which some do. That to me is a little cheap. What do you do?

  8. Don (unregistered) on August 24th, 2005 @ 2:09 pm

    I’ll almost always tip 15-20% unless the service moves into the Completely Unacceptable range – ie, my drink sits empty for long or repeatedly, I am forced to wait really out-there amounts of time for attention (vs food delays), that kind of thing.

    I figure tip on pre-tax as well, not because it’s cheap but because that’s what the IRS does as well. *shrug*

  9. wayan (unregistered) on August 25th, 2005 @ 12:43 am

    I had a friend in college who would leave just a penny & always face-up if he didn’t like the service. He claimed it was some international server code for bad service. Then again, he was a cheap French freak.

    In my years of slinging chow, I made a special place in hell for folks who tip 15% off the net bill. Just a penny? Oh, you’d get chased down the street with by a crazed sugar packet winging freak.

  10. Samantha (unregistered) on August 25th, 2005 @ 11:20 pm

    As someone who recently reentered the service industry, I’d like to tell you all to tip 20% for good service, always. We make NOTHING. Those of us who really try to serve deserve some of your cash.

    That being said, I wish the service was included in the bill, as it is in many other countries. It would make this whole thing so much easier for everyone.

  11. wayan (unregistered) on August 26th, 2005 @ 1:24 pm

    So we can all agree that servers get tips, some of us more generous in this than others, but what about the paper delivery or the garbage removal or mail deliver folks? Should they get tips too? And if so, how much?

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