Tipping is an area of etiquette fraught with uncertainty. But it’s one of those things that when it’s done well, it’s always appreciated. A lady or gentleman should always know when & how to tip those who provide them with a service.
One of the things that confuses people is who to tip. My personal rule of thumb is to tip anyone who is providing you with a service you could have done yourself, or that is completely frivolous. So you wouldn’t tip your doctor, lawyer, or dentist, but you would tip movers, personal shoppers, & tattoo artists.
There are many reasons why you should tip. First of all, think of it as a bonus to people who went above & beyond regular service to help you. If you work for a big company, & you complete a project quickly, there’s a chance you could get a bonus. Tips are bonuses (bonii?) for those who work in the service industry. Secondly, it’s a way to show your gratitude–that’s why it’s called a gratuity. Most people in service industries are overworked, underpaid, & unthanked. They are on their feet all day & have no health benefits. They are serving you food or schlepping your furniture because you couldn’t be bothered to do it. Kick them a few extra bucks to thank them. It’s a way to say “thank you” to those who so very rarely hear it. Thirdly, if you’re a regular anywhere & you’re a great tipper, it ensures not only awesome service, but that the staff will also throw in extras for you–free drinks, extra sides, & the like. It helps you become known by the staff. Finally, most of the time people working in the service industry have jobs that rely on tips. Service wages are generally lower than minimum wage. So help a sister or brother out!
Here are some guidelines to how much you should tip in different situations. This is not a comprehensive list by far, so if you have further questions a little Googling can be your friend! Remember, too, that there are different guidelines in different countries, so if you’re planning on travelling, especially in Europe, look up where you’re going and what is customary.
- Massage therapist: 10-20%.
- Personal trainer: $50-$100 upon reaching your goal.
- Hairstylist: 15%.
- Manicure/pedicurist: 15%.
- Tattoo artists & piercers: 15%.
- Dog groomer: 15%.
- Valet parking: $2 to the person who brings you your car. More if the weather is frightful & you’re outdoors.
- Full-service gas station attendant: $1-$5, depending on how much they do, & whether or not the weather is awful
- Taxi driver: 15%, more if you’re in a rush & they get you to where you need to be on time.
Food & Beverage Service:
- Food delivery: 15%, more if the weather is bad & they risked their neck to bring you a pizza.
- Baristas & smoothie makers: If they have a tip jar, throw some change in there. A little extra if it’s ready by the time you’ve already paid.
- Bartenders & cocktail servers: 15%-20%, or $1-$2 per drink, whichever is higher. Pre-tipping at the beginning of a long night is a great way to ensure amazing service.
- Servers: 15%-20% is customary, more if they do an exceptional job. If you’re at a restaurant an extra-long time, tip extra, even up to double because the server wasn’t able to turn your table.
- Housekeeping: $2-$5 per night, in a marked envelope. Let the fanciness of your hotel dictate how much you spend.
- Tour guide: $3-$5 per person in group.
- Bellhop: $1-$2 per bag. Higher if they’re ludicrously heavy.
- Casino dealer: This topic is particularly polarizing, with some people saying you shouldn’t tip anything because the dealer is already taking your money, but I say that you have the luxury of gambling, & the dealer isn’t the one who gets your money, they get paid by the casino. I say if you’re having a good night, leave some chips for the dealer. Don’t give less the more you win–money you didn’t earn is nothing to be stingy about!
Holiday Gifts (not really tips…):
- Newspaper delivery: $20 gift card.
- Regular housekeeper: One week’s pay.
- Dog walker: One week’s pay.
If you’re using a coupon or a gift certificate & getting a discount on what you would have paid, you should tip on the original price of the service. The person providing you with the service didn’t work any less hard, why should they be penalized because you got a deal?
When you are tipping someone, be discreet about it. Showing off how much money you tip is crude. Never, ever make a big deal of it. On the other end of the spectrum, asking for a tip (or retail stores leaving a tip jar out) is beyond the pale.
What should you do if you’re getting bad service? It’s important to remember to assume the best about a person–it’s very likely that they are having a miserable day. Try “nicing” them. Be as sweet as you can be to them. Be the one beacon of light in their otherwise miserable shift. I have done this with great success. I’ve even gotten free things given to me because I’ve brightened people’s days! Also try to determine if the fault is with the server or another factor. Did the kitchen screw up your order?
Better than not tipping is to ask to speak to the manager. The job of the manager is to help things run smoothly, & they should know the problems you’re having. Not tipping is something that should be reserved for the very bad service. If the service was completely horrible, & you said something about it, & still nothing was done to correct it, then you can be excused with not tipping at all.
Finally, if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford that service, period. It used to make me absolutely bonkers when I was a server & people would give me the, “sorry, I can’t afford to tip you” line. People in the service industry bust their rumps, show them some thanks with a few bucks thrown their way.
If nothing else, consider tipping well universal good karma. It’ll all come back around.