Monday, February 18, 2013

Black Girl's Think Tank - Here's a Tip

Every now and then, my family would gather together and go out to eat. There would be about 7 to 10 of us.  My uncle would insist on paying the bill, for which we are all grateful. After he paid the bill, he actually took the time out to write "tips" on the back on the receipt (i.e. "never eat yellow snow.") and my family would have a good laugh.

It was mortifying.

I do hold bias. I was a server and bartender for almost 10 years. When I was younger, the tips were a fun bonus. When I got older and was out on my own, a lot of times what I made in one night could determine whether or not my electricity bill would be paid. Or worse, my rent.

Over the years, I have had many discussions about why people do and don't choose to tip. Some feel is the company's job to pay their employees for all work done at the job. Others gauge the amount tipped on how pleased they were with the service (in this instance, I find that nine times out of ten, these people are never really happy with the service.) And some people just plain ole don't know any better - by becoming a server, I essentially taught my parents how to tip.

In my opinion, a server would have to pretty much call me a name and spit in my food for me NOT to tip, but again, I am biased. And de-bunking stereotypes is a priority to me, so I'll even do it to prove a point. I participated in a rather heated discussion on Facebook regarding this matter, and I realized that ignorance was a driving force behind the naysayers of tipping. So I found this nifty chart of who, where and how to tip.

Waiter/waitress:15% of bill (excl. tax) for adequate service; 20% for very good service; no less than 10% for poor service
Headwaiter/captain:often gets a cut of table server's tip; so tip your server extra to reward captain, or tip captain separately
Sommelier, or wine steward:15% of cost of the bottle
Bartender:15% to 20% of the tab, with a minimum of 50 cents per soft drink, $1 per alcoholic drink
Coatroom attendant:$1 per coat
Parking valet or garage attendant:$2 to bring your car to you
Washroom attendant:50 cents to $1

Taxi driver:Varies depending on locality. Assume 15% will be enough; an extra $1 to $2 for help with bags.
Food delivery person:*10% of the bill (excl. tax), at least $1 for bills up to $10. Should tip 15%-20% for a difficult delivery.
Grocery loader:Check with store policy if tips are accepted. If so, $1 for bringing bags to car; $1.50 to $3 if you have more than 3 bags.
Barber:15% to 20%, minimum $1, for a haircut. For other services (shampoo, shave or manicure) tip $1 to $2 to service provider.
Hairdresser:15% to 20%. (It is now acceptable to tip owner, unless he or she says otherwise.)
Shampoo person:$2
Spa service (e.g., massage):15% to 20%. If service is provided by owner, no tip.
Staff at coffee/food retailers with tip jars:No tip required. It's completely optional.
Handyman:No tip
Gas attendant:No tip
* Mike Lynn, associate professor of consumer behavior at the Cornell Hotel School suggests tipping pizza delivery folk a minimum of $2 per pizza. His reasoning: Food delivery can be dangerous if delivering to crime-ridden neighborhoods or driving in bad weather, etc. The Web site suggests the following: 15% for normal service, with a $2 minimum; 20% for excellent service; 10% or less for poor service; at least 10% for orders of $50 or more. Don't assume a delivery charge, if there is one, goes to the pizza deliverer. Ask the person who takes your order.

Skycap at airport:$1 per bag if you check-in curbside; $2 per bag if skycap takes bags to check-in counter.
Hotel doorman:$1 per bag for help with luggage; $1 per person for hailing a cab
Hotel bellhop:$1 per bag for bringing luggage to your room (but a $2 minimum if you have just one bag)
Hotel housekeeper:$2 to $5* per night
Hotel concierge:$5 for getting you tickets or reservations ($10-plus if they're hard to get). No tip required when you ask for directions.
Cruise:Varies. Ask cruise line about customary gratuities.
Source: Emily Post Institute
* Additional source:

Here are a few other interesting articles I found regarding the practice of tipping...did you know that the results of a recent poll show that most people tip out of social obligation, and not because of good service? Check these out:

the real reason people tip -

After all this research, my opinion still stands. I do still judge people who refuse to tip. And I always will. When it comes to basic societal practices here in the US, poop or get off the pot. :-)

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