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Posts Tagged ‘Tipping in the U.S.’

To Tip or Not To Tip

Many foreigners can’t figure out the tipping system in America. I actually like it. Every time I go to another country where tipping is not customary like it is here, I remember why I like it. It just makes customer service better. Going to a restaurant in the United States is by far a different experience from going to a restaurant in a European country, where the waiters are paid “a living wage” to use a Bernie Sanders phrase. The waiters, all too often, simply don’t care, and the service is sloppy and slow. Often the staff is unfriendly and sometimes even condescending.

When a significant portion of your income depends on how the customer feels taken care of, the quality of service goes up.

I believe in tipping, and I usually tip well, but only where the tip has an effect on the service I am getting. I do not believe I should be tipping when there is no direct relationship between the service and the tip.

For instance, I believe in tipping in the following service relationships:

  • Waiters in restaurants – they cater to me, both in making me feel comfortable, providing good advice on the menu, bringing me the food and acting like they want me there. My tip will reward them in proportion to the service. It’s a true interaction.
  • Staff at events – recently we went on a hot-air balloon ride. It takes a whole crew to get a balloon launched and landed safely. The staff works hard and they make the guests feel safe, comfortable, and enhance the experience.
  • Shuttle drivers – from hotels, rental car companies, parking garages to airport terminals, etc. The drivers work hard, they carry my luggage, they drop me off and pick me up when I need them.
  • Doormen – people who hail cars, check your luggage, coats, open your doors, help you in and out of cars.
  • Food delivery people – the pizza man, or anyone bringing food to my house.
  • Installers at my house – Recently we had a fan installed at my house. The installer worked had, cleaned up after himself, and I know he was just a laborer, working for a company. I gave him a generous tip.

I don’t tip in the following service relationships:

  • Hotel housekeeping staff – this is controversial. Many people leave tips on the pillow for housekeepers. I do not, except when I am at a resort for multiple days or a week, and it’s the same housekeeper that cleans up for me day after day. When I spend one or two nights at a hotel, I never see the housekeeper, and I do not create a service relationship. The service is provided in advance according to expectations set. Whether I leave a tip at the end or not does not affect the service. It makes no sense to me.
  • Owners or managers – If I am getting a service from a business owner, say a caterer, and the caterer is the boss, and I am already paying for that service, I do not think I should be expected to tip them.
  • Tip jars at the coffee shop – The servers behind the counter work hard, yes, but what they do is pour a cup of overpriced coffee into a paper cup, put on a lid, and take my money. I don’t believe after paying two dollars for a cup of coffee I should put money into a jar on the counter. These people are doing the minimum necessary to give me my product. I don’t think a tip is appropriate. I ignore the jar.
  • Tip jars anywhere – If someone just sells me something, there is no reason for a tip.
  • Cab drivers – even though I do sometimes tip when I have to give cash to a cab driver, I never like it. They are driving me, for goodness sake. What’s so special. Now I don’t use cabs anymore, I use Uber, and yes, I usually don’t tip Uber drivers.

I am curious if my readers have input into this subject.

 

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