Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The wonderful world of Tipping-Part 1

Tips can be a you pay your hairdresser a flat rate or percentage?  When do you give the valet his tip, before you walk in to your venue, when you are leaving, or both?  Here are a few suggestions on how to tip properly:

  • Be discrete.  There is no need to flash your cash if you're a big tipper.
  • It is customary to tip on the pre-taxed amount of the bill.
  • When in doubt about tipping, ask in advance.
  • Money is the tip of choice, but in some cases a small gift, usually during the holidays can be substituted.
Restaurants and Bars:

Waiters- 15% is standard, in large cities 15-20% is standard.  Exceptions to the 15-20% rule include:

  • When a restaurant is self serve- 10% is customary and is a thank you for preparing drinks and cleaning up your table
  • When the waiter has been especially accommodating- you may wish to add an additional percentage or 2-5$ to your 20%
  • When a gratuity has already been added to the bill- then there is no need to give a tip.
  • When your stay at a crowded restaurant is lengthy- Most restaurants count on turning tables at a fairly quick rate.  Taking more time at a table means losing money for the restaurant and the server.  Tacking on an extra 10-15% will express your thanks for being allowed to linger.
  • As you wait for a table, you can either pay for your drinks as you order or ask the bartender to run a tab, with will be added to your dinner bill.  In either case, leave a tip for the bartender when you are told that your table is ready.  in small towns 1$ per drink is fine.  
  • If you're at a bar simply to have a drink, tip between 15-20% at higher end if the bartender has run a tab for you, if he's thrown in a free drink or two, add a couple of extra dollars to your tip.
Wine Stewards
  • A wine steward ( in upscale restaurants, the sommilier if a man, sommeliere if a woman) is tipped 15-20% of the wine bill, but only if he or she was especially attentive.  If the the steward merely took your order and poured your first glass of wine, you might leave 10-15%, though no tip is required.
  • Customers usually tip a wine steward in cash at the end of the meal but in some restaurants you might find a wine-tip line on the credit card bill.  And take note:When tipping a wine steward, tip your waiter only for the food portion of your bill.
Valet Attendants
  • Tip the parking attendants 2$ in smaller cities and 3-5$ in larger cities.  Give the tip when the car is brought to you, not when you arrive.
In Transit

At Airports
  • Curbside baggage checker, skycap, or airline porter.  The standard is 1$ to 2$ per bag- a little more if the bag is very heavy.
  • Wheelchair attendant.  A 2-5$ tip is standard.  If the attendant goes the extra mile, such as pushing the wheelchair from one end of the large airport to the other, tip on the higher end or even more.
  • Hotel shuttle bus driver.  If the driver helps you with your baggage, tip no less than 1$ per bag.
  • Workers in the airport. Tip as you would servers in other restaurants.
On Trains
  • Dining or club car waiter. 15-20%
  • Waiter delivering to sleeping car-15-20%
  • Redcap or train porter-1$ per bag plus 1$ added to the total.
  • Sleeping car porter-2$ per person per night.
In Taxis, Private Cars, or Limousines
  • Taxis- generally about 20% of the fare, but in large cities you should tip a minimum of 1$.  If a taxi driver helps with your luggage or packages, a slightly larger tip is always in order; in general 1$ per bag.  Try to avoid using large bills, especially during short rides or shift changes, when drivers aren't likely to have change.
  • For car and Limousine services, the easiest way to top is to tell the service to add the gratuity to the bill, and often times this is done automatically. You may do this when you request the service.  In larger cities, the standard tip is about 20%; in smaller cities, 15%.  When a gratuity is included in the fee, there's no need to tip more.
On Cruises 

Tips at sea
  • A good rule is to allow about 15% of your fare for tipping.  Divide about half of this allowance between the cabin and dining-room stewards and distribute the rest to others who served you.
    • Cabin Stewards, Dining Room Stewards, and Waiters should receive about 3$ per day minimum.  Put tips in separately addressed envelopes and hand them to each person at the end of the cruise with a note of thanks if you wish.
    • Lounge and bar Stewards- 15-20% at the time of service.  
    • Wine Steward- 15-20% Each time you use his services.
    • Hairdressers, manicurists, and other service people are tipped at the same rate as on land (that will be in part two)
    • Like train and airport porters-1$ per bag at the time of service
  • On longer cruises consider tipping weekly and find a day that works for you to be consistent.  
  • Do not tip the ships officers, but do thank them for their courtesy and hospitality if you cross paths or happen to go to a captains dinner.  Do not tip the ships doctor.
Next post I will talk about Hotels, service industry professionals, Health care providers, Home delivery services, Residential Building Personnel, and other out- and about tipping.  I also have a post about holiday tipping that I will refer you to.  

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