Typically speaking, when you encounter someone in the service industry – you are normally ‘expected’ (not required) to leave a tip of some sorts. In this case, ‘service industry’ mostly refers to the hospitality industry. Maitre D’s, waitresses, cleaning people, bartenders, valets, restroom attendants, hair dressers, nail professionals etc. The problem is that today, there are so many instances where you may (or may not) be expected to leave a tip that most people are completely confused. This is where the 1, 2, 3’s of tipping come in.

Plus, some restaurants and other establishments such as cruise lines and theme parks automatically charge gratuity on their bills – which is much to the dismay of many patrons. Other personnel – such as those at Starbucks leave out tip jars where you may or may not get a grumpy look if you pay for your $4 coffee, but avoid the tip jar. Even odd places such as car washes, and McDonalds have out tip jars. What’s next? Is your child’s teacher going to set up a tip jar at the classroom door?

But what about the man (or woman) who performed your oil change? What about the band that played all night long at the local hotel you were staying at? Should you tip the person who charged you $140 to detail your vehicle? When you just dropped $80 for a massage is a tip truly necessary?

The history of tipping actually dates back to the 18th century. In those days, tipping was a form of promptitude. This means that people would sit down at the pub and lie down a form of payment beforehand which would ensure that their drink orders were taken and filled first and foremost. Over time, paying extra money ensured promptitude, and the idealism behind tipping began to flourish. Today, tipping is generally performed AFTER a service is provided. According to Forbes magazine, around 2/3rds of the population disagree with the notion of tipping – even for good service, but do so anyways to avoid embarrassment, to encourage future good service, to impress people that they are with or because of silent pressure to do so. It is no secret that many people, especially those in the food service industry are essentially making a minimum wage salary and working for tips. But your private hairdresser who owns her own shop and charges a set fee for procedures? Does she really deserve a ‘tip?’ When you bring your car in for service, does it make sense to pay the employee who did your oil change a tip even though they are making a fair share per hour to work?

This is what makes tipping so confusing. Who do you tip? And how much?

According to the US national averages – the following gives a fair percentage of how much you should tip someone for providing you a service.

  • Hair cutter. Unless they are the owner, 15% is standard with the minimum being a $1.
  • Cab driver. 15%
  • Delivery Person (Such as those who deliver a stove or refrigerator) $5 – $10.
  • Gas Station Attendant (If they are still around) $1
  • Waiter or Waitress – Standard tip is 15 -20% of the bill.
  • Flower/Pizza Delivery – $4-10$ depending on the cost of the order
  • Bartender – 10-15% of the bar bill (Unless they are the owner of the establishment)
  • Valet Parking Attendants – $1
  • Waiter at a buffet style restaurant 5-10% of bill.
  • Hotel Cleaning Lady – $1- $5 (depends on how long you are staying)
  • Maitre D – Depends on the establishment – however on average $1 – $5.

Of course there are also all sorts of other people that you might likely tip. For instance, it is customary to tip the clergy who work your wedding. If you hire a band, most often band members get tips. If you have a grass cutter and you are pleased with the work he or she does, then leaving a few extra bucks in the till can ensure a good customer – client relationship. Essentially, anyone who provides you with a service – can get a tip. During the holidays many people tip or gift the people that provide them with services throughout the year such as household maids, or mail delivery persons.

In the end however, giving a tip and deciding how much to tip comes down to how YOU feel! This doesn’t give you an excuse to be the world’s biggest cheapskate; however a tip should come from the heart. You should give a tip based on what you feel the service that was provided was worth. If you thoroughly enjoyed a performance, or appreciate what someone has done and WANT to leave a tip – then go for it. If you feel that someone provided you with a service at an extremely fair price, then tipping shows your appreciation. And similarly, just because you know a waitress is making minimum wage doesn’t mean she deserves a tip if she treated your table like an inconvenience to her evening shift. Despite the fact that in many industries, a tip is an expected form of payment, it should also be a deserved form of payment by the client.

One thing is for sure. If you regularly visit a service based establishment where tipping is customary and prove to be a cheap tipping customer – your future visits may prove to be disappointing. If the staff remembers you as the person who stiffed them despite their efforts to provide excellent service, you might want to check your food for stray hairs before eating it.

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