Thoughtful Thursday: Tip

March 21, 2013

Thoughtful ThursdayMy mother was a terrible tipper. 15% was her max, but usually her tip was closer to 10%. As a kid I’d calculate a proper tip and insist that she leave that amount; she’d often try to sneak a dollar or two back into her purse as we exited, but I always caught her and put the money back.

In restaurants I’m usually somewhere around 18% unless the service is particularly good or particularly bad. When the bill is small, though, I often bump it up. When it’s a place I go often, I bump it up. When I’m on an expense account, I really bump it up.

I’m not always a great tipper, though. I rarely tip maids in hotels: it just doesn’t make sense to me, I dunno. For people like shuttle bus drivers I tip sometimes, but if they’re unfriendly or make me lug giant suitcases onto the bus while they sit watching me I refrain without guilt. I’m an inconsistent tipper when it comes to picking up takeout and getting counter service: should I really be tipping the same amount to someone who does nothing more than hand me a bag as I would to a waiter who attends to a table for an hour or more? I didn’t even realize that anyone tipped on takeout until a few years ago when I saw a friend tip $15 on a $60 order — like many who have worked in food service in the past, she is an excellent tipper. Now, I might tip 10-15%, or if it’s a bakery or something then I toss in a dollar, maybe two, which might turn out to be 10% or might be 40%. If I’m putting the money in a jar, I try to do it when the person is looking, not because I want to get credit for tipping but because I don’t want them to think that I didn’t when I actually did. I totally get that wages for many jobs assume a certain level of tipping, but sometimes I feel like it’s all an extortion scheme. When I was in college, the student-run pizza place literally had a Shit List of non-tippers; after a few times, they would refuse to bring you any more pizzas.

I’ve been to many countries in Europe that don’t tip in restaurants, or maybe something small like rounding up to the nearest Euro. In Japan, you don’t tip at all, for anything. That is one of my favorite things about Japan, that people try hard because they want to do a good job, not because it might increase their tip. I believe in the free market economy, but sometimes it’s lovely to get good service because the person chooses to give you good service.

What kind of tipper are you?

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12 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Tip”

  1. St. Elsewhere Says:

    I am an inconsistent tipper too.

    And we once had an awful dinner at a then-favourite restaurant where the waiter bungled our order, then the bill, and then the totalling again. My brother left him something akin to 25 cents, only to point out how bugged we were.

    But yeah, I tend to have a flat amount set in my head, and I raise the amount only if I am in a phenomenally great mood, and the service has been exceptional.


  2. I’m inconsistent as well (usually dependant on how broke I am at the time), but certain things, like my favourite hairstylist, I always tipped 20%. Now, I’m living in the UK where the tipping rules are entirely different and I’m always having to ask my friends what the norm is. It utterly confusing!

  3. Sara Says:

    It has been such a relief to move to Europe and no longer have to worry about tips. If I have a few euros in my wallet, I might leave them if things were especially good. If I’m paying cash at the table, I’ll round up to the nearest Europe. At bars, you might leave a euro or two on the bar after ordering. That’s it.

    Tax is also included in the printed price of things sold at stores, so you always know what you’re going to spend when you order/put things into your basket. Seems so much more civilized.

  4. Mina Says:

    I consider myself a good tipper, I usually round it up with 10-15%. If I am satisfied with the service, even more, but this happens not that often where we live now, German services are seriously lacking… Still, I think it is a misconception that in Europe people don’t tip. They do give you the exact change if you don’t say anything, but rounding up to the next euro, meaning leaving only a few cents, is rather stingy, if you pay for a meal, but it is customary to do that when one has only coffee. Usually the tip is between 50 cents to 2.5 euros, if the bill is under 30-35 eur, more if over that and the service was nice. In Germany, unlike in France or Belgium, people tend to tip way less than I think they should. And in a beergarten one usually leaves at most 1-2 euro, never more, regardless of the bill. When I pick up take away, I never tip, for me it’s like tipping the supermarket cashier, which is freaky. But when we have food delivered, I always tip.

    A most curious situation was when we were given back half of the tip we left, by an elderly lady in a fabulous cake shop, who told us smiling that it was way too generous a tip for a cake and coffee and that we’d better come back another time and leave the other half of the tip then. Blew our minds, she did… Of course we did go back, often even.

  5. Ana Says:

    My tipping definitely increased upon the influence by my extremely generous-tipping husband. We routinely tip 20% to wait-staff, 15% if poor service (this bothers me a bit…I think 20% is excellent, 10% poor, 15% average, but my husband is insistent). Neither of us, however, have ever tipped for take-out–my understanding was that wages in these situations are not contingent upon tips. I’ve never tipped a barista, either. I am moderately generous for delivery–especially when the weather really sucks out. I see the poor guy standing in the pouring rain with our pizza and I am moved to give him $5. I never knew hotel room tipping was a thing until I met my husband. Now I do it when I’m with him ($1/day of housekeeping), but often forget when I’m not. I have always been super generous with tipping for personal grooming, I get my hair cut or nails done so infrequently, if someone does a good job, I give about 25-30%.
    The one place I am stingy on tipping is taxis. I hate paying for taxis, I hate riding in stinky stuffy taxis and listening to inane phone conversations, being jostled around by the poor driving, and completely uncomfortable because they refuse to turn on the AC (even with the summer fare hikes to cover the costs)—I try to get away with as little as I can based on the configuration of cash I have (best if I have lots of $1 bills).

  6. Mel Says:

    When I tip, I tend to tip 20% just because calculating jumps of 10 are easier on the fly. And I tip where it makes sense for me to tip — where it is commonly done: restaurants, taxi, salon.

  7. a Says:

    I am a decent tipper. I am also inconsistent. I don’t tip at fast food places with a tip jar. I tip at restaurants where someone has to come and actually bring me something…even at the Carside to go places, since I learned that the servers often do food assembly too. I will sometimes tip the maid at a hotel, but that generally depends on whether I have any cash on hand. Half the time, they don’t take the tip unless you check out anyway.

  8. Rebecca Says:

    Oh the American/Canadian way of tipping is SO CONFUSING to me. In Britain larger parties have it automatically put on the bill, but even then you can choose not to pay it or not to pay some of it. I usually do tip a bit, but if it’s been counter service or very little interaction then I don’t bother. But then our minimum wage is often more of a living wage than yours I think.

  9. Elana Kahn Says:

    I really only tip in restaurants but I always give at least 15%. My mom is good about tipping people that handle baggage, valets and such, but I’m bad about it…and poor. LOL But a waitress I will ALWAYS tip at least 15%, even if s/he wasn’t that good. They get paid so little, so I can’t justify tipping any less than that.


  10. Not Gore 😉

    I’m usually 20% at a dine in restaurant; 10% for buffet or carry out.

    A buck or so for porters (1 suitcase). Not a hotel tipper. I do tip the hairstylist, usually pretty well. After all, she’s part of the family.

  11. strongblonde Says:

    I actually had a hard time in Japan (and Thailand) with the whole non-tipping thing. It was weird. In Thailand it IS okay to occasionally tip the bellman, but not the cab driver. You never tip a food server. There are just too many rules!!! Stateside I generally tip well for food service (but that seems pretty infrequent these days). Unless the service was bad, my standard is generally 20%. I never tip maids in hotels, though, I suppose that just seemed like part of their job. I generally manage my own luggage, so I tip pretty small for a shuttle ride. Taxis I have NO idea how to tip anymore. YEARS ago I would tip 25% and then round up to the nearest dollar….but for some reason that seems absurd now! Pick up I will generally only tip a few dollars. Mostly b/c my pick up orders are so simple (usually soup). Delivery I tip pretty well, too…mostly because we will order from the same places, so I want to keep them happy! 🙂


  12. Well here in France you’re not really expected to tip, so yes, rounding up is the most I do here. But in the US I’m always afraid I’m not tipping enough and being regarded as a stupid tourist, so I think I tip pretty generously when I’m there.


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