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Tipping Etiquette

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Tipping is a multi billion dollar industry, though not consistent in all parts of the world. Tipping may be illegal in some countries, but there are several waiting tables, tending bars and luggage carriages waiting to be tipped from customers to make ends meet. Let us look into the custom of tipping, how much should be tipped for different services in various parts of the globe and some tips on the etiquette of tipping.


What is a tip?

A tip is a gratuity which is a small amount of money that is rendered voluntarily as a token of appreciation for a service. For instance, we tip the hotel waitress for their good service. In case the service was substandard, the tip is very low or no tip at all. The term 'tip' means 'to give' or 'hand it over'. History reveals stories of feudal lords throwing gold coins as tips to the peasants in the street.


There are several waiters, guides, drivers and others who are not even paid minimum wages by their employers. They depend on these tips given by the customers for good service and friendly help.


How much to tip?

Which amount is correct to tip whom is a million dollar question. For instance, one knows that a waitress needs to be tipped, but how much? Some may think 10% is adequate, and some others think that 20% should be standard. Most would prefer to tip 15% if exceptional service is rendered.


Many would feel confident of tipping in a restaurant, but there are situations where people feel far less secure when it comes to the question of offering a tip. A tip should not be inappropriate, too generous or insufficient. There are some basic guidelines that help to tip appropriately in almost any situation.


Hotel/Bar tips

The general rule to tip a bartender could be 10 to 15% of the total drink bill. If a bar is generally crowded, a generous tip after every round should be good. If the bartender sends a complimentary drink, half the value of that round should be offered as tip.


A delivery person could be tipped 10% minimum, whereas a bellman or a porter could be paid a minimum of $1 per bag. While a housekeeper could be paid $2 to $5 per night, either daily or as a lump sum, a parking valet can be tipped $2, though some may suggest up to $5. For room service, the tip is $5.


Travel tipping

A bus driver could be tipped $1 to 2 if luggage is handled; a cab driver $2 to 5 minimum; a chauffeur, 10 to 15%, a gas station attendant nothing. A porter could be tipped $1 per bag.


Tips for personal service

A hair stylist or a barber could be tipped 10-15% of the bill amount, a manicurist 15%, 15 - 20% for spa service, 10-15% for masseuse and $2 to $3 for a shoe shiner. A stylist at a salon could be tipped 15 to 20% of the total bill and a colorist 15 to 20%. While at a Spa, a massage therapist could be tipped $ 10 to 20$ per massage, an aesthetician 10 to 20% per service, and spa attendants about 5% of the total bill at the front desk. If the attendants go that extra mile in servicing the client, they could be complimented by a generous tip as well. A tip for the tattoo artist could be 10 to 20% depending upon the complexity of work and for a piercing technician, 10% of the total bill.


Other tipping situations

A furniture deliverer could be tipped $ 5 to $20; a grocery store bagger $1 to $3 and a mover $ 10 to $25. For a delivery person for individual home food delivery a 5 to 10% of the total bill should be sufficient. For non food deliveries like flowers, it could be $1 to $10 depending on the size of the arrangement.


Holiday tipping

Tipping certain people who render service regularly could help build goodwill. For instance a baby sitter could be tipped a week's pay; a door man, a bottle of wine or box of chocolates; a garbage collector $15; a week's pay for the gardener and housekeeper; and $15 for janitor. A nanny could be tipped a week's pay; a mail carrier $15; newspaper delivery person $15 and parking attendant $15, while a personal trainer could be tipped $ 20 to $50 and that too discreetly.


Vehicular parking tipping

As mentioned earlier, a valet parking could be tipped $2, when the car is returned, for a taxi 10 to 15% of the total fare and for Limos 15 to 20% of the total bill. Tipping is a fine art and one can easily read from a person's face whether or not he/she normally get tips. Tipping should not be an intimidating task, and with some common sense, one should get it right most of the time.


Tipping across the globe

The practice of tipping varies widely from country to country and continent to continent. It is also based on the size of the city. Tipping could be a perplexing experience when abroad. While in some countries, tipping is expected, it is regarded as an insult in some others, but again these rules are constantly subject to change.


In many countries across the world, tipping is non-existent. For instance in Australia, there is no such practice as tipping and in Argentina, tipping is considered illegal. In Japan again, tipping in non existent. In Belgium, there is no tipping expected in the restaurants, and in Bolivia, the service charges are simply added to the bill and there is no tipping. Tipping is not customary in Switzerland, Malaysia, Slovenia and Spain, whereas in Porto Rica, it is only with porters who carry luggage.


In Czech Republic and Denmark, tipping is done only as a sign of appreciation. In Egypt, tipping is a way of life, although taxi drivers are not tipped as is the practice in Hong Kong; in China again, the Government policy mandates that foreigners are charged more for the services they receive. The Chilean law again makes it mandatory to tip in restaurants.


While in Canada tipping is expected for restaurants, bars, food deliveries and taxis, in Ethiopia tipping is common and paper money is stuck on the forehead of a dancer in a restaurant.


The French law includes tipping in the price for service, and in Finland, tipping is optional, and if one wishes to tip, he/she should do it in cash. In Germany, Russia, Hungary, Netherlands and Greece, the amount to be tipped depends upon the quality of service being rendered. In India, tipping is practiced in all restaurants. The quantum of tipping depends on the kind of service and could be about 10 % of the bill. Tipping is customary in Ireland. In Mexico, tipping is expected for almost any service, quite contrary to Norway where tipping is strictly optional.


In Singapore tipping is not required although restaurants add up 10% as service charge, thereby eliminating the need to tip. In South Africa, the level of tipping applies unless the restaurant applies a mandatory service fee for a large party.


While in Sweden, tipping is a sign of appreciation, in Taiwan tipping is rare except for airport porters. In United Kingdom it is customary not to tip in cash at the pub but buy the barkeeper a drink. But tipping is expected in food establishments. In the United States, amount to be tipped depends upon the type and quality of service.


Tipping etiquette


  • Tipping is becoming more and more mainstream, as the corporate mentality replaces the traditional ideology.

  • If a coupon or gift certificate is being used, the tip has to be calculated on the total before discount.

  • In case a fee is explicitly charged for the service, a separate tip is unnecessary.

  • Tip, if the service is exceptional or if you are a regular client.

  • There is no necessity to tip if the service is much below par. Poor service need not be rewarded.

  • There are circumstances in which a large initial tip should help get a better service.

  • In a restaurant, if you occupy a table extra time, tip extra.

  • Tip discreetly.


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Tipping Etiquette
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