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Do Americans tip enough?

January 14th, 2014 ernie Posted in Tipping No Comments »

Do Americans tip enoughWe just read an article about tipping, which suggested that just about anyone who provides a service to you should be tipped. This is part of our research about, ” Do Americans tip enough?”. This includes the taxi driver, the person who delivers furniture to your home, the person who cuts your grass, the restaurant waitress, the bartender and on and on and on. There have been some acceptable norms in terms of tipping and most people will tip 15% for average service.

But it does not include everyone that provide services to the average consumer. For most people they will tip the waiter or the waitress, the bartender, and people who generally provide service in the tourism industry.

Do Americans tip enough?

But recently barristers at coffee shops have tip jars out and just about anyone who is providing service who didn’t traditionally collect a tip is now suggesting that they should be tipped for the job that they’re doing.

We strongly believe that people who are being paid for the job and doing a job and don’t do anything out of the ordinary in terms of providing service to you should not receive the tip.

For example the taxi driver who does not get out of his car to open the car door for you, or help get your bags out of the trunk and onto the sidewalk does not deserve a tip. The coffee shop person who fills your coffee, makes change and get you your cup should not get a tip for just doing their job. Many people will disagree with us, but that is our thoughts on the question, “do Americans tip enough?”.

If any of these people do something special then obviously you should consider tipping but this new trend of tipping everybody even if they don’t do anything special for you is just out another way for people to get ripped off and pay extra for the services that they should be getting free.

An example is worth talking about that we think is illustrative of the kind of location and time that should be considered for tipping. A hotel that we go to quite often, approximately every two weeks provides coffee and drink service.

The waitress only sees us every two weeks among thousands of people that she provides coffee service and drink service for. Yet she remembers our faces, and how we like our coffee including how much cream and sugar we take in our coffee without us having to tell her. When we order coffee it is delivered promptly and with a smile and a small conversation inquiring how we are with the coffee exactly how we like it. This is an example of great service and well worth the tips that we provide to her.

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Restaurant Tip Reporting

December 7th, 2013 ernie Posted in Tipping No Comments »

Restaurant tips can vary a lot depending on the location, the quality of the food, the level of service, even the decor, and of course the customer who may or may not be feeling generous.  Restaurant tip reporting can vary depending on may factors. The average seems to be 15% for average service.  Some people feel obliged to tip as much as 20% and if you are either part of a large group, the restaurant will levy a tip of 18% regardless of the type of service that you receive.  In fact when the waiters and waitresses know they’re getting 18% quite often the level of service declines.

Some people tip much more just because they feel obliged to tip more and are embarrassed and worried that the waiter will give them a bad look or create a scene, or bad service if they come back again.  While many people will leave no tip at all, which actually is really bad form, particularly if you received excellent service and excellence for food.

Restaurant Tip Reporting – Sending a Message

Many tips are on credit cards and are just added onto the total bill.  In fact the credit card machines already have the amount calculated for you or a selection that you can pick in terms of the percentage amount or the dollar amount.  But what is the right way to tip and what you do if you want to send a message.

In the industry a 15% tip appears to be the average tip that is expected for average service, average food and average surroundings.  I like to think that to apply 5% to each of these categories is the right approach.  The waiter is in control of the level of service, and to some degree of making sure that your food arrives hot and is exactly what you ordered.  The quality of the food is up to the chef and the surroundings are really up to the owner.  Should you penalize the waiter by tipping less when the quality of the food is not great or the surroundings of the restaurant is not great?

The writer prefers to tip 15% and then call the waiter aside to mention any comments or concerns that they might have.  If you did not like the food or the food was bad you should send it back.  If the surroundings and the quality are not what you would like, then you should not have gone there in the first place.  If the service is terrible and the food is terrible then definitely send a message by lowering the amount of the tip.  Some people have left a one penny tip just to send a serious message to the waiter and the staff.  I think a better approach is to call the manager or the maître d’ over and explain the situation.

Accounting is easy for tips since most of them are calculated using the credit card machines and easily added at the end of the night.  These are on record and must be reported by the restaurant accounting.  But what about cash tips?  Can cash tips be somehow siphoned off to avoid the tax man?  Many tax agencies have now ruled that waiters and waitresses should receive 15% of the total food and bar take regardless of whether it was paid via credit cards or in cash.  There’s no getting away from the taxman.

If you consistently received more than 15% in tips, and most waiters and waitresses will hide that money and avoid paying tax on it where they can.  However once it gets into the system in terms of credit card receipts there is little they can do but to report this income.  If you are ever audited, there’s a good chance that you will pay much more in income tax.

In summary consumers should consider 15% average, 20 percent for excellent service and 10% for poor service however we suggest that you call the waiter, the manager or the maître d’ over and explain why you’re providing a lower tip.  This gives everyone a chance to improve their service the next time.

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Tipping for Valet Parking

May 21st, 2013 ernie Posted in Tipping No Comments »

Tipping for Valet Parking

Have you ever used the valet parking services at hotels or other venues that offer such services? Many people have and most are more than satisfied with the service. You have the convenience of not having to find a place to park your car, deal with the weather if it is out door parking and also the cold if it happens to be winter time. We have used these services quite a few times and usually were satisfied with the service. We would tip $5 for the service and felt that our car would be parked in a safe place and would be returned to us in the same condition that we found it in.

In every case but one it came back in exactly the same condition. In the one instance that it did not, we feel that it was no fault of the parking attendant, however we really cannot be sure. We will discuss each of these instances which has led us to never allow valet parking attendants to park our car ever again.

Valet Parking – Experience

The first instance actually did not involve our car at all. We were waiting for our car to be brought up to us so that we could leave the place we had spent an nice evening at. As we watched other cars being delivered to other people we noticed that the attendants would bring the cars up from underground, turn left and then have to drive about a 1000 feet to where everyone was standing. We watched them rev the engine and roar up to the pickup point. Much too fast in our opinion to be actually unsafe and they were revving an engine that was still cold. Not the way I want my car to be treated.

Another situation that we encountered involved our car being dropped off at a major hotel. We assumed that it would be stored in covered garage which was protected and inspected from a security perspective. They drove it to an open parking lot and left it unprotected in any way. Now the car would not start the next morning due to mechanical problems, which we subsequently resolved, however I wonder how a perfectly good car could suddenly develop mechanical problems!

New Orleans Valet Service

The last example was in New Orleans and I really did not have a choice as to using valet. There was no self parking nearby. The car came back to us in one piece, no damage and everything that was in the car was still there. The service was definitely worth it in this case. What I am objecting to was that the attendant was well over 300 pounds and I was worried whether my seats in my car would sag due to the weight.

In all cases, these three above and those that we have not discussed, we had to wait a long time to get our car. It was busy, but then I really do not want to wait 30 minutes in one case to get a car that I could have just parked myself and got to it in five minutes. So I really do not want to tip valet parking attendants for poor service.

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Tips for Restaurant Servers

January 21st, 2013 ernie Posted in Tipping 2 Comments »

Tips for Restaurant ServersThis topic, tips for restaurant servers, is a really contentious topic. Most people leave tips at restaurants and many leave the standard 15% whether they are happy with the service or the food. They just do not want the hassle of dealing with a server who might show their annoyance because of a low tip. We know people in the industry and they are adamant that you should always leave a tip regardless. The servers rely on this income since they receive minimum wage or no wage at all. Tips can be a huge source of income for these people. The unfortunate thing is that some of these servers, especially the younger ones feel that they are entitled to a large tip regardless of the level of service they provide.

Tips for Restaurant Servers – An Example of Excellent Service

Here is an example of what we mean by really good service. You go to a coffee shop and the server fills your coffee mug and servers it to you at the cash. Should you provide them with a tip when they just did their job and did nothing special? At another coffee shop the server takes a mug, fills it with hot water to warm up the cup, pours the water out and then fills the mug with hot coffee. Should you tip this person? We think that they are very deserving of a tip, much more so than the first server. We always tip the second server and never the first because they also do not even acknowledge their customers, nor do they say thank you ever. Our excellent server will also bring us our coffee to the table if she happens to be busy as well.

Some might argue that if we tipped we might get better service in our example above. In some cases we would but at most coffee shops they are just kids who do not know the first thing about service.

Guidelines for Tipping for Restaurant Servers

We suggest that the following guidelines might be used to help people decide if they should tip and how much. Start with the standard of 15% and if they measure up in terms of service, timeliness of food delivery, attention to your order, follow up in a timely manner to ensure that you have everything to enjoy your meal and provide friendly service they should receive the standard 15% tip.

If you have to wait a long time for your drinks, the food is served cold, they mix the orders up or they are very unfriendly, well I would really consider a much lower tip depending on how poor the service actually was. If they are able to do something special which please your group and is appreciated, then why not tip them more. You might even provide a large tip if you feel that they deserve such a large tip.

Would You Leave a Zero Tip

Not too many people will leave a zero tip. They just do not want to risk the confrontation or potential confrontation. However the service industry needs to understand that they are on the job to provide good friendly service. I believe that we as patrons should treat them in a professional manner. If the service is not great, I think that we should let them know verbally in a nice way and that they still will receive a tip, but a little less than 15%. In the future if the service has not improved, then this is the time to reduce the tip even further.

I always tip the lady that serves me a coffee in a mug that has been pre-warmed with hot water. She is only serving coffee. But she makes sure that her customer receives really great service and a hot cup of coffee every time. That deserves a tip in my mind.

In Canada, there are a lot of people who are in their teens working in the service industry. They are too young to understand what it means to provide great service vs. average service. In the US, I have found in our travels more older people who have made it their profession and take providing good service seriously. They understand that good service directly impacts their incomes and they generally provide great service.

That’s my opinion, let me know if you agree or disagree about tips for restaurant servers. For more thoughts on tipping, click here.

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