Ask the Readers: What is Your Tipping Policy?

Here's an interesting topic that seems to be making it's way through the personal finance blog world,  Tipping!  It appears that everyone has their own tipping rules for restaurant servers, delivery drivers, cabbies, fast food cashiers and the guy playing guitar on the corner of the street. 

Here are my tipping policies and my rationale:

Restaurant Servers

  • Waiters/Waitresses work very hard for their money and basically make their living from tips.  If the service is acceptable, the minimum that I give as a tip is 15% and I usually give more if the service is good.  If you receive bad service, I usually give a tip in the 5-10% range.

Delivery Drivers

  •  Most delivery places charge a flat fee for deliveries, so I usually give 10% on top of the delivery fee.

Cabbies

  • As a lot of cabbies own their vehicles, it's like they're running their own business.  Is it proper to tip the business owner?  I do anyways, probably in the tune of 10%-15%.

Fast Food Cashiers

  • Some people tip fast food cashiers but I don't.  Why don't I?  I've heard that various fast food restaurants employees cannot accept tips, and if one is given, the restaurant keeps it.  

Guy playing guitar on the corner.

  • If I actually stop and listen to the guy/gal, I may throw in a loonie or toonie.

Another is for valet parking.  However, I'm too cheap to for valet parking where I always park my own car.  What is the rule of thumb for tipping those guys?

Your turn!  Tell me, what are your tipping rules and why? 

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Frugal Trader

FT

FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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Calvin
10 years ago

For me:

Meals out: 15%. 20% or more if service was excellent and depending on the final tab and my mood

Chinese meal: 10%. Being raised in Asia 10% tips was the norm over there, and this expectation was somehow carried over to NA from the few times I talked to servers here. However I’ll still give out more if service is exceptional. From my experience Asian restaurants don’t ask you “how was the meal?” so you weren’t given chance to voice any concerns other than flagging the server down.

Fast food: none

Take out: none

Delivery: never use it… I’ll use take out

Valet: never use it… I simply don’t go to such high-end places. My old beater worths less than the valet charge :)

Haircut: 10%

Paramedical services: none

Taxi: 10% or rounding up to the next $5. Provided that the cab driver didn’t take the scenic route

Airport porter: $1 to $2 per bag. Rarely used anyway.

cannon_fodder
12 years ago

Anakia,

I could be wrong, but I believe that tipping in certain industries in NA is to reflect the reality that companies are allowed to pay certain employees less than the minimum wage knowing that tips will form a significant part of their income. I have found, in my international travels, that certain Westernized countries provide better service on average if employees get ‘paid for performance’, eg. tips. For example, restaurant service in Australia was horrible. On the other hand, in China where tips are not common, the service was fantastic, so there is no hard and fast rule. I’ve also cruised on two different lines – the service was far better on one than the other and, not unexpectedly, the superior service was found on the one where tips were not already included in the cruise fare.

Anakia
12 years ago

In Paris and most European cities you NEVER tip at a restaurant, sometimes you might leave change but that’s for EXCELLENT over the top service or if you just don’t feel like taking all that spare change with you. No one even tips taxi drivers. Tipping is a US “scam” because most Americans will willingly tip. This is just my view on all of this. (I’m European born but that lived in the US for over 10 years)

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Dividend Investor
13 years ago

I usually tip a 15% everytime at restaurants. Whenever I wasn’t happy with the service I would tip 10% but not go lower. I always check my bill when it comes time for paying, since most restaurants these days impose a 15-18% “service charge” on companies of 5 or more i might not pay anything more. But I agree with Katie for tipping bartenders and getting a good service in exchange. I myself had a lot of college friends who did work at bars during school. I knew they made 2.13 per hour, so I knew that at least a dollar/drink is a minimum tip.
I don’t get pizza deliveries, i usually buy my pizza form the grocery store and cook it myself :-)
I think that tips are a nice way for servers to earn up to at least minimum wage. I think that we should tip servers at least 10% regardless of the service, because the less you tip them, the more financially squeezed they would get. Bartenders and servers at restaurants earn less than 20,000 on average per year. An income like that would make each of you financial geniuses bloggers pissed for life.:-) But I also agree that they are free to have other pursuits in increasing their income. (even though most bartenders or restaurant servers are college students who don’t have a lot of options)
I went to a country in East Europe once and their servers are not expecting tips. They are paid a minimum wage, and their service is very bad. But when I tipped them ( most transactions in that country are cash transactions, credit or debit cards are not widespread as in US) by leaving extra change on the table the server wanted to give me my money back, since they thought that I made a mistake in my arithmetics :-)

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Katie
13 years ago

I am a full time college student, single mother of two, bartender. Tipping is not required at my bar, but trust me, it is very much appreciated since we make 2.13 an hour. We have people that will tip a dollar for a two dollar beer, and others that leave zero dollars on a 200 dollar tab. The way we deal with it on our own is simple: Waitresses in the bar will get drink orders and serve the drinks. The customer then pays for the drink. If the customer does not tip, the waitress will not go back to that table. If you do not want to have to go to the bar yourself, it is best to tip your waitress. At the bar, we wait on you promptly and serve you. No tip? Next time you come up, if there are other people waiting to be served, you may be waiting a LONG time to get a drink. If you have tipped… you will be squeezed in between customers.

It does not have to be an extreme tip. I would say, in a bar, 1-3 drinks, $1.00. 3-6 drinks, $2.00, and on for that. I would not say to do it by the % of your bill, because depending on what you are drinking determines the cost. I mean…. drinking 100 dollars in beer takes up more time on the waitstaff to serve that beer than drinking 100 dollars in liquor. Make sense?

But really, in those situations, if you want prompt service, tipping would be best. If you dont care how long it takes, dont tip. But do not complain when the waitstaff and bartenders are serving those who do tip, as those tips are how we make our income.

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