How much am I supposed to tip??

I wish sometimes that people would just tell me what their expectation is. I certainly don’t want to be rude, but sometimes I really don’t know what the expected tip is. Generally, I tip 20% for everything, be it drinks, dinner, or haircuts. I don’t use valet parking much, but when I have, I’ve usually given the guy $5. My haircuts are $40, and I usually leave $48, but last time I was there, I told the guy in front to put $48 on my card and he rang it up for $50.. Subtle hint from a friendly gay guy that I should be tipping more? I took it as such, and welcomed the input…

I have a friend who bartends and comps most of our drinks, but we generally tip him very generously — in cash.. In the end, we pay about what it would have been with nothing comped, and no tip. I don’t tip for take-out, or coffee, unless the person is unusually charming or I’m feeling exceptionally generous that day…

Really, though, wouldn’t it be much easier if everyone just included the tip in the actual cost of the service? Apparently waiters and waitresses are paid well in europe, and tipping isn’t standard there.

Luckily, though, for us Americans who want to do the right thing, there’s the internet. I decided to do some research on “standard” tipping amounts, and found a very thorough and informative article at Get Rich Slowly that spells it all out.


No tip required, though many suggest throwing coins into the tip jar.
$1/drink (or 15% of total bill). Pre-tip for better service.
Delivery person (including pizza)
10%, $2 minimum
Maitre d’
$5-$25 for special efforts
No tip required unless something special is done
15% for adequate service, 20% for exceptional service. For poor service, leave 10% or less. It’s okay to leave nothing for exceptionally poor service, but only if you’re sure it’s the waiter’s fault.


$1 to $2 per bag, $5 minimum. (Or, just as many places say $1 bag, $2 minimum.)
$5-$20 depending on the service. $20 if he does something exceptional. Nothing for directions.
$2 to $5 per night, paid daily or as a lump sum at checkout. (Most sites suggest you tip daily.)
Parking Valet
A wide range of opinions. Everyone agrees that you should pay when your car is retrieved. Some say to pay when it’s parked, too. Most sites say to tip $2, though some suggest $5.
Room service
$5 minimum (unless gratuity is included in check)


Bus driver (not mass transit)
$1 to $2, if she handles luggage
Cab driver
10%, $2-$5 minimum
Gas station attendant
Nothing. Or $2-$4. There’s no agreement. (I’ve never seen anyone tip a gas station attendant ever.)
$1 per bag. $2 for heavy items, or if porter brings luggage to counter.


Again, little agreement: 10-15%, 15-20%, etc. One person recommends $5 to each individual who shampoos or blow-dries your hair!
Spa service
$2 or $3


Building superintendent
Coat checker
Most sites recommend $1 per coat, though one said $2 to $5 upon retrieval.
Furniture deliverer
It depends. Most of the time $5-$20. Some recommend simply offering cold drinks. (also)
Grocery store bagger
One site recommended $1-$3, though I’ve never seen one tipped in my life.
$10-$25 per person (also)

What about tipping at holidays? Tipping service people with whom you have regular contact can build goodwill. I found these recommendations:


     * Babysitter: one week’s pay
     * Doorman: bottle of wine or box of chocolates
     * Garbage collector: $15 to $25
     * Gardener: one week’s pay
     * Housekeeper: one week’s pay
     * Janitor: $15 to $25
     * Mail carrier: $15 to $20 (up to $20 non-cash)
     * Nanny: one week’s pay
     * Newspaper delivery person: $15 to $25
     * Parking attendant: $15 to $25
     * Personal trainer: $20 to $50 (tip discreetly)

Some points regarding tipping etiquette:

     * If you use a coupon or gift certificate, calculate your tip based on the total before discount.
     * Tip above the norm if:
          o Service is exceptional,
          o You’ve been a burden, or
          o You are a regular client.
     * Don’t tip if it’s not deserved. Poor service should not be rewarded.
     * In some circumstances, if you offer an initial tip — especially a large initial tip — you’ll get better service.
     * If you take up a restaurant table for a long time, tip extra.
     * Tip discreetly.
     * When in doubt, tip.

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