Tipping Tips from Experts

I apologize for the lack of posts recently. I’ve had a busy couple of weeks inside and outside the Bistro. So today I’m letting the Daily News do my job for me.
On Tuesday they ran a nice little article about tipping in their business section. I’ve reprinted it in its entirety.

Even though I’m a waiter I don’t know everything there is to know about tipping. I hate that awkward feeling when you’re not sure if you’re supposed to tip someone or not. When in doubt I tip! But that’s just me. I have to preserve my Waiter Karma.
I found this article very helpful. The discussion it will provoke should be interesting. Read on!

The corporate response about Starbucks is funny. Believe me those baristas like the tip jar!
Tipping camp counselors? When did people start doing that?

Not when I went to camp in 1976! And I have another question! What’s the deal with the sushi chef’s tip box?
How much is appropriate? Help!

Many thanks to Lore Croghan for an informative article. I’ll be back with more stories soon.

Tipping Tips From ExpertsBY LORE CROGHAN

It’s hard to know when and how much to tip.

From a customer’s point of view, tips are a reward for a job well done.But for service workers in the city’s low-wage jobs, tips make the difference between earning a living – or not.Some workers are counting on you to make their hours of standing on their feet, wiping your children’s noses, fixing a burst pipe or cleaning up your cuticles pay off.But what is right?
The rules are more elaborate than you might think.

Restaurant service: The average restaurant tip in New York City is 18.8%, said restaurant-guide guru Tim Zagat. Leave 20% if you’re really happy with the service, 18% if the service was good and 15% if you’re unhappy, he advised. “Tip because you want to say ‘Thank you’ – reward good performance,” Zagat said.Even at modest coffee shops, where New Yorkers used to leave tiny tips for sit-down service, they’re now putting 15% to 20% on the table. “People have more money in their pockets – they’re feeling more generous,” he said.

Drinks at a bar: 15% to 20%.
The worker who makes your take-out salad or sandwich: Put money in the tip box only if you want to. “Do what you feel good about,” Zagat said.

The Starbucks barista: Needs no tip – at least that’s what management said.
“We don’t expect our customers to pay anything extra to receive our legendary service,” Starbucks marketing manager Dan Lewis explained.The tip boxes at Starbucks registers are there “to avoid loose tips on tables and counters throughout the store,” he said.

Pizza or other restaurant delivery: 10% – or 20% if you live on a high floor of a walk-up, said Joe Pasquale, the owner of Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village.# Grocery delivery: $5 is fine, $10 is generous.”It depends on how heavy your stuff is, and how far it was carried,” Zagat said.

Cab rides: 20%. “Taxi drivers depend on tip money to earn a living wage,” said Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

Parking-garage attendant: $1 or $2 if you park at the garage once in a while. If you have a monthly account, give the manager $20 to $25 each month to divide among employees – and for a Christmas-holiday tip, give each person $100, an industry source suggested.

Hairdresser: 15% to 20%, whether it’s for color or a cut, for men’s or women’s hair, said Liz Russell, co-owner of the Jeffrey Stein Salon on Third Ave.And don’t forget – give the person who shampoos your hair $3 to $5.Many European visitors ask Russell what’s appropriate, because tipping’s not customary back home.
Manicures and pedicures: 20% is standard, said a staffer at Bliss, the SoHo spa.
Leg or lip waxing: 20% is good for these as well, the Bliss staffer said.


When the doorman unloads the car and carries luggage or shopping bags to your apartment: $5 or $10 is a nice gesture.”Building workers feel they’re well-paid, and they get holiday tips,” an industry source said. “But they appreciate the ‘Thank you.'”

When the super does repairs in your apartment: Again, $5 to $10 is fine – or $20 if the repair project takes a long time.

Baby-sitter: Not your full-time caregiver, but the person you hire for a night out or an emergency. One hour’s pay, or if the assignment was short, cab fare to get home.”The sitters are always happy with either one of these,” said Stephanie McComb, founder of a baby-sitting service called To the Rescue, Mom.

Day-camp counselor: Tips range from $20 to $100 at camps that allow tipping. Some camps don’t.Wait until summer’s end – and be discreet – if you do tip, said Jon Libman of Camp Hillard in Scarsdale, where families from Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights and Riverdale send their kids.”The counselors work very hard – and take very good care of the children,” Libman said.

24 thoughts on “Tipping Tips from Experts”

  1. Phil says:

    I used to work at a Manhattan day camp the parents who had a ton of money never tipped or tipped awful yet the people who were being sponsored just to get the kids into camp really paid. I only know about counselors but I have to stress to parents having been one most are good hardworking college kids who really need the money they work their arse of for 2 months about 40 days if you give a $40 tip you are giving 1 buck a day think about that these people give parking attendants more to just pull up their cars. Good thing about the parking attendants I wasn’t sure how much and if I leave my car for 5 minutes if I have to pay, also do you have to tip the guy at the oil change place?

  2. Cobain says:

    Let’s not forget the caterer – same rules apply as in a restaraunt. I find it amusing that our non-tipping repeat clients are unbeleiving when the ‘fantastic team’ that worked their party last year are suddenly unavailable this year. That’s because we’d rather work the jobs that tip.

  3. Cobain says:

    Yes, I caught that spelling error a bit too late.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What about furniture movers. That was a job I had where you relied heavily on tips. $5-10 an hour is usually a good tip for movers.

  5. barrrista says:

    I’m a barista who does not work for Starbucks, and tipping outside of their corporate environment is encouraged. A good portion of my income comes from the generosity of my customers, and I always make sure they’re taken care of. I treat all my (non-tipping) customers well, and all my tipping customers extremely well.

    I work in a real coffee shop that uses a semi-auto machine, as opposed to Starbucks’ fully-auto push-button machines. A double latte is more labor-intensive with these machines, but the difference is in the taste (and in the tip!).

    $1 per drink is pretty standard for lattes and other prepared concoctions., or you can use the 15%-20% bartender rule. Most people tip .50 on their drip coffee.

  6. SFBartender says:

    As far as caterers go, my experience says tip the staff, but absolutely not the catering company or manager at the event. Most catering companies include a gratuity in the bill–this goes straight into the companies pocket and the staff doesn’t see a dime. So feel free to slip the bartender/waitress of the catering staff a little something; they’re probably having trouble finding a job where they receive their own tips, and will greatly appreciate it.

    Also–FUCK SUSHI CHEFS!!! Don’t tip those bastards a dime!!! In most California restaurants the sushi chefs take tips from the servers, because they legally can be included in “tip pooling” as “direct service to customers.” This allows them to take %20 of tips, even from tables for which they had nothing to do with the service. The fucked up part is that kitchen chefs (Usually there’s a separate sushi counter and kitchen, sometimes several different kitchens for tempura, meats, etc) don’t get tips, but the greedy sushi assholes do. Bastards.

  7. Kris says:

    I HATE it when you go to a place like McDonalds or Arby’s and they have a tip jar. I refuse to tip…not because I’m cheap, or I’m hateful, I just believe that they’re getting paid to stand behind the counter, take my order, prepare said order, and hand it to me in a little baggie. The process takes a total of two minutes, and half the time my order is screwed up.

    Now in a restaraunt, like the Bistro, I believe in tipping not only because you guys are basically living off the tips, but if you’re serving me through out the meal AND have to clean up my mess? Lol you’d better get a tip.

    As for any other service…like once a month I like to go get all of my eyebrow hairs violently ripped from my face with scalding hot wax…another service that takes two minutes and costs me $8…you can bet the tip’s not going to be very high.

    I do my job, invovling a lot of angry customers and a lower then minimum wage paycheck, and don’t get tipped shit for it.

  8. emma says:

    When and where do we draw the line at tipping? The super who does repairs in your apt?! No…that’s what I pay rent for, his/her salary is paid by the bldg owner. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a NYC thing.
    Uh, camp counselors? Are you kidding me?
    $100 holiday bonus for the guys that park your car? Give me a break.

  9. Kai says:

    I do pizza delivery for Pizza Hut, and the tips range from terrible to nonexistent. I usually just get the money rounded up to the next dollar and get to keep the change. I do get paid hourly (minimum wage + $0.25), and compensated for gas, but it still sucks.

  10. Mooniewitch says:

    You have tip HAIRDRESSERS? How badly are you guys paid over there? Seriously? XD Hairdressers? If they do a bad job customers will stay away. They don’t need tips as motivation! Or…at least I think so… Right now I’m going back in my memory to my vacation in the US to see if my parents (hush, I was 16) tipped everyone they should have… I think so, my dad tipped the door guy… (I don’t know what he’s called, we’ve never had one of those before XD Fancy!) Man, good thing I read this in case I’m going to the US sometime. If you don’t mind me saying this, you system is a little odd o_o; (And uncomfortable, at least for tourists XD) And yes, obviously I’m European XD

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  13. Lorian says:

    I’m from Europe (The Netherlands), where tipping is not so common (although we do tip in restaurants and bars) and to me this all sounds a little crazy. I get how people work their asses off and get paid too little for it, but how did it get to be like that in the first place? You shouldn’t be taking people’s crap (including your boss’s) because you’re afraid you won’t be able to pay your rent otherwise and the customer shouldn’t be responsible for making sure you get by. You’re just doing your job, like everybody else. It’s your boss’s responsibility to pay you for it (and it’s yours to make sure he does). Where does the tipping end? Suddenly I get why Americans don’t live that long. You must all be so incredibly paranoid; afraid you should’ve tipped someone (more) and dreading the repercussions. It’s plain old bribery, that’s what it is…
    Don’t get me wrong Waiter, I’m not trying to disrespect you, you didn’t make up the system, but it just seems so wrong to me.

  14. George says:

    Waiters should be compensated for their level of service, if they don’t bother to be pleasant and competent they should not receive any tip. If they make a special effort to make my experience an enjoyable one, they deserve a tip commensurate with the job they have done.

    It is not the customer’s duty to make sure a waiter can meet their financial obligations, it is really the waiter’s fault for not studying hard enough to get a better job. A tip is not a right, it is something you must work hard for and earn, just like anything else in life.

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  16. Alicia says:

    George, Some people wait tables while in school, and some people, like myself, wait tables because thethey do not get paid enough in their career. I have a degree, and I have a profession (Im a soloist with a ballet company), but because society chooses not to support the arts, I still need to work a second job. Dont be so ignorant as to assume that the person waiting on you is stupid and unsuccessful at life.

  17. Ashley says:

    George, I am waiting tables to pay for school right now. I hate when people talk to me like I’m dumb because I am a waitress.

  18. PunyHobbit says:

    You are a flippin idiot.
    Not studying hard enough???? Screw you-I’ll bet I have more education than you have and wait tables because the economy sucks and I can’t find a job in my field. I’ll also bet I make more money than you by waiting tables.
    Get a life.

  19. Jordan says:

    Housekeepers! do not forget them as well. even though they do get minimum wage (And usually nothing else) they do work their asses off to make sure the room is immaculate for you to stay in.
    I worked as a housekeeper in a more upscale hotel a couple years ago, and the people shelled out serious dough for their rooms, but 90% of the time forget that there are people that go in and out of their rooms to clean up their huge messes. What’s worse is when you get someone staying more then one night, leave a HUGE mess, and they don’t leave you anything for your trouble.
    yes while you know what you signed up for, certain rooms have different time limitations. A simple two bed one bath hotel room is given a half hour, that’s it to strip, take trash out, and then clean. if you leave a huge mess, it makes that half hour turn into a full hour, sometimes MORE. that puts the housekeeper behind, and could potentially get him or her fired for taking too long.
    $2 would make most housekeepers VERY happy. i would use my tips to be able to eat throughout the day.

  20. Kate says:

    Interesting. In Australia, waitstaff don’t earn their money solely on tips, so we generally don’t worry too much about the tip, unless it’s been really exceptional service.

    I mean, it’s not like we count out every cent when paying, so usually there will be a few extra dollars there. If the service or food has been really bad, we might pay exactly the cost and leave no tip at all.

    I feel for you guys, it’s a shitty system to have to rely on such an unreliable income.

  21. stef says:

    Wow… I have been a “lurker” on this blog for over a year now and never posted, but – I feel complelled now
    (1)as to not tipping your hairdresser – well, that’s just stupid, unless your hair was shameful. Then, no tip should be given, and you shouldn’t return. If your hairdresser does a good job? TIP THEM!! and, then re-book your appointment at counter, where they see that you are happy & appreciative, and then you get such a nice hair cut after service

    (2) As to tipping housekeepers – this is dicey. If you have stayed multiple nights in a hotel, and when you return, your room is nice, by all means, leave a tip. Even if it’s just $1 – seriously – that’s *meaningful* – but – if you truly want to reward the maid that took care of your room in a specific day, then you should go to the front desk of your hotel and ask that they give the tip to the maid that cleaned your room that day. Hotels rotate “sections” of the hotel, and if you leave the tip in the room, it might not go to the person for whom it was intended.

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  24. CaptainPenelope says:

    @Stef: While I can understand why you say that tipping a housekeeper is “dicey,” I have to argue that people cannot possibly understand how difficult that job is until they have spent at least six months in it. I work as a housekeeper (obviously, by my defensiveness) and I actually have much fewer hours than most of my coworkers, because the housekeeping manager was kind enough to make an exception. My few piddly hours kill me. I cannot comprehend how the other girls go at it near full-time. Even a room occupied by a clean and considerate guest is an immense physical challenge; any break you catch, i.e. a double that turns out to be only a single or an almost untouched room, either adds up to little since we still have to clean EVERYTHING, or the housekeeper is still expected to blast through it at full steam to get ahead of their budget and leave early. Jordan was right, one dollar does fill me to the brim with gratitude, and refills my faith in humanity enough to stave off the homicidal rampage. But often when someone leaves a tip they leave five, six, even ten dollars. One man, who had two rooms to accomodate himself, his wife, and their five or six children (either adopted or fostered) and who checked out a day early (adding an hour to my budget) actually asked the manager who would be handling those rooms, then hunted me down to offer me a twenty and his apologies. After finding out I had an extra hour on top of dealing with a marketing representative from corporate, two of my rooms on show for the open house, and being friendly and outgoing towards every guest there for the open house, this man’s consideration would have made me cry if I hadn’t switched on my auto-pilot daze to get through the day. Several stay-overs have offered tips when they’re just exchanging towels and telling us they won’t need service. And as I’ve previously stated, many of my tips are in fives. If it’s a worthy place, the housekeeper that cleans up after you is working just as hard as the housekeeper that prepared the room for you.

  25. Accio says:

    Babysitters should be paid! If I was just given cab fare home I’d be insulted. Don’t even tell me about nothing. The price is usually five to ten dollars an hour, depending on the sitter’s experience level, the amount of kids, and the difficulty of the tasks (e.g. bedtime should always be worth more than playtime). Even if it’s just for a short amount of time, always pay the babysitter or they won’t take care of your kids next time.

  26. Felix says:

    I think some of these examples, and especially Cobain’s about the catering industry, show that tipping carries a bit of unpleasantness with it.

    There seems to be no good way, socially, to be informed that tipping is expected in an industry. In Cobain’s example, the caterer certainly made no effort to address the real problem — they just took the passive-aggressive route of saying, “Sorry, we’re busy this year.”

    The client, unaware of his faux pas, will shrug their shoulders in confusion and book a different caterer — who will likely pull the same stunt. And on it will go, with people being offended all around, until the client finally discovers (likely by accident) that tipping is expected in that industry. Hell, I didn’t know it either. Catering seems like a package deal to me — something that you arrange and price out entirely ahead of time.

    I think in some ways, the tipping custom is a bit passive-aggressive itself. Isn’t it strange that it’s never really printed out in the open? Restaurants don’t have signs at the door, or notices next to the prices in the menu, “you’re expected to pay 15% more than the price listed here.” Sure, you could argue that “everybody knows you’re supposed to tip,” but everybody knows you’re supposed to pay taxes, too, and we don’t have a problem listing that on the receipts, menus, and price boards.

    And as we’ve seen, *not* everyone knows you’re supposed to tip — tourists don’t, and most of us don’t know all the industries in which tipping is expected either. Hairdressers? Camp? Caterers? Parking garage attendant? It never would have occurred to me to tip any of those. (Mind you, I’m poor enough not to have any experience with the first three.)

    I’m particularly shocked at the last one, and still intend never to tip them — interaction with a parking garage attendant consists of handing over cash or credit card, and taking a receipt. That would be like tipping a cashier at the grocery store — less so, because at least the cashier had to ring up the groceries. A gratuity for a 15-second interaction that could’ve been handled by a machine? Forget it.

    And I agree with emma on tipping the apartment building super for repairs — that’s beyond silly; it’s his property he’s fixing! Fixing it is his cost of doing business; he’s investing in the thing that allows him to make money by charging me rent. That’d be like tipping a delivery driver for buying oil for his car. (The exception of course is if I’m responsible for the problem he’s fixing — then I’d insist on paying for it, even if it’s something that’s exempt under the Tenancy Act.)

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