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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? 







52 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Restaurant Servers: 0% to 25%
    It did happen where I gave 1 cent as tip (twice in fact) because of really bad service. However, I did also give up to 25% when I have an awesome service in nicer restaurant (that makes the bill pretty expensive!)

    Delivery Drivers : 1 or 2 bucks… unless I ordered for 10 people ;-)

    Cabbies : about 10% but then again, I am not sure why I tip them :-S

    Fast Food Cashiers : pocket change that I don’t want once I paid. Technically, if you tip the fast food cashiers, you should also tip the Walmart cashier as well. In fact, I’m sure she is spending more than in front of you than the fast food cashier does!

    Guy playing guitar on the corner : There are too many in Montreal, I would be broke by the time I get to work if I tip them ;-)

  2. Waiters/Waitresses – depends on the server for me. Usually 15% but if the server is outstanding I have gone higher. I did on one occasion leave a 1 cent tip. It hurt to do, but the service was pathetic

    Delivery Drivers – a couple of bucks $3 – $5 maybe

    Cabbies – depends on the “mood” of the cabbie. $3 – $5

    Fast Food Cashiers – zero

    Guitar players – usually don’t stop so zero

    What about a newspaper carrier? What would you give your carrier per payment?

  3. You guys are brutal, leaving a $0.01 tip? Service must have been terrible! :)

    With regards to the newspaper subscription, I usually give $5 extra during every collection. To kids, $5 is gold. :)

  4. I don’t know where you people eat. I’ve only had godawful I’m-never-coming-back service twice in my adult life, and ingeneral good service almost everywhere. Having said that, I detest the 1 cent tip thing. I know passive aggression is the Canadian national pastime, but why not complain to the restaurant instead? In a best case scenario, the manager knows service sucked and can react, you may get a discount on the bill, and the next table gets better attention. In the worst case scenario you lose the respect of your fellow diners (which happened to one of my bosses when he did the “toss a few cents in a dirty beer glass” thing in NYC).

  5. i always tip between 15-20% at restaurants.

    I never tip for cabs.. it’s a personal thing. I’ve talked to other friends who don’t. Not cuz I’m stingy but based purely on principle :)

  6. Don’t forget the folks who check your bags at the airport terminal curb. I tip $5 – $10 per bag and my luggage has never been lost! :)

  7. Wow, do you guys tip your neighbours when they say hello to you in the morning? Lots of tippers here.

    I went to Australia a few years ago and one the many great things about that place is the fact that when you go to a restaurant there is no tipping and the taxes are included in the price. If you order an entree that is listed at $18, you pay $18. I would love it if we did it that way in Canada. (And the service was excellent)

    Mike

  8. It’s like that in Ireland too, Mike, but in practice most people will tip for big tables, great service and will tip lounge girls/boys (the teenagers who bring drinks to your table in pubs). I bartended my way through school and college and we would get N.Americans coming in rubbing their hands in glee saying to us 3 pound an hour wageslaves “It’s so great, we don’t need to tip you!” Yeah, we loved them ….

  9. Guinness – I don’t get why it has to be up to the customer to make up for a low wage. Seems to me that the bars should be paying a market wage or the employees should be looking for higher paying jobs.

    Mike

  10. 10. Tom

    I find it very insulting to leave a 1 cent tip if service is bad at a restaurant. The people serving you may just be having a really bad day, or something in their personal lives has happened that is affecting them. I know some of you may think that this they should shrug it off and be professional about it, but in reality it’s not that easy to do. If service is really bad, I will tip 5-10%. If it’s average, 12%-15%, and if excellent 20-25%. Interestingly, where I live in Markham, ON, it is very Chinese in areas here and in Chinese culture you aren’t expected to tip at all, even at a sit-down and be-served restaurant. So at some restaurants, I end up not tipping at all, and other Western restaurants we need to tip. It all gets rather confusing:) Best way to get a good tip from me? Keep those free refills coming – I don’t want to have to keep asking for them!

    And what about buffets? I never tip at buffets, even though I acknowledge servers do come to refill your water..

    What about hairdressers/barbers? My place is pretty cheap ($11) so I typically tip $4.

    And anyone been to Mexico? Those guys are relentless with the tipping! From the moment you’re in the airport, there are people grabbing your bags to help you, only to expect tips. First time we went, all I had were US $20′s and some Canadian change, and so I gave the guy a toonie – he wasn’t too happy because apparently the banks won’t exchange change, only bills.

    And the last one is cruise ships – they tack on around $10 per person per day in tips to your bill automatically, plus then they leave envelopes on your last day so you can tip the people not covered by their $10/day policy (like your head waiter).

  11. 11. Todd

    Usually I tip 15% at restaurants, if the server can make good meal suggestions I’ll give more. On the other hand…the worse the service…..the less I tip. I’ve never given less than a 5% tip. Sometimes bad service is not the servers fault, there could have been a problem in the kitchen etc. I was a server while going through college, so I know what it’s like…lol.

    I never get delivery because I think it is a waste of money :)

    I’ll usually tip a cab driver a couple of bucks, as long as he/she doesn’t give me the long route and try to rip me off. I’ve learned that cab drivers can be a great source of knowledge and if I’m in a new city and he/she gives me good advice on places to go, things to do, history of the city etc. I’ll give them 15%.

    I don’t tip cashiers or fast food attendants.

    I think that companies should reward outstanding employees with bonuses and tipping should be banned.

    Also beware of the bill that already has the tip included. I took my mother out to a mothers day brunch at a restaurant and gave the server a nice tip. When I got home and looked at my bill, the tip was already included in the final price. So I had tipped the server twice 15%, plus the 20%. It was my own fault for not looking at the bill more closely, but the server should have mentioned that a tip was already included in the bill. I think that automatically including a tip on a bill is wrong.

  12. I have a question- what do you “tip” the concierge at my condo when the annual holiday contribution is requested by the property manager? You have to remember this is for the entire year’s of service…

    This one always stumps me. Thoughts?

  13. TMW – if the concierge works for the property manager, shouldn’t the property manager be responsible for paying the Xmas bonus?

    Mike

  14. TMW: if the concierge has been especially helpful to you, perhaps a bottle of wine as a Christmas gift would be appreciated.

    Tom: With regards to service in Mexico, what do they “expect” as a tip down there?

  15. 15. nobleea

    I generally tip between 12-18%. Depends on teh service. I don’t think I’ve left less than a 5% tip. But I can understand the philosophy behind a 1c tip. It’s the universal sign for ‘I think I received bad service’. If you only leave 5% say, then the server might think you’re just cheap and the point doesn’t get across.

    Yes, it’s possible something happened in their personal lives or they’re just having a bad day. But that doesn’t excuse bad service. If someone just found out their spouse was cheating on them it still wouldn’t be acceptable for a surgeon to botch a surgery, or a police officer to beat a suspect, or an engineer to forget to carry the 1 on a safety calculation. If you want to be treated like a professional, you have to act like one. Otherwise, it’s just a charity.

    On the flip side, patrons must understand that the wait staff are SERVERS and not SERVANTS.

  16. need to be careful about giving wine. I had an incident last year where the concierge it turns out was muslim and it’s forbidden for them to drink so that was a huge ‘no-no’. It seems nice chocolate is a universal gift that can be enjoyed by all!

  17. 17. P

    how about the hairdresser? This one always confuses me.

  18. easy one….depends on how cute she is :) LOL

  19. 19. Mike

    I tend to tip around 15% at restaurants and will vary that by +/- 5% for the quality of the service.

    Taxi drivers, barber, or delivery guys I usually tip a flat fee of a few (3-5) bucks.

  20. 20. Tom

    FT: In Mexico, it’s usually $1-$2 US dollars, or more if you’re feeling generous.. Definitely US dollars though – and definitely bills and not change:)

  21. Condos- The property manager asks the unit holders to “tip” the concierge staff- cash- to avoid what Canadian Dollars was referring to but how much is enough?

  22. 22. Fecundity

    Servers: Generally 15%, good service gets up to 20%, and I’ve been more generous for truly phenomenal service. Bad service gets 5-10%, and atrocious service gets the $0.01 tip, but that’s only happened about twice in my life. I won’t complain to a manager about crap service, since I think the tip feedback is enough, unless I think the server is endangering people. That being said, I wholeheartedly agree with the “server, not servant” comment from nobleea above. No snapping your fingers at the waiters, please. And don’t yell at them if there’s something off about your food. They didn’t cook it. Be polite with your complaint and ask to speak to the manager if the server can’t help you.

    Cab drivers: A couple of bucks if they’ve been adequate. $5 or so if they’ve been helpful and/or friendly. Nothing if they tried to screw me over or were rude. Each of those happens about a third of the time in my town.

    Delivery drivers: A couple of bucks. More if we ordered a lot or the weather is horrible. Question: Why am I expected to tip the pizza guy, but none of the patients I ran emergency meds to ever thought to even offer to tip me when I worked a retail pharmacy? Seriously? A food order is more important than someone slogging to your house on their way home at midnight with your antibiotics?

    Guy with the guitar: If I’ve stopped to listen (i.e. he’s good), I’ll give him some change.

  23. 23. Gates VP

    Hey FT, you’ve just won a free blog reply b/c I didn’t want to slam your post :)

    (No excerpts provided, it’s all good ;) )

  24. 25. Telly

    Good discussion. I’m kind of with Mike on this…too much tipping going on here! Fast food tipping?! However, I must admit, I’m a much bigger tipper than I let on, mostly because I don’t like waiting for change. ;)

    Australia’s great. They REALLY don’t expect a tip at all (even large parties) and the service was always outstanding. Mind you, when I was there last in ’99, minimum wage was something like $12/hr.

    One thing I’m curious about is massages. I usually go to a massage clinic rather than a spa so I generally don’t tip (though I will at spas). It seems to me that a RMT should be considered a medical professional. I don’t tip my dentist…
    What do others do?

  25. 26. nobleea

    Telly;

    I have never tipped for a paramedical service like Massage Therapy, Physical Therapy, or Chiro. I wouldn’t even consider it.

  26. 27. Telly

    Thanks nobleea…makes sense. What if you had a massage at a spa (where tipping is expected)? Would you still feel the same? I got a massage at a spa last week (to go with my facial :)) and tipped, as much as I really didn’t want to.

  27. 28. nobleea

    At a spa might be different. For anything that could be covered under extended health care, I would not tip, since you shouldn’t be tipping for health care (do you get *better* care?). I don’t know if massages at spa are considered therapeutic and reimbursable under extended health care guidelines.

  28. 29. Telly

    I believe they are if performed by an RMT (which most spas use now).

  29. 30. Gates VP

    RMTs and spas are kind of funny.

    Professional RMTs make a decent living wage, they can take home $50-60 / hour even after the studio cut (even in a cheap-ass city like Winnipeg), mind you they can only work for 20 hours/week, but that still puts them in the 50-60k range which means that tips are just supplementary.

    However, the rest of the people in the spas are usually not making such wages. Professional estheticians aren’t really making a long-term “professional salary” (30k+) without some supplementation from tips. And the difference between RMTs and “just another spa masseuse” is quite significant (I’ve done both).

    Given that many RMTs run their own practice outside of the spa, you may want to tip them the “spa markup” for the convenience of having them come to the spa, but that’s wholly subjective based on your situation.

    As for the rest of the spa workers, if you want them to make a good living wage, tipping is just one possible avenue. Regular repeat business tends to be quite valuable as having a “portfolio” of regular customers helps these workers achieve a certain level of financial independence; they can command a higher salary. However, the spa workers also make great commission on the sales of (highly marked up) spa products. While ridiculously priced for the Wal-mart crowd, the $13 bottle of shampoo may be a fair deal if you were going to buy a $10 bottle instead as the staff will typically collect an extra $5 (so you cover your tip and get your shampoo). It also looks good on the payroll sheets, b/c sales will help boost their status as well as their base pay.

    Of course, these numbers vary pretty wildly between spas. So if you’re considering giving something other than a tip to a worthy staffer, it’s probably just best to ask them where it’s best to give the money or inquire about how they get paid commissions. They likely won’t take it as an insult, especially if they have specific goals in mind.

    As always YMMV.

  30. Gates, you sound like you spend a lot of time at the spa! :)

    Mike

  31. 32. Gates VP

    Thanks Mike ;)

    My sister used to work at a tanning salon (the same one who works the restaurants, their cut on tanning products is very similar to salon products), plus my uncle’s an RMT, so I have some inside information. Of course, the fiancé and I have done a few spa days together (one for an anniversary an other while in Vegas).

    So yeah, maybe I’ve babied myself a little over the years *grin*

  32. 34. Chris

    I really despise the tipping system. Not out of being cheap but, I find it demeaning. So, in general I max my tip amount out at 15% I don’t tip the mail carries or anybody else besides waiters and waitresses. I try to avoid the 1 cent tip thing and just ask to speak with management when things go bad.

  33. 35. Rick

    “If service is really bad, I will tip 5-10%”. Ridiculous. I tip when somebody deserves a tip. When somebody really puts forth an effort, they deserve a little something extra.
    Reservoir Dogs quote:
    MR. BLUE
    Our girl was nice.

    MR. WHITE
    Our girl was okay. She didn’t do
    anything special.

    MR. BLONDE
    What’s something special, take ya
    in the kitchen and suck your d*ck?

    They all laugh.

    NICE GUY EDDIE
    I’d go over twelve percent for
    that.

  34. 40. Vincent

    I work as a valet. The charge is 7.00 and 80% of the time I get 10.00. 5% of the time I get stiffed, and the other 15% I get really generous customers who pay anywhere from 15.00 to 100.00 for a spot right in front of the restaurant.

  35. Vincent, if you don’t me asking, do valets make a standard hourly wage in addition to their tips? On average, how much would a valet make in tips on a busy night?

  36. 45. Katie

    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.

  37. 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 :-)

  38. 50. Anakia

    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)

  39. 51. cannon_fodder

    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.

  40. 52. Calvin

    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.

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