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Monday, November 24, 2008

To tip or not to tip

Here is a bit of trivia for you: The word "tip" originated from the old English inns where a jar was placed by the front desk with a sign that read "To Insure Promptness." In other words, if you wanted anything done efficiently by the innkeeper, you better put something in that tip jar.

Tipping is controversial to this day. How much should you tip? Some people won’t tip at all as Elaine did in an episode of Seinfeld many years ago. She and Jerry were traveling to New York and Jerry tipped the airport Red Cap $5 per bag. Elaine thought that was exorbitant and chewed out the Red Cap for expecting such a tip. The Red Cap shipped Jerry’s bags to New York and Elaine’s strangely went to Honolulu. A lesson learned: Don’t mess with service workers!

I’m not saying everyone deserves a tip. In my case, I will tip 20% in nice restaurants like The Roaring Fork in Scottsdale or Ruth’s Chris in Phoenix if I have been well taken care of. I think that is standard for today. I might even throw in another 5% if I’m especially happy that night. Conversely, if the service is inattentive and the food is bad I will reduce it accordingly. Nothing is automatic. Excellent service on a special occasion can make a tremendous difference in the experience and I see no problem with a proper reward for it.

One thing I will not do is put money in "tip jars" when no extra service is provided. Places like fast food restaurants come under this category. They are a perfect example of the "give me something for nothing" mentality we see today according to Ward Connerly of the American Civil Rights Institute in a Sonoran News editorial this week..

Connerly also mentions the annoyance of ordering room service in hotels and having an automatic 21% gratuity added to the bill. On top of that a space is usually available for "additional gratuity." A room service waiter told him the gratuity is added on because some people might not tip. That sounds like how the government works: "If we don’t like the service, we are taxed anyway" explains Connerly.

Tipping makes sense for those who earn it by providing excellent personal service. Taxi drivers, hotel attendants, waiters, and shoe shine people know about earning tips and deserve them for excellence. They better be good because 99% of their livelihood depends on those tips.

When do you think tipping is and isn't appropriate?


Anonymous said...

You should always leave a tip for your server wether you approve of the service or not because they have to put up with you wether your messy or not!

Jim McAllister said...

Anonymous, if the service is bad, I think I am putting up with them more than they are putting up with my mess. Besides, there are usually busboys for the mess cleaning. Good service deserves good tips, bad service deserves bad or no tips. If they are bad they are not doing their job. You sound like a waiter. LOL