While most people tip at restaurants, many people are confused about how much they should shell out for other services - or whether they should tip at all. Tipping, and determining how much to tip, depends on several factors including the quality, frequency and nature of the service rendered. According to Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute, customers should also consider the "length and strength" of their relationship with the service provider. (For basic money-saving tips, see Squeeze A Greenback Out Of Your Latte.)
When it's your turn to tip, keep the following suggestions from the experts in mind.
Gas Attendants – Suggested Tip: None
In certain states, full service is provided to every customer at the gas pump. But, regardless of how friendly and helpful your gas attendant may be, tipping authorities agree that no tip is necessary.
Shampoo Person – Suggested Tip: $2
Before you make it to your stylist's chair, you will have a run-in with the shampoo boy or girl. Experts recommend a flat-rate tip for a shampoo, while a tip of 15-20% is recommended for the hairdresser.
Doorman – Suggested Tip: $1 per Bag
The total amount due to the doorman depends on how many bags he or she helps you with; a tip of about $1 for each bag is reccomended. Hailing a cab is worth an additional dollar.
Skycaps (Airport Porter) - Suggested Tip: $1 Per Bag
When you're at the airport, you really need to ensure that you keep baggage handlers on your good side. Don't skimp on tips here. The standard tip is equal to that of a doorman; however, the $1-per-bag rate doubles if the skycap takes your bags to the check-in counter.
Food Retailers and Coffee Shops – Suggested Tip: None
Many smaller restaurants have tip jars located at the point of purchase, but according to tipping authorities, you shouldn't feel guilty for walking on by. Unlike most restaurant servers, employees behind the counter are typically paid at least minimum wage. That said, if you visit a place frequently and have a good relationship with the person behind the counter, adding a modest tip to the jar now and then is a nice way to say "thanks".
Bartenders – Suggested Tip: 15-20% of Tab
If you choose not to go with the percentage of the tab method, your bartender's tip should be determined by the strength of what you are sipping. Soft drinks should carry a minimum tip of 50 cents per drink. Up the ante for mixed or other alcoholic drinks to about $1 per drink. (Does the expense of going out for drinks make you cringe? See Budget Without Blowing Off Your Friends for tips on how to maintain your social life without overspending.)
Restaurant Servers – Suggested Tip: 15% of Pretax Bill
Restaurant workers are part of a unique group, in that their minimum wage is $2.13 per hour. The low wage has been set since 1991, with the reasoning that tips will help bring workers up to, or above, minimum wage. So, tips for servers are not additional pay, they're how these workers makes a living!
Assuming you've received adequate service, the standard tip for servers is 15%; outstanding service should be rewarded with a 20% tip. Contrary to popular belief, bad service is no excuse to completely skip the tip. Even when the level of service is poor, experts recommend leaving no less than 10%.
Pizza Delivery – Suggested Tip: 10% of Pretax Bill
Just like the precious cargo they carry, how much to tip the pizza guy is a hot topic. The Emily Post Institute suggests a tip of 10% of the pretax bill, with difficult deliveries earning the delivery person 15-20%. However, Tipthepizzaguy.com recommends a different set of guidelines, including a rate of 15% for normal service, 20% for excellent service and 10% or less for poor service.
Tipped employees often rely on gratuity for a substantial portion of their income. Since tipping is optional and how much to tip is debatable, the take-home pay of a tipped employee is often riddled with uncertainty. Regardless of the gray areas, remember that good service has value; tipping allows you to reward people who provide good service and helps to ensure that you and the service provider share a mutually beneficial relationship.