Gratuity (When, Who and How Much to Tip)
The term gratuity and the act of tipping has been around for at least 500 years, and some experts speculate that the custom has been in effect since the medieval era. The word itself either stems from the Latin gratuitas, or "freely given", or the French gratuite, or "free gift". In many countries especially in the United States, tipping is expected in most service industries; in other countries, like Japan it is an insult to offer a tip. In the US sometimes the expected gratuity isn’t exactly clear, nor is the expected amount. “Do I tip the guy who just pumped my gas? What should I give him?” ”How much is a good tip for the pizza delivery guy?” “20% of this bill is like $400, is that really what I have to give?” If you or someone you know has ever asked these questions read on.
First of all it is important to understand that the basic premise of a tip or gratuity is to reward a job well done, or to express the appreciation of a good service provided. If you are sincerely dissatisfied with the services performed, do not tip. Some restaurants build a gratuity into there pricing, if you are very dissatisfied with the service or the food talk to the manager about the included gratuities (in this situation I would not demand the money back, but I would at least voice my dissatisfaction). For the most part however many service providers expect a tip and many, such as waitresses and bartenders, make their living off of their gratuities. It is poor etiquette not to tip, and it is horrible to fabricate some reason to be dissatisfied with the service just so that you can get out of an expected gratuity.
In general here are the individuals who should be tipped unless specified otherwise by the company they are employed by (as in the case of a restaurant already including a %20 gratuity in the bill). Waiters and waitresses, bartenders, bellhops, drivers and chauffeurs, concierge, housekeeping or maid service, delivery people (especially for food), tour guides, hair stylists, masseuses and movers. When tipping a percentage %10 indicates dissatisfaction with the service, %15-%20 indicates the service was good, and above %20 signifies outstanding service. Certain professions such as a valet or doorman a tip of $3-$5 is customary although it may vary depending on the cost of your accommodations.
Then we have a bit of a grey area, these are professions or services where some people tip and others do not, resources remain very much divided on the etiquette involved in tipping these individuals. For repairmen or contractors, such as plumbers or electricians, tipping is generally not expected, as the hourly wage they make, especially when in a union, is relatively high. However is these individuals go above and beyond and provide services not specified at the time of hire it is not unheard of to offer a tip (if ever in serious doubt you can ask them). Sanitation, workers, mailmen and people like the paperboy or milkmen often receive tips and gifts around the holidays but again some people do, some people do not. Finally when your car is being serviced, or the gas attendant pumps your gas and washes your windshield, these ladies and gentlemen sometimes receive a small gratuity. This varies significantly from state to state and company-to-company but tipping in the range of $1-$5 is not unusual; again it is ok to ask, especially if you frequent the establishment often.
Ultimately a gratuity is up to you but for some services it is expected and it is considered poor etiquette not to tip. In the United States tipping is very much expected for many service providers and we hope our little guide helps you the next time a gratuity is in question. When in doubt it is OK to ask. No matter what though it is always important to thank those that service you and to show your appreciation by being polite and grateful.
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