What should you tip?


My belief is that an 18% gratuity is the standard for good service, 15% for satisfactory service and 20% for stellar service.  Poor service is rewarded with either a much smaller gratuity amount or none at all.

I get a lot of magazines and one of them is Bon Appetit.  In a recent issue, someone wrote in and was asking the “BA Foodist”…aka Andrew Knowlton…what the proper tip amount is these days.  That article is here

The issue is that everyone has a different opinion.  I generally tip 18% unless the service was horrible, just because I know how difficult the job can be.  I am not that far removed from service type jobs that my snobbery and superiority has made me a cheap Neal Boortz type, yet.  I write this blog because I was accused, all in the same week, of being both stingy and extravagant with my gratuity.  One person told me I was out to lunch for even thinking of tipping 18% for the service we got (which was fairly good) and another said…18%?!  Wow…you much be rich or something…I always give 10%.  My officemate proclaimed one day that he was so pleased with the food he got at IHOP that he “tipped 10%”!!!  (Eating at IHOP sort of indicates why he would consider a 10% tip to be generous).

Let’s face it.  10% is too cheap.  15% is OK…and you can get away with it…but 18% should be the norm for good service.  20% to me is pushing it…unless the server goes out of their way.  Am I alone in this belief?  What do you consider a good gratuity for “good” service?  Take my poll.

But what about other services?  Suppose you use the sky captains at the airport.  What do you tip them?  I usually give them $5 if I am traveling solo.  If I have two or more big bags, they get $10.  The Pizza Guy?  I give him $5 on average.  What about valet parking?  I give $5 at a middle class place or between $5 and $10 at a higher end place.  Do you tip the service guy that comes to fix your cable box?  I don’t.  Do you tip delivery guys that bring stuff into your home?  I usually do. 

One of my issues with gratuities is the amount of work that is done to earn them.  Going to get my car that is 100 years away should not cost any more than $10 at a very high point…and think of that in terms of the hourly wage this person is getting.  The Pizza Guy has to fight traffic and weather to come to your place.  The sky captain guy simply has to hand you a ticket and put your bag on a conveyor belt.  So I personally think it should be relative. 

Comment back on how much you tip, and your thoughts on why.


One response »

  1. I avoid all bellhop/bag type stuff so it is not an issue for me…waiters must be high quality each time…15-20% for stellar…low tip can often be better than none…no tip can always be overlooked by the type of server that would offer that kind of service….hotness should not be a factor but lets face it…Catholic high school cheerleader has a few edges.

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