Tripping on the tip

By Jami Moran, 24 Hours Magazine, Canada – 05/07/2008 – 12:00am


These days it seems everybody from the coffee shop to the yoga studio has a hand out for a handout.

You know you should tip your waitress. And you have no problem tipping your hairdresser. You don’t mind handing a couple bucks over to your cabbie or even the guy who delivers your pizza. But these days, it seems everybody from the Starbucks barista to your spinning instructor is holding out her hand for a little extra something. There’s tip jars and tip baskets, debit and credit card options, and the lady at the salon never has a problem asking if “you’d like to add a tip to that?”

“People are tipped out,” admits Sue Fox, owner of Etiquette Survival, a California-based professional development company and author of “Etiquette For Dummies and Business Etiquette For Dummies.”

And they’re starting to speak up. In a recent editorial, Maclean’s Andrew Coyne boldly asked “Is it not time we all said ‘No’?” And CBC’s The Current dedicated an entire segment to the subject. Likewise, there are hundreds of anti-tipping Facebook groups including “Boycott Tipping,” “Stop Tipping at Tim’s,” and “I Ain’t Tipping the Bathroom Attendant.”

Perhaps the biggest problem with tipping, explains Fox, is that people feel guilty when they don’t. “The truth is, it’s not mandatory and it’s totally up to the individual and what you can afford,” she says. While tips are now expected for more and more services, Fox says if, and how much, you tip is up to you. “If you have no conscience about it, you can do away with tips,” she says. “It isn’t bad etiquette not to tip.”

But be honest about it, she says. Talk to a manager and explain your reasoning. Or tell them you just don’t believe in it. “At least they’ll know it’s not something they did.”

Elizabeth Meyer has been working in the hospitality industry for the past 11 years and has seen her share of tips – both good and bad. Currently working as a suite attendant at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Meyer firmly believes that if you want the luxury of enjoying the services offered in our society, you should just expect to tip.

“You are walking into that environment and that environment says that you tip,” explains Meyer. And while she would never leave anybody tip-less, she does believe in tipping the bare minimum, 10 per cent in her case, for poor service. “Anything less is unfair,” she says. “Anything more and above is at your own discretion.”

Tip Tricks

Figuring out how much to tip can be tricky. Here’s a handy guideline to help you out in those tippy situations.

The word tip is derived from an old innkeeper’s sign, “To Insure Promptness.” When patrons deposited a few coins, they received drinks faster. Today, we’re expected to tip when somebody performs a service for us. Sue Fox, owner of Etiquette Survival, a California-based professional development company and author of author of “Etiquette For Dummies and Business Etiquette For Dummies” offers the following guideline on who should get what when it comes to tipping.

Bartender: 10 to 15 per cent of the tab. If you sit in a cocktail lounge, tip the cocktail server 15 to 20 per cent.
Bathroom attendant: 50 cents to $1.
Coat check: $1 per coat.
Restaurants server: 17 to 20 per cent of the before-tax amount of the bill. Over-tip only if it’s well deserved.
Buffet: 10 per cent of the before-tax amount of the bill.
Food court: 15 per cent.
Food delivery: a minimum of $2. Tip $5 for large orders and if the weather is bad.
Babysitter: anywhere from no tip to 20 per cent on the total amount you paid.
Barber or hairstylist: 15 to 20 percent.
Taxi driver: 15 per cent of the fare (with $1 as the minimum tip).
Hotel bellboy: minimum of $1 per bag.

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