Friday, February 19, 2010

Tipping Etiquette

With the recent economy and constantly trying to be more aware of my spending, I find that I’ve been paying more close attention to how I’m tipping these days. I used to make it a habit to tip 20% at restaurants even if the service was just decent. Being once a server myself, I had a weak spot for the wait staff and know that they depend on tips to earn a living. However, I’ve since decided to tip 15% if the service is good and 20% if it’s great. If service is just fair, I tend to think twice before even tipping the standard 15%.

My father on the other hand feels it’s important to tip even more, especially since restaurants are slower these days and cutting back on servers’ hours. I thought he had a valid point until I realized he may be taking this to the extreme.

I recently had a baby and when I was being released from the hospital, my father asked my mother if he should tip the nurses. My mother nearly jumped out of her chair. Being a retired OBGYN nurse, she explained to my father that whatever she did was “her job” and that it should be expected to get good treatment at a hospital. She explained that flowers or a food basket would be acceptable but definitely not a tip. I myself couldn’t believe that my 72 year-old dad was actually thinking about tipping a nurse. What has this world come to that he feels he has to tip someone just for doing their job, even when tipping isn’t a standard practice for this profession. My mother explained that he thinks he has to tip for everything. We had a good laugh about it, but it’s actually sad that some service is so poor these days that my dad feels the need to tip a nurse, who I would imagine already makes a decent salary.

What about hairdressers? I never know how much tip is appropriate. If they rent the station at a salon, do I tip more than if they didn’t rent the station but were an employee of the salon? I recently had an esthetician agree to perform her services at my house. She charged me the same as she would at the salon, but I wasn’t sure how much I should tip her since she wasn’t using a rented space. I tipped her the same and then thought twice about it after she left. Maybe I didn’t need to tip at all? I found my answers at

Sometimes I tip more than I want to just out of fear that they might think I’m cheap if I don’t tip well (even if I’m not 100% satisfied).

So, my question is… since when did tipping become such an expected practice and why am I always surprised when I receive good service. Shouldn’t we expect to be waited on with promptness and kindness if we’re paying for our services? I don’t know if this economy and my need to save more money has changed my perception, but it seems like tipping has gotten way out of control these days. Who will I tip next, my doctor for taking me on time for my scheduled appointment?

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