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  1. #1
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    Situationally aware tipping in the USA like a decent person - how to ?

    I continue my struggle to understand life in the United States of America.

    I get restaurant situations, they spell it out for you after all, but am unsure what to do when nobody gives me my options expressed in percent on the bill.

    Am I supposed to tip taxi drivers? If so, how much? I just booked an airport shuttle thing and it says 'gratuity is up to you' - I assume that means I am supposed to tip, but how much? Do I hand the person cash if I have prepaid the rest of the fare? (Nobody really seems to carry cash?) What about regular taxis?

    I had my bicycle in a shop to get some things fixed and paid about 150$ for work and mostly parts. Everyone at the shop was really nice. At home I would expect a communal tip jar in a place like this and I would have thrown something in because they went out of their way, not because it would normally be expected. A six pack of beer or something along those lines would also be appropriate if they did something super special. Huge cash tips or just handing the guy some extra money would be weird and borderline insulting since they are professional bike mechanics and it would be like implying they need me to do them a charitable favour, like you would not tip, say, a car mechanic or a plumber either (right???) because this is a professional who is charging an appropriate amount for their time (right???).

    The idea of trying to tip someone I'm not supposed to be tipping makes me feel way more awkward than undertipping (I don't want to do that either but that thought does not trigger the same level of cringe).

    Can I get some general guidelines please?
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  2. #2
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    I don't think it's too complicated as restaurants are really the only situations I can think of that come up often where tipping is pretty much mandatory (and around 20% seems to be the standard these days). (Now that I posted restaurants are the only frequent tipping situation I'm sure people are going to point out a bunch of scenarios I am forgetting.)

    You are correct that an individual tip to a bike mechanic is uncalled for (if the shop had a jar or something that would be different). Also, there is certainly no guideline/expectation like in restaurants.

    I feel like for cab drivers it is pretty discretionary--here they now do the thing that some restaurants do where they display the tip amount/percentage and let you choose. I feel like 10% is fine for cabbies, but I virtually never take cabs (one of the few cabbies I had in the past year I didn't tip at all because he sucked balls).

    I guess haircuts, especially for women, are a tipping situation. I get an $18 haircut and give whoever it is $2 (they actually never seem to be expecting it, but I understand that in a nice woman's place tipping is definitely part of the deal).

    We have to tip our building staff every year for the holidays...

    People who provide helpful online information to foreigners should be tipped generously.
    [quote][//quote]

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dexter Rutecki View Post
    I don't think it's too complicated as restaurants are really the only situations I can think of that come up often where tipping is pretty much mandatory .
    Ah. See, that is new information to me.

    I avoid awkward tipping uncertainty at the hairdresser by not going to the hairdresser, at home or abroad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dexter Rutecki View Post
    People who provide helpful online information to foreigners should be tipped generously.
    I hesitate to ask what the preferred currency of tgr is these days.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by klar View Post


    I hesitate to ask what the preferred currency of tgr is these days.
    Unbridled sanctimony?

    I would say you could just call me a few names, but you might have to get in line.
    [quote][//quote]

  5. #5
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    My methodology
    Restaurants - 20% if acceptable experience, zero if shitty.
    Takeout - $1-2
    Taxi - ~15% so long as they don’t take the long way to pad the fare
    Guide (ski, fish, dive) - 20% if a fun experience, otherwise zero

    Haircut (clippers, #5 spacer) - 33%, or $5. My barber has an incredibly cool man cave with pool table, pinball machine and free beer, so I look at the tip as contributing to the beer fund

    Bike or ski shop - used to tip with a sixer but my LBS and LSS both have free beer now. So for great work I give them a nice bud from my last crop.
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  6. #6
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    Klar did you end up going to Fairbanks?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TBS View Post
    My methodology
    Restaurants - 20% if acceptable experience, zero if shitty.
    Takeout - $1-2
    Taxi - ~15% so long as they donít take the long way to pad the fare
    Guide (ski, fish, dive) - 20% if a fun experience, otherwise zero

    Haircut (clippers, #5 spacer) - 33%, or $5. My barber has an incredibly cool man cave with pool table, pinball machine and free beer, so I look at the tip as contributing to the beer fund

    Bike or ski shop - used to tip with a sixer but my LBS and LSS both have free beer now. So for great work I give them a nice bud from my last crop.
    Yeah, this is a pretty good list.

    I would add that people like plumbers or electricians donít need to be tipped. Every once in a while Iíll throw a few extra bucks at a tradesperson if they go way above and beyond.

    I try never to stiff a server in a restaurant unless itís really really bad. In most states they can earn as little as $3 an hour (donít get me started on that), so they really only survive off of their tips.

    Unfortunately our wages have been stagnant in the US for a couple of decades so more and more people are asking for tips as a way to make ends meet. Itís a really shitty way for companies to pass on the true costs of their products to consumers and not have to take any of the responsibility on themselves.

    The general rule of thumb is to tip 15-20% for any tipping situation where you are getting full service, and a couple of bucks if itís only partial service. So like a server vs coffee shop barista who doesnít leave the counter. Or a ski guide vs shop tech.

  8. #8
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    How about a valet? That's one that's always tripped me up. Went to a brewery that had valet parking (wtf?) Guy parked my car 20 feet away from me. I came out, took him ten mins to get it for me. Gave him $10. Felt pretty unnecessary but it was free besides tips.

  9. #9
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    Tipping with cabs is pretty much about helping with bags or extra local info that hooks you up or taking care of precious cargo (like unaccompanied minors)...otherwise not really

  10. #10
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    Read the title as "tripping" in the USA.

    This isn't as interesting.

    I over tip. Makes the person happy and usually guarantees good service if you are a regular.
    "I don't pretend to have all the answers, and I think there's something to be said for that" -One For The Road

    Brain dead and made of money.

  11. #11
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    I would tip a food delivery person, unless the pizza is cold, maybe a 5. 20 for the MJ delivery person. Housekeeping at a hotel--maybe 5/d. (My cousin leaves 20 a day but he's a dentist.) Retail clerks who just ring you up I don't tip; at a counter-order eatery whether you take out or eat in I do.

  12. #12
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    Cabbies for normal service (they didn't have to get out of the car, the ride didn't take them way out of town or something) is a two-three bucks.

  13. #13
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    I never understood tipping the hotel maid unless you really did a number on the place.

  14. #14
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    The ones I struggle with are:
    Uber/Lyft
    Coffee shop or poke joint etc. where the purchase is small-ish, but when you swipe your card and the auto tip screen comes up the only choices seem to big for the situation, so then you either have to feel your way through the "other tip" screen (slowing down the line, people looking over your shoulder) or feel like a dick for pushing "no tip" even though if it was a cash sale you might not tip anyway.

    Have to say it was liberating when in Yurp for several weeks over the winter not to worry about tipping most of the time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    If I lived in WA, Oft would be my realtor. Seriously.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredgnar View Post
    I never understood tipping the hotel maid unless you really did a number on the place.
    Actually, I think that one is pretty close to mandatory--have read a guide on it somewhere. The housekeepers are often (usually?) immigrants and probably are lucky to get paid honestly. My wife's mother was a hotel maid for years (immigrant) and the job was probably really only worthwhile due to what people left. I think it has to be at least a couple of bucks a day, depending on how fancy the place is--obviously different if you're staying for awhile and they rarely touch your room.

    Forgot about tips for food delivery--I virtually always pick up myself. Two or three dollars unless it's a lot or they had to go far or it's raining or something.
    [quote][//quote]

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredgnar View Post
    How about a valet? That's one that's always tripped me up. Went to a brewery that had valet parking (wtf?) Guy parked my car 20 feet away from me. I came out, took him ten mins to get it for me. Gave him $10. Felt pretty unnecessary but it was free besides tips.
    $10 was pretty generous. Usually I tip $2-$5 depending on what sort of folding cash I have in my pocket and if the valet does well.

    $1 a bag for people wrestling my luggage - airport parking/hotels. I leave $5/stay for hotel rooms, I look at it as security.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dexter Rutecki View Post
    Actually, I think that one is pretty close to mandatory--have read a guide on it somewhere. The housekeepers are often (usually?) immigrants and probably are lucky to get paid honestly. My wife's mother was a hotel maid for years (immigrant) and the job was probably really only worthwhile due to what people left. I think it has to be at least a couple of bucks a day, depending on how fancy the place is--obviously different if you're staying for awhile and they rarely touch your room.

    Forgot about tips for food delivery--I virtually always pick up myself. Two or three dollars unless it's a lot or they had to go far or it's raining or something.
    Interesting. Since there's rarely any direct personal contact, I've never even considered tipping the maid until I found out that it was a thing. I'm no Mr Pink or anything and I am an above average tipper, but this definitely seems like a situation where the hotel should pay their staff well enough where they shouldn't depend on tips. I mean, you'd think that large hotel chains like a Westin or Hyatt would be on the up-and-up right? Tipping in every other situation entails a personal, face-to-face service. If I asked for extra towels or something, then yes, I'd definitely tip, but most times I never even see the maid.

  18. #18
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    Yes, absolutely right--the hotels should pay more than minimum (or sometimes sub-minimum, I strongly believe) to their workers (and if they don't have a union I am sure benefits are mostly non-existent). This is why there is a movement in restaurants toward a non-tipping model. Just raise the prices enough to guarantee the wage that's required, instead of having people subject to the whims of customers.

    But yeah, I can see how it is easiest to lose track of people like housekeepers whom you might never even see. I can say those women who knock on the door saying 'housekeeping!' with some kind of accent probably need the tips just to survive.
    [quote][//quote]

  19. #19
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    here's some interesting info on what various states require employers to pay tipped employees. Of course the employer can always pay more.
    https://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm
    I always found it unfair that the server busting her ass in a cheap restaurant gets paid a lot less in tips, even allowing for more turnover, then the server in an expensive restaurant, since the tip is based on the price of the food. But then life is unfair.
    BTW--if you have a coupon that significantly reduces the cost of a restaurant meal, figure the tip based on the non-discounted cost of the meal. (If I get a coupon for a place I eat at a lot I add the value of the coupon to the usual tip, figuring I would eat there coupon or no coupon. Sorry Kelley.)

    I've never been a waiter. I wonder how often servers pool tips and how often tips are shared with the cooks and bussers, and how those employees are paid compared to servers.

    I would much rather everyone were paid a living wage and we could do away with tipping but but given the increasing numbers of ways employers are using to avoid paying living wages I'm not holding my breath.

    How much to tip is based at least in part on what you can afford. It's America's version of socialism.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredgnar View Post
    I never understood tipping the hotel maid unless you really did a number on the place.
    lol. I practically live in hotels, and always tip the housekeeping staff. I doubt they're paid above the barista level, but the job is much worse.

    Quote Originally Posted by oftpiste View Post
    The ones I struggle with are:
    Uber/Lyft
    Yeah, that one is weird... I've tipped for a really short trip with a "hey man, that wasn't much of a fare so here's a little top up". That's generally been appreciated, but I had one guy who was actually insulted by it. wtf dude, you're driving strangers around for money... here's some money!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dexter Rutecki View Post
    one of the cabbies I had the past year I didn't tip at all because he sucked balls
    Probably shouldve tipped more then, no



    Servers: 15-25+%, depending on service
    Takeout: $1-2
    Hotel Maids: $5/day
    Cabbies: $2-3/trip
    Barbers: $3-5/haircut
    Car Valet: $3-5
    Airport/Hotel Valet: $1/bag

    I also "tip" my mailman and trash recycling guys every year at the holidays, usually a gift card or beers plus cash, totaling $25-50. I never have to use the "town" trash bags (at $2.50/ea) as a result. Take care of the people who take care of you

  22. #22
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    Thanks all, this is helpful and makes me feel a lot better about my bike shop interactions.

    Quote Originally Posted by AKPogue View Post
    Klar did you end up going to Fairbanks?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobby Stainless View Post
    Read the title as "tripping" in the USA.
    Some guidelines in that area can't hurt either if anyone is inclined.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  23. #23
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    Servers: 15-25+%, depending on service - even if the effort was on the shitty'er side. Everyone is entitled to a bad day.

    Takeout: Coin - <2$
    Delivery: 3-5$
    Hotel Maids: 1-3$/day = I usually opt out house cleaning/turn down service except for towels and waste pails as my shit is coin drop tight and I like my stuff to be where I put it when I come back to it.

    Cabbies: 2-5$/you drive us into known traffic - I start subtracting. You navigate around known or spontaneous stuff - I start adding.
    Barber: 3-5$
    Car Valet: 1-3$
    Airport/Hotel Valet: 2-5$ and I always help

    There is the debate on whether your tip calculations include the alcohol or not and if so, at what %; I don't drink (makes being a diabetic much easier).

    I consider the next bit my continuing educational experience as a consumer:

    I generally pay attention to who is serving me. Anyone who is an independent contractor; plumber, barber, mechanic - running their own business get no tip as they should have already guaranteed what they expect to be paid.

    If your working for someone else at a flat rate or percentage of the take (read; someone else is making money from your effort), you entitled to a tip.

    The easiest example would be the barber (beauty shop). It's his shop - you get what you charge. The Cutter is renting a chair in the barber shop - 20+%.

    I frequent your place and expect more - mo tip

    Tipping can/will be a cringy thing on occasion even for the most seasoned abuser. When in doubt whether to tip at all, I always side on giving. Better to be the Ass who gave to little than the jerk who fails to realize you exist.
    "knowledgeable in escapades of the flesh"

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by klar View Post


    Some guidelines in that area can't hurt either if anyone is inclined.
    What do you want to know?
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by klar View Post
    Thanks all, this is helpful and makes me feel a lot better about my bike shop interactions.



    Yes.



    Some guidelines in that area can't hurt either if anyone is inclined.
    Did you like Fairbanks?

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