A Tipping Tutorial

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Hospitality Management Schools sent me this interesting, and helpful, interactive guide to tipping. I confess that while I’m pretty comfortable tipping at restaurants and bars, I’ve never been quite sure how much to tip my barber or the pizza delivery guy.

The embed code for the tip guide doesn’t seem to be working (I keep getting an error code about hot having authorized access despite the graphic having a button giving you he embed code) so here’s a link directly to the guide: Tipping, How To Respond To Hospitality.

Under the notes for tipping waiters, they suggest that even bad service deserves at least a 10% tip. I’m not sure about that one. I understand that sometimes poor service may be out of the hands of the waitstaff, but I can’t abide rewarding certain behaviors. If a waiter is open and tells me there’s a problem with the kitchen, or someone’s out sick and he or she has more territory to cover, I’m happy to take that into account and be understanding. If they’re pleasant in the face of problems and act like decent human beings (the golden rule) then I’ll agree with HMS’s advice. But if they’re simply inattentive, rude, surly or obnoxious, then I don’t see how giving them 10% is fair to anybody.

The last time I was at GBBF, the pub where I was staying was in the old meat packing area of London — Smithfield Market — and Stephen Beaumont (who I was traveling with) and I were excited to get a table at Fergus Henderson’s restaurant (author of “The Whole Beast”). It was very expensive but we thought it was worth checking out. And the food was incredible, but the experience was all but ruined by one of the worst service experiences I’ve ever had. Our waiter could not have been more condescending. He practically dripped sarcasm when Stephen starting exploring beer pairings with him, as if he didn’t even want to deign discussing beer with meat. How gauche. And so I can’t agree that such a person deserves even a modest tip when their actions not only don’t enhance a meal, but actively effect it negatively, such that the experience is made worse directly by their job performance. Service that bad is, mercifully, somewhat rare, but it has happened to me more than a few times. Under most circumstances, I’d agree that service that’s just mediocre or passable does deserve at least 10%. After all, I understand they’re just trying to make a living, and also everybody has a bad day. But truly bad service does not, at least in my opinion. What do you think?

Anyway, enough of my ranting, here’s their introduction to this guide from the school’s blog:

A huge part of the hospitality and service industry is gratuity. Gratuity and how much to tip service workers has always been a highly debated topic as it should be. Many service workers make the majority of their income on tips alone. Becoming a manager at a hotel or a spa, it will be very important to understand how workers get paid and how to structure tipping at your institution to keep your employees happy as well as keeping the company running smoothly.

And with tipping varying so widely from country to country and state to state even, it is hard to have a consistent system of tipping. With all the debate that surrounds gratuity, it seems that most people still don’t know what the correct amount to tip is. Is it 15% or is it 20%? $1 or $2? From airport to take out, this interactive guide will help people determine how much to give to in the service industry and hospitality field.

And interesting, they had this little tidbit under the History of Tipping:

When the custom of tipping made its way to the United States, many people weren’t too happy about it. In the late 1890s, a movement began against tipping as Americans believed tipping allowed service workers to be dependent on the higher class. An anti-tipping bill ultimately failed due to protests from both employers and service workers.

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Jay:

    I was interested in the etiquette of tipping myself, so a couple years ago I put the questions to my readers: how much to tip?, do you still tip for bad service?, do you tip the owner of a place? and other questions.

    One lesson I took from the whole discussion is that there are several good reasons to go ahead and tip for bad service. If you’re interested, check out the summary of Beer Tipping Etiquette that was distilled from comments on the first post.

    Cheers!

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