Tipping etiquette

March 12, 2009

Lauren Mueller

Have you ever been in a hotel with a bellboy standing around expecting a tip from you? Just how much are you supposed to give him? Most commonly a few bucks will do, but there are many other occasions when it is customary to tip following some basic guidelines.

Service providers such as taxi drivers, servers in restaurants, salon workers and even tattoo artists should be tipped; however, the percent varies from service to service. If you have ever worked at a job that tips, then you know how great it is to walk out with cash in your hand and how awful it feels to get stiffed.

Although the Fair Labor and Standards Act established a national minimum wage, certain exceptions exist, as is the case for employees who receive tips. According to the United States Department of Labor, the minimum wage for employees relying on tips is $2.13 per hour, and their employer is required to pay more only if their combined tip plus hourly wages do not equal the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

Ordering a pizza? The delivery fee doesn’t always go to the driver; a 10 percent tip can be appropriate, but a higher percentage should be considered based on distance and other such factors. If the delivery is in the snow, or if the location is difficult to find, 20 percent is considered appropriate for the tip.

If you go out to the bar, 15 percent of the total is a normal tip. A good rule of thumb for a bar is one dollar per drink and two dollars for a pitcher. This is easy to remember, but don’t forget to consider the price of the drink. One dollar for a $25 margarita is not enough.

If you take a cab home, 15 percent is customary. If the ride is long or the terrain is difficult, 20 percent is appropriate. CNNMoney.com also recommends throwing your driver a few dollars if you have any luggage, usually one dollar per bag. If you’re getting a haircut, you should tip 10-15 percent, and at least 15 percent for a manicure or pedicure.

With all tipping, the quality of service should be taken into account. Excellent service should elicit a tip above the normal expected amount and poor service should still receive at least a 10 percent tip.