Many of you might remember the story about The Crafty Waitress. This was the Squirreling Gone Wild series edition that described how a waitress tried to steer me towards giving her a tip of over 100%. The consensus was that she was playing games, and that I was probably being too generous by giving the tip that I did, which was about 12%.
Now, typically, I give in the 15% to 20% range at a restaurant. My baseline is 15%, and I’m now in the mode of giving more if I feel the service was especially good, or if I sense that the server is down on his or her luck. I don’t like seeing suffering…who does? And as readers here know, I’m a believer in stepping back and appreciating what we are lucky to have, and being generous with others. If the service is especially bad, I may go lower, but rarely to extremely low levels.
Keeping these views in mind, there was an article in Yahoo! Finance that struck me as being a bit over the top. The topic was end-of-year tipping, and it provided guidelines for tipping in different situations during the holiday season. These were intended to be the “New Rules” for tipping during this time of year.
First off, the article made the claim that:
“Tipping 10 to 15 percent is old-school….. The new standard is 20 percent and up.”
Really? As I said, I’m in the 15% to 20% range most of the time, with some variation. But is 20% and up the new standard?
I’m curious what you think of this. Do you see this as a new “standard”? Maybe you do tip 20% at a minimum, and more power to you – but do you see this as a baseline for everyone to follow?
Additionally, the article had a number of suggestions for different service providers. I’m cool with some of it, to be sure. However, I’m left puzzled at some of it as well. Here is a small sampling of 3 that jumped out at me, with the article’s suggestions (paraphrased here in blue), along with my own comments:
Article: $20, as they can’t receive more than that in cash, though personal goods can also be given.
My view: I think it might be a nice thing to do, maybe practical too. Maybe it’s worth it, if they’re nice, they deliver in lousy weather, and/or you don’t want your mail to get lost? Honestly, though I never have given a postal worker a tip, I just haven’t thought about it. I’m not necessarily against it, either. I just don’t think it should required by any means, and I don’t think anyone who doesn’t give a postal worker an annual holiday tip is stingy or violating social norms.
Personal caregivers, such as daycare teachers:
Article: Give each teacher $100 to $300, and consider joining with other parents. In some cases, it’s expected.
My view: It’s probably smart to do something nice for your kid’s teacher. This is someone who spends a significant part of the day with your child. That’s a big deal. However, here’s where I differ:
- Each teacher gets a large gift? That seems excessive. If your child has a primary teacher, AND several others – this can get really expensive. .
- It’s often expected? Why? Now, we annually gave $100 gift card to a past daycare provider, who was absolutely fantastic. She earned my respect and did a really, really, great job when my daughter was younger. Honestly, I would want to help her if she needed help in the future, out of appreciation for her past meaninful work. I’m still very thankful, and her work meant a lot to me. But why should holiday tips be expected, no matter what your view on the teacher?
Skycaps, porters, and hotel doormen you meet along your holiday travels:
Article: “The skycap at the airport typically gets $2 to $3 per bag…… If you are running late and they are of particular assistance, then add $1 to $2 per bag. A flat $20 goes a long way in saying ‘thank you.’ “
My view: A flat $20? I don’t think so. I don’t exactly have a formula for this, but I might tip $2 for the first bag, and $1 for each extra one. But why $20?
Overall, I think this “socially expected” holiday tipping is a bit over the top. Sure, I get the notion of tipping the kid who delivers the newspaper…if you still get one these days, that is. I get the idea of doing something nice for your child’s teacher, and am all about that. Teachers rock. But these amounts are out of hand, and shouldn’t be near-mandatory.
I’m all for holiday spirit, and for generosity in general. But social pressures for giving tips is a bit ridiculous. People should give it they feel like giving, and if they actually think that the potential recipient has done a great job.
Of course, this doesn’t apply restaurant workers, hair stylists, or others who get tips for services throughout the year. They rely on such tips, and deserve to be tipped. Rather, I’m talking about things like the $20 tip to the skycap at the airport.
Tipping in general has seemingly become pushed upon consumers in recent years. I see tip jars everywhere, at coffee bars, takeout places….I even saw one at a convenient store. Not a “take a penny, leave a penny jar”, but an actual tip jar. Why?
I look at it as follows: you are paid to do a job. If you do it well, your employer will keep you, maybe give you a raise, and maybe even promote you. But you are already paid to do it.
Is this old fashioned? Are social norms changing, where tips are become commonplace and even expected in situations where they were not before? Are we slowly migrating to an overall model of compensation that includes a variable, customer-driven component?
Maybe things will get to the point where if you buy a sweater from a retailer, you’ll be “encouraged” to tip the sales associate. Or, maybe if you’re on flight across the country, it will be “assumed” that you’ll tip each flight attendant that helped you. Maybe, if you go to the grocery store, you’ll be expected to tip the employee who answered your question about which aisle carries ketchup?
Generosity is a great thing. It’s just that when it’s forced through societal pressures, some charm and meaning can get lost.