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Most people would think a heated debate would take place on topics such as politics or religion, but I am here to tell you that one of the most heated debates I have ever witnessed was not about either of those, it was regarding commissary bagger tipping. Who knew people could be so passionate about such an everyday thing? I know I didn’t know the sheer magnitude of expectations, raw emotion on the issue, or even that there was such diversity in the amounts that were considered “the right thing to do”.

 

The custom of tipping, the giving of a gratuity which is a voluntary additional payment made for services rendered, takes place in many areas across our lives from restaurant servers to pizza delivery and hair stylists to housekeepers. How do you know how much is the right amount to tip someone for a service?

 

Consider many who work in services industries that we customarily think of as ones that “require” tipping are not always paid the way we think they are paid. A server, for example, makes a smaller wage plus tips. Therefore, while you may think of tips as optional, they really aren’t. They’re part of his/her paycheck. First, think of your gratuity as the cost of being served and then add additional as a reward for service. Emily Post Institute recommends 10% of your total restaurant bill for bad service – along with a stern talk with the manager – and 15-20% and up for superior service. Also keep in mind that most servers have to share their tips with the bus staff, hostesses, etc. and so by punishing their service and not leaving any tip, you are punishing those service staff members as well.

 

There are many other situations you may find yourself in where you will start to wonder what is a customary tip. Some examples of the ones I have found myself in and wondered are:

 

Hotel stays – Did you know that it’s recommended that you tip the housekeeper $2-$5 per night of your stay either daily or in one lump sum at checkout?

 

Furniture delivery – Some company drivers/delivery persons aren’t allowed to accept tips but most are able to do so. It is recommended $5-$20 depending on the load size and time. Another option is cold drinks.

 

Coffee barista – There is always a jar, but should I put something in it? It is recommended you do what feels best to you. The general rule of thumb, it is not required to tip the “tip jar”.

 

As a military family member I have heard it asked many times how much to tip the commissary baggers (yes that debate again) and even more times how much to tip the movers. I’ve been told in an interview with the commissary that a good rule of thumb is a minimum of .25 per bag for baggers. From listening to families talk about movers, most don’t tip but rather buy packers and movers meals/drinks for each day they are there. 

 

The bottom line is that giving of your money is always a personal decision, but there are guides to help you out when it comes to gratuities.

 

Two websites that come highly recommended and have lists that you can sort through to help educate yourself are The Emily Post Institute and US News and World Report’s Your Ultimate Tipping Guide.

 

There are even apps that can help with calculating a gratuity, check some of them out and download one for assistance.

 

What do you typically tip at a restaurant and how do you determine what to leave?


Have you ever been in a situation where you weren’t sure what to tip? Tell us about it.

 

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1 Comment
Esteemed Contributor

"Consider many who work in services industries that we customarily think of as ones that “require” tipping are not always paid the way we think they are paid. A server, for example, makes a smaller wage plus tips. Therefore, while you may think of tips as optional, they really aren’t. They’re part of his/her paycheck. First, think of your gratuity as the cost of being served and then add additional as a reward for service. Emily Post Institute recommends 10% of your total restaurant bill for bad service – along with a stern talk with the manager – and 15-20% and up for superior service. Also keep in mind that most servers have to share their tips with the bus staff, hostesses, etc. and so by punishing their service and not leaving any tip, you are punishing those service staff members as well."

 

Tara, tips should only be based on service, not guilt!   While a server may make a "smaller wage plus tips", they must make at least minimum wage.  If they don't make enough on tips to bring them to minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference.  

 

If we use your line of reasoning, then we should be tipping all those who assist us that make minimum wage.  Have you tipped the cashier at the grocery store recently?