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Gimme some green! Tipping etiquette for dummies

Thursday, January 17, 2008

After enjoying a meal out, Leroy and Joan Punt of Le Mars say they always tip their server. Some tipping gurus say to leave a 15-20 percent tip at full-service restaurants and 10 percent at buffets. But restaurants aren't the only place for tips.
When dining out, common knowledge prompts you to leave a tip for your server, based on the quality of service they provided. But the realm of gratuities is much wider and larger than just leaving a dollar or two for a waitress at a restaurant.

What other services should be acknowledged with monetary gratuities? And how much is an appropriate amount? Keep reading for some helpful insights.

Restaurants are the first place to come to mind when considering where to tip. But what about hotels, hair salons, grocery stores, gas stations or floral deliveries? These services should also be considered "necessary to tip."

At the hotel

For example, when on vacation or a business trip, you should leave a tip for the housekeeper cleaning your hotel room, especially if you are staying multiple nights. You should leave at least $1 per night for the maid, but leave more if you were particularly messy or requested extra services such as a late check-out, extra towels, or changing linens each night.

One general rule to keep in mind is to use your discretion. Tip when and where the tip is deserved. If you were not satisfied with the cleanliness of your room or the service you received during your stay, you should not feel obligated to leave a tip. However, you should consider filling out a comment card, if available, in hopes of avoiding poor service in the future.

At the salon

Another person you might not recognize as one who should receive gratuity is your hair stylist.

The person who cuts, colors, perms, or whatever else you have done to your hair deserves to know that you are happy with the look they have created. They use artistic talent in the original look they create with your hair and, face it, without those great highlights, tight curls or your cute new bangs, you wouldn't have the same spring in your step each day. So thank your stylist with a small gratuity when you pay your bill.

Barb Reckner, a stylist at Fantastic Sam's in Le Mars, says that only about three-fourths of clients leave a tip, and that is primarily because people don't know you're supposed to tip your stylist. She says that people give anywhere from one to eight dollars.

"Usually, they give, say, $15 and you just keep the change," she said.

Sharon Sitzmenn, another stylist at Fantastic Sam's, said, "Some people do, some people don't. Personally, to come in and get your hair cut is the biggest tip you can have."

At the buffet

With restaurants, you may first think, "That's simple." You just leave a 10 to 15 percent tip for your server. But what about restaurants where you have no waitress?

When you go to Pizza Ranch, for example, you first pay for your buffet at the cash register and then continue on to the buffet line, where you select your food and find your own seating. A busboy or girl will come around the dining room to clear your plates, as you need to take a clean plate for each trip through the line, but no one is refilling your drink or bringing your food to your table. Therefore, you had no server, so you do not need to leave a tip, right?


Even at a buffet-style restaurant, you are being served. You still require someone to clear dirty plates from your table and keep the buffet line stocked with plenty of options.

Brian Buchanan, an assistant manager at the Pizza Ranch in Le Mars, says that quite a few people leave tips when eating the buffet. But instead of the gratuity moneys going directly to the employees' wallets, the tips are pooled together and used for an employee Christmas party or other fun things. Buchanan also noted that the frequency and dollar amount of gratuities is increased in the evenings and on weekends.

And for dessert?

A general recommendation, as seen on various "Tipping etiquette" websites, suggests leaving a 10 percent tip at a buffet-style restaurant and leaving a 15 to 20 percent tip at a full-service restaurant.

What if you aren't eating at a buffet and you aren't at a full-service restaurant? Dessert places, such as the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars, can be overlooked when it comes to gratuities. Ashley Evans, a waitress at Blue Bunny, said, "A lot of people think that since it's an ice cream place, they shouldn't, or don't need to, tip."

Jessie Timmins, her co-worker, agreed. Both girls said they expect to receive a dollar or two when serving ice cream to a table. But sometimes, they said, a large group will come in and order expensive desserts and not leave a tip.

On average, the girls said they get pretty good tips on busy days.

Are you satisfied?

Percentages are not set-in-stone, they are simply suggestions. The amount you tip should reflect your satisfaction with your service.

Clint Kass at 4 Brothers in Le Mars says that most people leave a tip based on the type of service they receive.

"If you, the server, do a good job, you'll get a good tip," he said.

He emphasized that the amount of gratuity is often a reflection on the quality of service a customer receives.

The list of people and places to tip could be endless, as many websites now offer intricate details about where, when and how much to tip specific people for each specific services.

To learn more, check out www.tipping.org. This website boasts the title "The Original Tipping Page." You can peruse the various services that you use most frequently and see what is suggested concerning gratuities.

In the end, just remember: If you were satisfied, make sure the person serving you knows the level of your gratitude. Or, more simply, tip what you'd want to be tipped.

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And don't forget to hand a buck to the young men and women who lug your groceries out to your car in the freezing cold and the person or persons who deliver your daily newspaper for extremely poor pay.

-- Posted by Mark S on Thu, Jan 17, 2008, at 11:18 AM

Very nice story!

I love the story idea =)

-- Posted by donmcd on Thu, Jan 17, 2008, at 11:56 AM

Are you kidding me? I am NEVER tipping at Pizza Ranch again. That is ridiculous. Our tips pay for the employee Christmas party? PIZZA RANCH needs to be paying for the Christmas Party just like every other employer...who owns this place?

-- Posted by TuesdaysGone on Fri, Jan 18, 2008, at 6:41 PM

FYI the pizza delivery person who you expect to get your food made cooked and across town into your hands in 30 min does not get a tip unless you hand it to them. the delivery charge goes to gas and insurance. just something to think about when you think it is too cold for you to go get food, but they can bring it to you.

-- Posted by pezhead on Tue, Jan 22, 2008, at 6:45 PM

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