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The Monday Rant: The Trouble With Tipping

John Deiner

Several weeks ago upon return to BWI, I took the airport shuttle back to a private, off-campus long-term parking lot. Without my asking or needing it, the driver grabbed my bag at the terminal and tossed it into the van, then dropped me off at my car and sat there while I got off.

Totally cool with that, but I gave him a $1 tip, inasmuch as he helped with my bag the one time. My friend, who carried his own bag at all times, gave the driver $2, then turned to me and muttered, "Cheapskate." It was in jest . . . but I will never travel with him again. Okay, I will, because he picks up bar tabs all the time, but it left me befuddled.

I'm totally confounded by who I'm supposed tip and how much these days. I see tip jars in Starbucks, and I just won't go there. Isn't the production cost of a latte figured into the price? Those things are pretty easy for me to ignore, but there are other folks that have their hands out that drive me crazy.

For instance, I can call my own cab at a hotel, but sometimes a doorman is so quick to blow that whistle when he realizes I need a taxi that I just shrug and let it happen -- and then fork over a dollar or two for that quick trill. I can carry my own bags up to my room . . . unless I'm told to follow that guy in the little red suit who's been tailing me since I steppted through the doors.

Hotels offer another conundrum to me. I know many people routinely pay a few extra bucks a day to their maid, but I only do if I've gotten some particularly good service (I always tip if I ask for something to be delivered to my room, like extra pillows). Maybe hotels should be more like cruise ships and have the gratuities automatically included in the tab, so you can your bags toted, your taxis hailed and your sheets changed without a rush for dollar bills.

And then there's the case of the skycaps on airlines where you have to pay a few dollars to do curbside checking. Many travelers won't pay extra because they're already forking over money -- and think that it's going to the skycaps when it's actually going to the airline. At American, the fee is $2 a bag, and now skycaps are suing the carrier, claiming that it should share the fee. American claims that signs alert patrons that the fee excludes gratuities, but . . . I'm not sure I'd tip on top of that fee either.

Which takes me back to airport shuttles. During a recent snowstorm, I gladly gave my shuttle driver a few dollars because of the extra care she took getting me to the hotel -- she even held an umbrella for me while I got into the van. Nice. But what to make of most shuttles to car rental centers and resorts and airport parking lots: Isn't that drive part of the package? Aren't we already paying enough?

Maybe I am just a cheapskate, so set me straight. How do you determine who to tip? And who not to?

By John Deiner |  April 7, 2008; 6:14 AM ET  | Category:  John Deiner , Monday Rants , Travel Logistics
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In Scottsdale, I gave the driver $5 on a $22 fare. He actually called me cheap! THe driver! What an a$$! It was 20% on a ten minute drive.

Posted by: cab anger | April 7, 2008 7:19 AM

Ugh, I hate the proliferation of professions who have decided they are entitled to tips.

I tip heavily at restaurants, because servers and busboys are paid well below minimum wage.

I tip my hairdresser, because she's got a pair of scissors pointed at my head.

I tip cab drivers only if I'm certain that they haven't ripped me off.

Other than that, I personally don't believe tipping in necessary beyond those professions. Tip jars are the most crass invention in a long time; why should I feel obligated to chip in at a fast food restaurant or Starbucks?

I could go on for a long time about this, but I think my point is made.

Posted by: Liz | April 7, 2008 8:44 AM

In Australia, no tipping is expected ever. Why? Because the workers are getting good wages for doing their jobs. Of course you can tip if you like, but it is neither required nor expected. If cab drivers and servers in the US were getting paid well, they wouldn't need tips either.
I NEVER tip at Starbucks. What service are they providing other than the coffee I am overpaying for?

Posted by: Bev | April 7, 2008 9:08 AM

FYI - $1 per bag for rental car or parking shuttle? That's pretty basic.

http://www.tipping.org/tips/airport.html

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 7, 2008 9:44 AM

I will NEVER tip a DC cab driver. They are the lowest of the low. Their opposition to meters, their criminal attitude, and their 1970s vehicles are all a stain on the reputation of this great nation's capital. It is disgusting that all American citizens who come to visit DC are guaranteed to be ripped off by some foreign, likely illegal, criminal cab-driver. FIRE ALL OF THEM AND START FRESH. There are plenty of willing Americans who would take their jobs, be courteous to passengers, and NOT RIP THEM OFF. You illegal DC criminal cab-drivers can all go to hell (or back to your God-forsaken countries of origin). GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!!!

Posted by: antiPatrick | April 7, 2008 10:43 AM

Hmmm....I work for the legislative branch and sometimes respond to constituent concerns. I'm underpaid as well....perhaps I need something....maybe a PayPal "tip jar" attached to any constituent e-mails I respond to? :)

Posted by: Anon | April 7, 2008 10:49 AM

Whoa. AntiPatrick makes me want to tip cab drivers double.

Posted by: h3 | April 7, 2008 10:50 AM

I hate tipping. Everything is already too expensive. I do tip well in restaurants, but I never tip cab drivers. Once Pizza Hut started adding a delivery fee, I stopped tipping the drivers. I figure that if someone thinks they are not being paid enough, they need to talk to their employer, not expect me to subsidize their salary.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2008 10:53 AM

Per pizza/food delivery - much like you don't generally include tax in the tip amount at restaurants, you can simply tip on the price of the food & drink.

It's not the drivers' fault that their company added the delivery surcharge. Just tip based on the pre-tax, pre-delivery total and the quality of the delivery service.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | April 7, 2008 11:01 AM

never tip unless it's deserved

Posted by: NALL92 | April 7, 2008 11:06 AM

I duck away from doormen and bellhops when I can (except when I'm leaving a bag for the afternoon after I've checked out -- then I tip $1-$2 a bag for them to retrieve it). But I almost always leave a few bucks a day for housekeeping. Even if I'm not messy, they're still cleaning up after me, and I hate cleaning, so it's probably less about gratitude than about my own feeling that the job sucks.

I probably wouldn't tip a shuttle driver, except when I use Econopark -- because they pick up and drop off at your car and are very helpful with bags, and, if you return late at night, they wait until you start your car before driving off. Usually $3 or $4 for two bags (I know $1/bag is standard, but I usually fly out of BWI around Christmas, when I tend to tip more).

But here's my question: Do you tip at curbside airport check-in? I do if they come to me and take my bag, but I usually don't if they're standing at a counter and I'm handing over the bag myself, just like inside. But it seems like a silly distinction -- am I tipping just because they carried my bag 20 feet, or should I be tipping because they're standing out in the cold? Either way, it's saving me time compared to standing in the long check-in line inside the terminal. What do you think?

Posted by: jane | April 7, 2008 11:11 AM

"Whoa. AntiPatrick makes me want to tip cab drivers double."

Yeah. You go ahead and do that genius. And when your money finds its way back to the country of origin of these criminals and it's used to finance the bombing of American buildings, pat yourself on the back. You're a real American. GO AWAY YOU MURDEROUS TRAITOR!!!!!!

Posted by: antiPatrick | April 7, 2008 11:21 AM

Make that quadruple.

Posted by: h3 | April 7, 2008 11:36 AM

Our system has a comments field for households, and often if a household is a "no tipper" or a "great tipper", it winds up there. (Even if it is not technically supposed to.) Guess who gets their pizza first on the route? Last?

Posted by: Pizza Guy | April 7, 2008 11:41 AM

"Make that quadruple."

Thank you for not denying that you are al-Qaeda. You should not be at a computer, typing comments on the WaPo. You should be in Gitmo, facing appropriate interrogation. Perhaps after enough waterboarding, you will beg for mercy and promise to stop tipping these criminal cab drivers.

Posted by: antiPatrick | April 7, 2008 11:56 AM

Oh antiPatrick - you are much too easy. Becase someone doesn't agree with you that all cab drivers should be fired, you assume they are a member of al-Queda. If you line your hat with tin foil it might help keep the aliens from contacting you through the airwaves.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2008 12:02 PM

Jane, in response to your question, I do tip at curbside check-in, $1 a bag. I haven't used it in a long time (try to carry on my luggage if feasible), but I always have tipped in the past. Though, as I noted, I understand why some folks don't tip if they're already paying $2 for the privilege of checking at the curb.

Posted by: John Deiner | April 7, 2008 12:03 PM

"Our system has a comments field for households, and often if a household is a "no tipper" or a "great tipper", it winds up there. (Even if it is not technically supposed to.) Guess who gets their pizza first on the route? Last?"

Glad to hear that, Pizza guy. My husband and I ALWAYS tip delivery guys to our house well, and part of the reason is we hope that somehow it will get us faster and better service. (and the other reason is we know it is an underpaid and sometimes dangerous job). Can't say that I have really noticed a difference yet, though.

Posted by: CJB | April 7, 2008 1:35 PM

"Our system has a comments field for households, and often if a household is a "no tipper" or a "great tipper", it winds up there. (Even if it is not technically supposed to.) Guess who gets their pizza first on the route? Last?"

Glad to hear that, Pizza guy. My husband and I ALWAYS tip delivery guys to our house well, and part of the reason is we hope that somehow it will get us faster and better service. (and the other reason is we know it is an underpaid and sometimes dangerous job). Can't say that I have really noticed a difference yet, though.

Posted by: CJB | April 7, 2008 1:35 PM

But what's the right amount to tip a delivery guy? I generally do $5-$6, on the theory that whether it's $20 worth of Chinese food or $60 worth of sushi, the walk from the restaurant to the car, the drive to my house, and the walk from the car to my door takes the same amount of effort. That sound right?

Posted by: DCD | April 7, 2008 2:29 PM

How much should I tip the driver of the cart that hauls older passengers like me through the airport? I suddenly find myself needing that service.

Posted by: K | April 7, 2008 2:31 PM

I'm confused about when to tip too. But I do know this...

-DC cabbies are just like everyone else. They are not terrorists. They work hard just like us and thus if they do a really great job I will tip them accordingly. If they do a really terrible job... no tip. They are not terrorists and I am ashamed to hear other "americans" make such comments. America is ashamed of you and your intolerant rant AntiPatrick. My cab driver the other night was retired navy and served on three different ships. His father served in WWII. Not that that matters - it shouldn't matter if the driver is retired military, new immigrant or plain vanilla civilian.

-Pizza drivers work hard too. If you don't agree with the company charging a delivery fee, then you should order elsewhere. Don't punish the drivers for their company's policy. Especially if you know about the fee in advance - then you are just taking advantage of the drivers. Pizza drivers have great memories - once they deliver to you a few times they will remember your address, and fight over who has to deliver your order. Like cold pizza - then don't bother tipping them?

I think it's ironic that people that make a ton of money are often the cheapest. You can afford flights but refuse to tip the cab driver to the airport? You can buy delivery pizza but refuse to tip? Don't be so cheap people!!! If you don't want to tip cook your own food and drive your own butt around. It doesn't matter if you agree with the tipping expectations in this country - you are bound by them anyway if you choose to patronize certain services (restaurants, bars, cabs, etc).

Posted by: appreciative customer | April 7, 2008 5:14 PM

"Guess who gets their pizza first on the route? Last?"

Hey, guess who earns $12,000 a year and guess who earns $1.8 million? I'll give you a hint. You're the one making $12,000. Loser. I just send my personal assistant out to pick up the pizza and bring it back. Were you able to understand this post? Or did it contain too many of "them big words Mama didn't teach you in the trailer park"??????

Posted by: Rich Dude | April 7, 2008 5:21 PM

Um, Rich Dude?

Do you know how many college students or otherwise very bright people deliver pizza for extra income?

Or did you never have to work to make ends meet? Your attitude is so dismissive.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2008 6:43 PM

"Do you know how many college students or otherwise very bright people deliver pizza for extra income?

Or did you never have to work to make ends meet? Your attitude is so dismissive."

Of course it's dismissive; Pizza Guy has an IQ of 75 and gets his kicks from delivering pizzas 5 minutes late to people who, in his pathetic opinion, don't tip well enough.

I get my kicks from buying and selling people like Pizza Guy. I could put him in the gutter in 2 minutes if I wanted to. Why? Because I am one rich motherf*cker. It's all about the cash. And I don't care how "bright" you are, if you're delivering pizzas, you're one pathetic little human.

Posted by: Rich Dude | April 7, 2008 6:56 PM

You "get your kicks from buying and selling people".

Interesting that you're comfortable flinging the "pathetic" label around.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2008 7:23 PM

Let's be honest, if Rich Dude were in fact actually rich, he wouldn't be posting comment on a Washington post blog about how "cool" and rich he was. Now get off the computer and let us grown-ups talk, I think I hear your mommy calling.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 7, 2008 11:17 PM

Maybe Rich Dude isn't rich? Just talk.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 8:49 AM

Wait a minute appreciative customer, I work really hard too. I deserve to be tipped!

Posted by: Liz | April 8, 2008 9:15 AM

I'm a New Yorker so maybe I tip more people more money than other consumers, but here are my rules of thumb:
1. Shuttle bus drivers and bellboys get $1 for loading/unloading small bags, or $2 for larger bags.
2. Hotel maids don't usually get anything unless I'm there for more than one day, then they get $5-10. I would consider more for excellent service, but if I'm only there for one night I feel that cleaning the room for the next guest is part of expected service.
3. Meter-using cabbies get 10%; DC cabbies get an extra buck or two, depending on how much I think they're already ripping me off. I had a Vegas cabbie call me cheap over $5 on a (metered) $20 trip, since I didn't have singles... never again will I take a cab in that town.
4. Food delivery guys get 10-15% of the bill, depending on the weather and how much food they had to carry.
5. Restaurant servers get 18-20%.
6. Hairdressers get 10% if it's a good job, or less if not.

For the older traveler, when I travel with my mom, who needs a wheelchair, I tip the attendants between $3-7 depending on how far we have to go and how nice/helpful they are. A cart driver who stows a bag and maybe helps you in and out of the cart, and maybe alerts the gate agent to your presence, would get probably $2-3 from me (since they're not physically pushing a chair).

Posted by: BxNY | April 8, 2008 10:57 AM

So then why don't I get tipped when I do my job? Why doesn't the president of your HOA get a tip? Or the department's admin assistant?

Tips are bad, period.

Posted by: GLM | April 8, 2008 11:12 AM

Exactly. I'm a lawyer. My clients don't tip me, they pay my stated fee. Just include whatever amount into the cost and pay your workers more. Tipping is a ridiculous practice when it is expected. It should only be for extraordinary service on top of what is expected.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 11:46 AM

While I agree with you GLM and no-name, please do remember that it's legal in this country to pay servers $2.50 an hour. Extraordinary service or not, don't begrudge them because of the way that particular system is set up.

If you make a wage commensurate with your job though, I agree with you.

Posted by: Liz | April 8, 2008 12:30 PM

Thanks, BxNY! Will stow a wad of $1 bills in my pocket so I'm prepared.

Posted by: K | April 8, 2008 1:28 PM

I tip anyone doing a service that I wouldn't want to do myself, including pizza/food delivery, cab drivers, shuttle bus drivers, hotel maids, etc. I think driving jobs are especially stressful - they have to manage the roads, avoid getting lost and it usually requires lifting stuff like heavy bags, etc. I can't imagine NOT tipping these people. Also, the real heavy lifters, the movers, people delivering beds, furniture, pianos, etc., they deserve a hefty tip.

I tip 20 percent at restaurants and bars because I was a waitress in a previous life and know how it is....terrible.

I also tip hairdressers, people who do spa treatments like nails and massage, hair colorists, people who wash my hair at the salon, etc.

I don't tip at Starbucks though. The employees get a decent wage and health benefits.

I do tip during the holidays for great service, like the newspaper delivery person. Hey, if they can get the paper at the front door every morning by 5 AM and also remember to hold on vacations then they deserve a little extra.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 1:44 PM

I usually tip 20% to servers (sometimes more if the service is exceptional). I tip less if the service isn't standard. Servers don't make minimum wage. Restaurants assume their livlihood is made on tips - plus most servers have to share their tips as well.

Cab drivers - 20%

Bell boys - I usually get my own cart or carry my own bag. However, on a recent weekend trip, we used a bellboy. When we got to our room, it had double beds instead of a King sized bed. The guy called to the front desk and got us a room change. We tipped him $10 even tho we had like 3 bags.

Hairdresser - usually 20%. Mainly because I'm not sure how they are paid. I assume they have to pay a fee for the use of their chair. If the hairdresser is the owner, I don't tip.

Deliveries (pizza, chinese) - 20%

Other than that - I don't tip much else.

Posted by: clhpam2003 | April 8, 2008 3:50 PM

Here is another one for you to ponder. For our honeymoon, we went to an all-inclusive resort where it explicitly stated tips were included in the resort fees. Yet we noticed people at dinner were tipping, and the next night they got better service. We hadn't planned on needing to tip so we didn't bring cash, so our service constantly got worse. So, tip or not tip?

Posted by: all-inclusive | April 8, 2008 4:05 PM

Hey, all inclusive. I'm going to jump in on this one, because I'm interested in what folks have to say. I've found the same thing myself the two times I've been to no-tip-needed all-inclusives (that is, that some folks tip). I don't recall getting worse service at meals, but I'm wondering if others have had the same experience as you.

Posted by: John Deiner | April 8, 2008 4:08 PM

Wait. Mr. Deiner doesn't tip housekeeping at hotels? This is a travel writer?

I now feel like Mr. Generosity for tipping...they face hours of cleaning chemicals and picking up G-d-knows-what off the floor. Try it sometime, sir.

Posted by: robert | April 8, 2008 4:12 PM

"Exactly. I'm a lawyer. My clients don't tip me, they pay my stated fee."

That's why your clients don't tip you. You charge a hefty hourly sum.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 4:23 PM

"please do remember that it's legal in this country to pay servers $2.50 an hour."

I think that paying someone that poorly only exacerbates our existing problems with labor laws. There's no excuse to pay someone $2.50 an hour.

I do tip at a restaurant, cab, hotel bell hop, but the problem is that we don't pay these people living wages.

Posted by: GLM | April 8, 2008 4:35 PM

Read or listen to "Nickled and Dimed" about a writer who takes low paying jobs a month at a time. There really isn't any reason not to pay a true living wage.

And how silly is this whole system anyway, especially in bars and restaurants? Why does the bartender pulling a $6.00 draft beer get compensated, based on price, for doing three times as much "work" as the waiter filling a $2.00 soda glass at the same station?

Posted by: Oy! | April 8, 2008 4:59 PM

At an all-inclusive, I usually tip a few bucks at dinner if the service was OK, without attempting to calculate some percentage of a nonexistent bill. I don't tip bartenders, though I would if I were regularly returning to the same bar for a lot of drinks. (I still leave money for housekeeping.)

I wonder about tipping when dining abroad. For instance, everything I read says that you don't have to tip in France because it's built into the price (i.e., they're not underpaying waitstaff as we do here), but that you can leave one or two extra Euros for especially good service. But I never know whether it's expected because they can tell I'm American, or they're laughing to themselves at suckers like me for paying more, and whether I should leave the extra money on the table or hand it to them with the check. (I usually charge the bill but tip with coins, since there's no place to add a tip on the check.) What do the rest of you do?

Posted by: jane | April 8, 2008 6:01 PM

John--We went to an all-inclusive where all tips were included in the rate. One reason we chose this resort was exactly because all the tips were included and we would not have to deal with that during our stay. We took the resort at their word and did not tip anyone (waiters, housekeeping, bartender) during our stay. The entire staff could not have been friendlier or more helpful to us even though we weren't handing out those dollars. I would go back to this resort in a heartbeat!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 8:03 PM

I think I actually recognize the rants of antiPatrick! I'm pretty sure he's the Patrick who was in the WaPo for sending threatening messages to Americans of Arab descent. Anyhoo...

Moving on, I am really glad John's brining this up. I've been traveling almost non-stop since the beginning of the year. If tipping is a norm for the food service and hotel industry (which is fine by me - I just don't tip for fast food or lattes), then it should be included in my hotel bill. I hate to sound cheap, but when you travel for months on end, leaving tips for the maid service becomes a costly expense you don't get reimbursed for. I can get reimbursed for tips on dinner because it can be documented - but there's no way for me to get reimbursed for being good to the housekeeping staff.

By the way - if you tip anywhere, please make sure it's with your server at a restaurant and your hotel room's housekeeper. Your hotel room's linens and glassware aren't things you want only half-cleaned.

Posted by: Whoa! | April 9, 2008 1:46 AM

Take that back. I have never threatened anyone. You don't seem to understand the difference between pATRICK and ANTIPatrick. Get a life. Deal with the issues I have raised unless they are too complicated for your simple little brain to handle. Oh wait, what's that I hear. Oh yes, it's your mommy calling you in for dinner. IDIOT!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2008 8:50 AM

Similar to Jane's comment, I spent some time in China. All of our Chinese friends told us ahead of time that there's no tipping there. Of the three locations we stayed in, one was seemed to cater more to Western tourists. Asking around a bit, you guessed it, they pretty much expected tips from us Americans. One bellboy, who was particularly helpful I might add, practically had his hand out. Yep, we tipped him.

Posted by: non frequent flyer | April 9, 2008 10:26 AM

Jane, you're doing it right: charge the meal, and leave a couple euros (max 3 or 4) on the table. If you're in a cafe, a half-euro is fine. And, if you choose to leave nothing at all, you won't get dirty looks from the staff. The flipside is, you can't make a statement about poor service by lowering or withholding a tip.

Oh, and for the folks who said they don't tip because things are already too expensive... how do you think the service providers are getting by? Do you think there's some special waitress store, where waitresses can buy their groceries and diapers and clothes for less than what you pay?? The lack of applied logic here is amazing.

Posted by: WDC | April 9, 2008 10:57 AM

After working for a while in a hotel as a concierge, I developed a proposition that I think all professional schools--MBA programs, law schools and med schools, especially, but perhaps journalism schools too, should institute: require all students to support themselves for at least six months in a job that depends on tips as a major component of the remuneration. If all you cheap and cranky upper five- and six-figure income jerks would try that for a while, I think the overall economy would improve. Certainly your service would improve, as would your respect for people like the maids--often third world immigrants--servers--often young people with their hearts in the arts--or cab drivers--guys who have fled political oppression and have quickly learned more about the geography of American cities than you will ever know. My wife used to encourage me to tip better, but after my stint as a hotel concierge, she sometimes has to restrain my exuberance.

Posted by: Ron Mikulak | April 9, 2008 11:24 AM

After working for a while in a hotel as a concierge, I developed a proposition that I think all professional schools--MBA programs, law schools and med schools, especially, but perhaps journalism schools too, should institute: require all students to support themselves for at least six months in a job that depends on tips as a major component of the remuneration. If all you cheap and cranky upper five- and six-figure income jerks would try that for a while, I think the overall economy would improve. Tipping abundantly would certainly improve your service and it would improve your respect for people like the maids--often third world immigrants--servers--often young people with their hearts in the arts--or cab drivers--guys who have fled political oppression and have quickly learned more about the geography of American cities than you will ever know. My wife used to encourage me to tip better, but after my stint as a hotel concierge, she sometimes has to restrain my exuberance. Spread the wealth. It's only money.

Posted by: Ron Mikulak | April 9, 2008 11:28 AM

Two contrasts. I left a tip at a lakeside restaurant in Switzerland. The waitress went to the manager to ask how to deal with it. The tip was not expected.
In London we asked the guests at the next table how much should we tip. The gentleman asked, "Are you sure that you haven't tipped already?" I showed him the bill. Sure enough, after the total for food and wine and the taxes, there was an unspecified 15% added. I watch it in London. Never happened in France, Italy, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland or Japan.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2008 11:38 AM

Not about tipping (although a good reference is How to Tip..great book...breaks it all down).

DC-to-NY buses: I take Vamoose. It stops two places in our area (Rosslyn and Bethesda, both metro-accessible), and one in NY (4 Pnn Plaza, outside of Penn Station/Madison Square Garden). Granted, I've been up and back once, but it was on time in both directions. Clean, quiet, friendly drivers. The trip up was in the ice storm at the end of February, and I never felt unsafe once. There were movies on the way up, none on the way back, and that was fine by everyone. Very agreeable trip. I too am off to NY again this weekend, and while BoltBus had more attractive fares (Vamoose is $25 one way, $50 round trip, free trip after 4 legs), I feel Vamoose has proven itself reliable, at least for me.

A lovely weekend to all...

Posted by: Cathy | April 9, 2008 11:44 AM

I worked for tips all thru college and I made great money because I gave great service. I rarely get even fair service these days, so I do not automatically tip. Is there some new law in the last 10 years that says "never look someone in the eye and say thank you"?

Posted by: Former waitress | April 9, 2008 7:32 PM

I don't believe it is legal for a business (a restaurant let's say) to pay less than the established minimum wage. Restaurants get away with paying servers less than minimum because the tips they receive make up the difference. Thus, your paying for the service in the price of the food and paying again for it when you tip. How many tip receivers claim their tips as income on their tax return????

Posted by: Sandi | April 10, 2008 10:27 AM

So, the bottom line to all of this is:

You tip because you are supposed to supplement the salary of these folk; not because you are receiving OUTSTANDING or GREAT service?

Posted by: sxmdee | April 10, 2008 12:14 PM

I worked as a hotel maid in a 5-star hotel in a capital of a country in Western Europe because I did not speak the language and could not find any other job (it over 15 years ago). My day was from 7:30 am to 3 pm, with 30 minutes for lunch. I had to arrive earlier to change into the uniform and get room assignments. My job was to clean 14 rooms per day, which means one room every 30 minutes, 7 before lunch and 7 after. I had to change the sheets on enormous beds and make the beds, often searching for a bed cover tucked into a closet, vacuum the room, draw the curtains, arrange the furniture and hotel promotional materials such as hotel directory and writing paper in a particular order, locate the remote, pick up and fold the clothes left on the floor if a guest is not checking out, throw away the trash and replace trashbags, pick up condoms sometimes left on the carpet, remove room service trays with dirty dishes, and then wash a sink, toilet and a bathtub, replace towels and complimentary shampoo, etc, neatly fold the toilet paper edge in a triangular shape, wipe bathtub dry with a cloth so that it squeaks, wash the bathroom floor (by hand) and vacuum it afterwards so that no hair is left on the floor after I washed it. All this in 30 minutes. And then on to another room, dragging my cart, and another, whole day, every day. If I am spending not 30, but 33 minutes on every room, by lunchtime I am running late by 21 minutes, almost the time I need to clean one room, and by the end of the day I will be almost two rooms behind. It means that I have only 10 minutes to eat, otherwise my supervisor will be mad and will send other women to help me at the end of the day, and they have finished their work and are exhausted and therefore not thrilled that they have to help me. I am not allowed to use a bathroom in a guestroom, so I have to RUN to the end of a very long corridor to a staff bathroom, and then run back, saving precious minutes. I am hot and uncomfrotable in my brown dress and pantyhose since I like and always wear pants. I have a university degree but it is of no value since I do not speak the language and every dog there speaks English, they do not need English teachers. I work alongside British girl who has a local fiance and cannot find other work, either. The unemployment rate is 10%. My American friend does not get a job as a public bathroom attendant in the local park because he does not speak the local language. I make an equivalent of $1,000/month after taxes (which are 47% of my pay) and do not have enough money to pay for expensive intensive language classes. And then, I enter a room and there is a tip left for me. It made my days. I always tip in hotels now. My husband recently stayed in the hotel I used to work in, and I told him to leave a good tip.

Posted by: Maid | April 10, 2008 4:21 PM

In some states (not all), there is a minimum wage and a lower service wage at $2-4/hour. Servers in those states can be legally paid $2-4/hour, because it is expected that through tips they will make minimum wage.
At salons were your hairdresser does not rent the chair, the hairdresser must make commission over a certain amount (about $8/hour around here) or they will only be paid minimum wage- if they make over the limit they will be paid what they made per hour. No guaranteed month-to-month salary and it fluctuates depending on the days/season they are working.

Posted by: Service-wage | April 10, 2008 4:22 PM

Everyday something reminds me why I am so very happy I decided to move to Australia from the US 8 years ago. Today it is this tipping foolishness -- as someone else pointed out here employees are paid by their employers for their services. I tip for exceptional service or when it's just easier to say to the cabbie "keep the change" (usually less than a dollar). There are even still some Australian service workers who are offended by tips -- offended by them. Why? Because tipping is derived from a master/servent dichotomy. Crazy, huh? Love it.

Posted by: Sziszi | April 10, 2008 6:59 PM

"If all you cheap and cranky upper five- and six-figure income jerks would try that for a while, I think the overall economy would improve. Certainly your service would improve, as would your respect for people like the maids--often third world immigrants--servers--often young people with their hearts in the arts--or cab drivers--guys who have fled political oppression and have quickly learned more about the geography of American cities than you will ever know."

Oh, get over yourself. These losers should do their jobs, shut up about it, and accept the wages of their employers. If they don't like it, then maybe they should reflect on the fact that they screwed up their lives and wound up in a pathetic occupation. If you have your "heart in the arts" then get used to the fact that you will be eating dog food and begging for money on the streets. I have never read such a self-centered, self-loathing post as yours. MY GOD, GET OVER YOURSELF.

Posted by: Give Me A Break | April 11, 2008 9:08 AM

Ignoring for the moment the (mostly) amusing off-topic rants, I'd like to make the point that where we used to tip the bellman, say, a buck a bag, with the cost of living going up all the time, tips have not kept up. Service workers who used to get by are falling behind. It's something to consider. Pretty much my minimum tip for the bellman who has brough my stuff to my hotel room is $5 these days. They seem to appreciate it, and often ask if I need a bucket of ice, for instance, which I generally do.

I like the idea of tipping the maid a little each night, rather than waiting for the end of the stay, especially as different people might be working on my room on different days... one would get a windfall, while others would get "stiffed." I don't think $5 a night is out of line.

However, if anyone ever had the temerity to tell me that my offered tip was "cheap," I think I'd tell them in no uncertain terms to go perform an anatomically impossible, Anglo-Saxon copulatory act upon themselves, because they are 'way out of line.

Posted by: Brian Jennison | April 11, 2008 11:01 AM

A letter to the editor just appeared this morning; (pertaining to teachers' pay, but appropriate to many fields:"If you think you are worth more than you are getting paid, then get another job".

Posted by: Bill | May 6, 2008 11:37 AM

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