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Tipping, who should be tipped and how much

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Pre-pandemic, tipping was pretty standard, you tipped at a sit down restaurant, you gave your barber a few extra bucks, you gave a taxi driver a gratuity.

The game changed after COVID struck.  While tipping for in-person services virtually stopped during the pandemic, leaving wait staff, bartenders, hair dressers and the like without cash flow, tipping morphed into other areas as a result of our stay-at-home status. Rather than tipping wait staff and bartenders for sit-down dining and drinking, we started tipping for take-out orders.  Food deliveries exploded in popularity during COVID with services such as Uber Eats and DoorDash, who now prompt you to tip at the time of order if not stamping a minimal amount on the total.  Tipping on the service app is actually preferred over cash with these services, no cash handling required.  Same holds true for personal shoppers, such as grocery shopping and Instacart.  Tipping is expected even if you order through them and pick up the order yourself.  Also increasing in popularity were home deliveries such as for purchases made on Amazon.  Special order delivery like for flowers and gift baskets went from tipping as a 'nice gesture' to expected (usually paid by the person doing the ordering).  Heck, tipping has now even become expected for home service providers, such as plumbers, heating/cooling technicians and handymen.

TippingMore often than not, tips at restaurants these days are pooled, the money divided between workers at a given establishment.  When dining out and in receiving exceptional service, always try to give the server, bartender or barista a tip directly, rather than putting cash in a tip jar or leaving cash on the table.  A good server will share the wealth with those who helped him or her provide you that stellar dining experience.  If you aren't leaving a cash tip, then tipping on the credit card will ensure your server gets it, although they will have to report the amount and why they prefer cash.  When dining, I like to pay for the meal on a card, tip with cash.  Service providers, those drivers, shoppers, delivery folks and home service providers prefer virtual tipping through PayPal, Venmo, Square and other apps, allowing you to transfer money directly to someone personally and directly, no cash handling required.

Here is a Tip List, who should be tipped and how much.  Keep in mind that if service was extraordinary, feel free to tip more and you really should, especially if you're a repeat customer.

Restaurants:  Even fast food restaurants these days are soliciting tips (you might see a tip jar on the counter), but that's still not the norm.  Caveat:  Tip a Sonic Drive-In server, especially when it's raining, super hot, or cold out. Outside of fast food, tip 10-15% of the total check for all orders that are take-out, delivery, curbside.  For sit-down meals, tip 15-20%.  Tip your barista $1 per beverage, the bartender $2 per drink or 10-15% of the bar tab.

Barber/Hairstylist/Massage Therapist:  This is very personalized service, tip 15-20%.  The future quality of that haircut or massage may depend on your tip...

Uber/Lyft/Taxi:  Minimum of 15-20%, more if traffic is a headache and the driver made the trip more bearable.

Instacart/DoorDash/GrubHub/Uber Eats:  Tip 15-20% of the bill.  This one can be iffy.  Since these services prompt you for a tip up front and suggest a minimum (which tends to be less than 15%), paying the minimum may result in less-than-stellar service and not-so-timely delivery.  It shouldn't be that way, if a driver/shopper accepts the order they should do the task to the best of their ability, but money is a motivator.  Tipping 15-20% should provide for a good outcome, but if the order isn't right - no fault of your own - then you're out the few extra bucks because it's not like you can thoroughly check the order before the driver leaves, especially on no contact deliveries.

Hotel Housekeeping/Valet/Baggage Handling/Room Service:  Tip housekeeping at least $2 a day, more if you request any extra services.  Valets should get $5-10, you want your vehicle treated nicely after all and proper baggage handling will cost your around $2 a bag, extra if delivered to your room.  Don't forget to tip the doorman at least $5 if you're staying at a nicer hotel that has one.  Concierge, $5 or more depending on the request, think dining recommendation vs. helping you score some sporting event tickets.  For room service, tip 10% if a gratuity was automatically applied to the bill, 20% if not.

House Cleaning/Pet Service:  Gift cards work great here if you don't want to tip in cash, 15-20% of the bill.

Amazon Drivers/Special Delivery/Mail Carrier:  You can tip Amazon drivers $5 either by meeting them at the door with $5 cash or leaving the tip in an envelope for them to see.  Special delivery tips (flowers/gifts), also $5, can be done in-store at the time of purchase or online if they have a tip feature.  FedEx and UPS drivers are technically not supposed to accept cash tips, but you can leave them a thank you card, pre-packaged snacks, a bottled water/drink.  Postal workers can accept up to $50 in gifting annually (no more than $20 on a single occasion), this is typically done during the holidays.

Movers/Furniture Delivery/Home Services & Repair:  Movers can get pricey at a recommended $10 per person for a half-day, $20 per person for a full day.  Furniture delivery will cost you $20, more for a large, multi-piece delivery, furniture assembly and/or old furniture removal.  For home services such as a health/wellness check or appliance repair, $20.  Gift cards work well for this situation.

Tip for tipping:  When giving someone a gift card to a restaurant, include the tip, this makes it easy for the person using the card to put the entire bill on the card.

When in doubt, always tip.  Remember that tipping well makes life a little easier for someone else.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

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