Do you consistently tip restaurant waiters? What about Uber drivers, carhops or hotel maids?
Anyone who provides a service, regardless of their performance, should be tipped, etiquette experts and others agree.
My friend Sunshine Ponder Cowan, of Edmond, keeps a chart on her phone, with suggested tip amounts for respective service professionals — from $2 to $3 for restaurant delivery to $1 a beer for bartenders and $2 to $4 for valets.
“I waited tables through college and, because of those experiences, I tip generously,” Cowan, a University of Central Oklahoma professor, said.
Cowan’s cheat sheet is based on a 2014 Business Insider article by a reporter who researched tipping norms across New York City.
Integris Health nurse supervisor Kathy Piland said she tips double the tax at restaurants, or about 16 percent; more for exceptional service. She tips her self-employed hair stylist 10 percent, but more at Super Cuts where stylists are paid hourly.
Piland’s gratuity patterns are pretty typical, according to recent telephone survey of 1,002 adults in the continental U.S. by Princeton Survey Research Associations International for Austin-based CreditCards.com.
The best tippers are men, Republicans, Northeasterners and credit/debit card users who tip a median of 20 percent, pollsters found. At the other end of the spectrum, women tip a median of 16 percent and Democrats, southerners and cash users tip a median of 15 percent.
Surprisingly, one in five sit-down restaurant goers, at least occasionally, doesn’t leave any gratuity, according to the survey. Meanwhile, only 27 percent of hotel customers tip their housekeepers; 29 percent, their baristas or coffee shops; and 67 percent, their hair stylists/barbers.
Though men tend to be more generous restaurant tippers than women, ladies are more likely to tip hotel housekeepers (by a 14 percent margin), baristas and hair stylists/barbers, according to the survey.
Most of my friends on Facebook said they tend to forget about tipping hotel housekeepers, but high school classmate Dale Alvis said he tips $5 a night when he goes to Vegas, while Dana Weyandt leaves big tips at a resort she frequents in Mexico. “These folks feel so fortunate to have their jobs and provide excellent service,” Weyandt said.
Meanwhile, classmate Donna Cubstead doesn’t tip at restaurants where she picks up her food at the counter and buses her own table, and Mary Clem Good Morris doesn’t tip hair stylists if they own the shops.
My stylist, Sarah Patton of Twelve06 Salon in Edmond, gave Morris pause to rethink those perhaps outdated standards. “The shop owner should also receive tips, as they are working behind the chair to make a living as well,” Patton posted.
“Their hard-earned money goes back into the shop, for supplies, taxes and refreshments, therefore the owners are actually making less than their stylists that pay rent at their own shop,” Patton said. “So, please tip the owner if they are taking care of you and you received great service,” she said.
Said colleague Beth Hull Gollob, “Anyone who is iffy about tipping obviously has never busted their tail waiting tables. It is a hard job, both physically and mentally,” Gollob said.
Kerri Gilmore Harris said she’s not sure everyone realizes the Fair Labor Standards Act only requires employers to pay a minimum of $2.13 an hour to tipped employees, with the assumption that the tips are their primary wages. “I processed payroll for an upscale restaurant in Norman and most of the tipped employees rarely received a payroll check,” Harris said.
Restaurant patrons never should tip less than 15 percent, according to the Business Insider article. Most servers rely heavily on tips as a major part of their salaries, so neglecting to tip means they may be working nearly for free. In many places, tips are shared among the staff, so stiffing a service person on a tip may do more than punish just that individual. For terrible service, take it up with the manager, the writer said.
Meanwhile, many of my friends wish U.S. tipping customs differed.
Former Oklahoman reporter Jaclyn Cosgrove recently patronized a Los Angeles restaurant with a 20 percent “equality charge.” Any offered tips were declined, Cosgrove said.
Meanwhile, one friend who last year lived in the non-tipping culture of Australia said she suffers from “tipping schizophrenia,” or inappropriately tipping there and forgetting to here. Another friend who’d lived in Austria felt similarly, while Shannon Warren, CEO of the Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium, said a visitor from Great Britain called Americans unethical because of advertised prices that don’t include taxes or expected tips.
Tiffany Kanny said she, despite any discounts, tips on the full amount, while Amy O’Steen said she tips in advance for larger parties.
Said Edmond etiquette expert Carey Sue Vega of Expeditions in Etiquette, “Tipping is a nice gesture for a job well done and a great way to show gratitude.”
Though tipping isn’t expected for Uber or Lyft rides, and Postmates grocery delivery, Vega recommends tipping 10 percent to 20 percent — more in bad weather — “because of the convenience it adds to your life.”
My nephew Duncan Smith, who drove for Lyft in San Diego, said “a one- or two-dollar tip always is appreciated, and $5, if it’s really great.”