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US Tipping Etiquette

US Tipping Etiquette

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Old Jul 28, 15, 2:27 pm
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US Tipping Etiquette

Disclaimer: I'm European so some of you might roll their eyes when reading this.

I'm currently at a five star resort in Orange County and I'd like to find out more about when/how much to tip in specific situations.
For example, the Valet is 40$ per day, which I find really steep compared to some similar hotels in the US I've been to. I would usually give the valet five bucks but in this case I just can't justify the additional expense. Am I correct here?

My (Virtuoso) package includes Full American Breakfast and there is no buffet, which means that everything is la carte. For two people that amounts to $150, with 11$ tax. When applying the classic double tax rule, I would have to tip 22 bucks. Would you do that? I mean in Europe or anywhere else in the world for that matter, if breakfast is included I rarely get presented with a check, which means no tip. What is the rule here?

Thanks for your advice.
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Old Jul 28, 15, 2:35 pm
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Originally Posted by JohnRain View Post
Disclaimer: I'm European so some of you might roll their eyes when reading this.

I'm currently at a five star resort in Orange County and I'd like to find out more about when/how much to tip in specific situations.
For example, the Valet is 40$ per day, which I find really steep compared to some similar hotels in the US I've been to. I would usually give the valet five bucks but in this case I just can't justify the additional expense. Am I correct here?

My (Virtuoso) package includes Full American Breakfast and there is no buffet, which means that everything is la carte. For two people that amounts to $150, with 11$ tax. When applying the classic double tax rule, I would have to tip 22 bucks. Would you do that? I mean in Europe or anywhere else in the world for that matter, if breakfast is included I rarely get presented with a check, which means no tip. What is the rule here?

Thanks for your advice.
You should tip your valet and $5 is fine, but not to tip (IMO) wouldn't be very nice considering the amount of running the valet has to do and he isn't setting the rate. Is there no self parking? As for breakfast, I would tip 18% minimum if there is no service charge shown on the breakfast bill which would cover the tip. Five star hotels are expensive and gratuities are part of the cost and the staff shouldn't be punished for the hotel's pricing.
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Old Jul 28, 15, 2:38 pm
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First, make sure that "service" or "gratuity" has not already been included. Some luxury places in the US include all service fees to relieve guests of the burden of tipping.

Unfortunately,

1. Conventionally you need to tip the valet $2 when you pick up your car, regardless of the price of valet parking.

2. The "double tax" rule is out of vogue because tax rates vary a great deal by locality. Tip 15-20% of your bill.

Now, the $150 price may be artificially inflated if guests at your resort typically have breakfast credits, vouchers, or coupons. If you believe this is the case, tip 15-20% of your estimate of the market value of your breakfast.
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Old Jul 28, 15, 3:31 pm
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Originally Posted by JohnRain View Post
Disclaimer: I'm European so
forgive me if I am not accustomed to labor conditions in which servers are often paid U$2.50 or so per hour and earn most of their living expenses from their tips.

Originally Posted by JohnRain View Post
My (Virtuoso) package includes Full American Breakfast and there is no buffet, which means that everything is la carte. For two people that amounts to $150, with 11$ tax. When applying the classic double tax rule, I would have to tip 22 bucks. Would you do that?
What is the rule here?
"The rule" is 15-20% of the bill. I would do THAT.
Anyone who can afford a 5 star resort in southern CA, IMHO, can take good care of the people who make their lovely stay possible and need tips to live. It's considered part of the cost of staying where you are. Don't be ungracious.
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Old Jul 28, 15, 3:44 pm
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Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
$2.50 or so per hour ... in southern CA
Nobody is legally making $2.50 an hour in California.

http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_minimumwage.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipped..._United_States

Come to think of it, nobody is legally making $2.50 anywhere in the country.

Just say that tips are customary. Otherwise there are no sound reasons behind the practice. It is presumptuous to suggest that anyone who can afford X should also afford Y. It is unethical to guilt trip ("...need tips to live...") customers into tipping.
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Old Jul 28, 15, 4:03 pm
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Originally Posted by davie355 View Post
Nobody is legally making $2.50 an hour in California.

http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_minimumwage.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipped..._United_States

Come to think of it, nobody is legally making $2.50 anywhere in the country.

Just say that tips are customary. Otherwise there are no sound reasons behind the practice. It is presumptuous to suggest that anyone who can afford X should also afford Y. It is unethical to guilt trip ("...need tips to live...") customers into tipping.
The custom in the US is to tip the valet and waiters in restaurant. Forget about minimum wage, it is simply part of the custom in the US. (Example: the min. wage in California is $9/hour and that equates to $18,700/year for someone working 40 hours/week with no vacation, sick leave or any benefits).

Just because the place is expensive ($40 for valet parking is by no means expensive by Southern California luxury property standards, you will routinely see $60+) has nothing to do with what the employee makes. Punishing the employee because you chose a place with parking costing more than you prefer, is simply unfair.

Same for the restaurant. Don't over-intellectualize this. The standard is 15-20% and on a $161 tab that's roughly $24-32, so call it $25-30.

One of the downsides to staying at a luxury property is that they are expensive and everything costs a lot. If this is a strain, I would strongly suggest taking a step down from luxury. There are great places priced reasonably and you will have a better time if you don't have to worry what every drink costs.
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Old Jul 28, 15, 4:10 pm
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In California, waitstaff makes at least minimum wage, likely more at a 5 star.

Contact your Virtuoso agent to see what gratuities are already included.
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Old Jul 28, 15, 4:17 pm
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Thanks everyone for your comments.
I'll make sure to tip generously.
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Old Jul 28, 15, 7:59 pm
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Originally Posted by davie355 View Post
Come to think of it, nobody is legally making $2.50 anywhere in the country..
Quite right. I stand corrected. There's been a significant raise in server pay. In Massachusetts, one of the most expensive places in the country to live, state law currently says "Tipped employees (meaning those who receive more than $20 a month in tips) may be paid a service rate of $3.00 per hour."
Biiiiiiiiiig difference! That 50 cents per hour makes it soooooo much easier to live on. Don't need tips to live well on 3 bucks an hour, being stiffed by someone who the server has treated well during a U$150 breakfast.

Last edited by VidaNaPraia; Jul 28, 15 at 8:07 pm
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Old Jul 29, 15, 6:24 am
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Originally Posted by JohnRain View Post
Thanks everyone for your comments.
I'll make sure to tip generously.
Don't be afraid to be mean with your tips if the service is poor.Tips are a gratuity not a right and should be based on the level of service you receive.
If the breakfast waitress is rude,leave her zilch and explain why to her line manager.
That'll learn 'em.
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Old Jul 29, 15, 8:44 am
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Originally Posted by Clint Bint View Post
Don't be afraid to be mean with your tips if the service is poor.Tips are a gratuity not a right and should be based on the level of service you receive.
If the breakfast waitress is rude,leave her zilch and explain why to her line manager.
That'll learn 'em.
Is service commonly poor at 5 star properties? Would such a server indeed be employed for long?

ClintBint, please identify yourself when entering any establishment anyone I know works at. :-) I will have them be on the lookout for the customer looking for some issue to be disgruntled over, so as not to tip the server well. Maybe the food took an inordinate time. Blame the server, not the salaried cook, and don't tip. Maybe the drinks weren't strong enough. Blame the server, not the salaried bar person, and don't tip. Explain it all to his/her higher-salaried, non-tipped line manager, yup, that teach 'em a lesson.

Last edited by VidaNaPraia; Jul 29, 15 at 8:50 am
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Old Jul 29, 15, 10:46 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
One of the downsides to staying at a luxury property is that they are expensive and everything costs a lot. If this is a strain, I would strongly suggest taking a step down from luxury. There are great places priced reasonably and you will have a better time if you don't have to worry what every drink costs.
Thanks for your sound advice, but what I can or can't afford isn't up for discussion here. I was merely asking about what's customary.
Charging 40$ for valet parking and not giving the actual valet a cut of it is simply bad policy and a rip-off of the client IMO.
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Old Jul 29, 15, 11:01 am
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Originally Posted by JohnRain View Post
Charging 40$ for valet parking and not giving the actual valet a cut of it is simply bad policy and a rip-off of the client IMO.
Which still doesn't change the facts. It is what it is; the USA, not Europe. A tip is a large part of how the valet gets paid. (While you're at it about "policy", good or bad, can you lobby for 6 weeks paid vacation for all workers in the US, just like the Germans get?)
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Old Jul 29, 15, 1:18 pm
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Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
Quite right. I stand corrected. There's been a significant raise in server pay. In Massachusetts, one of the most expensive places in the country to live, state law currently says "Tipped employees (meaning those who receive more than $20 a month in tips) may be paid a service rate of $3.00 per hour."
Biiiiiiiiiig difference! That 50 cents per hour makes it soooooo much easier to live on. Don't need tips to live well on 3 bucks an hour, being stiffed by someone who the server has treated well during a U$150 breakfast.
Ugh, the way we pay tipped employees in this country is insane. I'd be so happy to get rid of the whole system. I had a lot of friends who worked through college making $2.13 per hour plus tips. The $2.13 pretty much always goes to taxes, so tips are literally all they take home. A slow day and bad tables leads to making almost nothing. Of course they did it for the good days, but it's hard to have such a variable income.
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Old Jul 29, 15, 10:08 pm
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Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
Is service commonly poor at 5 star properties? Would such a server indeed be employed for long?

ClintBint, please identify yourself when entering any establishment anyone I know works at. :-) I will have them be on the lookout for the customer looking for some issue to be disgruntled over, so as not to tip the server well. Maybe the food took an inordinate time. Blame the server, not the salaried cook, and don't tip. Maybe the drinks weren't strong enough. Blame the server, not the salaried bar person, and don't tip. Explain it all to his/her higher-salaried, non-tipped line manager, yup, that teach 'em a lesson.
You miss the point.Tips are a gratuity not a right.The level at what you tip should be commensurate with the standard of service you receive not your attempt to remedy the social injustices of this world.
A server who is rude or unhelpful to me ? They get zilch.
But someone who is good at their job and makes for a pleasurable dining experience ? Top dollar.
Why Americans allow themselves to be treated like crap by ignorant wait staff and then meekly pay them for the privilege is beyond me.
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