Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
My husband and I disagree on whether we should tip the parking valet at a nice restaurant in town. Parking is free if the card is validated at the restaurant. My husband feels that since we have to park there in order to dine at the restaurant, we shouldn't have to pay anyone for parking our car. I think we should give something to the person who gets our car. Should we give a tip, and if so, how much?
Dear Tipping dilemma,
Generally, at the minimum, parking valets should be tipped a minimum of $1-2 when you leave your car and again $1-$2 when they get your car. However, depending on your location and the parking facility, valet tips could be much higher.
Nowadays, tips are more or less expected. Many service workers are paid minimum wage, and rely on tips to augment their earnings.
Here are some guidelines for tipping: Generally, salaried staff such as hotel managers or cruise captains are not tipped. Gratuities are given to service employees such as valets, waiters, housekeepers, taxicab drivers, airport porters, hairstylists, and tour guides.
Always carry smaller bills when going out to dinner or traveling, i.e. $1, $2, $5 bills. For example, when handing the gratuity to the valet fold the bill at least in half or thirds, and say thank you while handing it to them.
The amount of the tip is up to you. But, the following are some general gratuity amounts compiled from emilypost.com, Zappone from CNNMoney.com, insiderviewpoint.com, and cruisedirectonline.com.
AT THE RESTAURANT:
Maitre d': $20 or more, if a special service is performed such as getting you a table when you have no reservation and the restaurant is full.
Waiters: 15-20% of the bill, unless a gratuity is already added to the bill. In the United States normally a gratuity is not automatically added unless you have a party of 6 or more. In a buffet restaurant, add 10% to the bill for gratuity, more if drinks are filled and plates removed. Many foreign countries automatically add gratuities, so check your bill carefully. Overseas, even if the gratuity is already added, some people like to leave some small change on the table.
Sommelier (Wine Steward): 15-20% percent of the bottle price
Cocktail Waitress or Bar Waiter: 15-20% of bill or $1 minimum whichever is greater (i.e. if a drink costs $5, then 15% is 75 cents, but leave at least $1).
Bartender: if you are served at the bar, 15-20% of the bill, or $1 minimum, whichever is greater.
Coat Check: $1 per coat
Restroom Attendants: $0.50-$1
Musician in Lounge: $1-$5.
AT THE HOTEL:
Parking Valets: $1-$2 when you leave your car and again when they get your car.
Bell Hop: $1-$2 per bag plus a couple extra if he shows you the room.
Doorman: $1 for hailing a cab; if he helps with luggage, same as Bell Hop.
Concierge: nothing for simple questions. But, if they make restaurant reservations, obtain theater tickets for you, make travel arrangements, then $5-$10 per task performed. Put the gratuity in an envelope with a note of thanks and give to the concierge.
Room Service: 15-20% of the bill, unless a gratuity is already added, then no additional tip or $1 or $2. However, when ordering room service, make sure to inquire whether the server will actually receive the gratuity that has been added to the bill. If not, then tip accordingly.
Delivery to Room: if you requested something delivered such as a hairdryer: $1-$2.
Housekeepers (maids): $1-$2 per day left at the end of your stay.
Spa Services: 15-20%, if a service charge is not already included.
AT THE AIRPORT:
Porters and Skycaps: $1-$2 per bag.
Shoeshine Person: $3-$5.
Cab Drivers: 15% of the bill or $2 minimum, whichever greater.
ON A CRUISE SHIP:
Some cruise lines add the gratuity onto the payment for you, so check with the specific cruise ship on which you will be traveling. Otherwise, plan to include tipping as part of the cost of taking a cruise. Usually small envelopes are left in your cabin with suggestions for gratuity amounts.
Cabin Stewards and Waiters: $3-$4 each per guest per day.
Maitre d' and Busboy: $1.50-$2 each per guest per day.
(Some suggest $10-$15 to Maitre d' for the week).
Hand out the gratuities in the envelopes to each person at the last evening meal, and to the cabin steward the day before the cruise ends. On a cruise ship, you don't need to tip your bartender, wine steward or bar waiter because a 15% surcharge has been added to every drink for gratuity. Some cruise lines may state tipping not required, but tips should still be given for good service.
OTHER SERVICES PROVIDED:
Tour Guide: $2-$5 for a 1-2 hour sightseeing tour.
Pizza Delivery: $1 per pizza or 15% of the bill, whichever is greater, with minimum $3. Note that deliver charges are not tips that the delivery person gets.
Furniture Delivery: $10 each person.
Hair stylist: $2 minimum or 15-20% of the bill, whichever is greater (i.e. if a haircut costs $10, then 15% is $1.50 but leave at least $2).
Blackjack Dealer: $2-$10 or minimum bet at the table, after you're through playing.
Change Person at Slot Machine: $1-$5, more if you hit a jackpot.
For tipping advice in other countries, see http://www.magellans.com/store/article/367
For information on standard versus high-roller tipping in Las Vegas, see http://www.insidervlv.com/tipping.html
For the latest on cruise ship tipping and which cruise lines have gratuity programs or do not require tips, see http://www.cruisedirectonline.com/gratuities.htm