As instances of financial ignorance go, tipping doesn’t have the potential for devastation that some others do. That being said, tipping can cause bad feelings or embarrassment, so it’s a skill that must be learned. Why? Have you ever seen a group of teens out to dinner and baffled when it comes time to leave a tip?
Many teenagers, and frankly people of all ages, don’t understand how to tip, unless they have worked in some service industry themselves. Some don’t realize that they have to tip at all, or if they do — and this can even be worse — they tip inappropriately. Sometimes this can be tipping too much or trying to show off. More often it’s tipping inadequately, simply due to the inexperience for the process.
Tipping is part of functioning in the real world. It’s one of the financial transactions that connect us, like so many little individual threads, to the greater society we live in and our kids and grandkids will be entering. It is one of those life skills that is used often and must be learned.
The Tipping Quiz
Try this quiz out on your teenager, or yourself for that matter. Some questions may have more than one answer; the purpose is to start the dialogue.
- Tipping is:
a. An outmoded custom that goes back to the days before child labor laws.
b. Part of the basic income of people in service industries.
c. A reward for especially good service.
d. Only expected of adults.
Answer**: b. is the correct answer, but if your teen chose c. it’s not wrong. Your teen is still trying to navigate in the adult world, but making judgements on the quality of service may encourage snobbery. As for d., kids need to participate in the adult world on this level; it’s a good time to start.
- In a restaurant, you should tip:
a. As much extra change as you have in your pocket.
b. 15 percent.
c. Anywhere from zero to 25 percent – it depends upon the service.
d. Tipping is just picking your pocket—they all get paid, anyway.
Answer**: A tempting answer is c., but the correct answer for a teen is b. That being said, as an adult, if the service is great, I recommend 20 percent. If a teen overtips, it looks condescending. It is also time to explain that, for service professions, tips are an integral part of an individual’s income. People working in these professions are usually paid less in salary.
For adults, when being served alcohol, I recommend the following; If the drink is a complicated, frothy, crazy concoction, which screams for a small umbrella and has required the “Mixologist” to obtain an advanced degree in how to make magic elixirs, and/or may cost upwards to $20 a drink (or $1 per sip), a $3 tip is appropriate. If you are getting a simple glass of wine or a beer, leaving $1 per drink is fine.
- In an airport, you should tip:
a. The flight attendant.
b. The curbside check-in attendant.
c. The baggage claim attendant, if they let you check an extra bag for free.
d. Airport security if they help you get through the line faster.
Answer**:* Both c. and d. could be dangerous. A tip to those folks could be, and should be, in these days of heightened security, construed as a bribe. And, flight attendants never get tipped. As such, b.* is the correct answer. Skycaps should get at least $2 per bag. Sometimes curbside check-in will have a sign indicating the cost per bag. I’ve mostly seen a $5 fee.
- All of the people who come to your house. Whom do you tip?
a. The pizza delivery person.
c. The newspaper delivery person, if you still read a hardcopy newspaper.
d. The cable service person.
e. All of the above.
f. None of the above.
Answers**: a. is the answer. Your teen needs to learn to tip any food delivery person. The tip should not necessarily be based on the cost of the food, but rather on the difficulty in delivering it. If the pizza delivery person drove in a raging snowstorm, give them at least $5. If it’s a beautiful day, and the pizza cost $12.00, for example, $3 is fine. Also, explain that it’s not necessary to tip a professional who gets a good hourly wage, i.e., the cable service person.
Frankly, you as a parent should be covering the rest of the tips. Leave the appropriate amount for your teen to tip if you are not there.
a. They should carry a wallet full of singles with which to tip.
b. Let the school chaperones handle the tipping.
c. Tip the bellhops, hotel housekeepers and room service waiters.
d. Don’t carry cash because big cities are dangerous.
Answers**:* The answer is a.; however, b. and c*. may apply. Parents should cover the tipping issue with the school and communicate their findings to their children. Tips may be included for the major items, but not for meals served to your child at the hotel coffee shop, or maybe even for bags being brought to their room. Just in case, suggest the following guidelines if they are responsible for tipping; Bellhops, $2 per bag; Housekeeping, $2 per night; Room Service, if the tip is not added to the bill (and have your teen check that), 15 percent of the total before taxes; coat check, $1 per item; Salon people; the Stylist should get from between 15 and 20 percent of the total and the Shampooer should get $5. Even Uber drivers say, “There is no need to tip us,” but your teen can give them $5 and a, “Thank You.” Taxi drivers and other car service people need a regular 15 to 20 percent tip. In fact, in NYC, on the taxi charge screen, the only tip selections are for: 20, 25, or 30 percent. The Tour Guide should be taken care of by the school, but in real life, they should be given $10 a day per person in the U.S., overseas the rates are less.
By the way, what does the word TIP mean? It’s an acronym meaning, “To Insure Promptness”. So, if that is the goal, another good question is, “Why isn’t it given before the event, instead of after it?”