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CONSUMER NOTES GRATUITOUS INFORMATION: TIPS ON TIPPING

By D Magazine |

If you go out on the town frequently, you probably understand the dilemma of tipping for services rendered. Do you tip the doorman at the Loews Anatole? How much do you tip the owner of a hair salon? Will the dog groomer treat Fido with extra care if you tip him after every clip?

Most people are hesitant to ask what they should tip for certain services because it’s too embarrassing to let other people know that they don’t know what is appropriate. They end up either over-tipping or not tipping at all.

We found out that there are some hard and fast truisms about tipping that reveal ever so slightly the personality behind some of those tips. “The nicer the car, the less the tip,” says one valet parker at an expensive Oak Lawn restaurant. “The older the customer, the better the tip,” says a hairstylist at a North Dallas beauty salon. But the one thing that makes a stylist feel the most uncomfortable is when a customer says, “Is this enough?” There’s just no tactful way to get a straight answer, so here’s a list that will help minimize those embarrassing moments.

Barbers. The barbers we talked to said that about half their customers tip between 50 cents and $1, and the other half don’t tip at all.

Concierges. Remember, the concierge is often your only friend when you’re visiting a strange city. Although most people don’t tip, Libby Ramirez at the Loews Anatole says she expects $5 for making restaurant reserva-tions or for arranging transportation. (That tip may increase if she has to really work to get tickets to a play or have something picked up for a customer.) “Yes, I’m insulted when I don’t get a tip and I feel like I’ve really worked hard for the person,” Ramirez says.

Doormen. Yes, you still tip the person who holds the door and helps get you and your luggage into the hotel lobby at the same time. Plan on tipping $2 to $3 if you have a lot of baggage.

Bellmen. For the person who carries all your luggage from the lobby of the hotel to your room, the going rate is $1 a bag, no matter what size the bag is.

Grocery Bag Carriers. The easiest rule of thumb is to ask the store manager or the checkout person about the store’s tipping policy. Some stores refuse to let their carriers receive tips, and they’re embarrassed when you try to force them to take a tip. At stores that allow tipping, the rate is 25 or 50 cents per bag. One store manager said that his store only allows carriers to accept tips when it’s raining.

Hairstylists. Tipping a hairstylist is one act that causes a lot of anguish for both the tipper and the “tippee.” L’Image manager James Coon says that most of his customers tip about 10 percent. The average bill at L’Image is $50, so the average tip is $5. James says that some customers tip $5 no matter what the bill is, and others don’t tip at all. “Some customers feel our prices are such that a tip is not necessary, and men often don’t tip at all.” The hairstylist’s assistant, who often shampoos your hair, should get a $1 tip. “I don’t take it personally when a customer doesn’t tip,” says Coon. “I don’t think it’s a reflection of my service. If they don’t like the service, they’ll generally tell you.” A final note: It’s generally not acceptable to tip the owner of a beauty salon.

Manicurists. The usual tip for a manicure is about $1. If you also have a pedicure, tip $2. The tips really start to skyrocket when you have your nails “repaired” or “rebuilt.” The technique requires patience and skill, so a $5 or $10 tip is not unusual.

Pet Groomers. Groomers say that they rarely receive tips. Millie McNutt at Perky Poodle Parlor says it’s up to the customer. “We treat the animals the same whether the customer tips or not.” Elaine White at Paw and Claw says that her customers typically don’t tip, but she doesn’t turn them down when they do.

Pizza Deliverers. David Farral at Mr. Gatti’s Special Delivery in Duncanville says S that his tips average 50 cents per delivery. Brian Reynolds at Domino’s Pizza near Webb’s Chapel and Royal Lane says that he averages $1 a delivery and sometimes more. “Most people just leave me the change. If a bill is $9.12, they’ll leave me the 88 cents,” he says. “I’m not insulted when they don’t tip, except when it rains or snows. About half the customers do, and half don’t.”

Restroom Attendants. This is a judgment call. Typically, an attendant will tell you the price of the toiletries you use. A good rule of thumb is 25 to 50 cents per visit.

Taxi Drivers. Here’s another toughie. We called four taxicab companies, and they all said, “It’s up to the customer.” At least one of the companies added that a safe estimate is to give a tip representing 10 percent of the fare.

Valet Parkers. The going rate is a minimum of $1. It could easily go up to $1.50 or $2 if the valet parkier has to face inclement weather and opens the car doors for you and your passengers. One rule to remember: You should tip the valet parker whether the parking is free or not.

Waiters. At both inexpensive and expensive restaurants, a 15 percent tip is still customary. (We asked about the trend of leaving 20 percent tips at nicer restaurants, and the personnel looked at us like we were crazy.) We hear (but not from the waiters or managers) that some people prefer not to tip on wine or cocktails, since the price of alcoholic beverages already includes a high markup. If your service is bad, then leaving a 7 percent tip is often more effective than leaving nothing at all.

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