Advice on tipping in the U.S

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  • LuganoPirate

    It took me a few visits to realise but one important place where we’re expected to tip is for every drink in airport lounges in US $1 minimum. Even if the drink is comped. It’s apparently really rude not to even if all you’re having is one drink, water etc.

    I’ve never tipped in the airport lounges in NY or anywhere for that except JNB. But there’s a reason for that which I’ll explain another day. In fact, I never even thought about tipping in the lounges at JFK. I shall keep my eyes open next time I go.

    What also surprised me once was going to a counter, ordering a drink, taking it away and then being expected to leave a tip!
    Another con is they show hot chocolate 99c. I ordered it and was asked for $2.39 When i queried it I was told the 99c deal is made with water, which is how I like it and the one she was serving me was made with milk! She moaned and groaned in typical NT fashion, saying I should have said, but nothing to the contrary was indicated, then poured it away and made one with water. I was generous, I left her a dollar!


    I can remember being in a hotel in Las Vegas and waiting for a taxi to take me to the airport. It was hellishly hot and there was someone from the hotel coming around offering “free” water! The kicker was he lingered waiting for a tip, which meant the water was hardly free!

    I personally dislike the whole “expected to tip” culture, here in Asia, there is a 10% SC added to all bills and that suffices … To have someone wave their hand in front of me demanding something for their job really does not go down well with me….

    For me good service gets recognition, if you dont give me the relevant service then whistle my friend……


    The trouble is tipping is so ingrained into American culture it will be very hard and take a long time to change.


    Yep, I find myself agreeing in the first place with K1ngston and also with LP’s sentiment.
    I’ve never visited another country anywhere in the world where begging is dressed up as a near compulsory passive action.

    And it is simply that……Surreptitious Begging, exploiting our willingness to avoid both embarrassments and confrontation in equal measure.

    Anyway, the very quick lesson I learnt was not to do our “ It’s my round “, tradition, but rather run a tab, and then round up to the nearest ten at the end of the night.

    I can safely say, I’ve never calculated out to the % . I do what I do when I’m in Canada, tip sensibly.

    Then again, like most others here, I’ve also had to deal with the occasional aggressive jerk, who assumes a degree of hostile superiority because I’m not an American.

    And to reiterate LP s point. Things will only get worse as the current incumbent certainly favours an economic policy that puts the emphasis on us rather than the employer.


    On balance, I am in favour of the Tipping mechanish in US Restaurants.


    It gives me the Consumer a voice if the service level is below expectation and it certainly provides an incentive for the Server to ensure you have an enjoyable experience.

    Regarding US lounges where a buck tip is expected on a complementary drink voucher, (happened me last week in Florida AA Admirals lounge) this really should be banned!


    I spent 3 years in USA on assignment and learnt thoroughly about tipping!
    USA is a large country and not all places are that bad. Big cities like New York, LA, San Francisco are bad on tipping (from tippers angle), but Houston, Chicago and next tier cities are quite okay.
    As SwissExpat noted tipping has advantage as one can pay depending on service. A fixed service charge also has no meaning and a concealed way of getting money.
    In most restaurant the service quality is very good. If something is wrong, most tries to make up.
    I have travelled all over USA and eaten in all kind of restaurants and I have only a couple of grouse:
    1. Airport lounge tip culture to get a drink. And Tip expectation at 5 star hotel breakfast buffet egg station where one get omelette etc. And tea/coffee/OJ server.
    2. The mobile credit card payment machine that is set with 20% default setting for tip. They assume one will get embarrassed with fumbling to change the figure and pay 20%. It is more prevalent at high end restaurants where added disadvantage is low illumination level, so one cannot see properly the percent value. I paid 20% by mistake several times before I got wise.

    Except the few large cities in mentioned, everywhere else 15% tip was accepted with big smiles.


    SwissExPat I have to disagree with your comments about giving the consumer a voice. I lived in the US for 2 years in LA and I met a number of Expat Brits and we always met up on a Saturday at a diner on the Boardwalk in Santa Monica.

    We did this every week for months with no issues, we were served and we tipped for the service. However one weekend the wheels came off and the service was diabolical, we waited an hour to be served another hour to get the food which was cold and basically inedible, we complained and eventually got replacement food but the whole process had taken over 3 hours for brunch..

    When it came to the bill the slimy “have a nice day and thank y’all” statement happened as we knew the server was expecting a tip

    Being all Brits we decided that the service didnt warrant a tip and we carefully sorted out the correct amount and got up to leave and had the server chase us down asking if we had forgotten to tip

    We all made the point that good service gets a good tip, but the absolute poor service we had received didnt warrant a tip… The server started hurling abuse at us and the manager who we had known and joked with on many occasions actually barred us from the restaurant and we were not allowed back …. This doesn’t give a voice that was a dictat, basically saying whatever the service you need to tip…

    I agree with canucklad’s analogy and hate to be harassed for something that is a privilege and not a right ……

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Sorry guys, but that is the US and you have to live with it, just like an AK47 wearing guy in the Walmart. Tipping may not be obligatory, but you won’t make any friends by not doing it. I suppose we take it for granted (the Ocado man is always most grateful when he comes to my house) and we unconsciously consider it part of any service experience.


    My compromise is that I will leave 10% only if the service is poor but not horrible. If horrible no tip and no problem if barred as I wont ever want to go back.


    I have had many pleasant dining experiences in the USA and happy to tip for what in the main has been excellent service constantly. Save one in New York, where the cooked breakfast arrived with the cereal. the server taking umbridge , with no apology, that I asked for the cooked breakfast to be taken back, and when it as finally brought back it had the top of a burger bun stuck to the bottom of the plate.Again no apology just a bored eye brow raising. Having presented the bill and I had deleted the service charge he had taken two steps away from the table returned and asked “why have you deleted the tip” to which I replied “You are kidding of course”. As I left he continued to grumble to colleagues and pointing in my direction. Poor, indifferent service , = no tip.

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