Visitors to the U.S. - avoid these tipping pitfalls
June 8th, 2011
09:30 AM ET
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Jim Boulden is a CNN Business 360 correspondent

I've just gotten back from a ten day holiday trip in the U.S., which included a lot of meals, bars, baseball games and hotel rooms – which means, of course, a lot of tipping, or not as the case may be.

I may be American by birth, but I have spent 20 years overseas and so I have to re-learn when to tip, how much to tip, and how to get out of tipping when it feels right.

I am also cheap. I hate the pressure to tip but I am quite happy to tip well when the service warrants. I also know well that many an American teenager survive off the tips, something non Americans don't seem to readily understand.

Read Jim's tipping tips at Tipping traps in the U.S.

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Filed under: Restaurants • Service • Tipping


soundoff (243 Responses)
  1. alex licht

    I was a bartender and also a server for more than 25 years.
    I worked at various classes of food/beverage venues.... from burger joints to first class luxury yachts, around the world.
    In all of those places I depended on tips to supplement my income
    Here are some points that I experience during my hospitality journey....
    The less expensive the prices on the menu, the cheaper the clientele, the less tip I made.
    The harder the guests ran me around, the smaller the tip.
    That French Canadian church going guests are the worse tippers, followed by the Britts, the French, and the Italians.
    Opps,i forgot the Brazilians,
    The more I smile, than the better the tips.
    That autograts should be automatic for any foreign party, regardless the party size.
    That people in the service industry are better tippers.
    That when the guest was overly nice, the smaller was the tip.
    That the better tips in the US came from patrons from Chicago, New York City, and Boston areas.
    The worse tips came from Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
    That I made great money and had a lot of fun doing.
    That I work my butt off.
    That I would do it again

    July 28, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Reply
  2. Mike

    I don't mind tipping, though, with the exception of food servers and delivery people, I don't tip people for merely doing their job adaquately.
    What I find absolutely shocking is the trend toward tipping 10% for poor service in a restaurant! I typically tip arround 20% – mayby rounding down to an even dollar amount instead of up if I thought things could have been a litle better.
    For those servers who cry "But it's not always our fault!" think about how much of that attitute gets through to your customers. "I'm sorry, but the kitchen is backed up tonight." is adaquate and at least worthy of 15%. Stop by with updates, refil the bread/water glasses, check if we need another drink, and your quickly back to doing a good job worth 20% or more, Telling me you it's not your fault and can't do anything about it, if you bother to tell me anything at all, is not worth anything,

    June 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  3. Stargazer

    First, I tip really well when the service merits it. I also go back and favor that restaurant with my business, my money, and my tips repeatedly. I also write reviews for fellow travelers on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, and service is always a major, major part of how I rate. I work in customer service now, I have worked in multiple jobs where I earned tips, and I know what good service is.

    Having clarified all that, I have never seen a more spoiled, rude, self-entitled group of people than the commenters on boards like this one who say they work in restaurants or in bars and deserve their tips. I have seen servers say horrible things about their customers, demand tips they didn't earn, and actually admit to spitting in customers' food. If you do those things, your work ethic STINKS, and YOU are the problem—not your customer. If you want a big tip, you have to earn it by doing more than the bare minimum of showing up and doing your job. If you can't show you deserve it, then no one is required to give it to you.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Reply
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