If you go to a restaurant and order a $20 steak, you might have to pay $25. This is not only because of taxes but also because of tips.
In the United States we do a lot of tipping. Tipping is a way of offering gratuity to the people who work hard for us. Although it is not mandatory, certain places expect tips from its patrons.
For example, restaurants usually expect at least 15-18% of the entire bill to be paid on top of the bill. This number could be higher or lower, depending on what kind of restaurant you go to. Unlike a service charge, which you must pay, the amount of tip you pay is completely up to you. If you don’t like the service you can tip below the standard rate. If you really like the service you can tip above the standard rate. Because there is more work for the servers, patrons with big groups or parties need to tip more.
While tipping is considered optional, it is customarily important for Americans to tip. Many workers with low wages depend on tips to make a living. All of the money collected from tips must be given to the workers or servers and not the owners. Because of that the workers are able to supplement their low wages with more money. It is important to note that these workers are taxed on it as well.
Some services do not require tips. For example, since eating at buffets and ordering take-out does not require much effort from workers there is no need to tip. Other places like fast-food stores or cafes like Starbucks also do not need tips.
How do you know if you need to tip or not? There are no set rules or guidelines, but here are some easy ways to remember:
1. Tip anyone who does a special service just for you (some examples are taxi drivers, hotel porters, room service, housekeeping, and baby sitters).
2. Tip anyone who makes you more beautiful (this includes hairstylists, barbers, pet groomers, make-up artists, estheticians, massage therapists, and others).
3. If you are hosting an event, tip anyone who helps you with the set-up (you can tip the DJ, the photographer, the wedding planner, the attendants, and others).
4. Tip anyone serving you food or drinks (this includes servers and bartenders).
Of course these are not set in stone. The best way to find out is to ask your friends and see who to tip and how much to tip. Just make sure you have plenty of ones.
Key words and phrases
To tip/To offer gratuity (v) – To give thanks in the form of money
Mandatory (adj) – Required or necessary
On top of (prep) – In addition to
Service charge (n) – a bill for a service you must pay
A patron (n) – (formal) a customer
A wage (n) – an amount paid per hour to a worker from an owner
To supplement (v) – to add (usually used when there is not enough of something)
Set (adj) – standardized or strict
Esthetician (n) – a person who performs skin care for faces
To be set in stone (v) – to be standardized
Ones – One dollar bills