When – and how much – to tip

Posted on April 22, 2010

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If you ask ten different people how much to tip in any given situation, chances are you’ll be offered more opinions than if you’d started a debate about skinny jeans for men. You see, straightforward solutions such as whether the service actually warranted a tip, or if it was great enough to deserve a massive tip go out the window when you factor in the British obsession with obligation. Because so many of us hate to complain, we’ll sip on lukewarm coffee, fish flies out of our soup and pick hairs from our pudding, whilst still leaving the same percentage of the bill that you would always leave. Citing that it feels like the right thing to do.

But what is the right percentage? Well, it depends on the situation. Americans have a far better sense of what is justified, and their rules include 15% of the bill before tax for a waiter or waitress (although leave 20% if the service was great, and no less than 10% even if it was terrible), 15% to a taxi driver and 20% to your barber – with an extra little something to whoever shampooed your hair. Hotel doormen need £1 per bag carried for you, and pizza delivery men need 10% of the bill, unless you live somewhere tricky to get to, in which case they deserve up to 20%.

Fortunately, in case you were considering never leaving your house without remortgaging it first, staff in coffee shops, handymen, and petrol pump attendants don’t need to be tipped anything. Shame not more of our petrol pumps are manned, isn’t it?

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