The Truth Behind the Tip™

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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

15% Tipper and Proud of It?

Posted by gratrueities on April 1, 2010

Well…that is the impression one gets when scrolling to the bottom of the recent New York Times City Room blog post by David Sax. The disclaimer at the end of the post states that he is a “journalist and the author of “Save the Deli” (Houghton Mifflin), lives in Park Slope and always tips 15 percent.”

Note – Mr. Sax does not claim to tip “at least” 15% – but, rather, “15 percent,” period. Hmmm…is that really what he means to say? If so, that is curious, considering he has written a book on dining (even if it is deli dining) from which he has, in theory, profited! See him in action doing research at right!

That said, the post, titled Hey, Waiter! Just How Much Extra Do You Really Expect? raises some valid points and, despite the title and surly tone, does not truly take an anti-server stance. For instance, Mr. Sax takes issue with the less-than-minimum wages servers are paid. He challenges the gratuitous tip, but supports rewarding a job well done. Not surprisingly, the article incited both the ire and support of many NYT readers and has, to date, generated well over 1200 comments.

Obviously, tipping remains a controversial subject  – who, when, how much and for what? Interestingly, the comments generated from the article did not divide straight down the line between customers and servers. Some of the most intriguing comments are featured in a follow-up piece – Readers Split the Difference on Tipping.

We’re always interested in the many points of view that surround the custom of the tip and these are particularly insightful comments.

Also, it makes us wonder what GraTRUEity might be appropriate for someone such as Mr. Sax: “I always tip 15% no matter what…so read nothing into this tip.”  “Underpaid workers unite!” ?? We’re open to suggestions!


Posted in Etiquette, GraTRUEities, Pet Peeves, Pop Culture, Service, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Top Ten Lists

Posted by gratrueities on December 10, 2009

This is not only the season for giving…but also the season for reflection.

We make lists of the year’s best – and worst – movies, songs, fashion trends, restaurants and so forth.  So…along those lines, let’s explore service experiences! What were your most memorable of the year – good, bad or just plain weird?

There must be moments that stand out…one way or another. David Letterman does not hold an exclusive on Top Ten lists – please help us create ours here!

*Update 12/10 – Speaking of Top Ten lists, Open Table has just come out with a December update of “Diners’ Choice” lists.  Sample a few here: San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles. Be sure to note the links to Best Service.

Posted in Dining experience, Pet Peeves, Pop Culture, Service, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dueling Celebrity Tippers at Nellos

Posted by gratrueities on November 24, 2009

Regular GraTRUEities readers know that we occasionally  comment on tipping habits of the rich and famous…just because…. And, with the holiday season just about here (we consider the Friday after Thanksgiving the official start) we can expect to hear plenty of reports about the good, the bad and the ugly celebrity tippers.

Well, these famous folk sit squarely in the first category–the good  tippers. And the servers at chi chi Manhattan Italian restaurant, Nellos, were the happy benefactors.

Evidently, as reported in the NY Daily News, earlier in November the power couple of  hip hop, Jay-Z and Byonce,  enjoyed luncheon a deux at the eatery. At the end of what had to have been an amazing lunch, the total tab was  reportedly $1200.00. The tip: $500.00.

A few days later, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich decided to up the ante, significantly. Abramovich also had lunch at Nello’s but his bill totaled $47,221.09.  The tip:  reportedly $7,328.00. Checkmate. You win.

No word yet on how the servers at Nello’s split up those bonanza-sized tips!

Posted in Dining experience, Economy, Pop Culture, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Time to Give Thanks

Posted by gratrueities on November 9, 2009

The holidays are just around the corner and it will soon be time to give thanks to those who have provided us with year-round services. These thanks are traditionally given in the form of a monetary tip or a gift.

In challenging economic times, it’s still important to remember that holiday tipping is about showing appreciation. From the dog walker to the hair dresser, the concierge to the post person, the list of those to thank can get rather long. True, for someone living in New York City the list will most likely be longer than that of someone who lives in, let’s say, Lost Springs, Wyoming.  However, it’s important for us all to plan ahead and even use some creativity to help fulfill our lists without breaking the bank!

To help you remember who to put on your list and determine how to show your appreciation, check out the Holiday Tipping page in Tipipedia!

Posted in Economy, Etiquette, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

More: Coat Check Tales

Posted by gratrueities on March 1, 2009

A few weeks ago we posted about coat-check tipping.

This past Wednesday, the NYT had a story about how coat-check tipping is holding up (or not) in the tough economy. Check it our here.

Posted in Economy, Tipping | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tale of the Coat Check

Posted by gratrueities on February 3, 2009

Hi There—

Well, another trip to NYC and another interesting tipping scenario.

Really, I think tipping is more of an issue in large cities like NYC where you are out and about, going from place-to-place, and generally running into more service-oriented people who may or may not expect a tip.

                On  this trip it had suddenly turned very cold and  was definitely winter coat time. One morning, with my first business meeting delayed, I decided to run over to the new Museum of Art and Design (MAD) on Columbus Circle. It’s a fabulous new museum, just opened on the south side of Columbus Circle, in a beautiful new cube-like building designed by Brad Cloepfil and his Portland, Oregon-based firm Allied Works Architecture.

                It was a wonderful sunny, fresh, crisp and cold morning so I had on my nice, comfy winter coat, scarf, mittens, etc. Once at the museum I decided to tour the galleries without my coat to be more comfortable, and went to use the coat check.

            At the coat check counter (hidden in the basement, by the way) I noticed an odd, very prominent sign that read, “No Tipping. By Request of the Museum”. This sign was in bright red letters at eye level, not intended to be missed. Someone was very certain that there was not to be any tipping at the coat check.

              I noticed the sign, checked my coat and went on my way to see the exhibits. And, oh by the way, the coat check is free.

                About an hour later I went to fetch my coat and, since it was just me and the coat-checker, I decided to explore this tipping issue.

                “Is there really no tipping?” I asked.

                “Yep,” came the reply.

                “Why is that?”

                “I don’t know.”

                “How do you feel about it?”

                Long pause. I could tell this coat check person was very dedicated and proud of his position and didn’t want to be perceived as complaining.

                “I don’t know.” Long pause.

                Again, I wondered out loud, “I wonder why?”

                “I guess the museum doesn’t want to be seen making more money off you,” came the reply.

                Well, certainly a good theory. I ended up obeying the sign and not leaving a tip but feeling a bit bad about it the rest of the day. Obviously, the coat check gentleman doesn’t earn a lot of salary and he was extremely conscientious about his job. I would have gladly left him $1 or $2 for taking good care of my coat—especially in these difficult times. But, the sign really did make me feel like I shouldn’t tip. Like I was going against the wishes of someone at the Museum if I did so.

Really, though, why does the museum care? The whole thing seems a little wrong to me. What business is it of the museums; this relationship between me and the coat checker?

Now that I’m on my way home and thinking about this more, I really wish I would have gone against the sign and left a tip. This time, I’m questioning my desire to be a good citizen and follow the posted rules. I wish I would have been even a better citizen, and left a small tip and GraTRUEity with this nice, kind coat checker.


Posted in Tipping, Travel | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Captain Tip vs. Server Tip

Posted by gratrueities on November 2, 2008

Update to this Post: There is an interesting conversation on this topic over at Yelp.

Earlier this week I was in NYC on business and organized a dinner for four with clients. We went to Shun Lee Palace, one of my favorite top-end Chinese restaurants on the Upper East Side. Perhaps not the most chic dining establishment in NYC but overall good food and usually enjoyable.

We ordered a nice meal, appetizers, entrees with wine and shared the meal in the traditional family style of most Chinese restaurants.  Everyone enjoyed it; the food was very good and the service was quite good—standard for this restaurant. The Peking Duck was exceptionally good; crispy, shredded table side and wrapped in thin Chinese pancakes.

I had arranged in advance for the check to be delivered to me as I was hosting the dinner. When it arrived, I was surprised to see spaces for both a Captain Tip and a Server Tip. I hadn’t seen these “dual” tip line arrangement in quite some time. It seems like most high-end restaurants have abandoned it the practice. It seems a bit old-fashioned to me.

And, of course, it complicated the whole tip situation. I believe the proper way to handle this is to split the tip, so that the Captain receives a portion and the Server receives a portion. For instance, when leaving the 20% tip, the captain receives 5% and the waiter 14%.  Honestly, it does seem like  a lot  of math, especially for the end of the evening and after a glass or two of wine.

So. I took the easy way out and just calculated my standard 20% tip and wrote it into the middle of the two open spaces, leaving it to the Captain and the Server to split however they prefer.

What do you think about this practice of splitting out the Captain tip and the Server tip as separate line items? Do you think, like I do, that it is a bit old-fashioned, and maybe better for all concerned for restaurants to keep it simple?

P.S. The image for this post is Captain Cook, get it?

Posted in Tipping, Travel | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tipping in the Bad Economy

Posted by gratrueities on November 2, 2008

Hi there…we’ve been wondering; is the economic downturn changing your tipping habits?

Are you tipping less, or, heaven forbid, in some cases, not tipping at all?

Are you changing the way you look at “the tip”, expecting more or expecting less from your service provider; being extra “critical”?

There has been plenty written lately about how the economy is affecting the restaurant biz. It’s been widely noted that the bottom line check total at restaurants is falling. Customers are being more conservative when ordering; skipping appetizers and/or dessert, ordering a glass of wine instead of a bottle, or one bottle instead of two.

I was in New York City this week and talked to a friend of mine who is in the food industry and often eats out. She said that she is still tipping her standard 20% but that overall she is tipping less because she is going out to restaurants less often. Instead she said she is more likely to “grab and go” stopping in for something quick like a hamburger, and then going to the theater, or to an evening event.

On the way to the airport I checked in with the driver from the car service, he said that business is definitely way off—mainly because of the layoffs on Wall Street which were big users of car services.  And, he also said that tips were way down. His company charges a flat charge including the price of the car service, tolls and a 20% tip. He said that about three months ago he started noticing that the “extra” tips were starting to dwindle and now that is something he rarely receives.

Personally, I’ve found myself reacting to the down economy in a mixed fashion. No matter what, I always keep the 20% tip as a standard. For me, the service would need to be downright AWFUL to stray below that level. However, I also feel like I’m more cautious about what I order when dining out and I’m more observant of the food, the service and the overall experience.  If I’m going out to a relatively expensive dinner, in these times, I expect a lot more for my money and am less forgiving when the overall experience doesn’t meet expectations.

How  do you find yourself reacting?

Posted in Economy, Tipping, Travel | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »