5 Ways People Screw Up Tipping

The world of proper tipping can be a difficult one to navigate. While there are obvious times you should tip, such as when you are at a restaurant and you receive good service, there are many situations in which it can be difficult to determine how much you should tip, or whether you should tip at all. In general, many people tip 10-20% for many different services, but the right amount really depends on the specific situation and the service being performed; some services require a lesser tip. Still, there are times when tipping isn’t appropriate at all, and many people make the mistake of tipping anyway. In some cases, rather than an actual monetary tip, a gift is the way to go. Tipping rules are also different in other countries, so if you travel abroad, it’s important to understand the tipping rules for the area that you’re visiting. Here are five tipping mistakes that you should try to avoid.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Not Tipping When You Should

For most people, this is the biggest and most obvious tipping mistake you can make. According to research by Tim Urban for Wait But Why, tips make up 85 to 100% of the pay that waiters receive. Obviously, you don’t want to avoid paying someone a tip when most of their income comes from gratuities. If a waiter or waitress does a good job delivering your order (and they are courteous and helpful) then you should tip them at least 15 percent; better service deserves a better tip. If necessary, change your order if you are not comfortable spending a lot on a tip. According to Urban, restaurant delivery drivers, bartenders, valets, and a hotel bellman also receive much of their income from tips, so don’t forget about them either.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Sending the Wrong Message

Although many people receive most of their income from tips, that doesn’t mean you should reward someone who provides horrible service. Just like you would probably tip more for exceptional service, you should tip less for poor service. Otherwise you could be telling the person working that their behavior is acceptable, and sometimes it just isn’t. For example, if your waiter is rude to you, is extremely inattentive, or doesn’t seem to listen to you, and there is no good explanation (like a really busy night when they are completely overwhelmed) then you shouldn’t tip them 20 percent. That sends the wrong message, and it’s a waste of your money.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Tipping the Wrong People

This particular tipping mistake is a hard one to avoid, and is more about your budget than anything else. There’s usually nothing wrong with tipping someone when it isn’t necessary; in general, you will just be making that person’s day better. However, there are some cases in which you might make the person uncomfortable, or you could even potentially get them in trouble if they accept a tip and doing so is against company policy. If you eat out at a restaurant where you order your food ahead of time and then sit, but no one waits on you (and you put your own dishes up, and there’s no tipping jar available) that’s usually a good indication that you don’t need to tip. Some tour companies encourage tour guides not to accept tips. Many people do not regularly tip the people who clean their homes, and instead they give bigger gifts during the holidays.

Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images

Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images

Assuming That Tipping Abroad Is The Same

You know what they say about assuming. Before you go on vacation or a business trip to another country, be sure to research the appropriate tipping rules or suggestions for that country. If you don’t research ahead of time, you risk wasting money, or potentially offending someone. APRIL International has information on tipping habits across the world. The standard tip at restaurants appears to be 10 to 20% in many countries, and a similar tip is suggested for bartenders and cab drivers. Tipping at gas stations is also suggested in some countries. In many Asian countries, tipping isn’t usually necessary, and can even be considered insulting.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Not Considering Other Gifts

There are many people in our lives who we want to thank for their hard work, but sometimes a cash tip isn’t the correct way to go about it. While gift cards and cash might seem interchangeable, there are circumstances when they most definitely are not. For example, you probably don’t want to give your boss cash, even for a birthday or for Boss’s Day. And rather than giving teachers cash, class gifts or individual gift cards are more suitable choices.

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