Tips On Tipping: Who And How Much (VIDEO)

By Rachel Martin - 21Alive

February 10, 2014 Updated Feb 10, 2014 at 7:22 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – 21Alive's Rachel Martin takes you through the "do's and don'ts" of tipping, including who and who not to tip, and how much should be given.

Remember those guys who made headlines and were all the talk when they left a $5,000 tip for a Notre Dame waitress who had served them dinner? Maybe they knew that waitressing is a tough and demanding job.

So what's the right way to tip? How much is right, or too much, and who should be tipped? It got us wondering, and that's why we sent our Rachel Martin to "check" into it.

With money tight, you might think that people are leaving smaller tips. But like the waitress at that Notre Dame restaurant, several servers throughout the country have been getting a pleasant surprise in the last year—and it was no small change.

But, not everyone who works in the service industry is that lucky. Could it be due to bad service or could it be people simply just don't know?

"Well you tip just about everybody who waits on you, and I mean that's anybody,” said Shameron Bostic, Consulting Director and Owner of Social Amity.

Bostic also teaches social etiquette. She says tipping is considered a purely American tradition, that's now spread around the world.

"It just started out being sort of a thank you, and it ended up being something that service people sort of expect. And with them starting to expect that, you know you get into wages and things of that sort because you're aware that I'm servicing you, you're also aware of what my salary may be. So yes, I should have additional salary. And I think that's where it all comes from."

Probably the most commonly known place for tipping is in a restaurant.

"Customarily it is 15 to 20 percent these days,” said Bostic.

But why? You may be surprised by it, but the federal minimum wage for servers is $2.13 an hour—and it's been that way for decades.

That means most of those in the service industry are reliant on tips to be the majority of their income—many of whom are students who pay for their college tuition that way.

"You shouldn't go unless you can do the tip,” advised Bostic.

Surprisingly, over 49,000 people in Indiana are servers, and the average yearly salary was $19,000 as of May 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But tipping doesn't stop with servers. There are a plethora of professions within the service industry, like hair stylists, bag handlers, and food deliverers, who all deserve a tip. However, Bostic says there are some special cases.

"If you've ever been on a cruise you will see how many different people you end up catering to. You have your room attended, you have your wine steward/sommelier, you have your buss boy you have a waiter, because they tend to you separately. You tip all these people."

What about hair stylists who own the salon?

"If you feel moved to do so, it's not said that you should not, but it's not customary."

But are there ever cases where you don't tip?

"It would have to be something really awful, really awful. And I haven't heard of a situation that deserved actually no tip,” said Bostic.

“If you sat down and you got a meal whether your meat came done instead of rare, or other snafoos with your meal, if you got a meal and you ate, you've got to tip."

Regardless, there are some services where if you don't want to tip, it's ok.

Unless you feel generous, and many do, you wouldn't normally tip mail and newspaper carriers. Although as cold as it's been you might keep them in mind around the Holidays.

Along with mail carriers, house and pool cleaners, lawn crews, and pet sitters are generally not tipped.

"When you can't tip with money, gifts are appropriate,” said Bostic. “So it doesn't always have to be a money-type gratuity situation."

Bostic says probably the most important thing to remember about tipping is that those who are servicing you are human.

"Just remember this particular bad day for this waiter or waitress is isolated. It may not have been that way prior to, and it may not be that way later this week so, allow them that. They're human,” she said.

For more tips on tipping, or for more information about Shameron Bositc, click on "Social Amity" under News Links on our homepage.

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