It’s no secret that I write a blog that obviously focuses on traveling on a budget; I can’t help it – deals naturally excite me the same way other people get a rush in other areas of life. The downfalls of being “budget-conscious” is that some people often lump the words “deals”, “budget”, “bargain”, etc. in the same category as being “cheap”. Let’s not confuse the two.
While I love discovering new ways to save money, I don’t skimp out on gratuity when I feel like it is deserved. Key word: deserved. I love rewarding friendly, service providers, and I have no problem tipping generously to those who go out of their way to make my service-experience more rewarding.
What I do have a problem with, is this: the ever-growing trend of the expectation of tips has gotten seriously out of hand… sometimes even to the point where it feels like bribery (I’ll touch upon that in a bit).
Here are some recent hair-pulling examples I have encountered in the last 6-months alone.
- I was in a taxi in NYC. There is a credit card machine in the back as a payment option. When I reached my destination, I pulled out my card (CSP, duh) to pay my $11.25 fare. The driver abruptly interrupts me as I am about to pay by saying “No, no, no, miss – the credit card machine is broken!” (mind you, those were his only words to me during the entire ride). Hmm.. oh really? “Sorry, but I don’t have cash”, I reply. “It looks like it’s working from the way it is lit up and saying ‘swipe here'”. “Oh ok, well actually… it only works if you add a 30% tip”, he says back. Nice try, buddy – you just threw away your chances of getting any tip what-so-ever.
- I was in a rush and didn’t have time to prepare dinner, so I called a local pizzeria and placed an order to run in and pick up a large pie. When I arrived to pick it up, the girl at the counter handed me my credit card payment slip and circled the area that said “add tip”, to try to make me feel more inclined to tip on takeout. I got the look of death when I put a line through it. Um, It’s take out.
- I had the Verizon Fios guy over to set up my wifi and TV service in my new place (which I was billed $69.99 for), towards the end of his appointment, he casually threw me a line saying that he “accepts tips”. A quick Google search of “tipping Verizon employees” lead me to a page that said that Verizon employees are not permitted to ask for or accept any tips on the job.
- I also love when I go out to dinner (restaurants in Miami are notorious for this practice), and there’s an automatically-added 20% service charge buried between the tax and total “for my convenience”. This doesn’t stop the restaurant from adding an empty tip slot at the bottom and “suggested gratuity calculator”. Sneaky sneaky…
- Most recently, today, I logged on TopCashBack and saw that I had $11.50 available to transfer over to Paypal. Before I was even able to hit “confirm my payment”, I saw there was a page asking for a tip. Granted TopCashBack takes pride in the passing off what they claim to be the highest cash back in the industry, call me crazy, but giving a tip to a cash back portal just seems ridiculous to me.
Now onto the “tipping/giving-gifts-now-turning-into-a-grey-area-of-bribery-category”, here’s a real-life issue I am currently facing: I am about to give birth to Baby Points Traveler any day now, and I have been fortunate to be part of a very nice “January/February 2014 birth club” filled with other young first-time moms.
Over the last 9 months, I have received incredible support from a great group of ladies, but I am noticing a trend among expecting mothers that is making me very ticked off: up-front nurse “thank you” gifts in the form of care packages, gift baskets, whatever the case.
Simply put, the intent of these care packages is this: I will provide you with a “nice gesture” up front, conveniently when I admit myself into labor&delivery, “thanking you in advance” for the great care you’re about to give me for the next 18+ hours.
I have no problem with thank you gifts (after a smooth delivery), but if the intent of the gift is in hopes of receiving better/more attentive care, then that is something I have a problem with. I would think the hospital collecting $30K+ for childbirth from my insurance would be enough these days, but no, now I need to worry about supplying my nurses with Chapstick, chocolate, and Orbit gum… :rolls eyes:
Now before I drive myself off a cliff on a tangent, lets swing back into travel gear. A few days ago, fellow BoardingArea blogger, Gary Leff, published a post about his experiences and opinions regarding tipping when traveling abroad.
When traveling, I try to avoid the obvious services that I personally don’t need, such as the bell man (I carry a backpack), valet parking services (if self park is available), etc. In general, I try to avoid “fancy-pants” experiences and tourist traps, and I prefer to hang low and blend in with the locals.
It really bugs me that in our day-to-day lives, we are being polluted with the expectation to hand over extra money at any given occasion, and now it’s come to the point where sly, manipulative tactics are employed to make us feel guilty for not tipping.
I miss the days where people would be grateful when they received a little extra. Or when people went out of their way to help someone because they truly wanted to do so from their heart.
I know tipping will always be a controversial topic of discussion, but I am curious to hear your perspectives about where the direction of tipping is headed as well. The comments are open…