In most countries, tipping isn’t customary. In some it is actually considered rude and seen as a way for the tipper to gloat without having to even open their mouth. However, the States has a heavy tipping culture for 2 reasons.
Firstly, there isn’t really a set ‘living wage’, and hours can be increased or decreased without the employee having a say in the matter. Secondly, due to the lack of minimum wage, especially for those working in low skilled/manual jobs, such as housekeeping, bartending and waiting staff, said member of staff will go above and beyond the call of duty in the hope of getting a few extra dollars that they don’t have to pay tax on.
If you have ever seen the film The Help, it’s a very similar situation. The women employed by the wealthy families in the 40’s – 60’s did everything from raising babies to tiling and tarring roofs, despite that not being on their job description. They did this simply to keep their jobs and to hopefully get a little reward afterwards, be that a small token of appreciation, or a pay rise.
As much as I do love America, and as much as I love the people, unfortunately, America is still in the 60’s when it comes to pay. Yes there is a minimum wage, and everyone must abide by it, but in comparison to the UK, we must seem to live like gods in our ivory towers on solid gold thrones.
There is a reason why areas become no-go areas and ghettos, and that isn’t down to ethnicity, religion or even sexuality. It’s down to the fact people become desperate, and people when pushed will go to great lengths to try to survive. Hence why Vegas has a huge amount of prostitutes, drug dealers, loan sharks and pimps.
The prostitutes owe the drug dealers, the drug dealers owe the pimps, the pimps owe the loan sharks and the loan sharks owe one of the above. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s a very sad situation. Basically, without a proper living wage people rely on tips, or they are forced to turn to the more elicit trades.
It is generally seen by the rest of the world that a tip is a gift for exemplary service, such as a builder completing work before schedule, or a waiter making you feel like you are the only person in the world because their service was so good.
In the States, it’s almost expected, regardless of the quality of the service you have received. It is obviously you prerogative, but unless you have a terrible experience and the person doesn’t deserve a tip, always tip. Also tipping works in your favour as you’ll be at the top of their list and the quality of their work will be higher than if you don’t.
Also, if you don’t have change *right now*, say in a casino and you only have $100 notes, the server will more than understand if you explain and tell them you’ll tip double next time when you have some smaller notes. Also, in a bar, a lot of staff are happy for you to give them a large tip at the end of the night as oppose to tipping after each drink.
Below you will find a little table that will give you a guide. Obviously, it’s up to you what you tip, but remember, too much and you could end up looking like an egotistical snob.
Waiting Staff: 15-20% of bill.
Valet: $3-$5 per vehicle
Dealer: Total of your bet 1 – 2 times and hour
Drinks Staff: $1 – $2 per drink, more if the drink is a speciality drink
Concierge: Between $2 and $20 or more depending on the service per appointment
Taxi: 15% of fare
Housekeeper: $2 – 20 per day depending on the quality of service
Bell attendant/Bell hop: $1 – 2 per item of baggage
Front Desk: Only tip for room upgrade. Usually half of the difference of the cost of the upgrade
Spa and Salon: 15 – 20% of the total bill unless a specialist service, such as extensions or colour correction, then 20% to 40%.