This is what I usually do (of course, this varies person to person, budget to budget)
Taxi: Nothing outstanding- round the total up to the next dollar, then add a dollar. (i.e. total is $5.45...round up to $6...add another dollar $7, paid)
*some taxi drivers may say they "don't have change". Make sure you have singles to avoid overpaying them out of frustration of not having change.
If they were really great drivers (helped outstandingly with luggage, gave tips about travel, etc) add whatever else. If they were horrible, you're not obligated to give anything. (you might want to at LEAST round up to the next whole dollar to avoid waiting for change)
Restaurants: typically, double the tax (Tax is about 8%...so tip is about 16-20%)
The size of tips expected by some service providers in New York is astronomical compared to UK standards (Although nowhere near as bad as Las Vegas). Typically $1 to $2 per drink in bars, room maids $2 - $5 a day for cleaning your hotel room and taxi drivers up to 20%.
All this soon adds up, and has run into hundreds of $$ for us on some trips. Although I don't have a problem with tipping itself, many VT forum articles have some New Yorker whinging about how these impoverished locals are earning "the minimum wage" and how "they need these tips just to survive".
Let's just look at that for a second...
...I've never worked in a bar, but I'm assuming a reasonably competent barman could serve one drink in one minute - from taking the order, pouring the drink, collecting the cash and sorting the change. On a busy night (ANY night, in ANY semi-decent New York bar) that's a minimum of 60 drinks a hour. That's at least $60 a hour basic wage, with the bar salary on top.
If I've got my facts wrong, and these workers are indeed on the poverty line, then what happens when these hundreds of thousands of service workers are on their days off, and they visit bars, hail taxis, get their hair cut, and have a package delivered?
Are we as tourists gullibly meant to believe they too are dishing out $2 tips for each beer they buy.
I think not.
That said, I left a reasonable tip in most places, and in those that I didn't, I never got any remarks. (Mainly to the toilet attendants who like to make you feel "special" by turning the tap on and giving you a sorry sheet of kitchen towel).
Following the link below, some muppet has written a whole web page on the etiquette of tipping. Follow his advice and a trip to a restaurant will cost you about $40 before you even order the food.
15% for personal services, such as taxi, hairdressers, restaurants etc. In restaurants a quick and easy way to calculate the tip is to double the tax, which will be stated on the bill (8.25% to date).
For bell-boys, $1 a bag, and in bars $1 per drink.
Get used to it!
Visitors to the States MUST understand that service personnel (waiters, doormen, bellboys, etc.) DO NOT GET PAID MINIMUM WAGE. They get just a few dollars per hour. They depend on their tips in order to live. For a major city in the US (and New York certainly qualifies), tip about 20%; up or down, depending on service. (An easy way to do this in NYC is to double the tax. That works out to about 17%) Give a dollar per bag to the skycap, bellboy, etc. Leave two or three dollars per day, per person to the hotel maid. Taxi drivers, hairdressers, etc., are paid much better, but it is still expected to give them a tip for service. For the cab ride, maybe a dollar, depending on the length of the ride. For the hairdresser, maybe 15%, or ask the receptionist for her advice.
We are not a nation of millionaires. Most people are just scraping by, especially in the last three or four years. And also bear in mind that most of our paychecks do not include health care, dental care or more than two weeks vacation per year. New Yorkers are not looking for a handout by expecting a tip - they are trying to put food on the table for their families.
Don't fret too much on tipping. Use common sense - higher tips for good service, lower or no tip for poorer service.
Here's what this native does:
Good idea to be able to give exact fare. Keep a bunch of $1 and $5 available.
Cabbies generally make good $, but they work hard and usually a tip is called for.
Regular service - round up tab to next $ then minimum $1.00 or add 10%.
Exceptional - guy is courteous, drives politely helps with bags (other than popping open the trunk) etc around 20% - heck the guy deserves it!
Crummy - I'll round up to the nearest $ and pay - I'm not waiting around for change!
Beware - some restaurants tack on 15% (or more) automatically, especially for groups of more than 4, so check you bill and signs in the rest.
Regular service - 15% before tax tab or double the tax (around 17%).
Exceptional - I'll take 10% of final bill (move the decimal point one left) and double that amount - so 20%+
Crummy - Depends how bad - sometimes 10% pre-tax, sometimes I wouldn't leave anything.
No one has ever come running after me, but if they did I would call 911 and would feel especially vindicated about the tip (or lack of). Crying about a tip is not proper behavior for anyone. No matter what anyone here says, no matter where you are, a tip is never mandatory. But do tip for service and food presentation, not flavor - if the flavor is not to your liking that is an issue between you and the restaurant not you and the server.
I never rented a hotel in NYC, but $2 to $5 / day should be sufficient. Again if poor service, no tip.
Ok, this is an outsiders view on tipping, hey correct me if I am wrong but isn't tipping based on the service given rather than feeling obliged to do the 'local thing' ?
Ok prime example, you go to a restaurant, the service is great, your waiter/waitress is just fab..tip time...double the tax and round up, maybe a few more dollars on top as you leave there happy and content !
The otherside of the coin now..the service is mediocre but hey you have been told that these guys and gals work on a minimum wage and rely on tips.....well hello, the service industry isn't there to deliver miserable non attentive service and expect tips at the end of the day ! Work for your money if that is your chosen job...ok we all have a sob story but that is life, charity is for the real charity cases !!
The worst senario...OMG..is that person for real, am I dreaming or is this the worst service ever??? Did I order that??? Where is my food? Why is this service staff being so rude???? Rule of thumb...don't leave a tip....... what are they going to do???? Say a few words to you....big deal...you are out of there and probably never going to return..
Ok, so not leaving a tip is a bad thing? It isn't the worst thing that can happen! Why should any consumer pay for something they are not happy about? Just because it is a custom or 'what the locals do' does not mean that you have to do it. It might also make the bad members of the service industry sit up and say to themselves.... 'Well, I have to do better' , rather than just expect to be tipped !
I have not left tips in restaurants on numerous occasions in NY....because I feel that they don't deserve it for shoddy bad rude service. You should not have to ! The waiter or waitress are not going to use physical violence to extract money off you as that is a criminal offence!
On the other hand, good service deserves it's rewards, don't be bullied or think you have to tip ! Remember, you earned your holiday cash, why give it away for the sake of things!
Enjoy your stay in the Big Apple !
It seems that everyone, regardless of who they are - waitresses, cab drivers etc EXPECT a tip, I am not stingy and DO tip at home - but only if the service is fab, here everyone wants a tip and it doesnt matter if the service is crap! so just a couple of dollars will go a long way.
The prices quoted do not include New York 8.25% sales tax, which applies to hotel rooms (plus a 5% hotel tax and $2 hotel fee per room per night). Clothing and footwear under $110, prescription drugs, and non-prepared food bought in grocery stores are exempt from sales tax.
Tipping is more or less compulsory in the US. Remember that service is never included on a New York bill, unless you're in a large party at a restaurant (six or more people), in which case it is noted. Tip cab drivers and waiters 15-20%, coat-checkers $1, bellhops around $1 per bag, hotel maids $1 a day and bartenders between 50¢ and $1 per drink, depending on what type of environment you're in. (by let's go).
I have found that tipping in New York is very customary. Its normal for every drink you buy, to leave a $1 for the person that served you.
I know that in the UK its not very common to leave tips at the bar (every attempt I have made, the money was given back to me), but remember to leave a tip after you have bought a drink or you might get frowned upon.
For as incredible as New Yorkers are (and we have gotten a bad rap in the past for being to tough and cold...we are very warm americans!)...
...This is important.
Whatever you do when you experience dining in New York: Do not forget to TIP!!! 15 to 20%, and if you are generous...more...
But if you don't, your pleasent wonderful culinary outing will be ruined by the absolute certainty of an angry waiter chasing you out of the restaurant and down the block...it happens. So maybe it doesn't happen that often, but it has and does!
(don't forget about cabbies, bartenders, and shotgirls for that matter)
The current culture of tipping may be too entrenched to abolish, but one can dream. Tipping is obviously in the best interest of those in the restaurant industry. I have no problem promoting self interest, except that in this case, it’s at the expense and frustration of their customers. Simplify it and include the cost in the price of the meal. (By the way - If tipping is truly at the discretion of the customer, and not required the law, how can the government justify taxing tips ? )
Michael Lynn, a professor at Cornell University's hotel school, has calculated that over $26 billion a year is spent on gratuities in the United States alone. Despite occasionally being under tipped, the majority of servers make more money under the current tipping system than they would as low-skilled salaried employees. Servers in good restaurants can pull down $150 in tips a day (& much more in better restaurants). That’s $40,000 (and up) a year. That’s ridiculous for that skill level.
Tipping creates unnecessary complications for the customer (as well as some for server, restaurant manager/owner, and rest of the staff). Tipping can promote an antagonistic division between the customer (who might perceive the service as mediocre), and the server (who assumes the tip is a given). Why are the customers put this position and why are we expected to participate as a financial planner for the server ? Why is it the customer’s job to provide the restaurant’s employees an incentive to perform? Isn’t that the job of the restaurant manager/owner ? The customer’s only involvement should be assessing the quality of the food, service, and atmosphere, and determining if it’s worth a future visit. What if this insanity was the norm for every industry out there ?
It’s about time that the restaurant industry stop biting the hand it feeds. Why shouldn’t it be simplified ? (something we should also ask the IRS).
I recently returned from NYC. We went to Bubba Gumps Shrimp Co. and our waitress was horrible. So was not personable, we only saw her twice, once to get our orders and give us our drinks. The bartender paid more attention to us and talked to us more than she did. I have worked in the restaurant industry before only getting paid $2.15/hour so I understand how important tips are to live day to day. However, you EARN THE TIP. If you get horrible service, you dont leave a tip. If you get average service, you tip anywhere from 10-20%, if you are very pleased with the service and have no complaints than tip above 20%. I left the waitress $1.25 tip. I do not feel bad. I also have to work for the money I earn and will not just give it away becuase of their hourly wage. If they want a good tip then they need to give good service. It's simple, no mater where you go.
This picture is of the bartenders. He actually took our camera and ran off. He gave it back a few minutes later and this is the picture he took. He was hilarious.
Throw in the hidden sales taxes, and you can easily see a New York holiday budget ballooning once you are there. I suggest planning out your holiday and multiplying the budget by 1.20 just to be sure you’re covered. Most restaurants have priced menus on their websites anyway so no bill should come as a shock to you.
On a typical holiday to New York, the bulk of your tips will go to taxi drivers, bar staff & waiters. Compared to the UK, taxis are quite cheap so I don’t begrudge the extra $$, as the actual meter fare is probably just covering fuel, car depreciation etc. Also, if their English is good enough (almost none are American), most cab drivers have got pretty interesting stories to tell about their lives.
Don’t mind the 15% in restaurants as most of the wait staff put English service in the shade. A good tip I read recently (from an American) on VT recently advised tipping 15-20% on the FOOD TOTAL (i.e. minus the wine). Presumably as most main courses are similarly priced and it is personal choice if you want a $30 or $300 bottle of wine. I have only refused to pay the 15% once – in Koi – and the waiter, along with other diners, were pretty stunned. Surprisingly, or not maybe, he took money off the bill, but kept his 15% on the revised lower total.
Bar staff are probably the most useful people to keep on side. If you sit at the bar and start chatting to them, invariably you will get a free round or two. When you leave, simply leave a larger tip than you would normally. In the case of one free round, I left a tip equal to slightly less than a round total. You save money and the bar staff get a larger tip. This beautifully plays the system back to the bar owners – the only loser in the transaction. We lost count of the number of free drinks we got this way. In the better bars they’re also a great source of knowledge for nightlife tips and celebrity gossip.
In USA, services and taxes are not included on the price.
Whatever you buy, you have to add the tax.
But if you are in a restaurant, you have to pay a tip to the waiter.
Usually, you give 10 to 15 % but in NYC, in the non franchised restaurants, waiters expect at least 20%.
On many bills, they already calculate the tip for you, so that they are sure you don't made a mistake in the low side.
There has been much written about tipping in New York - just do it, it's the norm, however much you object. But I am commenting specifically on tipping the tour guides on the Grayline (and other) tour buses. On each trip, the guide gives a speil about how they are in the service industry, and rely on tips. I'll accept this, but one guide suggested that the proper amount was $5 per person! For a bus that holds over 50 people, that's $250 for a 1 1/2 hour trip. That's just too extreme.