Before you dig for coins
When it comes to tipping, no hard-and-fast rules exist. (A New York cabbie might tell you otherwise.) Still, guidelines are available that list adequate amounts to award various people for services rendered. The following tip amounts were derived from an interview with Michael Lynn, associate professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration, and from the Web site www.tipping.org (exact credentials unknown). Remember, tips are a way to express satisfaction. Use your own judgment.
Waiter/Waitress 15 percent of bill (opinions differ on whether to use pre- or post-tax total). 20 percent at four-star restaurants or for large parties. 5 to 10 percent for buffets.
Chinese-food/pizza deliverer $1 to $2 for short distance; $2 to $3 for longer distances; $5 or more for large orders.
Food deliverer 15 to 20 percent. (This is for people who deliver large orders from a number of restaurants.)
Taxi driver 15 percent of fare, no less than 25 cents.
Shoeshine 50 cents to $1.
Hotel-lobby attendant None for opening door or calling taxi from stand; $1 dollar or more for help with luggage or finding a taxi on the street.
Hotel chambermaid $5 a night minimum. Consider $7 to $9 a night for long stays (over a week).
Room-service waiter 15 to 20 percent of bill.
Bellhop $10 for bringing you to your room with luggage; $5 dollars for opening and showing the room.
Coat-check attendant $1 for one or two coats.
Car-park attendant/valet $1. If attendant handles packages or goes to great lengths: $2 or more.
Cruise-ship cabin steward/waiter $3 to $3.50 per day per person.
Furniture/appliance deliverer $5 to $10 per person minimum. If delivery is large, heavy, or requires assembly, perhaps $20 per person.
Flower deliverer $2 to $5 for flowers; $5 to $10 for larger plants.
Hair cutter 15 percent of the cost, generally a minimum of $1.
Hair washer $1 to $2.
Manicurist $1 or more, depending on cost.
Skycaps $1 or more per bag.
Golf caddie 15 to 20 percent of the greens fee.
Limousine driver 20 percent of the bill.
Tour-bus driver $1 to $2 per person per day.
Tour guide $1 to $2 per person per day.
Dog groomer 15 percent of the bill; no less than $2 per dog.
Holiday bonus special occasions sometimes call for lump-sum gifts
Apartment-building custodian $20 to $30.
Superintendent $30 to $100.
Health-club attendant $5 to $10.
Baby sitter Two nights pay or more, maybe a gift as well.
Cleaning person A week's pay or more.
Daycare provider $15 to $25 and a gift.
Garbage collector $15 to $20 per person.
Mail carrier Federal workers are prohibited from taking tips. The US Postal Service asks that gratuities be limited to $20.
Newspaper deliverer Daily delivery: $15 to $25; weekend delivery only: $5 to $15.
Sources: Tipping.org; Michael Lynn at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society