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To Tip or Not to Tip: Navigating the World of Gratuities

Tipping is a customary practice in many service industries, often seen as a token of appreciation for good service. However, there are certain situations where leaving a tip isn’t necessary or expected. Understanding these scenarios can save you from social faux pas and ensure that you’re following proper etiquette.

Generally Not Required:

  • Fast Food: When you order and pay at the counter, and take your food to go or eat it in the designated seating area, tipping is not expected.

  • Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs): Similar to fast food, if you order and pay at the counter at places like Chipotle or Panera Bread, a tip is not required.

  • Coffee Shops: For basic coffee orders or grabbing a pre-made pastry, a tip is not necessary. However, if you order a complex drink or receive table service, a small tip might be appreciated.

  • Take-Out Orders: If you call in an order and pick it up yourself, tipping is not expected.

  • Delivery with Delivery Fee: If you pay a separate delivery fee when you order delivery, a tip is not mandatory, but some people choose to leave a small additional gratuity for the delivery person.

  • Counter Service Bars: If you order and pay directly at the bar for drinks and bar snacks, tipping is not mandatory, but some people leave a few bucks depending on the service.

Gray Areas:

  • Buffets & Cafeterias: Tipping is not mandatory, but some people leave a small amount to show appreciation for bussers who clear tables.

  • Food Trucks: Similar to counter service restaurants, tipping is not required, but a small gratuity might be appreciated depending on the service level.

Always Expected:

  • Sit-Down Restaurants: In full-service restaurants where you're waited on by a server, a tip of 20% of the bill is generally expected. This is considered part of their compensation.

  • Hair Salons & Barber Shops: A tip of 15-20% of the service cost is customary.

  • Spa Services: A 15-20% tip is standard for massages, facials, and other spa treatments.

  • Valet Parking: $5-$10 per use is customary, depending on the location and service level.

  • Taxi Drivers: A 10-15% tip is customary, or you can round up the fare to the nearest dollar.

Always remember: Tipping is a way to show appreciation for good service. If the service is exceptional, you can tip more than the suggested amount. However, tipping is not mandatory in all situations.

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