Should I tip extra for room service?
September 11, 2006 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Tipping Etiquette: hotel room service.

Assume room service dinner with a $2.50 delivery charge and an 18% gratuity automatically added to the bill. Should I be tipping IN ADDITION to these charges? If so, how much? If not, why's there a blank line for gratuity above my signature?
posted by aberrant to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: OH: I'm in the US, since I think that'll make a difference.
posted by aberrant at 7:26 AM on September 11, 2006

Proper room service etiquette is to slip the delivery guy a couple of bucks cash money on his way out, so that his employer doesn't get its mitts on the tip.
posted by majick at 7:31 AM on September 11, 2006

No right answer to this. The service charge has been added already so you're under no obligation to tip more. Personally, I will generally leave as-is (no additional tip), unless the service has been truly outstanding, or if I expect to be ordering room service often at the same hotel (in which case I'm trying to encourage good service in the future). I either case, I'd generally add several bucks.
posted by blue mustard at 7:33 AM on September 11, 2006

If it's a gratuity and not a service charge then there should be no need for an extra tip unless the server went above and beyond the call of duty. Gratuity = tip.
posted by Alison at 7:33 AM on September 11, 2006

Service charges do not always go directly to the server. Sometimes they get it all, sometimes they only get a % of it, and sometimes it is all taken by the establishment. Many places use the service charge to cover wages, supplies, or whatever they want. There is a BIG distinction between " Service Charge" and " Gratuity" in terms of how the money is allocated. Since I was in the trade, I usually give extra cash whenever a personal service is recieved. If you charge the service, write " Tip" or " Gratuity" on the slip...this usually gets to the server.
posted by lobstah at 8:01 AM on September 11, 2006

Assume room service dinner with a $2.50 delivery charge and an 18% gratuity automatically added to the bill

They charged you a delivery charge and a gratuity on top of that. I don't think you need to pay any more.
posted by madman at 9:53 AM on September 11, 2006

I honestly don't understand why anyone would (or should) tip if there's an 18% gratuity already added. As in a restaurant, I assume that any added gratuity is going to the server. If not, then the restaurant (or hotel) is to blame for a shitty policy and I as the customer should not support that by tipping twice.
posted by gfrobe at 9:55 AM on September 11, 2006

1. Depends on WHAT the guy is delivering. Just dinner? Nope. But if it is something time sensitive, like a condom, might want to give the fella a little something for the effort.

2. Depends on HOW the guy is delivering. If he has one leg and needed to take the stairs up to your penthouse suite, hook him up.

Otherwise, nothing extra.
posted by nineRED at 10:06 AM on September 11, 2006

Proper room service etiquette is to slip the delivery guy a couple of bucks cash money on his way out, so that his employer doesn't get its mitts on the tip.

When you pay $X for your meal with no extra charges, absolutely. But here, you've already paid twice for the service. Maybe the guy would like a couple bucks tax free, but wouldn't we all? Unless you're a regular, I'd say forget it.
posted by jaysus chris at 10:08 AM on September 11, 2006

As others pointed out, if the 18% is listed as a gratuity, there's no obligation to tip anymore. I would say that almost every hotel I've stayed in has the situation you mention: a flat delivery charge and a percentage "gratuity" on the final bill. Personally, I never tip any additional if the gratuity is included. I think the blank line for gratuity on the receipt is in the hope you don't read the menu/receipt and throw an additional 15-20% on as well.
posted by sbrollins at 10:10 AM on September 11, 2006

Seriously 18% is a decent tip for a full dinner service. It seems that anything on top of that for dropping a tray off in my room is silly.

Worrying about how that 18% gets dispersed is not my issue that's something the service staff needs to deal with.

and I say this having been a server for many years.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:18 AM on September 11, 2006

If there's gratuity added to the bill, I don't tip on top of that.

Related question: Do people tip for to go orders? I'm not talking about walk-up lunch places with a tip jar, but sit-down restaurants where I just call in an order and pick it up.
posted by lunarboy at 11:04 AM on September 11, 2006

No. The hotel has chosen to treat you like an irresponsible and cheap guest by including the tip. It's a real drag to work in the food service industry and not get a tip - but adding the tip to a check automatically is insulting to tipping guests and is a burden to the server - since we all know that rarely do tipped workers report anywhere near 100% of their tips when filing their taxes.

lunarboy: I've always been bothered by that question too. For example, there's a tasty local pizza place with convenient locations near my home and office (Pizza Schmizza). It's not infrequent for me to stop in for a slice, or pickup a slice/pizza to-go. (FYI - it's a bus-your-own-table-after-eating kind of place). When I pay with a credit/debit card, there's a line for a tip. I don't like feeling like crossing out the "tip" line and copying the subtotal to the total line. I believe this makes me unduly feel cheap, and many people I've talked to seem to feel that if there is a tip line on the bill, they must tip - regardless of whether they feel that a tip is an appropriate request for the service.

I have been handed a piece of pizza, and when I'm done eating, I am expected to (and will) clear my own table. Why is this different than a deli or burger joint? Does the tip line on their bill exist only because they use the same credit card machine for deliveries as in-store purchases? I tend to think so, but it seems to make many people privately uncomfortable.
posted by terpia at 11:52 AM on September 11, 2006

lunarboy and terpia, there have been many many many AskMe threads about that. Probably worth trolling through the archives rather than derailing this one.
posted by occhiblu at 12:32 PM on September 11, 2006

I think I meant "trawling" in that last comment; "hunting" would have been better still. In any event, I did not in any way mean to imply that y'all were being trolls, just didn't want to get into yet another contentious take-out tipping conversation here.
posted by occhiblu at 12:46 PM on September 11, 2006

I remove the "gratuity" and tip the guy directly.
posted by madajb at 2:26 PM on September 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

generally the 18% they add is divided into tiny pieces, one of which only makes its way to your server. So i'd dish out a few more dollars and give it directly to him. It's probably a LOT more than he'd make off "gratuity".
posted by alon at 9:01 PM on September 11, 2006

Preface: I do tip and I tip well moreso because it's a social norm than because I feel they deserve it.

What do I really think? I think automatic tipping is stupid. I do my job every day, do I get tipped when I do something I would have had to do anyway? No. The reality is that they are being paid to be somewhere for 8 hours and do what they are told. They didn't bring you your food because they felt like being a nice person, they did it because it is their job to do so.

Also, if someone ever asks for a tip, call their supervisor immediately. That is not a tip, it's a fee. Had that happen recently at a free valet and I was appauled.
posted by ThFullEffect at 12:43 AM on September 14, 2006

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