American Customs: The Tip

Is it appropriate to still tip valet and other service providers as poorly as we’re accustomed?


I s it appropriate to still tip valet and other service providers as poorly as we’re accustomed? It was a topic of discussion in the car earlier. Is a dollar or two really enough in 2015?

I mean, it’s been the standard for so long that it feels inappropriate. Even a soda from McDonald’s is $1.09 after tax, so what really can they do? You’re also paying them for the courtesy and understanding that they didn’t violate your vehicle, what’s that worth for peace of mind on return visits?

It’s a good question, because if you account for inflation it feels like peanuts. We all know the valet lives off tips so why is the standard set so low? I usually give $5, unless I want my car left up front. If I want special service and accommodation I’ll give them $20 upon arrival.

I feel as if these amounts should be commonplace — only question then comes in to play is, would it force more people into that industry? Think of it, say you work valet at the montage, somewhere I pay $20 every time I pull up. Or The Ivy, where the valet was brazen enough to ask me for $20 to keep my car up front. The hourly wage you’d calculate, even if sharing tips, must be pretty high.

It’s an interesting outlook given that they’d surpass minimum wage with 3 cars, and how many does any given valet see on an hourly basis?

I suppose if you compound the smaller $1–3 tips over the course of the hour it’s far more substantial than it appears at the time. But it still feels degrading giving someone a dollar. I won’t even give a homeless person a dollar, it’s an insult. More of a “this is what I feel you’re worth” statement.

Which also brings me to, why is everyone so cheap with service providers? I bet the man paying $300 for a hooker for better looks or treatment wouldn’t pay more than $3 at the hotel valet they had parked at. It’s all relative but it’s all a service driven industry.

The other side of the debate is how American of a thing it is to have valet, I understand this, but being a service driven country why don’t we take better care of those services we’re so accustomed?

Am I the only one that feels this way? I can’t be.

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