During my most recent vacation, my wife and I were eating at a local Korean restaurant in Waikiki. We love Korean food and found a pretty decent one that had good reviews on Yelp. There was a Korean couple eating at the table next to us and when they tried to pay with their Bank of Hawaii credit card, the waitress had to apologize. She thought that the couple were tourists from Korea and had included a 15% service charge to the bill. She proceeded to explain that the service charge is added to the bill to Korean tourists because in Korea, people are not expected to tip and they carry that standard with them when they travel outside of their country. The waitress said she will take the service charge off but the couple kindly said that it was fine. I saw the couple leave a few extra dollars on top of the service charge.
Typically, I don’t like to pay tip. I believe that the total cost of whatever your paying for should have service included in it and thus require no additional tipping necessary. But, that’s not the reality of life here in America. Americans thrive on tip money and will work that much harder to receive that additional few dollars in exchange for exceptional service. Understanding this standard, I tip 15% if the service was acceptable and up to 20% of pre-tax subtotal for very good service. If the service was beyond excellent, I’ll give 20% of the total bill (not pre-tax subtotal) and round up to the nearest dollar.
I probably pay tip everyday one way or another, whether it be for food, haircut, or pizza delivery. I have a different set of rules for each of these different service categories:
Movers ($3-5 per hour) – Movers can be tricky. There are so many scam artists out there. My friend was ripped off by professional movers when they refused to release his stuff after he refused to pay for additional costs that they never informed him about. I like to give some pre-tip money before they start working so they’ll treat my stuff with respect. At the end of the day, I’ll give additional money if everything turned out ok.
Home Repairs ($0) – Home repairs are one of the most overlooked costs of owning a home. I generally do not give tips for home repairs. I had a leaky roof a few months back and for $1250 total bill, that’s exactly what I paid. They have high hourly rate and an upcharge for all materials required for the repairs.
Pizza Delivery ($1 per pizza) – I always thought that giving 15-20% tip for pizza delivery was a little bit too much. Besides, nowadays, they have a delivery surcharge that’s added to the total bill.
Take-out ($0) – My friend and I had an argument one day about this topic. He said that he tips for take-out service. He believed that packaging his food for take-out deserved a 20% tip. I obviously strongly disagreed.
Haircuts ($2-3 per cut) – The most I gave for a simple haircut was $3. That’s when my barber was quick, didn’t talk, and focused only on cutting my hair. I hate it when barbers talk to his neighboring barbers as they cut my hair. I believe that my hair deserves undivided attention as it’s getting cut.
DJs and Photographers (10%) – During our wedding, I gave both my DJ and photographer 10% on top of their bill. The DJ ran the show smoothly without any problems and the photographer did his thing quietly and discreetly. I was happy with their work so I thought 10% was sufficient for their service.