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Subject: Hotel (and general) tipping question rss

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lisa smith
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Usually maids get $2 a day in cheaper hotels and more in pricer ones. Make sure to tip each day as there are different maids everyday. Leave the money in an envelope marked for the maid so they can tell it apart from your change on the dresser.

It's pretty important because often maids don't get a living wage. For example in my city the living wage (enough money for the basics -rent,food, transportation, etc.) is about $20/hour but the state mandated minimum wage is less than half of that. Maids get paid closer to the minimum wage than the living one.

I am not sure when you are to tip shuttle drivers. I usually tip them if they drive some distance or handle my bags.

Generally you do flag down a bus or indicate that you want that particular busline.

Get the lonely planet travel book for the city you are visiting (or the state book if there is no city book). They are the best at customs like tipping and such for the city you are in. Customs can vary for somethings depending on the region of the country.
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Note that in the US it is customary to tip restaurant wait staff a percentage of the bill; this custom is so deeply ingrained that wait staff are exempt from minimum wage laws and are taxed based on the assumption that a large part of their earnings are cash tips. (In some establishments tips are pooled among all the service personnel or shared with kitchen staff.) The exact percentage (expected for even minimal service levels) varies; 15% used to be generous but is now often considered a lower bound. (A dollar per person in buffet restaurants for the person who cleans the table is pretty standard, though.)

As for NFL football games, one or more games are broadcast on the basic channels every Sunday and Monday night, some games are only on premium channels. (If you are unlucky enough to be in an area with a team that is so weak their home games do not sell out, then the game will not be broadcast.) Depending on the area, you may find anywhere from 1 to 6 games a week that you can watch. (Broadcasting random games from nonlocal teams may or may not draw a large enough audience to make it worthwhile.) You should be able to watch most games on the TV in your room.
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David Brown
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I came back from a USA holiday last year and fully particpiated in this 'tipping' way of live (afterall when in Rome..) but boy it become expensive - If someone says good morning to you, then they probable expect to be tipped.

We stayed at one of the Disney resorts for our stay and by way of an example of how out of control (to a European) tipping appears to be I'll explain my experience at a buffet breakfast at one of their better locations. There were four of us having breakfast, all the waitress had to to was introduce herself, get us some juice and coffee, point out where we helped ourselves for breakfast and there present us with the bill and cleaned the table. It must have been 10 minutes tops in terms of work. For this she was expecting and got 18%-20% tip and (IIRR) on a $70+ meal. That's not a bad hourly rate. And this was the norm

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Albert Hernandez
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Especially if dining in a large group, the tip might already be included on a bill. Make sure to check that or you end up paying the tip twice. It will state it clearly on the bill if the tip is include.


PS - enjoy the trip. I hope you have lots of fun.
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Andy Ravenscroft
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Do you tip drivers of eg Van Galder busses from Chicago airport to Madison?


I've ridden that bus many times. No need to tip the Van Galder driver unless your bags are especially heavy (they pull the bags from the under-bus storage, but they do that for everyone).
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Scott Langston
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Welcome to Wisconsin! I hope you like cheese and good beer!

I think the hotel maid tipping issue has been addressed. I'll add my two cents about the busses and shuttles.

1. Hotel Shuttles - I do not tip unless they handle suitcases. If they give you a recommendation about a good restaurant or some other local hot spot, a dollar or two might be in order, though.

2. Van Galder - No need to tip (unless you have really heavy bags, as mentioned previously).

3. Local Bus - The Madison bus system is great. There are designated stops, and they do stop if there is someone waiting there. As for stopping to get off, you can always let the driver know where you are headed. My daughter rides the system daily and says that the drivers are friendly and helpful.
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Eric Jome
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ldsdbomber wrote:
OK this is a weird question I know, but since I am going to be staying in a hotel for 6 weeks, how much are you supposed to leave as a tip for the cleaning lady?


I have worked in a hotel as a cleaning... guy? I'm not a lady, so what is the male counterpart of "cleaning lady"? I made beds, cleaned rooms, collected linens, cleaned bathrooms, so yeah ... "cleaning guy".

You are, in my opinion, not required to tip cleaning staff at all. Tipping is a nice jesture for good service, only really considered commonplace where the wages of the workers are specifically modified to accomodate tipping - the employer is allowed to pay at a lower wage because of tips. In general, I believe this is not the case among hospitality staff at a hotel.

When I worked in a hotel, it was a place that had many international visitors in addition to more typical guests. It was much more common that international guests would leave a tip. Usually, if anyone did, it was once only upon the end of their stay with the hotel.

Quote:
Are you supposed to tip a driver of a shuttle bus that I am likely going to use most days to get to the course, think it runs daily from the hotel?


No. You do not tip the driver of a shuttle bus unless they handle your bags. A small tip is appropriate if they handle your bags for you.

Quote:
Do you tip drivers of eg Van Galder busses from Chicago airport to Madison?


No. You do not tip bus drivers.

Quote:
How much do you tip these days when some guy will tackle me in the lobby to get hold of my suitcase?


I tip anywhere from $1 to $2 all the way up to $5 for someone handling my bags depending on how much help they've been and how friendly they've been.

Quote:
How do normal busses work over there, do you just hang around in a stopping place, or is it like back in England that you have to poke your hand out to flag them down there as well?


You wait at a stop for a bus to come and pick you up. Stops are scheduled, not hailed. Usually, once on the bus, you can ask a driver to stop along their route, but that is rare and odd. Usually, you just get off at the nearest stop to your destination... but I wouldn't be afraid to ask the driver to stop.

Quote:
ny other tips for US based survival gratefully received (oh, the NFL and MLB games, are they on "normal" TV or will I have to find sports bars for them (I suppose a hotel lobby will show them)?


Professional sports games will be on TVs in most dining and drinking establishments. They will be happy to change to a particular game in most circumstances. It is unlikely they will be willing to turn to a sport that is not avidly popular in the US.

Generally, getting around in the US Midwest (west of Pennsylvania, north of Missouri, east of the Dakotas) is extremely easy and the people are very, very friendly. Much more friendly and easy going and tolerant and helpful than anywhere else in the US, with people in urban areas being even better than average... if you should need help, you should be able to ask just about anyone you meet on the street for advice.
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Eric Jome
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thirtybrowns wrote:
...If someone says good morning to you, then they probable expect to be tipped.

We stayed at one of the Disney resorts ...


You were at a resort. Resorts are like that. Regular places are not.
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Jim Horvath
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cosine wrote:
thirtybrowns wrote:
...If someone says good morning to you, then they probable expect to be tipped.

We stayed at one of the Disney resorts ...


You were at a resort. Resorts are like that. Regular places are not.


Correct. Disney is a whole different scenario in and of itself.
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wayne r
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I was surprised to hear that people actually tip maids every day. I don't tip the maid until the very last day of my stay.

With restaurants, unless it is a group setting (6+ people), I'll only tip from $1-$3 no matter what I ordered (I don't follow the 15% rule).

I've never heard of tipping bus drivers...

Buses have designated bus stops where they allow people to get on and off the bus.

You can catch football in the regular channels. No need to get cable unless you want to watch a team that is not of that city.
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Pete Lane
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Yeah i was a bit shocked as well reading some of these posts. I travel a lot as well, and we rarely tip bellhops or "maids" (again, unless in a resort). If they are coming to do something above their "regular" duties... than sure! But anything beyond that isn't nessessary. Vallets are another issue all together, esp if the hotel doesn't charge for them (like in Vegas).

Also, don't expect the bus services to be like that in Europe. Things over there are much closer together, and bus hopping is a quick and easy sollution to getting across country. Here everything is much more spread out and bus trips can easily avoid areas you might want to visit. When I lived in the UK I used the bus for everything. We often lamented that we'd never think of doing such a thing in the US because it would take forever to get anything done.
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Eric Jome
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HauRuck wrote:
You tip restaurants, cab drivers, the valet.


Indeed, if you follow this rule, you can't really go wrong - no one else is going to really expect a tip from you, even if they seem to be wanting one.

And Jeff brings up a really important point - over a certain number of guests or a certain amount on the bill, many places will take the liberty of adding a gratuity. Look for that and don't feel compelled to pay more.

Lastly, it is nice, if you can, to tip directly in cash. Traditionally, tipping is part of an underground economy and although illegal, much goes unreported as income. You can view a tip as a gracious gesture for exceptional service, but you can also view a tip as part of helping others in low wage, thankless work - a form of charity. If you think of it as the latter, then I feel it's better to be more direct. And, these days, if you tip on credit cards, the employer may try to take a cut.
 
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Eric Jome
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stagger lee wrote:
When I lived in the UK I used the bus for everything. We often lamented that we'd never think of doing such a thing in the US because it would take forever to get anything done.


Buses are, generally, pretty dreadful in the US. I don't use them unless no other option is available.

Madison, WI has some of the best bus service in the US. And it still isn't a ghost of the convenience and affordability of buses in other countries.

Americans don't do mass transit. Most of the time, we can't stand each other long enough.
 
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Mike Thompson
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cosine wrote:
HauRuck wrote:
You tip restaurants, cab drivers, the valet.


Indeed, if you follow this rule, you can't really go wrong - no one else is going to really expect a tip from you, even if they seem to be wanting one.


Delivery persons.
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Eric Jome
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CyanideNow wrote:
Delivery persons.


Interesting. I've never tipped a delivery person before. But yeah, that's not outside the bounds of reasonable tipping at all.

If you've seen an old movie and someone tipped someone in that, you could probably do the same. And I've seen Bogart tip someone for a delivery I think... yeah, that's cool. Kinda like someone handling your bags for you.

You know, a previous employer I worked for would reimburse me for tips I made on a trip on their behalf. I shoulda been more generous.
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Pete Lane
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Some great advice Eric!

Being someone who's lived overseas for an extended period, I can say that there is some very large differences... but more often than not there will be few things that jump out to you as odd. We definately handle our liqour a bit differently (it tends to be an escape here, overseas more restrained since you learn how to "handle" it at a younger age). We depend QUITE heavily on our cars, mostly because the train and bus systems are poor. Things are much more spread out than overseas, Madison for example, is sort of plopped down in the middle of farmland. It's 30-45 minutes to the next "large" city, but only if you count Wisconsin Dells. Also, be aware that most places indoors do not allow smoking (in fact Wisconsin has a ban on indoor smoking, as does MN if you head our way). I know in the UK at least, smoking was far more common than it is here.
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B C Z
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ldsdbomber wrote:
OK this is a weird question I know, but since I am going to be staying in a hotel for 6 weeks.


One thing to consider, if you have any control over it...

There are places that have extended stay models where you only get a cleaner coming in 2-3 times a week. These locations typically have a small kitchenette with a microwave and a fridge and provide simple pots/pans that you can use to prepare your own meals.

This model is great if you're looking to save money on lodging (they are usually cheaper) and on food (because you'll familiarize yourself with the local grocery market and prepare your own instead of eating out every day for six weeks, which can get old very quickly).

This helps dodge the whole tipping issue in many cases, which also saves money.

For a six week stay, you're not so much a guest as a temporary resident.

-=-=-=-=-

One thing to realize is that tipping standards are generally created by the people receiving the tips, not the people giving them. It used to be that 10-15% of the bill was considered a good range, but recent campaigns have started to push that 15% is a minimum, 20% is good service and you should tip even more for great service. In the end, tipping is never required but is a good idea if you anticipate ever going back to that place. Even when the restaurant has a policy for enforced gratuity (usually 17 or 18% of the total bill) for large parties (generally six or more), if you had horrible service, you're allowed to call over the manager and get that removed or reduced.

Note that the enforced gratuity was instituted for two reasons:
1) Larger parties tend to tip lower because everyone assumes someone else will get it.
2) Larger parties don't turn around as fast and represent lost potential revenue and a drain on the server's time, who could instead be serving multiple two-ups and turning them over while the larger party shoots the breeze and hangs out after the food has been consumed.

Being a generous tipper has gotten me:
Bumped to the front of my hair dresser's queue when I waved at her from the back of the walk-in line.
Very attentive service at my regular restaraunts where now I ask for specific servers by name.
Preferential treatment when arriving/departing from a hotel that I frequent once a year at the same time every year (by the same bellman every year).

In all of these situations, I expect to be seeing these people again and have functionally bought my way into their attention. Though I tend to treat any restaurant situation as a potential 'return to' spot, I feel less of a need to tip generously for adequate service because I know what great service can be.

If you want a biased view, this website has some that are obviously from a server's viewpoint:
http://www.tip20.com/tipping-standards
The name of the website gives their bias away from my perspective.



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Eric Jome
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stagger lee wrote:
We definately handle our liqour a bit differently...


That's a kind way of saying we drink to get drunk here. Many people use alcohol as a mind altering substance, not as a recreational drink. Wisconsin is particularly bad in this area, although you'll find people will have very complex and refined tastes where beer is concerned - we're descendants of Germans, after all. Older people are more inclined to abuse alcohol responsibly, though.

On weekend evenings (Thrs - Sunday) on State Street in Madison, you'll see exceptional displays of public drunkeness on the part of university students for example. Personally, I'd stay home and game instead... with a nice beer.
 
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Anton der Grosse
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peppermeister wrote:

3. Local Bus - The Madison bus system is great. There are designated stops, and they do stop if there is someone waiting there. As for stopping to get off, you can always let the driver know where you are headed. My daughter rides the system daily and says that the drivers are friendly and helpful.


I'll clarify a few things here, having spent my college days in Mad-town..

The bus system (Metro) is a hub-n-spoke system (think Air Baron ). All bus stops are clearly marked (the routes are numerical and most have shelters with maps inside of them). The object is to collect passengers at the spokes (N,S,E,W) in-bound towards the capitol square (hub). There you transfer to an out-bound bus towards your destination.

Note - if you are in need of a specific bus, do NOT remain seated at the bus stop! The drivers do not stop if they don't think they need to and no one on the bus has signaled for a stop. Similarly, if you are on the bus there is a button/switch/strip thingy to push to signal to the driver that you want to get off at the next stop. If you are unsure of your destination, take a seat near the driver and let them know where you need to go. Most (not all) of the drivers are more than happy to help you get off at the right stop, but they also want to keep that bus moving. No tipping is necessary.

If you need a transfer, request a transfer pass immediately upon paying. However, because of the length of your stay I would HIGHLY recommend the monthly pass (~ $50/31 days vs. $2/ride) and then you don't have to keep track of transfer tickets. BTW - transfers are only good for 2hrs. The bus system covers nearly the entire metro and suburban area.

As for other tipping tips, restaurant/bar service (15-20%) is expected but make sure it hasn't been added to your bill as a "courtesy". No tipping at a buffet unless you receive service (they bring you your drinks) and then it's typically $1-2; anyone handling your bags ($1-2/bag depending on size - goes for airport, taxi and hotel) is customary. 10-20% for the taxi driver or other driver "for hire" (courtesy shuttle drivers do not need to be tipped unless there are bags or if they are taking you to a non-standard destination). For hotel service, the suggestion above is a good one - the "Do not disturb" sign is your friend. Leave it off when you want new towels and sheets and leave a tip either in an envelope or on the bed ($5-10 depending on the price of your room or $3-5 for daily service regardless of hotel).

Hope this helps and enjoy your trip!
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I don't know what kind of hotel you'll be staying in, but the general US hotel standard is that your sheets and towels are changed every single day. That's an appalling waste of water, labor, and energy. More enlightened hotels have a system of some sort that you can use to signal when you actually want fresh linens. (This saves the hotel money, and makes guests feel irrationally better about the added epsilon of Green-ness.)
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Pete Lane
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cosine wrote:
stagger lee wrote:
We definately handle our liqour a bit differently...


That's a kind way of saying we drink to get drunk here. Many people use alcohol as a mind altering substance, not as a recreational drink. Wisconsin is particularly bad in this area, although you'll find people will have very complex and refined tastes where beer is concerned - we're descendants of Germans, after all. Older people are more inclined to abuse alcohol responsibly, though.



Yeah I don't mean to generalize, but it was a pretty glaring difference for me. All of my American freinds ended up looking like idiots after a few drinks, where all of our Brit friends could have a beer in the middle of the day and not make any trouble out of it.
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