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Here's a tip

Advice columnist Emily Yoffe -- a.k.a. Dear Prudence -- addresses the subject of whether you should tip your newspaper carrier at Christmas during her weekly chat on washingtonpost.com (Answer: YES!). The original question led to a multiple question/comment/answer exchange.

The entire transcript of today's chat can be found here at Slate, but the exchange about the importance of tipping your carriers is under the cut:

Washington Post-land: Our paper carrier kindly gave us a Christmas card (he can tell we celebrate Christmas from the type of bricks on our house, I guess, or maybe from the shingle color) with an addressed return envelope for a gift for him. The return envelope seems crass to us ... we recycled it. Bah humbug.

Emily Yoffe: He's not selecting you because he knows you celebrate Christmas. Our house says we don't and we got cards from all our carriers (we get three papers a day). I gladly write a check (I give them $75 each) for their excellent service. Your newspaper carrier gets up in the middle of the night every night, no matter what the weather, and has a paper on your doorstep every morning. He or she deserves a bonus. If the return envelope seems crass, your bill should have a line on it where you can write in an amount for a tip.

The way the industry is going, your carriers might have to find another line of work one day—so appreciate what they do for you now all year.


Tipping: They get paid for their work. I don't get a tip for doing my job. And the paper receivers shouldn't have to tip—that was just plain tacky!

Emily Yoffe: Hey, Scrooge, Merry Christmas!

Some people get tipped for their work, some don't. Newspaper carriers should.


Re: Tipping: I don't know, I'm with the "shouldn't be expected to tip" people. The economy's terrible—we don't have any extra money at our us, that's for sure. My husband's been out of work for three months. So why should we tip someone who is lucky enough to still have a job?

Emily Yoffe: I tip the carrier generously because I'm in the business, my husband was, and it's an expense we expect each year. Of course, if you can't afford it, you can't afford it! However, if you still eat out occasionally, you know you're going to tip even if the waitress has a job, and you don't. If you can, you could put $5 in the envelope, thank the carrier for the great service, and say things are tough and you wish it could be more.


Menlo Park, Calif.: Normally I'm a very generous tipper. Our newspaper delivery person makes no effort to deliver our paper to the walkway. Many days I have to crawl on my hands and knees under the car to retrieve it. I just don't feel like tipping him/her. Is that wrong?

Emily Yoffe: I've gotten many more comments about newspaper tipping—with people saying they are not happy with the carrier so they don't tip as a protest. If the service is not good, you should complain during the year about papers not being bagged, or not delivered conveniently. Then when that improves, you will feel happy tipping for the good service. People who provide services to you all year—unless there are extenuating circumstances, like your being broke—should be tipped.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
Ennh. I feel for the situation, but I'm kind of with "Tipping". Maybe not so scrooge-like about it, but....I hate the whole institution of tipping, and how it's all like this big 'secret' as to who expects it and who doesn't. How is the average person supposed to know? Some people/lines of work *can't* accept tips, even if it looks like a job you'd tip for.

Okay, waitresses. You're paying for the food, and tipping for the service. Got it. But then you have hairdressers. You're paying for the service. What are you tipping for, the wear and tear on the scissors? And then you tip the employees, but not the salon owner. Greaaaat. How is the average customer supposed to know the difference? (And how is *anyone* supposed to know the etiquette of all of this without extensive schooling in it, especially given our plebian society these days?)

The guessing game surrounding it, and the potential for ill-will and embarrassment when one gets it wrong, kind of disgusts me.

Honestly, I wish the whole idea of 'expected' tipping would go the way of the dinosaur. I don't care if you get paid crap - so do I, and like Tipping said, I don't get tipped for my job. I think that if you (generic, all encompassing 'you') expect a tip to be part of the pay, then you should just include it in the pay, and charge customers accordingly. I'd be happy to pay a little extra up front, if I didn't have to agonize over whether or not to tip, and how much, and are-they-gonna-be-offended-if-it's-only-X-instead-of-Y-amount, and then there's the social stress of even getting it into the person's hand.... I mean, don't tell me the haircut is $15, then get secretly annoyed if I don't leave you a $3 tip. Just charge me $18 up front and let's be done with it.

Tipping ought to be as it was originally intended - an *extra*. A 'thank you' for service over and above the expected level.

Not a demand, or an excuse for employers to pay people crap and make them depend on, essentially, charity in order to make a decent living.

I'm sorry! You just hit one of my hot buttons, here! :-)
Dec. 15th, 2009 03:28 pm (UTC)
Eh. I don't have a problem with tipping, personally, but I know some people do. The only time I really get annoyed is when people don't tip waiters because, to me, it seems like a tough job (I mean I KNOW I could never be a waitress...I wouldn't last five minutes before I'd spill something, or mess up an order, or a rude customer would make me cry!).

Every once in a while if the service is just awful, I won't tip. But a lot of the time I will tip a really small amount and then ask to speak to the manager (which is actually worse for the waitress or whoever because, yeah she got a tip, but now her boss knows she's terrible at her job!).

I used to have a tip chart, but I'm not sure what I did with it. It was really helpful in figuring out not only who you're supposed to tip, but also how much you're supposed to tip. I think I found it on the internet somewhere.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )