Say It Ain’t So: Automatic Spa Gratuities Are Becoming a Thing

Left: Our mockup of a Rittenhouse Spa receipt showing the automatic gratuity. Right: The spa's entry.

Left: Our mockup of a Rittenhouse Spa receipt showing the automatic spa gratuity. Right: The spa’s entry.

Recently, a very good friend gave my wife a gift card to the luxurious Rittenhouse Spa inside the also luxurious Rittenhouse Hotel. But instead of being for a normal gift card number, usually a multiple of ten or 25, this gift card was for an odd amount: $156. I figured that there had to be a story behind this weird figure, and there is. Read more »

It’s Almost Christmas. Should You Tip Your Uber Driver?

I like to consider myself a pretty good tipper.

Then again, I suspect tipping is like sex and dancing — everyone walks through this world thinking they’re bringing something special to the table, when in reality they’re just not screwing it up royally enough to be publicly shamed.

So perhaps I’m an average tipper with the occasional flash of inspiration given the right lighting. Either way, I know how things work.

As a follower of the golden rule (“Tip everyone who could poison you or make you ugly”), I never leave a restaurant, bar stool or salon chair without handing over at least 20 percent. I understand that a delivery charge isn’t a tip, just as I understand that my dog groomer risked her life to tie that cute little ribbon around Murph’s neck. Around the holidays, I add a little extra across the board and leave a card for the mail carrier like a good Northeast girl.

And yet, I didn’t tip my Uber driver the other night. He was probably the most pleasant person I had interacted with all day, his car was immaculate, and he waited for me to get in the door before waving and driving off. Short of calling my mom, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Why yes, it did feel weird. Read more »

Music Venue Stirs Controversy By Letting Customers Add Tips for Live Music

Left: A receipt from Chris' Jazz Cafe / Right: Longtime Philly saxophonist Victor North, who cautiously calls the tipping policy "a worthy experiment."

Left: A receipt from Chris’ Jazz Cafe / Right: Longtime Philly saxophonist Victor North, who cautiously calls the tipping policy “a worthy experiment.”

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about tipping, first with prolific restaurateur Danny Meyer — he of Shake Shack fame — declaring that he was abolishing tipping at his New York City restaurants, and then with a compelling New York Times op-ed that connects tipping to race and flat out declares that “tipping is wrong.” Normally, tipping controversies erupt around the food industry, but now we’ve learned of one brewing in Philadelphia’s music scene, thanks to Center City music venue Chris’ Jazz Cafe. Read more »

Abolish Tipping? The Practice Should Actually Be Expanded

You fly to Chicago. Your hotel has a courtesy shuttle that picks you (and a few other people) up at the airport. The driver has a “tips” bucket in the front of the van. Do you tip him? How much do you tip him?

You arrive at the hotel. A valet greets your shuttle, helps you down with your bags and points you to the reception desk. Do you tip him? How much do you tip him?

Before going to your room, you go to the Starbucks in the lobby. You buy a $4 coffee. Typical of most Starbucks in hotel lobbies you are given a receipt to sign which has a line for a tip. Do you tip the barista who poured your coffee? How much do you tip her?

Later that day you leave your hotel and another valet hails you a taxi from the line of taxis waiting around the corner. He opens your door, tells the driver your destination, and wishes you a good day. Do you tip him? How much do you tip him?

You check out of the hotel the next day. Before leaving your room do you leave a tip for the housekeeper? How much do you leave?

Everyone tips the wait staff. But do you tip the coat check person? Do you tip the cab driver? Your hairdresser? The pizza delivery guy? The furniture delivery guys? The babysitter? At Christmas do you give “gifts” to your postman, your newspaper delivery person, the doorman, your trash guys, your manicurist?  Why should you? Aren’t they getting paid already for their job? Why tip them and not tip other service providers, like the flight attendant or even the SEPTA bus driver? What makes the SEPTA driver different than the taxi driver – aren’t they accomplishing the same thing?

Read more »

Your No-Stress Holiday Tipping Guide

Photo by Shutterstock

Photo by Shutterstock

I’ll save the line about how the holidays cause anxiety, because duh. But, according to our experts, figuring out how much to give to those people who basically make our lives run a little more smoothly year-round doesn’t have to add to that stress.

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QUIZ: The Ultimate Guide to Tipping

To tip or not to tip?  That is the question.

The answer wasn’t a difficult one for one wealthy patron of Rouge in Rittenhouse Square.  Earlier this week, the anonymous eater left the wait staff a $7,000 tip on a $258 bill.  Sadly, not all of us can afford to be so generous. In fact, some proprietors feel that tipping is a broken business model altogether.  This was said by David Jones the proprietor of the Smoke and Water, a 155-seat restaurant located on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. According to one report, Jones (an admitted neophyte in the hospitality industry) has increased menu prices by about 18 per cent to replace tipping and intends to pay his staff a living wage, which is a business model that is accepted around the world in places such as Japan, New Zealand, Australia and parts of Europe.

Not sure what or who to tip? Don’t worry, I’ve got all the answers for you. Just take this simple quiz.

Read more »

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