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5 people you’re not tipping but should

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — It starts with an awkward moment.

A business transaction happens, and it’s hard to know what to do next — is a thank you enough? A handshake? Or is it a good time to slip somebody a few bills?

It depends on the service provided. While a waiter might be obvious, not all situations are as clear-cut.

“The reason why we tip is to show respect to the service provider,” said Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert. “Part of our responsibility is to be a respectful community member and give to those who deserve a tip, without going overboard.”

She suggested that a good rule of thumb is “when in doubt, do.”

Here are a few people who may not first come to mind when considering gratuity.

1. The exterminator

There are generally two types of exterminators: those who do monthly maintenance visits, and those who treat a specific infestation. Exterminators in the latter category are usually tipped, said Timothy Wong, the director of M&M Pest Control in New York City.

On average, 20%-25% of customers tip, Wong said, in an amount ranging from $10-$20. “There are exceptions. Some will tip $40-$50,” he said. Some clients give up to $100 if it’s a big job, like sealing a building against vermin, which can take up to three days to complete.

Wong said there’s a clear tipping correlation between those who don’t have infestations, and those who do. Those with happier results are more inclined to tip.

“They will hug you, tip you, feed you, you name it,” he said.

2. The cable guy

The worker who comes to your home to install your cable may work for the cable company directly, or might be an outside contractor. A tip for good service is often appreciated.

“If he’s out there in the hot sun, maybe digging around under your house, you want to show him a gesture of kindness,” said Gottsman.

Some large providers — like Comcast — have policies in place that prohibit workers from accepting tips.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a cash tip, Gottsman said. It could be a cold glass of water or lunch, especially if the job takes several hours.

Wyatt Carpenter, a technician in Canton, Ohio, said people tip him, especially on extreme weather days. This past winter, he said he worked in temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees.

“It’s not life-changing money,” he said of his tips. “Five, 10, 20 bucks….”

Another cable technician, Christopher McBriar, said while he doesn’t expect a tip, it’s nice to get $10, which he will use for lunch that day.

A nonmonetary tip he appreciates: When a customer is prepared for his visit. “They have moved the furniture away from the wall or unpacked the TV from the box … that goes a long way too,” he said.

3. The spray tanner

Adding on gratuity for a hair stylist is fairly typical, but tipping for beauty services doesn’t end there.

“Makeup and tanning is so overlooked,” said Suzie Basset, a full-service salon owner in San Antonio, Tex. “That’s part of the grey area because [customers] just don’t know.” She said clients will occasionally ask her if a gratuity is expected.

“It’s uncomfortable for you, the payer, and it’s uncomfortable for me, the receiver, on how to handle that,” she said.

A safe bet is to tip salon service providers anywhere between 15%-20%. It is sometimes assumed that if the service provider is the salon owner a tip does not have to be included. Basset said that’s changing, and many owners now welcome gratuities.

4. The dry cleaner

The person behind the counter of your local dry cleaner may not be the same person actually doing the work of removing the stain from your shirt, but a small token of gratitude wouldn’t go amiss.

“If someone got a stain out of my favorite white dress, I would ask them, ‘Can I leave a tip? What would be a great way to say thank you?'” said Lizzie Post, the co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition.

It doesn’t have to be cash. The Yelp Gratuitous Guide to Tipping suggests some flowers or a bottle of wine. That may sound romantic, but, “if they remove a wine stain from your favorite Marc Jacobs dress,” it might be worth it.

5. The road service employee

Maybe it’s a flat on a busy highway far from home, or a dead car battery on a stormy night. A panicked moment, made manageable by the tow truck guy who came to the rescue.

“Yes, he’s working, that’s his job, he is getting paid a salary… but maybe he’s on a busy highway, or came in the rain in the middle of the night,” said Gottsman. “You can offer it.”


  • Jack

    How about we get away from this tipping nonsense and employers start paying fair wages? It was so much more pleasant not to have to figure out this garbage we call “etiquette” when overseas.

  • kathy

    None of these would be on my tip list, I tip my trash man at Christmas time thats the only person I tip really, the way customer service is today people are not deserving of a tip just because of the line of work they do.

  • Shawn

    The spray tanner? Really? Don’t they just stick you in a booth and hit a button? What are you tipping for? Are they painting you with an airbrush? What about a paint sprayer? If all they are doing it hitting a button, or just spraying you with a generic sprayer, there is little skill involved and really no reason to tip. If they are using an airbrush and accenting your abs and muscle tone in the process, that takes a bit more skill and I could see probably being a tipping situation.

  • Bill

    How about mechanics with out them you wouldn’t have a good functioning car or truck you would have to spend for a new 1 and just keep piling the loans

  • Susan Merlin

    Wow that’s a lot of tipping…..I agree with the postal service but not the cleaners or the tanning salon. What happened witth a simple thank you

  • Julia Thompson

    Yeah, I wanna tip. I wanna tip when I walk in to order my sandwich. I wanna tip because I walked into your shop and I ordered at your shop. I wanna tip when I walk down the street. I wanna tip cause I bathed this morning. I wanna tip because I showed up on time. I wanna tip because I went to Church on Sunday. I wanna my kids to tip me because I made breakfast this morning instead of pouring cereal in a bowl….this article is bull cr@p….people just need to do their dang job with, collect their paycheck and quit trying to feed off me!!!!!

  • lnm

    An article like this does nothing but strengthen the argument that dumb people make for not tipping servers, who actually depend on tips to make any sort of wage. They are certainly not the only people who ever deserve tips, but this list is a reach and a half.

    • Jen

      Their employers should be responsible for paying them a decent wage, it is not the customer’s responsibility to make up for their low wages!!!!

  • karma

    Well this is how I think about the negitive tight Nelly’s out there… Work a job that you have to kiss some “in titled” persons butt that is treating you like they are better then the person patiently helping them, while are complaining about the prices anyway. And maybe people would enjoy serving with out a tip. I think Everyone Should be a server at some point in their life so they know how to act. And truly its OK if you don’t tip… As long as you at least nice. Give people a break sometimes that tip is the Only raise they ever get!

  • Jen

    Etiquette expert, my big foot! This tipping business is getting so ridiculous, that I have stopped going to restaurants, hair salons, Starbucks, and recently a Subway shop when I saw a tipping cup placed right in front of me. WHY do you expect a tip when you are already being paid to do your JOB?? And if you think your job does not pay enough, then find another job!! All places of business should be ashamed of themselves if they are trying to compensate for their low wage rate by expecting tips for their employees! Since I stopped frequenting these places of business, I have actually become financially richer!!! Soon this “etiquette expert” will be asking for a tip for giving “free advice”. Not getting tips here lady!

  • Jen

    Please put me on the list for those that need a tip. After all I did you the service of writing a comment or two without any pay at all!

Comments are closed.