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kun1

Gratuity charges, optional or mandatory in the US

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I'm booked on to a trip, that leaves out of Florida. Speaking to friends i have heard that a 15-20% tip can be the norm for customer service in the US. 15%-20% on a $3000 trip is a hell of a lot of money to me when taking the total trip cost (international airfare and hotels) into account. Are these fee's a hidden cost in US culture that i should have budgeted for or is acceptable to just give what i can afford?

 

Here in the UK if someone asked for a specific amount for a tip, i'd be offended, tell them to stop being so cheeky and probably leave less.

Edited by kun1
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This whole tipping culture is a farce. Fight it Kun!

 

What's next, knocking on the cockpit and giving the captain and co-pilot $20 for a job well done..?

 

If the price is $3000 - I would pay $3000, if the tip is specified as a part of the cost, fair enough, but to go, and then settle up only to find they have added 15% I wouldn't pay it. Check the T&Cs carefully. Tip the dive guides, if they gave you a hand fine... tip room service fine - but 15% on the total trip??

 

Anywhere I go, where on the bill it says 'A 10-15% gratuity has been added to your bill, for your convenience' I get them to remove it and I'll leave a cash tip (which is far less, than what I would of left, if they hadn't presumed what I should of tipped)

 

/Rant over.

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I have pretty much the same thoughts as yourself. For me a tip is an amount of money i feel the quality of service deserves, relative to what i can afford. Not a pre-determined amount. However, i can understand different cultures can have a different approach. That doesn't change what i can realistically afford though.

 

I have read the contract and they are asking for the amount above, it doesn't say i have to give it though. Apparently an envelope is passed around at the end of the trip. Whether this is done in private or not is another thing. I have been on many dive trips before, mostly in Asia where the dive guides earn very little money. I have never been asked for a tip, but i always give one if the efforts of the dive crew and staff warrants it. Never as much as the suggested tip in this contract though. The way they have constructed the sentence, sounds like they expect it although it's not a legal requirement (part of the cost of the trip).

 

 

A 15% tip is in the list of things to bring, seriously!

 

The thing is a $450 tip divided by say 8 crew members is about $60 each. So over a week liveaboard thats under $10 a day which is nothing to the individual receiving the tip, but a lot of money for me to pay out. I suppose it depends on how many crew mwmbers there actually are and how many guests. that $10 a day could be $100 a day if everyone gives what they are asking. I'm sure they are getting a wage as well.

Edited by kun1

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I'd forgotten about that thread, it's a good one!

 

To me, the real answer is a traveler needs to understand the local standards when they leave their country. I totally understand why a person from say, New Zealand doesn't understand why you need to tip. When I went to New Zealand for a month I studied the local customs first and found out you don't tip. So I didn't.

 

Tipping is also different depending on the locale in the United States. In many places (notably in the South), 10% is still considered normal and 15% is a big tip. In NY City, a waiter might curse at you if you only leave 15% and cab drivers will publicly humiliate you for less than 25%. Just part of knowing "where you are".

 

When I travel, I don't leave tips if it's not customary and if it is, I find out what the local standard is. You are quite welcome to do whatever you want, but you also need to understand that in places where a tip is expected, some foreigners will automatically get worse service simply because the people are expecting to get stiffed on the tip. That's not fair, but it's easy to understand how it came about.

 

Now, back to the original poster's comment. Yes, 15-20% can be common for restaurants in the US. However, I would say most diving liveaboards near Florida and in the Caribbean are more likely to expect 10% as a standard. $450 additional for a $3000 trip is a big tip.

 

I personally wish it was the same everywhere and tipping was not an additional consideration, but unfortunately in many cultures tipping is a significant portion of a service person's living wage.

 

cheers,

JP

Edited by johnspierce

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I have never liked the idea of tipping on a liveaboard being based on a % of the cost of the trip. Let's say you book a liveaboard that cost $2000 for a week and give 15% for a tip of $300. Now lets say you do a liveaboard on an upscale boat for $4000 for the week. You are already paying more for the extras like a nicer room, maybe better food, etc. A 15% tip here is going to be $600. Didn't the folks on the less expensive liveaboard work just as hard filling tanks, cooking food, cleaning rooms, leading dives, etc. as the crew on the more expensive boat? Should they be tipped half as much? Did the folks on the more expensive boat work twice as hard? Likely not at all.

 

I would say tip what you feel is appropriate and don't let anyone tell you how much to tip.

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If I go to Las Vegas for the w/e, I tip in restaurants and bars; and I leave a few dollars a day for the hotel maid.

 

What I do not tip is the hotel! Why should you tip on the price of your room on the boat? Or on the cost of fuel for the boat?

 

Split up the cost. Take out the $ for your room and leave an appropriate tip on the balance. Just my dos centavos.

 

Here in Los Angeles, a restaurant is now adding 3% to the bill for employee health care. Give me a break.

Edited by jlyle

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I'm booked on to a trip, that leaves out of Florida. Speaking to friends i have heard that a 15-20% tip can be the norm for customer service in the US. 15%-20% on a $3000 trip is a hell of a lot of money to me when taking the total trip cost (international airfare and hotels) into account. Are these fee's a hidden cost in US culture that i should have budgeted for or is acceptable to just give what i can afford?

 

Here in the UK if someone asked for a specific amount for a tip, i'd be offended, tell them to stop being so cheeky and probably leave less.

The trip you are going on , the boat has 4 crew. They hand out envelopes at the end of the trip.

Service was not as good as other live-aboards i have been on in Asia, but they deliver an amazing experience underwater!

 

I recently spent 5 months working in the states, so i got used to the tip concept. I tipped around 12%.

Edited by Kevster

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I have pretty much the same thoughts as yourself. For me a tip is an amount of money i feel the quality of service deserves, relative to what i can afford. Not a pre-determined amount. However, i can understand different cultures can have a different approach. That doesn't change what i can realistically afford though.

 

I have read the contract and they are asking for the amount above, it doesn't say i have to give it though. Apparently an envelope is passed around at the end of the trip. Whether this is done in private or not is another thing. I have been on many dive trips before, mostly in Asia where the dive guides earn very little money. I have never been asked for a tip, but i always give one if the efforts of the dive crew and staff warrants it. Never as much as the suggested tip in this contract though. The way they have constructed the sentence, sounds like they expect it although it's not a legal requirement (part of the cost of the trip).

 

 

A 15% tip is in the list of things to bring, seriously!

 

The thing is a $450 tip divided by say 8 crew members is about $60 each. So over a week liveaboard thats under $10 a day which is nothing to the individual receiving the tip, but a lot of money for me to pay out. I suppose it depends on how many crew mwmbers there actually are and how many guests. that $10 a day could be $100 a day if everyone gives what they are asking. I'm sure they are getting a wage as well.

 

 

First, you are tipping the people working on the boat, not the owner of the boat. Second, don't assume they are getting a wage. In the US, dive masters and deck hands are treated like waiters are here. They get paid next to nothing (a couple of dollars an hour) and are expected to make their wages from tips. But I'd evaluate the exact amount I tipped based on the # of guests, the # of crew, and the level of service. But to answer your original question, you should investigate what the local custom is. If you can't afford to tip what's expected, you shouldn't go.

 

Frankly I find your comment offensive that you (who have enough money to fly transcontinental and then drop $3K on a live aboard and dive with many thousands of dollars of gear) cannot afford to tip an extra 15%. But to the people taking care of you (who are probably just scraping by) that same amount of money is "nothing to the individual". It means a lot more to them than it does to you.

 

I wish we didn't have a tipping culture in the US, but we do. If you don't participate, you are screwing the little guy at the bottom of the ladder, not "the man."

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I wish we didn't have a tipping culture in the US, but we do. If you don't participate, you are screwing the little guy at the bottom of the ladder, not "the man."

 

We wish that some American habits and expectations weren't spreading worldwide, but they are. Diving operations worldwide are coming to expect US behaviour. We effete and decadent Europeans can't keep up...

 

... yet it's the bosses that screw the little guy, not the customers.

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We wish that some American habits and expectations weren't spreading worldwide, but they are. Diving operations worldwide are coming to expect US behaviour. We effete and decadent Europeans can't keep up...

 

... yet it's the bosses that screw the little guy, not the customers.

 

 

 

I personally wish it was the same everywhere and tipping was not an additional consideration, but unfortunately in many cultures tipping is a significant portion of a service person's living wage.

 

cheers,

JP

 

As a New Yorker I agree, tips should be for Superior service, not the paycheck for the wait staff. Add a few bucks to every meal and pay the staff fair.

Edited by marcw
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As a New Yorker I agree, tips should be for Superior service, not the paycheck for the wait staff. Add a few bucks to every meal and pay the staff fair.

 

I think we can almost all agree that's how we would like the world to work. But it doesn't and behaving as if it does work that way only hurts the people we rely on for good service. So complain away, but tip when it's an expected part of a person's livelihood.

Edited by Vondo

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I tip 10% on the total cost of the liveaboard. They seem pretty happy with it. I do a lot of returns and have not found anything nasty yet in my food.

 

Oh hey Todd, what is the difference between a European and a canoe? :)

Edited by diverdoug1

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Some of the Americans are spoiling the tipping culture when travelling abroad. I visited a remote but very special diving site in a former Eastern block country. A bit earlier an American group had tipped the dive site personnel formidably. The personnel got drunken and refused to work anymore because the tenfold tips made themselves feel underpaid. There was a riot that lasted couple of days and the police got involved. Consequently the plans of the following dive groups got screwed.

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Frankly I find your comment offensive that you (who have enough money to fly transcontinental and then drop $3K on a live aboard and dive with many thousands of dollars of gear) cannot afford to tip an extra 15%. But to the people taking care of you (who are probably just scraping by) that same amount of money is "nothing to the individual". It means a lot more to them than it does to you."

 

I find it offensive that you assume i have pulled the money for this trip off a money tree. I have been saving for a long time to go on this trip, long hours in work, night shifts and overtime!! So please don't assume what my circumstances are, the money means a lot to me as it does to them.

 

Another point that doesn't sit well with me is- if i provide a good service to a client i never get tipped, ever. However, i have to tip a waiter or a taxi driver?? Someone please tell me why i should, it's not an automatic right to be tipped. If they aren't earning enough, work more. That's what i do. I don't get handouts like many other services..

 

No doubt the service on this trip will be great and i will tip, i just don't like to be ask for it.

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I find it offensive that you assume i have pulled the money for this trip off a money tree. I have been saving for a long time to go on this trip, long hours in work, night shifts and overtime!! So please don't assume what my circumstances are, the money means a lot to me as it does to them.

 

Another point that doesn't sit well with me is- if i provide a good service to a client i never get tipped, ever. However, i have to tip a waiter or a taxi driver?? Someone please tell me why i should, it's not an automatic right to be tipped. If they aren't earning enough, work more. That's what i do. I don't get handouts like many other services..

 

No doubt the service on this trip will be great and i will tip, i just don't like to be ask for it.

 

I don't assume anything of the sort about you. I work hard and long to be able to afford a trip too, but I look into what's expected of me and budget for it, not decide that I'm going to make some poor stiff work for free so I can get a 10% "discount" on my vacation.

 

Re: "Work more." I'm sure it's different where you are (which is the cause of this culture clash) but waiters in the US usually make something like $2/hr and *share* their tips with the bartenders, bus boys, dish washers etc. At $2/hr you can't just work more and make a reasonable salary. I think most taxi drivers rent their taxi and aren't paid a salary at all.

 

Look, this is all just a difference of how you pay for what you get. I can go out to eat in the US for less overall than I can when I'm in Europe. A lot less, usually, even after I've tipped my expected 15-20% on my meal. Whether its a tip, an 18% service charged added to my bill, or just a high price where the proprietor pays a good wage, in the end its the same amount of money. The same is true of your live aboard staff.

 

As for the notice you received on suggested tipping amount, wouldn't you rather have them tell you that than to not think of it (because you are from a different culture) and then feel bad when you don't have the $$$$ and realize the boat staff just busted their butts for you for free for the whole week?

 

FWIW, when tipping on a trip I try to think about who's working for me and how much they "deserve" but in the end 10% total works out pretty close to correct. For instance, for a DM that helps you on the boat, $5/tank is considered in the US to be a minimum for decent service. Obviously their service is worth more if they point out good critters, help you with a big camera rig, etc. Maids a couple of dollars/night/person. I could go on, but on a live aboard or at a resort, there are people taking care of you constantly.

 

So rail on about what a bunch of jerks us colonists are, :-) especially the bosses, but don't make your dive master take the hit for it.

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They're hardly taking a "hit" you're making out these people are from a third world country living on the breadline. If every guest tips %15 that's $1100+ each for a weeks work. I wish I got that on top of my salary!

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They're hardly taking a "hit" you're making out these people are from a third world country living on the breadline. If every guest tips %15 that's $1100+ each for a weeks work. I wish I got that on top of my salary!

 

I think you are deliberately misunderstanding what people are telling you. That *IS* their salary. Or the majority of it. I did a google search on live aboard salaries. From what I can tell, $200/wk is a great "salary" for these folks. One boat captain I saw pays $100/day and knows he's way above average but rents his boat out for a lot of non-tipping research.

 

There is a reason the turnover in that business is high and it's filled with young people. And it's not because the older ones have gotten rich and have retired to Monaco. When you are on the boat, talk to some of them and see what their lives are like and if you want to live it. No health insurance, living in a small apartment with 2-3 others, etc.

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When I worked on a Liveaboard my pay was room and board plus tips. Plus an extra $20 for a night shift. I was a young impetuous lad, and nearly got fired more than once for telling foreign guests what I thought of them not tipping after we gave them excellent service. If you can not respect the local customs, you should not visit. Otherwise you would be a rude boor.

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First, you are tipping the people working on the boat, not the owner of the boat.

 

Can you assume that? I once went on a liveaboard where another passenger told me the captain/owner of the boat took a cut of the tips. I was a bit shocked but didn't have a chance to investigate further at the time.

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Can you assume that? I once went on a liveaboard where another passenger told me the captain/owner of the boat took a cut of the tips. I was a bit shocked but didn't have a chance to investigate further at the time.

 

I've seen rumors to that effect in these threads. I have no idea, but I suspect it is a rare boat that does so.

 

Unless I get truly exceptional service from someone, I either tip in an envelope to all or, for day trips, give it to the DM. I assume there is some agreed upon tip-sharing program and don't try to second guess that by tipping every single person on the boat with my assumptions of what each person "deserves"

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kun; unless it's clearly stipulated as part of the fee, in other words stated as gratuity added, you don't have to tip if you don't want to. But it would be nice for the crew.

Even in Europe, restaurants frequently add a gratuity that's not optional.

In this situation it is optional so be glad for that. So just do whatever you want. Nobody needs to justify things either way, it's neither right nor wrong, it's just the way it's done here.

Edited by loftus

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Frankly I find your comment offensive that you (who have enough money to fly transcontinental and then drop $3K on a live aboard and dive with many thousands of dollars of gear) cannot afford to tip an extra 15%. But to the people taking care of you (who are probably just scraping by) that same amount of money is "nothing to the individual". It means a lot more to them than it does to you.

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I find it offensive that a business owner is not prepared to pay the staff who earn them the money a sufficient wage to get by on ;)

 

But in seriousness it's an interesting quandary.

 

- in some cultures/professions, the employee is paid a decent wage, the service charge is their personal bonus for service above and beyond, in others it's an integral part if their basic wage. How are we to know which is which?

- where the service charge is added to the bill, the money doesn't always go directly to the people you'd expect

- in the UK, if it's a business expense then a compulsory service charge is tax deductible, a discretionary surcharge isn't. That adds an extra 21% as a minimum to the tip you pay.

 

Wouldn't it just be easier to inflate the charge to include service and pay the staff what they deserve? Then everyone would know exactly where they were!

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It may be easier, but easier frequently does not define the customs of a certain culture.

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Frankly I find your comment offensive that you (who have enough money to fly transcontinental and then drop $3K on a live aboard and dive with many thousands of dollars of gear) cannot afford to tip an extra 15%. But to the people taking care of you (who are probably just scraping by) that same amount of money is "nothing to the individual". It means a lot more to them than it does to you.

 

To clarify my comment (because a couple of people picked up on it) means this: The OP was multiplying out his total contribution to make it seem large ($300-450 over the week). And dividing the amount to the staff to make it seem tiny: $10/day. In reality if everyone on the boat declined to tip over the course of a week, we're talking about something like $500-$800 each staff member would be missing from their expected pay (and it is that on US boats) for the week. That's a significant amount of money and certainly means more to the staff member than to (probably) any of the clients on board such a boat.

 

Remember, in the US/Caribbean most of these places where boats are based from are *not* inexpensive places to live. SE Asia may be different, I don't profess to understand those economics.

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