To Insure Proper Service

Okay. I have an issue I would like to discuss and I'd love your thoughts and comments, even though I haven't posted in so long that probably no one is reading anymore.

Today at a girls' brunch, someone mentioned that she was talking to a photographer recently who, in a round about way, complained about not receiving tips. Now, at the risk of sounding like an ignoramus I will state clearly here that it never occurred to me to tip a photographer. A poll of the women in the room indicated that none of us would think to tip a photographer (right?). So I emailed two photographer friends to ask them what they think. Both indicated that it happens outside of Utah (but pretty much never in Utah) and that while it isn't expected, it is appreciated, and wouldn't be refused if offered.

Who do you tip? I tip waiters in restaurants and I tip my hair dresser (one of the brunch girls said that her hair dresser said if you're going to leave five dollars, you may as well not leave anything). And I'm not trying to be boastful here, just honest---I rarely tip under 20 percent. I think that's fair. Oh, and on the rare occasion that I get a manicure or pedicure, I tip then, too. I also tip house keeping in hotels because going back to a clean room really makes me happy, and I tip sky cap at the airport. I think that's about it. Oh, and I always feel guilty for not tipping when I pick up an order from a restaurant. You're not supposed to tip then, are you?

Anyway, going back to the photographers... I guess I just don't see why a tip should even be in question. Do you tip your auto mechanic? Your plumber? Do you tip your doctor? (That pap smear was excellently executed!)

I feel like my field of work is similar to photography. Should I expect tips? Most of my clients are outside of Utah. But I don't expect tips. I charge what the job is worth for me to do. And then I'm really happy when it's paid on time. That's about all I ask or expect.

I think that tipping is certainly appropriate when someone has gone above and beyond, but employed by someone else. Meaning, I know that the extra money I am giving is not going to the company, but is compensation above the worker's normal wages that they get to take home and enjoy. If I'm hiring an individual for creative services or the like, I would expect them to quote me their rate and then I would pay their rate. (But come to think of it, if I felt like the quality of their work was worth more than their quoted rate, and if I could afford to, I'd probably pay extra IF I feel like I'm getting a steal or bargain.)

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts on tipping. Who do you tip? How do you decide?

-- Post From My iPad, with apologies for the typos and for the self righteousness of admitting I have an iPad.


The Holyoaks said...

I'm making a giant fart noise with my mouth right now. That pretty much sums up how I feel about tipping photographers. Until I get tipped for keeping my kids quiet at church, I am not dishing out any extra dough.

TOWR said...

This is the first I'm hearing of tipping photographers, and frankly I found it surprising. I tip the same people you do, and I adhere to the 18%-20+% philosophy (unless they were TERRIBLE) and usually round up to the nearest dollar. As a self-employed person, I honestly might be offended if somebody tipped me. Well, if they called it a tip, I'd be offended. If they added a bit on and said, "We really think you went above and beyond and think it was worth more than you're charging," then I would be flattered.

TheMoncurs said...

My husband is a photographer in AZ and has never been tipped. I've never even heard of tipping someone outside of the groups you mentioned and would be really surprised if someone tipped my husband. That's kind of ridiculous.

Jordy said...

1. I only tip because it's the norm. The only waiters I think that really deserve a tip are the ones who fill up my water without asking, and are observant but not obtrusive.

2. This may sound terrible, but I believe anyone who thinks they DESERVE a tip shouldn't get one. I mean, are they going to decline further service to some one if they got a crap tip, or no tip at all? Good grief! That's a bad way to do business.

3. Do I sound cheap? Because I really am.

bedelia said...

I just wikipedia-ed this. Apparently, "To insure proper service" is a backronym. (Didn't learn about backronyms with my English degree.) Or basically, its bogus.

And I've decided never to tip again. Ok, I probably will but it will only be because I'm afraid of looking cheap. Its a ridiculous system. I don't think I've ever had a waiter that was exceptional. Most of the time, I just want to say, "Just shut-up, brown-noser and bring me my food." I'm really not a grumpy person but I go to restaurants to enjoy my friends/family and food that I don't have to cook myself. I think waiters should mostly be silent. (Is that just me? Am I a scrooge and don't know it?) And some waiters are just downright obnoxious but it doesn't affect how I tip. Its just a set number in my head. What's the point?

As to haircuts, I could go on and on about the bad haircuts I've gotten, mullets to mom cuts. And I've tipped everyone of them. Granted, it was $5 so maybe I suck. I mean, where does that hairstylist work. How much is she charging? Because for just a cut for me that is usually right around 20%. Is this why I'm getting crap haircuts? I'm too cheap to go someplace good. Someone please tell me a good place, then. I'm willing to pay.

bedelia said...

Oh and I've never heard of tipping a photographer either. That almost makes more sense to me than a waiter though. I mean their seems to be greater chance of exceptional photographs than someone filled your cup up exceptionally well.

C. said...

I've never heard of tipping photographers. I've never tipped one and I've used quite a few. And the only time I would consider it is if they work for a company, not self-employed. If they want more money and are self-employed, they should charge more. I'm kind of floored that someone thought it was normal.

jeri said...

There have been a few (maybe 2 or 3) customers who have paid me a little extra either for photos or design. Either they had large families or difficult design requests. I was grateful but it never occurred to me that tipping a photographer was at all common. Especially if he/she is self employed. All of the money goes to them in the first place!

I switched to a merit-based tipping system. I'll tip a hair stylist who is kind and patient with my kids, for example, but not one who gives me a same-ol' haircut. A surly waiter who shows up only with food and a bill doesn't really need 20%. I'm cheap - it's OK. It's why I usually get takeout.

Anonamom said...

I tip largely the same as you (coincidence?), but I don't tip hotel maids. I worked as one while in College, and there was no tipping then, so I figure "why? What's changed?"

I usually tip $5 for a haircut, so I guess I suck. I can live with that. In fact, I embrace it.

I just got a pedicure done where I DIDN'T tip! It was the only time. The guy was terrible, and he cut me. I wish I'd had the nerve to say, "If I bleed, I don't tip!"

Photographers should charge what they feel they are worth. Please. I've never heard of that before. But - maybe at a studio at a mall? Is that appropriate then?

And every time I see a "College Fund" jar at some hot-dog-stand-like-affair I don't tip, but I feel really really guilty about it because of all those generous souls who donated to YOUR "college fund" jar at YOUR hot-dog stand.

And I recently read that we ARE supposed to tip for take-out. Yikes.

Jenny said...

My husband is a photographer and has never been tipped and he's never even mentioned it. It is so not the same thing as tipping a waiter. A photographer charges you exactly how much he wants to get. Dumbest thing I ever heard.

DP said...

Growing up, I never even knew that people tipped their barbers. Then once I went with a friend, who happened to be a Mennonite. (Mennonites, like Mormons and Jews, have a reputation for extreme frugality.) And he tipped his barber. I figured if a Mennonite tipped the barber, then I would be really cheap if I didn’t. Granted, he only tipped like 50 cents, but I’ve always tipped since then.

DP said...

Of course, since they don't believe in graven images I'm guessing the plain sects don't tip photographers. Especially the ones who take their pictures without their permission and turn them into postcards.

Bean said...

I have never, ever heard of tipping a photographer...especially ones that own their own business. They make the fees, they charge large amounts for their services and we're expected to tip above and beyond that? I don't know, that seems strange to me.

Servers, haircutters, any type of spa service, Sky Cap, Bellhops, those I understand and DO tip.

Jordan said...

Usually the fees I see for photographers are atronomical and I don't tip them. Or I use a family friend who charges me little or nothing and I give them a nice tip as a thank you. As a seamstress I've gotten tips for getting a job done quickly, but it's not something I expect.

erin said...

I still read your blog.

I don't tip photographers. I also haven't thought about it. I think they build their prices as they need to and don't plan on receiving tips.

I decide to tip waiters, hairdressers, and anyone who actually has to contribute a personality while they are doing their job in front of me the entire time.

Kelly said...

I've never heard of tipping a photographer, but now I'm worried that I offended my wedding photographer...

I tip for everything else you mentioned. I think that's pretty much the standard list - though my husband looked at me like I was insane the first time I mentioend tipping hotel cleaning staff. I guess his family doesn't do that.

AzĂșcar said...

I tip servers around 20%, unless the service was awful and even then, I just leave more of an insulting tip. Servers make $2.13 an hour here. Tips are how they can afford rent and feed their children.

I tip for take-out as well. You don't have to tip the full 20%, but a couple bucks are appreciated. Someone had to put together your order, and they are probably making $2.13 an hour.

I tip my stylist around 20% because he is awesome and worth it.

Photographers? Never. And my sister a photographer (a real one, with a degree and everything.)

Sky caps? Absolutely, since you don't have to stand in the crazy line, it's worth it.

The random tip jar at a food place? Not usually. Hardly ever. Those folks aren't making $2.13 an hour.

Jenny said...

So I was wrong. My husband has been tipped as a wedding photographer. I still think it's stupid.

I tip a server 20% or more and if it totally sucked nothing or like 10%.

I don't tip my hair girl because she does it out of her home so I just assume she charges what she wants to be paid.

I tip housekeeping in hotels and the massage person.

Jan said...

I have been getting my degree in photography and I have never heard from any of my professors or any other photographers that they get or expect tips. However, I have lived in Utah my whole life. So there you go.

I was thinking about tips for hair ladies the other day! I want to know how much goes to the salon of what they charge and how much they keep! Because it doesn't seem reasonable to go to someone who charges $80 for a cut and color and have to tip her $20 on top of that anyhow. I mean, if she is having to pay the salon a bit of the base and she expects that much extra in a tip, why doesn't she just up her prices by that much?

And on that subject, do you have to tip as much to the neighbor who used to work at a salon but became a stay at home mom and built a place in her basement? All of that money is going right to her, anyhow. Did someone already answer this and I just didn't read it?

Sarah said...

Never heard of tipping a photographer. I am bugged by the person who said, if you are going to give $5 don't give anything - that seems a little egotistical. Maybe its because we are poor starving student. Hey, if you want to give me an extra $1 - I'd take it!

brozy said...

I tip servers (like Azucar said, they make nothing otherwise). I tip stylists here, but not at home because the ones at home set their own prices. And that's the extent of my tipping. I would probably never tip a photographer, unless the photos were out-of-this-world amazing, or the person were taking them as a favor. Although we tip servers very well, I don't believe in tipping for anyone who makes a reasonable hourly wage and especially not for someone who sets their own prices.