Book on Business: The book on who to tip and how much

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"Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper's Quest to Become the Guru of the Gratuity" by Steve Dublanica, New York: Ecco Press, 2010.

Have you ever wondered how much to tip the takeout delivery person, the housekeeper who cleans your hotel room, or the person who shines your shoes? Don't worry, you have plenty of company, including Mr. Dublanica, author of the 2008 best-seller, "Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip - Confessions of a Cynical Waiter."

This book was a humorous yet serious look at what goes on behind the scenes in upscale restaurants and the behavior of customers who frequent them. Mr. Dublanica knew what it was like to depend on tips for most of his income; but when his friends asked for advice about tipping etiquette for workers outside of the restaurant world, he realized how much he didn't know. He vowed to set out on a quest to become "the guru of the gratuity," which inspired him to write "Keep the Change."

Mr. Dublanica's knack for meeting interesting people and asking the right questions helped him to get interviews with people in many service occupations. Baristas, concierges, parking valets, cab drivers, Las Vegas strippers, beauticians, bartenders, casino hosts and many others revealed what their customers should know about their work and their tipping expectations.

Without question, those who tip well invariably get better service. If you tip the hotel concierge when you arrive, he'll make an extra effort to get tickets to a play or restaurant reservations at the last minute. Housekeepers prefer to receive a modest tip each day rather than a large one at the end of your stay. Otherwise, this money will go into a shared pool, perhaps rewarding staff who never cleaned your room.

Did you know that restroom attendants and shoeshine men are often under contract to outside companies, not the establishment where they are employed? They often have to buy their own supplies; without tips, it would be very difficult to support themselves.

If you sit at the bar for hours taking up valuable space while the bartender listens patiently to your personal problems, be sure to reward him generously for his attention.

Those who frequently order takeout from the same establishment need to know that the delivery person depends on tips since the service and delivery charges are kept by the store. There are many ways they can take revenge on poor tippers -- you can wait a very long time for your (now cold) pizza, only to find that the box has been turned upside down so the cheese sticks to the lid. A reputation for poor tipping in restaurants will guarantee you a seat in a remote corner near the bathroom, an order delay or worse.

Mr. Dublanica's quest took him to Las Vegas, and he relates several interesting experiences from his visits to casinos and clubs. He realized that you have to be a guru to understand tipping etiquette inside the casino. How much should you tip the dealer, the manager who can offer great perks if you're a high roller and the hostess who brings your drink to the gaming table? Casino employees refer to generous tippers as "George"; the cheapskates are "fleas."

An unmentionable category is reserved for demanding customers who believe that they are entitled to everything but tip next to nothing. Mr. Dublanica's forays into the club world taught him two important lessons: never use a credit card to cover the evening's expenses and limit yourself to spending a set amount of cash. Otherwise, you'll be shocked to find how easy it is to run up a huge tab, since you are expected to tip the girls who dance with you, the bartender, the DJ and the maitre d', just for starters.

So, how much should you tip the dog groomer, your beautician, the furniture delivery crew or the cab driver? What about Christmas gifts for the postal carrier and the baby sitter? Mr. Dublanica explains who should (and shouldn't) be tipped and suggests guidelines on dollar amounts or percentages for services rendered.

If you've read "Waiter's Rant," you won't be surprised by the author's salty language and razor-sharp observations. But underneath it all, it's obvious that Mr. Duablanica has great empathy for his fellow service workers who are struggling to make a living and want to be treated with dignity.

After you finish "Keep the Change," you may decide to become a "George," a generous person who sincerely appreciates and rewards those who try to make your life more pleasant.

Natalie Lustig works for The Carnegie Business Library, Downtown.


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