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The Tipping Pointer

To figure out how much you should give, it helps to know what other people are giving. We surveyed 60 workers in New York’s service sector about what they’ve gotten in the past and what they’re expecting this month.

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The Doorman
Average Holiday Tip: $98
Median Holiday Tip: $50
Average Forecast for 2006 Tips: $5,100
Percent of Clients Who Tip: 89%
Most Generous Tip or Gift: “$2,000 from one person.”

What They Really Think: “One resident gave me a stack of envelopes and asked me to divvy them up, but there wasn’t one for me. It was probably just an oversight.” “I’ve only declined a tip once, because it was $5 and I think they were trying to embarrass me.” “Renters tip less than owners.” “I don’t want wine or chocolate, just cash, only cash.” “We all know what the others get.” “And we like to lie about it and say we got more.”


The Garage Attendant
Average Holiday Tip: $48
Median Holiday Tip: $47.50
Average Forecast for 2006 Tips: $2,800
Percent of Clients Who Tip: 73%
Most Generous Tip or Gift: “$400 from one person.”

What They Really Think: “The more rich you are, the less you give.” “I have a guy with a Porsche. Last year, he gave $100 and I told him I deserved more. Right away he gave me $400.” “I use my tip money to go to my country, the Dominican Republic.” “I want to go to Las Vegas with mine.” “I’ll give people a car wash to get more.” “If I get too much, I have to tell the company.” “The tips are better on the Upper West Side than on the East Side.”


The Colorist and Hairdresser
Average Holiday Tip: $79
Median Holiday Tip: $77.50
Average Forecast for 2006 Tips: $7,000
Percent of Clients Who Tip: 80%
Most Generous Tip or Gift: “A plane ticket to London for New Year’s Eve.”

What They Really Think: “I call my clients on their birthdays. By the time the holiday comes around, they remember me.” “The ones that you are much more friendly with are the bigger tippers. It makes me wonder, Should I be tipping my therapist?” “I was tipped better when I cut hair uptown.” “One time, a really good client tipped me a check and it bounced. She was going through a divorce, and it was a joint account.” “Europeans don’t tip as well.”


The Dog Walker
Average Holiday Tip: $41
Median Holiday Tip: $37.50
Average Forecast for 2006 Tips: $255
Percent of Clients Who Tip: 63%
Most Generous Tip or Gift: “$300 plus a gourmet food basket.”

What They Really Think: “Sometimes people tip a very small amount; I’d rather get nothing.” “I’ll leave the dogs little gifts, pick up an extra bag of treats, put a ribbon on it for bigger tips.” “The wife will usually give me more than the husband.” “I’ll be a little extra-friendly to get bigger tips.” “My best tippers are not the wealthiest.”


The Personal Trainer
Average Holiday Tip: $188
Median Holiday Tip: $100
Average Forecast for 2006 Tips: $1,688
Percent of Clients Who Tip: 65%
Most Generous Tip or Gift: “$5,000 and a round-trip ticket for two to anywhere I wanted.”

What They Really Think: “Usually they give me the amount I charge for a session.” “There have been unsatisfying nonmoney gifts. Someone gave me a basket of candy. It was just silly.” “For me, it’s usually a handshake or a hug. Definitely eye contact to show appreciation.” “I’ve been known to give the next session for free as a thank-you.” “I give them jump ropes and free triathlon training.”


The Nanny
Average Holiday Tip: $349
Median Holiday Tip: $300
Average Forecast for 2006 Tips: $417
Percent of Clients Who Tip: 90%
Most Generous Tip or Gift: “A trip to the Bahamas.”

What They Really Think: “Any tip is a good tip.” “If I’m working on an actual holiday, I expect to be paid generously.” “Two weeks’ pay is typical, but $350 shows she doesn’t appreciate my work. I deserve $2,000.” “I get more money if the kids are difficult.” “I don’t really acknowledge a tip unless it’s unusually generous. Then I just say thank you.” “I definitely know rich people that stiff their nannies.”


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