Need tips on proper amounts for gratuities

| 11/05/2016

I am relatively new to the Cayman Islands and have what I hope is a simple question. What is the accepted practice when it comes to tipping for various services in places like restaurants, hairdressers, hotels and taxis? I am also curious about whether you should be giving something to the boys and girls who bag your groceries in the supermarket. Any advice?

Auntie’s answer: Your question is simple but I can’t give you a simple answer. I will start with tipping servers in restaurants. One of my pet peeves is seeing the automatic 15% gratuity added onto my bill at the end of a meal. It doesn’t happen in all restaurants but it does in many. I hate the assumption that the service deserved that extra amount. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. But there it is anyway and you pay it.

I am sure that restaurants cannot legally force you to pay that gratuity, especially if the service actually didn’t justify it. However, I am very confident that most, if not all, patrons will “put up and shut up” rather than complain.

Having that said, I have no issue with paying the 15% for good service. Waiters and waitresses work hard and should be recognised with something extra for doing a good job. In fact, I often add a bit more to the 15% if I really liked the service (and there is a separate section on the bill marked “tip” just for that). I believe the automatic gratuity goes into a pool for all the wait staff to share and that anything extra will be given to the person who served your table. If the 15% isn’t part of the bill, though, I would suggest that amount as your tip if you liked the service, or more, if it were excellent.

As for hair salons and spas, a 15% tip will keep the staff happy, as long as you are satisfied with the level of service. Taxis do not have metres here; the fare is set according to the distance travelled and also the time of day (expect to pay more late at night). But feel free to add in a tip of at least 10%.

Hotels have no issue with including gratuities on any and all services, usually at least 15%. As annoying as that may be, if you take a room at the hotel, say for a staycation, you should make sure to have dollar bills in your pockets – for porters and bellhops, for example. It also doesn’t hurt to leave a little something for your maid every day.

And, lastly, to your question about the kids who bag your groceries. That would be a definite “yes”. Hand them a dollar for their efforts. It is so nice to see young people working that I feel very strongly you should reward their diligence.


Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (2)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    so what about when we get poor service

  2. SKEPTICAL says:

    The UK is currently introducing legislation banning the automatic addition of a percentage gratuity charge to restaurant bills. It would be nice to see that here. If for no other reason than the knowledge that in many establishments the staffed get ripped off on their share of the gratuities pool. Auntie – you are very naive in your belief of what now this money is used. Never heard about it being used to subsidies wage bills – especially now that the minimum hourly wage level has been raised?