Tips. When are they appropriate and when do they actually make a difference?

The definition of a tip is: a gift or a sum of money tendered for a service performed or anticipated.

Where did customer service go? Did it go out the window when customer-service people started thinking tipping was required and not something earned?

Today, the lack of work ethic seems to be slowly passing by the younger generations who tend to hold these so-called tipping positions. Whose job is it to teach them the lessons or the ropes of customer service? Is it the boss's job or perhaps the customers'?

You pull into a business and the serviceman helps you, goes beyond the call of duty, washes your windows, checks your car's fluids and tells you to have a nice night. In that brief second, you catch your breath, realizing some people have great customer service skills.Then you reach for your purse, grab a dollar extra and thank the person. That extra money represents not only your gratitude for him helping you out, but also for making your night that much better.

Now you wonder, your reward just teach him good customer service will not only bring a returning customer, which will continue his paycheck, but that good quality service can pay off in the gist of things? Or, does he expect that of you and every other customer and when not given a reward, his quality of service begins to weaken?

With the slump in the economy, pulling out your wallet and grabbing a few extra bucks can feel like pulling teeth, when it shouldn't. All one asks for is good customer service; possibly a smile, small conversation and concern.

Should we be tipping for helping us make our experience that much more enjoyable? But really, that is why we tip.

Here's the dilemma. Nowadays, it feels like tipping is not an extra, but doing our part to support those in the service industry.

Most folks tip a waitress or waiter after a good dining experience. Fifteen percent is the standard, although some larger cities are trying to bump that amount up to 18 percent.

Some people tip the bellman at the hotel, the bag boy at the grocery store and the newspaper carrier. Some even tip the maid at the motel.

Generally, most folks just stick to tipping the waitress.

Some of us are loathe to decline to tip, even when the service is shoddy or the food is cold. Even then, we still leave 10 percent.

The argument would be tipping isn't voluntary anymore, but expected. In the restaurant industry, if you are known as a "stiffer," your next time to that restaurant may leave you wishing you'd stayed at home and microwaved popcorn for dinner.

Scary thinking about the power of a waitress or waiter; your enjoyment at the establishment is in the hands of a minimum wage worker, who has been on her feet all day and just dropped a tray full of drinks. "Do you feel lucky? Well do ya?"

One could argue that they work just as hard as the "big shot" business man who sits at his desk all day and pulls down a six-figure income. A good waitress, one with exemplary customer skills, deserves to be recognized as a professional as well.

In the world of tipping, when does it stop? When is too much? Next thing you know, you'll be tipping the mail person for putting your mail in the post office box. Where does one draw the line on who and how much to tip?

To tip or to not to tip; who to tip; and how much to tip? These are the questions and you have to power to decide.

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