Tipping may be an accepted custom in the United States, but the specifics – including whom to tip and how much to give – remains up for debate, according to a new study.
A survey from CouponCabin.com reveals restaurant staffs are the most likely to receive tips, with 87 percent of diners leaving gratuity behind after a meal out.
More than half of shoppers also regularly tip hairstylists, bartenders, taxi or limo drivers, valet attendants and bellhops.
Restroom attendants and home deliverymen, though, are among the least likely be given extra for their services.
The motivations behind gratuity are based both on the quality of service and economic conditions, according to the research. Nearly a third of those surveyed haven't left a tip after receiving below-par service, while 21 percent report they tip less when the economy is down.
When it comes to exactly how much people are leaving, the study found more than half of restaurant diners typically tip 16 percent or higher for average service when out to eat. Less than 10 percent tip 21 percent or higher, and 13 percent typically dole out 10 percent or less for average service.
Regardless of how much gratuity is left, Jackie Warrick, president and chief savings officer at CouponCabin.com, said it’s important to factor in that extra giving when developing a budget.
"It's easy to forget that the tip could push you over your budget, so plan accordingly," Warrick said. "Take the time to add in the tip ahead of time and if it exceeds your budget, seek out less expensive services or make alternative plans."
According to the study, nearly half of U.S. consumers have tipped even when they couldn't afford it, because they felt pressured to do so.
The research was based on surveys of more than 2,200 U.S. adults.
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.