Tipping for Room Service?

So, it says here that a service charge of $2.75 will be added to my room service bill.

Do I tip, or don’t I tip? You have maybe 10 minutes to respond. Thanks,

Your choice - but odds are that the little man they send up with your food will not be seeing any of that service charge.

I tipped. Seemed like the right call at the time.

As someone who formerly dabbled in the service industry, let me say “thank you” on behalf of your deliveryperson.

My assumption would have been that the service charge was part of the tip, but that I should make up the difference if I would have normally tipped more than the service charge, and perhaps a token amount to show appreciation otherwise.

The last couple of times I’ve been at a hotel and ordered room service the menu has stated that an 18% gratuity was already added in to the bill (on top of a “delivery fee”) and so I didn’t tip anything beyond that.

I certainly can’t speak for all companies / businesses. That said, based on my experience, I tend to assume that a “service charge” is a good way to abuse the public’s readiness to “tip” in order to sneakily transfer labor costs to the consumer.

Huh? :confused:

ALL labor costs are paid by the consumer.

Absolutely. Transfer was an imprecise term that I should not have used.

The hamsters have eaten my post the last two times I tried to post it - so I’ll try to get this in quickly: By charging a “service charge,” businesses are able to take money that you would have given to the delivery guy and put it into the business. That money can be used towards labor costs. The end result is more profit to the business, less cash to the delivery guy.

It’s sneaky, because you pay the “service charge” willingly (assuming it’s a tip a la Alan Smithee) and you don’t tend to factor it into your considerations of whether the meal is worth as much as you pay for it.

“Service Charge” = Tip as far as I am concerned. But you can ask the manager.

However, as long as it just said “service charge of $2.75 will be added to my room service bill.” I’d still throw in a couple bucks. But if it said "the menu has stated that an 18% gratuity was already added in to the bill " I would not add anything.

If they are using it to defray labor costs, how is that different than giving it directly to the delivery boy? Sure, they can use it to pay the dishwasher and the cook, as well as the delivery boy, but he would give them (and others) a tip-out in a restaurant anyway.

Ditto, and I wouldn’t bother asking the manager. Let the deliveryperson argue with the manager if he wants. I am obligated to pay the hotel for my food, and I am obligated to give them the tax which they’ll pass on to the government. But if I see a “Delivery Charge” or a “Service Charge”, why can’t I assume that the delivery guy gets it?

I apologize for the delay in replying, Alan. My internet is really on the fritz.

Here’s a hypothetical situation to illustrate the difference in paying a service charge that goes to a restaurant versus giving the same amount directly to the delivery boy. In this scenario, assume that the delivery boy makes $2.50 per delivery + whatever tips he can come away with.

You order a pizza that costs 20 dollars (total with tip). Here’s the financial breakdown: $10 = cost of making the pizza; $2.50 = payment to delivery boy (from the pizza place); $2.50 = your tip to the delivery boy.

End result:
You: pizza.
Delivery boy: $5.00 ($2.50 salary + $2.50 tip).
Restaurant: $5.00 profit.

Now with a service charge: You order a pizza that costs 20 dollars(total with service charge). Here’s the financial breakdown: $10 = cost of making the pizza; $2.50 = payment to the deliver boy (from the pizza place); $2.50 = service charge.

End result:
You: pizza.
Delivery boy: $2.50 (salary).
Restaurant: $7.50 profit ($5.00 + $2.50 service charge).

Most people feel comfortable giving a “tip” to a delivery guy because they understand that they are low paid and reliant on tips. For that reason, they feel comfortable paying a “service charge” (assuming it goes to the delivery guy) when they might not be comfortable paying it if they knew that it went directly to the business.

That makes a certain amount of sense. And unlike most people, I’m a big fan of the tipping system. But the error is in assuming that the room service guy gets the same wages whether or not there is a service charge. If a waiter gets paid in tips, he makes about $2.15/hr wages. Do room service delivery folk get paid full minimum wage? If they’re getting screwed out of their tips as you describe, why don’t they get a job in a real restaurant? (I know that’s idealistic–not everyone can do that.)

But it is deceptive. The consumer accepts the service charge largely because we assume that it goes to the staff. And we stiff the staff as a result. Are you sure the charge actually goes to the hotel/restaurant?

Warning: Anecdotal Evidence:

I’ve worked room service in a range of hotels. This is about ten to fifteen years ago, but I can’t imagine things have changed all that much. Everyone loved working room service because the tips were always much better than we could expect for waiting tables on the same night. At least where I was, the % tacked on to the bill went directly to the server at the end of the night, and about half to three-quarters of the guests tipped 15-30% on top of that. The assumption was that few people saw looked at the menu note, and out of those that did, they still felt uncomfortable not tipping (all guest checks still had the “tip” line printed right next to your signature). There were a few people who deliberately added to the tip, but that was typically when something out of the ordinary was done. These are just generalizations, of course, YMMV.

You assume that the “service charge” doesn’t go to the delivery boy. It likely does, but perhaps it doesn’t.

I always assume that the gratuity listed on the bill went to the server, and that the service charge did not. Most hotels have a service charge over and above the gratuity, for example, “$2.50 service charge and 18% gratuity added to order”. If there is a service charge listed but no gratuity, I always tip the server.