Friday, March 30, 2012

Tip the scales in your favor

A recent blog by Erin Foster over at TouringPlans.com discusses a few helpful tips on tipping in the World and travel in general.  I like the article because she freely identifies her own biases and doesn't superimpose them over actual standard practices.  She also does a nice job pointing out that a buffet isn't really a proper place to stiff a hardworking waiter.  I heartily recommend the article.

Completely out of the blue, I also found another great article entitled "Pocketful of Dough" by Bruce Feiler.*  Mr. Feiler shares his experiences using cash to bribe/tip his way into restaurants without a reservation.  Here's a sample from his easy-to-read article:
Despite my luck, I knew I had saved the hardest places for last. Union Square Cafe has, according to the Zagat Survey, been New York’s “most popular restaurant for four years running.”

“You’ll be eating at McDonald’s tonight,” a friend said.

When I arrived at 8:30, the gentleman in charge said, “We can seat you in an hour.” I told him my name, took a few steps back, waited for him to step away, then approached and slipped him a $50 bill. “This is a very important night for me,” I whispered, and waited for the rebuff. To my surprise, the man seemed positively giddy. “No problem, sir,” he said, clenching the bill with boyish abandon. “I’ll check right now.” Ten minutes later we were shown to a corner table in the back. The deed had been done with such effortlessness, such quotidian blaséness, that my friend was nonplussed.“It feels so normal,” she said.
By this point, with the quick addition of Daniel, where $50 got me bumped up from the lounge to the dining room in 30 seconds, I had demystified the act. I had learned a new skill. I had gained ten pounds. And I seemed to be breeding followers: One friend called for advice on how to “tip” her super; another friend announced she had slipped a twenty to a clerk at the Charlotte airport. Also, people were bribing me to take them out to dinner.
Long story short:  Feiler was able to tip his way into anywhere.  I'm a big fan of tipping good service and a bigger fan of over-tipping great service.  In September 2011, the clerk at hotel reception refused a tip for taking the time to show me to my room and make sure that it fit our needs.  Since she did that, I asked for her supervisor and lavished praise on her.  Both were very pleased and I hope that her file was noted.

I'll leave with this thought:  do you think you could tip your way into Disney's top restaurants?

*The article is really old.  It's from 2000.  I found it through InstaPaper's editors' suggestions.  InstaPaper is a nifty little uitility/app that can be used on any device.  Basically, you install a button on your bookmarks toolbar that creates a little "Read Later" button in your browser.  If you find an article that you like, you can just click the button and it keeps a queue for you.  Super easy to use and very helpful.

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