Many Americans are fed up with tipping culture. About six in ten adults view tipping negatively, and 35% say things have gotten “out of control,” according to a recent survey from Bankrate.

It’s not hard to see why, especially as persistent inflation continues.

“People don’t like the pre-entered tip prompts at food trucks and coffee shops. I was even asked to tip once at a self-checkout machine at Newark Airport,” says Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate. “There’s been a lot of tip creep.”

But fatigue over tipping isn’t an excuse to cheap out in scenarios where professionals rely on your cash to make ends meet. Just 67% respondents in Bankrate’s survey said they always tip in sit-down restaurants, an 8 percentage-point decline from three years ago.

“The Federal minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 an hour,” notes Rossman. “So if you’re not tipping in those scenarios, you’re really taking money out of the server’s pocket.”

Still, etiquette experts say there are situations where you may feel pressured to tip but are by no means required to. Here are five interactions where they say leaving a tip is entirely up to you.

When a plumber or repair-person comes by

As a blanket rule, you don’t need to tip anyone who earns a salary or performs a trade. That means you don’t have to tip doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers or cable technicians.

“Not only would it not be expected, it would be highly unorthodox and very awkward,” says Thomas Farley, an etiquette expert and keynote speaker known as Mister Manners. Plus, in certain situations, “you could be seen as attempting to curry some sort of favor or that it might be some sort of a bribe.”

When you buy at a counter

Generally, anyone working at a counter is earning a wage, while those delivering food, either to your table or to your home, rely on tips as a major part of their income. For that reason, tipping a cashier, for example, is not a requirement as far as etiquette experts are concerned — even if the tablet they show you suggests otherwise.

“When they turn that device around, it’s this glaring thing, and people feel shamed into tipping, but you don’t have to,” says Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert and founder of the Swann School of Protocol.  

Service-industry workers view this advice as controversial, and many baristas say tips are an essential part of their income. To be clear, the etiquette experts aren’t saying to avoid tipping at the counter — merely that it’s at your discretion. A gratuity can reasonably be reserved for workers who provide a great experience.

“It’s a nice gesture to offer a tip to a worker who goes above and beyond the service,” Swann says. “For example, maybe you frequent the establishment regularly and they have your order memorized.”

When you’re at an open-bar event

If you go to an event with an open bar, the bar staff may or may not put out a tip jar. As a rule of thumb, “keep in mind that the host of that event has likely already taken care of the tip,” says Swann. “That tip would be included in what they’ve had to pay for the venue or to the bartending service.”

That means you’re not obligated to tip. Throwing in a couple extra bucks is, of course, appreciated says Farley, and may help get you better service throughout the night.

“If there is a busy bar, and there are multiple people to take orders from, the fact that you acknowledged them may get you a heavier pour. Maybe they gave you the cup of ice you were asking for,” he says. “A dollar here or there isn’t much to ask.”

When it seems like double-tipping or fees are built in

You don’t have to tip twice for the same service. Swann has recently heard feedback from women who have tipped the technician who worked on their nails at a salon and were then prompted to tip again when paying at the counter. “That is just the establishment trying to get more money out of you.”

The situation can get a little trickier in cities that have implemented minimum wage requirements for tipped workers, such as restaurant servers. Some restaurants in these cities will apply a 20% service charge to your bill before presenting you with the option to tip.

In those scenarios, it’s appropriate to discreetly ask your server where the fee goes. “If they tell you it goes to the servers and the bussers and so forth, your job of tipping is done,” says Swann.

If the money goes to the house, you’ll likely want to leave a tip for the server who took care of you, says Farley, who recently ended up tipping 20% on top of a 20% service charge at a restaurant in Denver.

“From an etiquette standpoint, we still tip the servers who are bringing us our food,” he says. “But I did leave that restaurant feeling like this was not a tenable situation.”

When the service is poor

You’re never obligated to tip someone when they’ve provided you poor service or if you’ve had a rude interaction with them. In the case of a one-on-one service, such as a haircut, this is pretty cut and dry. In fact, if a barber messed up your hair so badly that you felt they didn’t deserve a tip, you might not be out of line asking for a full refund, says Farley.

In the case of a restaurant, it gets a little trickier. Swann recommends a sliding scale for restaurant tipping, with 20% as the standard, and more if a server goes above and beyond. Even in the face of bad service, she wouldn’t go lower than 10% — and if that’s the case, you still have to ask yourself some questions. Namely, is the server at fault?

“If the food took too long to come out, that’s a kitchen issue. If it wasn’t prepared properly, that’s a kitchen issue. If the environment was not pleasurable, say because it was too loud, that has nothing to do with service.”

If you did have a nasty interaction with a server, you may be in the right to dock their tip, but be sure to bring it up with management as well, says Swann.

“If you address management and then leave a lower tip, they’ll know you weren’t just a jerk or uneducated when it comes to tipping,” she says. “Whether they agree with your complaint or not, they’ll have an understanding of why you left a lower tip.”

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