When Is a Tip Not a Tip? When It is Mandatory
T o help answer the question of when a tip is not a tip, here are the definitions of the word gratuity from five different sources:
- Something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary
- A sum of money given to someone who provides service or a favor as a way to show graciousness or thankfulness, according to yourdictionary.com
- A gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop, according to dictionary.com
- A favor or gift, usually in the form of money, given in return for service, according to education.yahoo.com
- A gift or reward, usually of money, for services rendered; or something given without claim or obligation, according to Collins English Dictionary
Oxford Dictionaries claims that the origin of the word gratuity is a “late 15th century (denoting graciousness or favour): from Old French gratuité or medieval Latin gratuitas ‘gift’, from Latin gratus ‘pleasing, thankful’.”
Voluntary. Gift. Reward. Hmm…none of those words imply obligatory or required. Assuming that none of the above definitions are considered obsolete, I would like to know since when did a gratuity become expected — and even obligatory in some cases? Am I missing something here?!?
First of all, there is no such thing as a mandatory gratuity. If the gratuity is mandatory, it becomes a service charge. Look at your room service bill the next time you order food to be sent to your room. The receipt usually shows a service charge plus a place where you can add a gratuity.
Secondly, if a hotel is going to implement this new mandatory service charge, then it should be part of the room rate. Potential guests should not be subject to finding an advertised room rate of $59.00 — only to be hit with this proposed mandatory service charge, resort fees and taxes. What would the final room rate become? $79.00? $99.00? $109.00?
On my upcoming unintended trip around the world, it was a pleasure to look up the room rates of hotel properties in some countries where taxes and fees were included in the advertised price, with a breakdown of the room rate easily available for my perusal; while it was irritating to find a good room rate in other countries where the taxes and fees significantly increased the rate of a hotel room.
In my opinion, advertised room rates should emulate airfares and be as transparent as possible. They should include mandatory fees and taxes in the advertised room rate without a plethora of asterisks. Clearly list the breakdown of the room rate to show all of the mandatory fees and taxes which comprise of the final room rate you and I are expected to pay at the conclusion of the stay at a hotel property.
Stop with the mandatory fees — especially resort fees — not being included in the advertised room rate. If hotel properties want to offer ancillary fees, do so where they are voluntary to the customer — as they typically are on many airlines…
…and don’t put envelopes in the room either to remind me to leave a tip for members of the housekeeping staff. That is just tacky, in my opinion.
Members of the housekeeping staff deserve to be paid a decent wage and should not have to rely in part on gratuities to earn a living. Financially, hotel companies are doing well these days, for the most part. They need to pay the housekeeping staff better with the increased profits. Stop the irritating practice of nickeling and diming your guests.
What are your thoughts?