Meals in the room?

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jis

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I have consistently used the 2-3-5 rule in full service Diner. $2 for Breakfast, $3 for Lunch and $5 for Dinner, as the norm. There can be variations depending on remarkably good or bad service. There have been cases where I have tipped $10 for dinner with wine and there have been cases where I have tipped $0 after being treated like s*it, which unfortunately happens more often than one would expect if it were just random.
 

tricia

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I'll probably be an outlier about this, but I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.

I don't feel obliged to tip on Amtrak unless staff does something beyond just doing their job. Amtrak staff are paid a very decent wage and benefits package that IMHO is fair compensation for "just doing their job." (Yes, I understand they work long hours away from home--that's been extensively noted, and re-noted in various threads on tipping in this forum. Before y'all pile that on again here, please consider simply posting a link to one or more of those threads.)

I DO feel obliged to tip in a land-based restaurant unless the server is actively rude or completely incompetent, since in many states (most? certainly my home state) the server often isn't paid even the standard minimum wage, let alone a proper living wage, so refusing a tip for even the most minimal level of service means that worker's not getting paid nearly enough for "just doing their job." So I'll tip the standard percentage for "just doing their job," plus a REAL tip for going above and beyond.

Sorry if this starts the same old arguments about tipping all over again. I thought the person who revived this thread yesterday might want to know that at least some of us consider tipping on Amtrak to be optional.
 

flitcraft

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I unfortunately have personal experience that not all folks tip in land-based restaurants. My elderly parents used to go to a Denny's every Wednesday night with another older couple after evening church service and they'd order a small soup each, with extra crackers, and dawdle over the meal for an hour or so chatting. On one of my visits, I discovered to my horror that they never tipped. At all. So...I went up and asked the head waitstaff if tips were shared. They were. So I gave her all the bills I had in my wallet--probably a little over a hundred buck--and said, That's this year's tips from the foursome at table 5 for the rest of the year. Of course, I never told my parents--didn't want to embarass them.

But my dad reported that their usual waitress started spontaneously bringing them cracker refills...🤣
 

MARC Rider

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As has been pointed out, tips are not required. Also, as has been pointed out, Amtrak OBS are not like most service workers in that they are relatively well paid. Thus, one should not feel like you are "stiffing" anyone by not tipping. That said, if you've just paid 100s of dollars for a sleeping car ticket, you probably have enough money to afford another $20 - $30 in tips to service workers you encounter along the way. If you're taking a long train trip, you should remember to bring the extra cash, and in small bills, too. Of course, if the service is substandard, there's nothing wrong with not tipping, especially because the service workers earn a decent wage.

I personally tip OBS. I tip the SCA $5 -$10 a night, depending on the quality of the service. For traditional full-service dining, if it ever comes back, I estimate that the Dinners are around $25 -$30, so I will tip $3 -$5, which is about a 15% tip. Breakfasts and lunches are priced at about $10, so I tip $1.50 - $2.00. On the trip when I did flex dining, I didn't tip on the Capitol when I had to line up, pick up my tray and take it to my seat and then put it in the trash myself, but I did tip the attendant on the Cardinal, who served me my flex dinner as if it were a real dining car meal.
I should point out that in my opinion, in an ideal world tipping should be prohibited, or, more precisely, it shouldn't even enter anybody's mind to do it or expect it. I think it's a horrible custom that debases the relation between the service worker and their customer. Nobody tips their doctor for saving their life, or their lawyer for writing their will, or the salesclerk who rings up their grocery order, or the plumber who keeps disgusting drainage from backing up into their house, and so forth. You just pay the price quoted and that's that. To rely on tips makes the transaction more like some kind of master-servant relationship, and it's bad enough being a servant of only one master, but to be a servant of a large number of demanding masters is clearly humiliating and shouldn't be tolerated in an enlightened society.

That said, I can't change our culture, so I tip service workers, especially those who rely on the tips to earn a decent living.
 

Eric in East County

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For our last few trips, we’ve eaten most of our meals in our bedroom. (Those times when we did eat in the dining car, we followed the 2-3-5 rule for tipping.) For our trip this coming summer, we plan to eat ALL our meals in our bedroom even though, by then, we will have been inoculated against COVID-19.

Over the years we had the good fortune to be seated with some interesting people in the dining car, and we treasure the memories the conversations we had with them. Social distancing aside however, we have now become spoiled by the option of being able to eat our meals in private and at our leisure, without being rushed or feeling guilty at lingering over our desserts while other people are waiting to be seated.

We tip our Sleeping Car Attendants when we reach our destination. Sometimes they’ll stop by our bedroom before we arrive at the station, and we tip them then. Otherwise, we tip them when we detrain. If they delivered meals to us in our bedroom, we tip them extra. Our tips to our SCAs are always quite generous anyhow. These generous tips serve as a powerful affirmation that we have more than enough to meet our needs and can afford to share our good fortune with those who have been looking after us on our journey.

Eric & Pat
 

Manny T

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Nobody tips their doctor for saving their life, or their lawyer for writing their will, or the salesclerk
Well, once I was given a very nice pen by a client for writing their will. Also, working at a garage sale or flea market, I've been tipped more than once by someone who enjoyed the interaction and didn't want their change.

Tipping is a form of gift giving and stems from the impulse towards generosity, which many people possess in abundance, and some not at all.

People can rationalize not tipping for a million different reasons -- it debases the relationship, the donee earns a nice living and has nice benefits, it isn't required, I'm paying enough without the tip, it's only in America etc. etc. But nothing will deter a generous person from making a free-will offering as a thank you to someone who has treated him or her well.
 

T2jk

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I unfortunately have personal experience that not all folks tip in land-based restaurants. My elderly parents used to go to a Denny's every Wednesday night with another older couple after evening church service and they'd order a small soup each, with extra crackers, and dawdle over the meal for an hour or so chatting. On one of my visits, I discovered to my horror that they never tipped. At all. So...I went up and asked the head waitstaff if tips were shared. They were. So I gave her all the bills I had in my wallet--probably a little over a hundred buck--and said, That's this year's tips from the foursome at table 5 for the rest of the year. Of course, I never told my parents--didn't want to embarass them.

But my dad reported that their usual waitress started spontaneously bringing them cracker refills...🤣
Thankfully people like you exist. One of those situations where “it’s all good”
 

flitcraft

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My attitude towards tipping comes out of my personal life experiences. When I was working during my college years at a local 'family restaurant' where all the entrees came with fries and cole slaw, I recall lots of nights where a table of six or more would insist on multiple iced tea refills, another fork since somebody dropped one, complaints about the tartar sauce, etc.--all of which I smilingly handled--and then leave me a dollar tip. (Okay...it was a while back, but a dollar? Really?) So now I'm on salary and I have the financial means to tip, so I do. I know what it's like to work a hard job, expect tips, and still get nada. I've never forgotten my gratitude at the generosity of some when I was working a full time shift and going to school, too. Now I feel like I can and should pay it back.

I'll grant that tipping culture in the US is fairly idiosyncratic. I had a student once from Nigeria who was completely confused about our tipping culture. He asked me, "Do you tip a taxi driver?" "Yes." "What about a bus driver?" "No." "Someone who cuts your hair?" "Sure." "Someone who cleans your teeth at the dentist's office?" "Nope." "Your professor?" "(long silent pause)...Actually, no..."
 

caravanman

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In my view, tipping benefits the employer most, so they can get away with paying a lower wage.
Folk often say "Amtrak staff are paid a very decent wage". I have no idea what their wages are?
Most folk just want to "fit in", go along with what is usual in the situation, and leaving a tip is pretty usuall with Amtrak dining. No one has to tip, but it is the norm, in my experience.
 
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I have NEVER received ’good enough service’ on Amtrak that the typical 15-20+% tipping that regular $2-4/hour services workers earn. Let me ask you this, do you tip your flight attendants, because they are within the same salary range.

For a rail-service agent with a menial attitude to drop off a paper bag of microwave food... $1-$2 tip is generous. (If they greet you with a smile, warmth, positive attitude, everything is on-time or justly explained; they assist with luggage and travel information; and you do not feel you are asking too much of them at any time within reason, and overall your journey is a great experience - then that’s a different story!!)

As a service industry worker myself, I ‘karmically’ over-tip. But there needs to be some HUGE changes in Amtrak customer service attitude and cleanliness to deserve the 15-20%+ that regular $2-4/hour workers earn. *I wonder that those in this forum who are tip-shaming are probably disgruntled Amtrak employees.
 

tricia

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I have NEVER received ’good enough service’ on Amtrak that the typical 15-20+% tipping that regular $2-4/hour services workers earn. Let me ask you this, do you tip your flight attendants, because they are within the same salary range.

For a rail-service agent with a menial attitude to drop off a paper bag of microwave food... $1-$2 tip is generous. (If they greet you with a smile, warmth, positive attitude, everything is on-time or justly explained; they assist with luggage and travel information; and you do not feel you are asking too much of them at any time within reason, and overall your journey is a great experience - then that’s a different story!!)

As a service industry worker myself, I ‘karmically’ over-tip. But there needs to be some HUGE changes in Amtrak customer service attitude and cleanliness to deserve the 15-20%+ that regular $2-4/hour workers earn. *I wonder that those in this forum who are tip-shaming are probably disgruntled Amtrak employees.
I wouldn't say "NEVER," but it's been rare in my experience.

And that "like" I gave your post doesn't apply to its last sentence, which I think is uncalled for.
 

jis

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As a service industry worker myself, I ‘karmically’ over-tip. But there needs to be some HUGE changes in Amtrak customer service attitude and cleanliness to deserve the 15-20%+ that regular $2-4/hour workers earn. *I wonder that those in this forum who are tip-shaming are probably disgruntled Amtrak employees.
I am not sure how much of the tip shamers here are Amtrak employees, but for sure on various Facebook pages there is significant tip shaming carried out by Amtrak employees that I have noticed, including getting summarily roasted by a bunch of Acela First Class LSAs. So yeah, it happens, but not sure if it happen in this AU forum as much.
 

Eric in East County

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Of much more practical value to an AMTRAK employee is for a customer to contact AMTRAK and leave positive feedback about them. We’ve done this for a few of our SCAs who provided us with exceptionally good service, and we’d like to think that this was worth more to them in the long run than the tip we gave them. For those of who are concerned about how much you can afford to tip remember, it doesn’t cost you anything to contact AMTRAK and praise an employee who provided you with good service.

Eric & Pat
 

MARC Rider

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I'll grant that tipping culture in the US is fairly idiosyncratic. I had a student once from Nigeria who was completely confused about our tipping culture. He asked me, "Do you tip a taxi driver?" "Yes." "What about a bus driver?" "No." "Someone who cuts your hair?" "Sure." "Someone who cleans your teeth at the dentist's office?" "Nope." "Your professor?" "(long silent pause)...Actually, no..."
No kidding. How about tipping that nice clerk at City Hall so that my application for a building permit gets expedited? As a government worker, we had all kinds of rules limiting who we could get gifts from and the amounts thereof. I had to actually be a little short with my project officer from our contractor who kept trying to buy me lunch when I was visiting to review the work he was doing for us. Imagine a waiter yelling at you not to tip them. (I didn't yell at him, but I did get a little frustrated. He did enough government work to know he can't buy me lunch. Of course, we were on salary, but you can imagine how many people would still like to show their appreciation for us making an Agency decision to their liking. :)
 

Willbridge

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My attitude towards tipping comes out of my personal life experiences. When I was working during my college years at a local 'family restaurant' where all the entrees came with fries and cole slaw, I recall lots of nights where a table of six or more would insist on multiple iced tea refills, another fork since somebody dropped one, complaints about the tartar sauce, etc.--all of which I smilingly handled--and then leave me a dollar tip. (Okay...it was a while back, but a dollar? Really?) So now I'm on salary and I have the financial means to tip, so I do. I know what it's like to work a hard job, expect tips, and still get nada. I've never forgotten my gratitude at the generosity of some when I was working a full time shift and going to school, too. Now I feel like I can and should pay it back.

I'll grant that tipping culture in the US is fairly idiosyncratic. I had a student once from Nigeria who was completely confused about our tipping culture. He asked me, "Do you tip a taxi driver?" "Yes." "What about a bus driver?" "No." "Someone who cuts your hair?" "Sure." "Someone who cleans your teeth at the dentist's office?" "Nope." "Your professor?" "(long silent pause)...Actually, no..."
There's an exception on tipping bus drivers. On a tour it may be appropriate but not on a regular route. Then there are "all gratuities included" tours where the escort tips the driver.
 
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I wouldn't say "NEVER," but it's been rare in my experience.

And that "like" I gave your post doesn't apply to its last sentence, which I think is uncalled for.
Well, you have a point. However my reasoning for this is that despite only having ridden the Starlight (x4), the Empire builder (x2) and the Zephyr (x2) in the last 12 months, I saw uber senior (unfurloughed) employees apparently working roles ‘beneath them’ - and it was evident, and that should never be a reason to treat customers poorly. With 30 years experience in customer service industries worldwide, and on both sides of the counter so to speak; I am fair in saying that the service on Amtrak has been sub-par.
Your experience is otherwise justified as are others who may have travelled on the service for much longer and been able to experience better standards than I have. I took 8 journeys on Amtrak in 12 months - and the service and food (and surprisingly, the cleanliness during the Covid pandemic) was basically awful. Thank God for America and her diverse terrain through the window! It’s a terrible shame that Amtrak hasn’t grasped the market for quality services and standards (especially for our international guests). They own the monopoly, and they just let us all down.
 
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Willbridge

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Well, you have a point. However my reasoning for this is that despite only having ridden the Starlight (x4), the Empire builder (x2) and the Zephyr (x2) in the last 12 months, I saw uber senior (unfurloughed) employees apparently working roles ‘beneath them’ - and it was evident, and that should never be a reason to treat customers poorly. With 30 years experience in customer service industries worldwide, and on both sides of the counter so to speak; I am fair in saying that the service on Amtrak has been sub-par.
Your experience is otherwise justified as are others who may have travelled on the service for much longer and been able to experience better standards than I have. I took 8 journeys on Amtrak in 12 months - and the service and food (and surprisingly, the cleanliness during the Covid pandemic) was basically awful. Thank God for America and her diverse terrain through the window! It’s a terrible shame that Amtrak hasn’t grasped the market for quality services and standards (especially for our international guests). They own the monopoly, and they just let us all down.
I have been reminded of the second half of the 1960's on several lines, notably in my part of the country on the SP. It's not logical to take it out on the customers when cutbacks have someone working a job that they thought they had left years before. BUT, it seems to be a standard reaction in a downward spiraling organization.

There are exceptions, usually when some union leader or lower-level management employee rallies others to sabotage the axe-wielders at the top by doing outstanding jobs. I've written here and in RTN about some people like that.
 

railiner

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There's an exception on tipping bus drivers. On a tour it may be appropriate but not on a regular route. Then there are "all gratuities included" tours where the escort tips the driver.
But you usually tip the escort, and they share with the driver. That's how it was done when my company handled the prestigious Tauck New England/Maritime Tours....
 

Willbridge

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But you usually tip the escort, and they share with the driver. That's how it was done when my company handled the prestigious Tauck New England/Maritime Tours....
Cartan Tours (Hilton Carte Blanche) had a tips inclusive policy and the escort tipped the driver $50 (in 1973 dollars). I remember it vividly because I had a run-in with 'Rocky' - the #2 seniority driver at the Gray Line of Portland. He discovered that I had put one of our PSU summer temp drivers on a Columbia Gorge tour instead of him. I had assigned Rocky to a run that paid more per the Teamsters agreement. My boss, an old-time CB&Q sales rep, defended my decision, which had followed the letter of the agreement. And--- he shut down Rocky by pointing out that he never shared tips with the dispatcher or the shop guys.
 

railiner

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Shared tips with the dispatcher or shop guys? That's an 'eye-opener' to me...not saying it wasn't done, but as a dispatcher, I would consider it a 'bribe', and never would accept it...
 

Bob Dylan

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Shared tips with the dispatcher or shop guys? That's an 'eye-opener' to me...not saying it wasn't done, but as a dispatcher, I would consider it a 'bribe', and never would accept it...
Are you sure you lived and worked in New York where " tips" and "sharing" off the books is a way of life?😄
 
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