The Tip Dilemma

I recently had a Seinfeld-style tip dilemma. I’ll describe the situation and what I did, and you can tell me what I should have done.

My cable box was acting up, so I called Charter and they sent over someone to fix it. Julius arrived right at the beginning of the 2-hour range of time–a nice start.

He quickly identified the problem, which was confounded by my poor attempt to fix it (he was nice about that). He switched out the box for a newer model, added some new connection devices, and even checked the main cable hub for the building, just to make everything was working optimally.

I almost always tip people who come to my house to repair things, and this was no different. A $20 tip would have been perfect. However, near the end of the visit, I checked my wallet to find that I had exactly two bills: $1 and $50.

So I had the option of giving him $1, $50, $0, or asking if Julius had change for a $50. For some reason it seemed super awkward to ask for change, and somehow $0 felt better than a middling $1 (even though that makes no sense). So I didn’t give him any tip.

What would you have done in this situation (if you, like me, were compelled to tip)?


9 Responses to “The Tip Dilemma”

  1. Chris Broadbent says:

    I’m a bit of a curmudgeon. I don’t like the idea of tipping. Anyone. For anything.
    I did my time in college as a waiter ($2.15/hr + tips – about 12 years ago). Consequently, I always tip well, even if I’m frustrated with my waiter. But I wish that wasn’t our culture.
    So, I would have given the kind and helpful Julius $0, too, but perhaps for different reasons.
    My wife would have wanted to tip him, but probably not $50.
    Who carries cash these days anyway? Maybe you could ask for his paypal address?

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Chris: That’s an interesting option (PayPal). I always carry a little cash, but I rarely use it–that’s why the $50 has been sitting unbroken in my pocket for months. 🙂

  2. Nik says:

    I’d never tip the cable guy no matter what is in my wallet. His company is more than adequately compensared on a monthly basis to pay him properly. Sending an employee to repair outdated and defective equipment that they force you to rent for exorbitant fees is wholly thier financial responsibility.

    The fact that he came on time or did his job is the bare minimum not service above and beyond. Also no reason to tip.

  3. RodeoClown says:

    Move to Australia where we have absolutely no obligation to tip.
    The only time I even think about tipping is when I couldn’t be bothered with the change, or when we’ve been a loud, large group taking up a waiter’s complete attention. And even then it’s optional.

    There’s no expectation, and no necessity.

  4. Daniel Newman says:

    I tip waiters, but that’s it. People are paid to do their work, I don’t understand giving them extra for doing their job adequately. Waiters are different, as they are often paid very little with the understanding that they will be receiving tips.

  5. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    I think I should have phrased the question differently. It’s interesting to hear your personal opinions about whether or not you believe in tipping; my philosophy is different, and that’s okay.

    The heart of the question is: If you–like me–wanted to tip the cable guy, but you only had a $1 bill and a $50 bill in your wallet, what would you do?

    • Sara says:

      Well now you went and changed the question before I had the chance to respond to the original post. My original reply was going to say something about how, aside from waiters, bartenders and the guy at the carwash, I might tip someone who had to carry something really heavy/bulky into my house and didn’t damage anything… The cable guy wouldn’t be an issue because I agree with most of the above commentary.

      To answer your second question, I’d have given him no tip. In the event that he had to charge you something on a credit card, there wouldn’t even be a place for a tip on the charge slip because his job ain’t that kinda job. In the event of really superly wanting to tip someone and can’t… I wouldn’t have thought of the paypal thing. I think I’d be texting my neighbor asking if they had x amount of cash on them and, if so, could I please borrow it until my workman was gone so I could break the $50 in my pocket to pay the tip back. Absent that – no need to feel too guilty for zero tip because he wouldn’t have expected one anyway.

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