Consumer Confidential: To Tip or Not to Tip

Hairdressers, for example, often work on the same gratuity scale you would use for your waiter in a restaurant: 15-20%. But there's no hard and fast rule.

Tipping is a topic many of us wrestle with throughout the year, and especially during the holiday season â?? because trying to figure out who to tip and how much can be confusing.

Janna Kiehl, the CEO of the Better Business Bureau of the Texas Panhandle, says the whole process is very subjective. â??If you want to tip, itâ??s something you should consider,â?? she says, â??but itâ??s very personal and itâ??s a way to say thank you. When in doubt, I would say at least always offer the tip, because thatâ??s building good will.â??

At the same time, you should never feel obligated to tip. But if you do decide to tip your tradesperson this holiday season, talk with the company owner first to make sure itâ??s okay. Some companies donâ??t allow their employees to accept tips.

What are some good benchmarks for some of the people who have helped you all year? Here are a few from Angieâ??s List:

For people like yard workers and handymen, a tip of $20 to $50 may be in order, depending how often they visit your home.

For people who clean your house, many suggest $25 to $50, a dayâ??s pay, or a gift of equal value.

And what about mail and paper delivery? Though the U.S. Postal Service frowns on gratuities and gifts for mail carriers, authorities request that anything you give be worth $20 or less. For daily newspaper delivery, a holiday tip of $15 to $25 is appropriate.

And believe it or not, a lot of companies value some other acts of kindness even more than cash. That list includes making them dinner, sending them a great letter about how outstanding their service is, passing along a good word about them so they get some â??free publicityâ??, and referring more customers to them. As Kiehl says, â??A tip is a short-term gain, but a new customer could be a long-term gain over time for that company. And the benefits co

uld be much greater.â??