By Rich Figel
Ah, yes... Christmas, that time of year when I internally debate who deserves a tip or not. It started with the Christmas tree. Are you supposed to tip them for trimming the trunk and carrying it to your car? I left that dilemma to my wife while I charged $125 to my credit card. She felt it wasn't necessary since we were already paying a fair amount for a tree we'd be disposing of next month. Yet I felt a twinge of guilt when I heard the workers walk by, muttering something I can only surmise was related to my wife stiffing them. She was surprised when I told her about their grumbling. "They seemed really nice and cheerful when they loaded the tree!" she noted. Um, yeah -- because they were expecting a tip!
In past years I've tipped our mailman -- I mean postal worker person -- who was a woman. She earned it because she would hand deliver packages to our door instead of jamming them in the mail box like other post office workers often do, and we got our mail reasonably early each day. After she retired, our postal service has gone from so-so to terrible. Many days we don't get mail until after 6 PM. One of the workers apparently is dyslexic and keeps giving us mail for another address that is similar but on a different street. Another hasn't figured out that we live in a duplex townhouse, and gives us our neighbor's mail when a cursory glance at the name would make it obvious that it should go to 801A, not 801. Sigh. No tip for you this year, tardy mail persons!
Another conundrum: Do you tip someone on top of their usual tip, such as the newspaper delivery person? Each month, I add a tip to my Star-Advertiser bill. In past years, I'd stick an envelope in the mailbox addressed to the "Newspaper Delivery Person" and include a small tip with a Christmas card thanking them for their service. Whereas our good mail lady always acknowledged tips with handwritten thank you cards after each Christmas had passed, our newspaper person never bothered with any such expression of gratitude. So, if you never hear a word from the person you tipped, is there any point in continuing the thankless charade?
Since we're on the topic, I never liked the "suggested" tipping structure for services based on price. It doesn't seem fair that wait staff at less expensive restaurants should get lower tips simply because that place doesn't charge exorbitant prices for food, even if they work just as hard or harder than the servers at the fancier places. Then you have the discounted bills courtesy of Groupon and Hot Deals offers, which prompt users to tip on the "full price"... which these days is probably inflated to offset the discount these restaurants are giving left and right to keep bringing in customers. Basically, the discount equals what I normally tip anyway: 15 to 20 percent.
Speaking of Groupon and Hot Deals, I had the unhappy experience of finding out that two restaurants I bought discount vouchers for had closed without warning: first, there was Mimasuya Italiano on Kapiolani. After I called to make reservations and learned they were shutting down indefinitely, I notified Hot Deals and they promptly credited the refund to my account. Then this past weekend, we heard from a server at the Fat Greek in Kailua (another Groupon deal) that The Grove was closed. We drove by on Sunday night and saw it was indeed shut down.
But Groupon didn't respond to my repeated requests for a refund. It was two days before a Groupon customer service person sent me an email, asking for details on The Grove -- even though everything he requested was already in my first two requests for a refund, and on their own Groupon! Sheesh. Suffice it to say, I'm no longer a fan of Groupon and my tip to others is be wary of buying too many discounted offers for businesses that may not be around in a few months.
To see examples of superior local companies that won't be going out of business any time soon, check out this month's Career Changers TV show. You can find daily viewing times of our special Christmas episode by visiting www. CareerChangers.TV or watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Have a great weekend!