Tip your hotel housekeeper … or else

Don’t forget to tip your housekeeper. If you do, you could end up paying a lot more in late charges.

Don’t believe me? Then listen to what Matthew Martinez has to say. A frequent traveler who has a network of friends who work in the hotel industry, he let me in on a little insider secret. Housekeepers and bellmen can exact their revenge on bad tippers — and they often do.

A lot of the time, late charges are a result of hotel employees helping themselves to mini-bar and snack items after guest leave or while they are not in the room.

I know of one individual who worked as a bellhop. Often, he would be asked to retrieve bags from a room while guests were checking out. If they did not tip him, he would help himself to an item from the snack basket or minibar.

Same is true of cleaning crews. Sometimes the items that the hotel charges are for, actually have been removed from the room — just not by the guest. Other times the employee responsible for keeping inventory just makes a mistake.

I think that these types of activities are responsible for more of those phantom charges than a sinister plot by the hotels management.

Some readers of this blog believe that hotels are behind the late charges, but Martinez offers an interesting counterpoint. If I were a low-paid employee who relied on tips, I might consider raiding the minibar and sticking an unappreciative customer with the bill.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Mark

    “unappreciative customer” …. I suppose many housekeeping staff in the US think this of most European customers, as we are not used to paying tips like you are in the States. We assume all staff is paid by their employer like here in Europe. Over recent years of travelling to the US it has become quite clear that more and more people you come accross while on vacation in the US need to be tipped and infact to a certain degree even demand it.

    For us Europeans, a tip is something you may offer a helping or serving party, but is at the customers discretion and is paid to they amount the customer thinks the helping/serving party has gone out of his/her way to enhance the service which they provide(d) above what would normally be expected.
    When we now travel trough the US it seems obvious that hotels/restaurants/themeparks/grocerystores are on purpose paying employees low saleries and assume that the maid, waiter etc obtain the rest of their wages from the already paying customer. In more and more cases these companies have no problem with infact stating these extra charges on signs and in rooms!?? This is what we would call fraudulent advertising. So now when you go out for dinner, the (online) adverts state an amout, but really the amout shown is the price of the ingredients and the gas to cook it. All other charges are added on later which means that you nolonger know whether the deal offered is really the best deal around.

    All travellers have heard the same excusses about that Amercans think that taxes should be counted seperately because the big bad state and federal governments slush this away. And tips have always been counted seperately and are not part of your dinner cost?

    Come on restaurants/hotels and other services providing companies…get your act together. Pay your staff a normal salery for what they have to do, advertise using the real amount the customer needs to pay upfront including all services and taxes. That way your staff doesn’t need to act as clowns half the time in their quest to get an income, or steal from you and/or your customers. Stop giving your customers a bad feeling as if they are thieves because they did not know what and whom they need to tip.
    Do you realize what it does to your dinner experience and infact your vacation experience when a waiter chases after you for half a street because he wants to know why you tipped him a dollar less then the last couple!??

    Please remember, we are on vacation which is already extremely expensive and most of us are not Bill Gates, some of us are waiters/cooks and other serving personel ourselves, so for us tipping somebody 5 to 10$ is a heck of a lot of money….

  • Belinda Contague

    I don’t pay people for doing their job. 
    I’ve also never been ripped off by a maid (so stop the scare tactics) and I have never, in my life, tipped.  Not even on a cruise.  I also don’t tip the pizza delivery guy for merely doing his job.  You people are suckers, falling for peer pressure.  Think for 2 seconds what a tip is for and then decide if someone just doing the bare minimum of their job deserves extra.

  • dpk921

    I am in retail constructon and my stays are usually 7 to 8 weeks. I stay in the same National long term chain. There is a Candle in the name. Housekeeping is once a week. I tip $20 each time. I am not a slob. I clean up the room and roll up the towels. I wash the dishes each time. I leave the tip with a thank you note. I have yet to receive a TY in return. I thought maybe they aren’t getting the tip, (supervisor coming in first and taking it), so I started asking at the desk who cleaned my room and leaving the money in an envelope with their name on it at the desk and still nothing. The cleaning is marginal at best and I never get any coffee or shampoo so I wonder if they are getting the money at all. How can I make sure the girl is getting the tip?