Tipping etiquette in Santo Domingo

JD Jones

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Very insightful and I Agree on all points. Tip is already being paid. I used to tip 20% but it simply isn't necessary. You are also tipping the price of the propina legal and itbis instead of simply the cost of the mealbwhich is ridiculous.

Giving people more money makes them ungrateful and entitled. I've seen it in my own business dealings the past 10 years. It is counter intuitive but thats just how it is. I think this is more true of people who are in lower economic class/better said have lower economic class habits and worldview. It is beyond the scope of this conversation but as Maria said what should be viewed as a bonus that one is grateful for becomes an expectation that if not received leads to very negative energy and a bad attitude/mood.

Finally, eating out here can indeed be expensive. I tend to frequent places where I get a good deal on prices for the quality of food. I DO NOT go to expensive places where most items on the menu are over 1-1,500 pesos as I understand the value of a meal well cooked but do not value fancy places with lots of value added into the menu. I PERSONALLY don't have this problem, and compared to where I come from the restaurant prices are dirt cheap but I get this and agree. There are countries where one can travel and pay significantly less for the exact same quality of meal.

I order a lot of food on Pedidosya from well known cafeterias here in San Cristobal. I can count on one hand the times I have gotten an average meal. I'm with you, there's no need to spend big bucks for food.
 

Kricke87

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So onto the tips. The Propina Legal is confusing for businesses because the law says it must be 10% and split between all staff who provide service. Which is wooly and causes no end of discussions and arguments - should the cleaner be given a split? Does the manager get double? Staff can, and do, go to the Secretaria (the ministry of labor) to file a complaint if organisations are not paying the full 10%, and the inspectors then come (and usually want a huge back-hander themselves). And staff in hospitality talk of little else other than the 10%, there are always always accusations that the organisation is robbing them an not paying them their 10%. It's important that the 10% doesn't apply to take-out and isn't charged on the ITBIS, so if you start with RD$ 100, you have RD$ 10 service charge and RD$ 18 ITBIS. It's not 10% of the overall (RD$ 128 = 12.8) which is what confuses a lot of staff. Try explaining that to a guy who can't add up, trust me I've had to do it many many many many times.

Now should you tip on top? As someone who works in the industry, my answer is only if you have really great service. The staff are getting 10% and if you start giving big tips on top then you're just creating problems as they will all expect it, and ask for it, and get p!ssed when they don't get it. Restaurant prices are already crazy high in the DR. If you're going to take a $900 burger (i.e $15) and then add 18% ITBIS, and then 10% propina legal, and then give a 20% tip on top, you get 900 x 1.28 = RD$ 1,382. So the price has gone up by 50%, and we end up with a US$25 burger which is now way too expensive for what it is.

And in the long run this doesn't end well. Everyone is already struggling this year, the AirBnB's which are the bottom feeders in the tourism market are pretty much empty and we are now in the highest of high season. The issue is that this place used to be cheap, now it's becoming quite expensive, and the overall quality of pretty much everything - and especially customer service - just doesn't stack up compared to other countries that tourists can go to.
Great things you pointed out.
It's kind of annoying right now, I have a friend here that moved from DR to Spain about 6 months ago but to be able to move legally to Spain he had to leave Spain and fix the papers where he has residency.
He frequently points out how ridiculously expensive everything is over here.
He has told me several times that for breakfast he can go to a local supermarket, get a chicken sandwich and a beer for less than $3...... Here you wouldn't even be able to buy the beer for $3. And it's not only that it's expensive, the quality is not always the best on the both the local but also the imported products.
And what I also kind of don't understand, who gets the benefited by these increases?
Since I moved here 11 years ago I've always compared the prices between groceries here and my homecountry Sweden, and previously things have been slightly more expensive in Sweden, not that much but just a little bit more expensive.
But now I compare and I see that the mayority of groceries here has become even more expensive than in Sweden.
Now, eating at restaurants is still very cheap compared to Sweden, you would not be able to find a quality burger for less than like $20.
But still, the prices here has incremented exponentially..
So who does it benefit?
Not the workers, even though prices in many cases have doubled when eating out, "normal" workers are still getting basically the same salary.
And kind of interesting when the locals can't afford their own goods.
 

Sol09

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Personally, I always leave a 10% tip for the server. Why? Because the 10% tip mandated by law is split amongst all the staff (or in theory it should be before someone jumps in and say the owners keep it all, which in that case wouldn't you feel a moral compulsion to give at least something to the server?) and it's customary where I am from to tip servers 20% so I give the difference to the server.

(I also always tip the bag boys at grocery store. But I also feel they should be paid minimum wage and not dependent upon tips for their livelihood)
 
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keepcoming

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Tipping IMO is a personal preference. I tip for good service, the amount will depend on how "good" the service is. My thought has always been "is the server/staff really getting the 10%?. I mean they should be but do they, I do not know.
 
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william webster

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Back before recorded time, when I was out a lot, I had a system

My tipping mentality was to tip for service, not based on what I ate...... i.e. the price of the meal

It was $5 for two people and $10 for four
It confused the staff until the manager asked me..... then went smoothly
 

NanSanPedro

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My two cents worth from someone who has worked in hospitality for many years. In Santo Domingo, as a business you have to charge ITBIS to everyone. DGII have been all over businesses that offered not to charge it for cash, and even the Chinese and even Colmados charge it now. The tax stands for Impuesto sobre Transferencia de Bienes Industrializados y Servicios, which means transfer tax for manufactured goods and services. And it works exactly the same as VAT in the UK, and I think the same as the Sales Tax in US states. You collect it and you deduct any ITBIS on purchased goods. Every month on the 20th you have to send a report to DGII including the long number on every single receipt for purchased goods, and you have to pay them what you owe by the 20th.

So onto the tips. The Propina Legal is confusing for businesses because the law says it must be 10% and split between all staff who provide service. Which is wooly and causes no end of discussions and arguments - should the cleaner be given a split? Does the manager get double? Staff can, and do, go to the Secretaria (the ministry of labor) to file a complaint if organisations are not paying the full 10%, and the inspectors then come (and usually want a huge back-hander themselves). And staff in hospitality talk of little else other than the 10%, there are always always accusations that the organisation is robbing them an not paying them their 10%. It's important that the 10% doesn't apply to take-out and isn't charged on the ITBIS, so if you start with RD$ 100, you have RD$ 10 service charge and RD$ 18 ITBIS. It's not 10% of the overall (RD$ 128 = 12.8) which is what confuses a lot of staff. Try explaining that to a guy who can't add up, trust me I've had to do it many many many many times.

Now should you tip on top? As someone who works in the industry, my answer is only if you have really great service. The staff are getting 10% and if you start giving big tips on top then you're just creating problems as they will all expect it, and ask for it, and get p!ssed when they don't get it. Restaurant prices are already crazy high in the DR. If you're going to take a $900 burger (i.e $15) and then add 18% ITBIS, and then 10% propina legal, and then give a 20% tip on top, you get 900 x 1.28 = RD$ 1,382. So the price has gone up by 50%, and we end up with a US$25 burger which is now way too expensive for what it is.

And in the long run this doesn't end well. Everyone is already struggling this year, the AirBnB's which are the bottom feeders in the tourism market are pretty much empty and we are now in the highest of high season. The issue is that this place used to be cheap, now it's becoming quite expensive, and the overall quality of pretty much everything - and especially customer service - just doesn't stack up compared to other countries that tourists can go to.

Apologies for the long post but I do know a bit about this.
Maria, this was really informative. You owe no one an apology. I'm so happy to hear that the employees actually get the 10% and have the balls to complain when they don't.
 

Big

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Tipping IMO is a personal preference. I tip for good service, the amount will depend on how "good" the service is. My thought has always been "is the server/staff really getting the 10%?. I mean they should be but do they, I do not know.
I tip for good service. I take care of those who take care of me. 30% for places I am a regular. I always get to choose my table and server. I cannot imagine giving a few pesos to a gentleman (or lady) that serves me dinner and waits on me hand and foot. When staying at hotels I tip the chamber maid 500 pesos a day( at least) more if I have special requests, which I almost always do. More water, towels, soap etc. Early check in, late check out etc. Here is a hot tip for exiting the airport. Pick the older bell hop/ porter at the luggage carousel, they are connected. They will walk you directly out of the airport with your luggage without any delay from the agents and lines. Its worth every bit of 30 bucks (U.S). They will also get you a taxi right to the front door.
 

Kricke87

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Personally, I always leave a 10% tip for the server. Why? Because the 10% tip mandated by law is split amongst all the staff (or in theory it should be before someone jumps in and say the owners keep it all, which in that case wouldn't you feel a moral compulsion to give at least something to the server?)

(I also always tip the bag boys at grocery store. But I also feel they should be paid minimum wage and not dependent upon tips for their livelihood)

Do you also tip the cashier at the supermarket? Do you tip the clerk at the store? Do you tip at McDonalds or any other fast food restaurant?
What's the difference? IMO nothing.
They provide you with a service at a restaurant, and they provide you a service at the supermarket.
 

Big

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Do you also tip the cashier at the supermarket? Do you tip the clerk at the store? Do you tip at McDonalds or any other fast food restaurant?
What's the difference? IMO nothing.
They provide you with a service at a restaurant, and they provide you a service at the supermarket.
well sir, if you don't think there is a difference between a school kid frying French fries, and a gentleman providing an evening dining experience that lasts an hour and a half I will not be able to sway you.
 

Kricke87

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well sir, if you don't think there is a difference between a school kid frying French fries, and a gentleman providing an evening dining experience that lasts an hour and a half I will not be able to sway you.
Okay, what kind of a "evening dining experience" do you refer to? Because at least the restaurants that I go to the server is probably in her/his 20s, and although dressed maybe a little bit different from McD, they still perform basically the same task.
They take an order, bring it to my table (yeah Mickey D actually does that now) and then you eat it and then you leave.

Honestly I would say that I have many times had better experiences at McD than at "fancier" restaurants.
You don't have to wait 10-15 minutes to get someones attention to do your order.
You don't have to wait 10-15 minutes (or sometimes even longer) just to get your check.

Why do you go to a restaurant? To eat food no?
So then, the biggest differences between let's say McD and a fancy restaurant is, the type of food, (and quality) and the ambiance, nothing which the server can do ANYTHING about but more something that is reflected on the PRICE of the product.

So no, actually at least not in this country (unless you mean a fancier restaurant where there cheapest plate is $50) I don't see any difference between the service that someone who takes my order, charges for it and brings it to my table, be it at McD or at evening restaurant gives me.
 

Big

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Okay, what kind of a "evening dining experience" do you refer to? Because at least the restaurants that I go to the server is probably in her/his 20s, and although dressed maybe a little bit different from McD, they still perform basically the same task.
They take an order, bring it to my table (yeah Mickey D actually does that now) and then you eat it and then you leave.

Honestly I would say that I have many times had better experiences at McD than at "fancier" restaurants.
You don't have to wait 10-15 minutes to get someones attention to do your order.
You don't have to wait 10-15 minutes (or sometimes even longer) just to get your check.

Why do you go to a restaurant? To eat food no?
So then, the biggest differences between let's say McD and a fancy restaurant is, the type of food, (and quality) and the ambiance, nothing which the server can do ANYTHING about but more something that is reflected on the PRICE of the product.

So no, actually at least not in this country (unless you mean a fancier restaurant where there cheapest plate is $50) I don't see any difference between the service that someone who takes my order, charges for it and brings it to my table, be it at McD or at evening restaurant gives me.
I will just say that we are so far apart on the subject there is no reason for a debate. You, comparing "McD" with a fine dining experience in the city is all telling.
 

MariaRubia

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I tip for good service. I take care of those who take care of me. 30% for places I am a regular. I always get to choose my table and server. I cannot imagine giving a few pesos to a gentleman (or lady) that serves me dinner and waits on me hand and foot. When staying at hotels I tip the chamber maid 500 pesos a day( at least) more if I have special requests, which I almost always do. More water, towels, soap etc. Early check in, late check out etc. Here is a hot tip for exiting the airport. Pick the older bell hop/ porter at the luggage carousel, they are connected. They will walk you directly out of the airport with your luggage without any delay from the agents and lines. Its worth every bit of 30 bucks (U.S). They will also get you a taxi right to the front door.

These are eye-wateringly high amounts. I can't imagine you eat anywhere very expensive if you're tipping 30% on top of the 28% that they have already added to the already crazy-high food prices.
 

MariaRubia

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(I also always tip the bag boys at grocery store. But I also feel they should be paid minimum wage and not dependent upon tips for their livelihood)

And this is precisely the problem with giving big tips. I can name a couple of really top restaurants that I know for a fact have a policy of encouraging tips on top of the bill, they have "Tip" printed on the credit card form, and they point out to customers to write in the amount they want to tip. And as a result of this, the staff are paid next to nothing, or in some cases nothing, as they are expected to make their money on tips. Which means that they don't get health insurance, maternity leave etc. etc. etc. Honestly by adding 30% on top you're not helping anyone.

I always stress to customers that they are already paying 10% tip, if they feel that the service has been amazing then leave a little extra but don't feel obliged to do so as you have already tipped.
 
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Big

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These are eye-wateringly high amounts. I can't imagine you eat anywhere very expensive if you're tipping 30% on top of the 28% that they have already added to the already crazy-high food prices.
28% added ? With my colleagues and friends, we dine out at the city's nice restaurants regularly. We do not split the check and we do not pool our money. Tacky!! If one cannot afford fine dining it should not be taken out on the wait staff. There are plenty of precooked decent budget restaurants around that offer takeout in containers. Stiffing service people is rude!
 

Kricke87

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If one cannot afford fine dining it should not be taken out on the wait staff. There are plenty of precooked decent budget restaurants around that offer takeout in containers. Stiffing service people is rude!
Yeah because it's SOOOOOO much better if the "average Joe" don't go out and dine, then the servers will have SOOOOOO much work.......
And how come it's stiffing to not tip if you consider the service was poor?

And it's nothing against service people, it's more a message to the management, PAY YOUR STAFF.
If the restaurants don't "feel" like they can pay their staff and want the customer to pay an additional 30%, well then ffs increase the prices.
So then instead of paying 1000 pesos for a plate you'd pay 1300, if that's already expected.

There's another thread where annoying things Dominicans does, and one of those that is mentioned (which I also find annoying) is when you are going to pay someone for their service and they answer by shrugging "Whatever you feel like", this is the exact same situation.
They are asking you to value their work instead of them telling you right away "This is how much I charge for my service."
 
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MariaRubia

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And it's nothing against service people, it's more a message to the management, PAY YOUR STAFF.
If the restaurants don't "feel" like they can pay their staff and want the customer to pay an additional 30%, well then ffs increase the prices.
So then instead of paying 1000 pesos for a plate you'd pay 1300, if that's already expected.

There's another thread where annoying things Dominicans does, and one of those that is mentioned (which I also find annoying) is when you are going to pay someone for their service and they answer by shrugging "Whatever you feel like", this is the exact same situation.
They are asking you to value their work instead of them telling you right away "This is how much I charge for my service."

Thank you, this is exactly how I feel. And the issue is that if they did charge the 1300, then they would have to pay taxes on the full 1300 so the tax take would be higher which, in theory, would help the whole country. And in addition if the server got a decent wage, they would also get decent healthcare, protection against being dismissed, and all the other benefits from being in a proper job.

I absolutely hate it when you give someone a tip and they say "OK" and not "gracias". That drives me wild.
 
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MariaRubia

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28% added ? With my colleagues and friends, we dine out at the city's nice restaurants regularly. We do not split the check and we do not pool our money. Tacky!! If one cannot afford fine dining it should not be taken out on the wait staff. There are plenty of precooked decent budget restaurants around that offer takeout in containers. Stiffing service people is rude!

Most menus don't include taxes in their prices, so the price you see gets hiked up by 28% on the final check. So out of interest, if four of you go to one of these restaurants, how much do you expect the check to come to, on an average night? I presume that you take it in turns to pay as you say you don't split and don't pool.
 

Big

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Yeah because it's SOOOOOO much better if the "average Joe" don't go out and dine, then the servers will have SOOOOOO much work.......
And how come it's stiffing to not tip if you consider the service was poor?

And it's nothing against service people, it's more a message to the management, PAY YOUR STAFF.
If the restaurants don't "feel" like they can pay their staff and want the customer to pay an additional 30%, well then ffs increase the prices.
So then instead of paying 1000 pesos for a plate you'd pay 1300, if that's already expected.

There's another thread where annoying things Dominicans does, and one of those that is mentioned (which I also find annoying) is when you are going to pay someone for their service and they answer by shrugging "Whatever you feel like", this is the exact same situation.
They are asking you to value their work instead of them telling you right away "This is how much I charge for my service."
good luck to you sir.
 

Big

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Most menus don't include taxes in their prices, so the price you see gets hiked up by 28% on the final check. So out of interest, if four of you go to one of these restaurants, how much do you expect the check to come to, on an average night? I presume that you take it in turns to pay as you say you don't split and don't pool.
Take turns is correct. Gentleman and businessmen don't keep tabs on who ordered what. I must emphasize that I will never socialize or do business with anyone who mistreats service people. Stiffing a waiter, bartender, barber etc by giving them 100 pesos is rude and inconsiderate.
 
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Kricke87

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Take turns is correct. Gentleman and businessmen don't keep tabs on who ordered what. I must emphasize that I will never socialize or do business with anyone who mistreats service people. Stiffing a waiter, bartender, barber etc by giving them 100 pesos is rude and inconsiderate.
Okay, so you do tip the cashier at the supermarket, and the guard at the ATM/banks, or don't you consider them service people?
 
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