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When you take your car in for service and one...

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Dear Tom and Ray:


When you take your car in for service, and one of the employees takes you home and another guy picks you up when your car is ready, are you supposed to tip those guys? If so, how much? -- Bob

TOM: Don't they get 15 percent of the repair bill? Or 18 percent for parties of six or more?

RAY: He's joking, Bob. Typically, these guys are lower-level dealership employees who have other jobs during the day -- like sweeping out the waiting room and installing those paper floor mats in cars that say "We Care."

TOM: And when someone needs a ride, these guys are pulled off those other jobs and asked to drive customers home or pick them up. And it's probably a pleasant diversion for them. I mean, which would you rather do, give someone a ride home or clean the waiting-room toilet?

RAY: So it's not like a waiter, where the person is grossly underpaid and relies on tips as part of his compensation. This is a situation where the person is just grossly underpaid -- period. Actually, he's being paid by the dealership (and therefore, by you when you pay your bill).

TOM: In which case, tipping should be reserved for service that's above and beyond what's expected. If the person performs what you consider excellent service -- i.e., he doesn't run anybody over on the way home, doesn't pass an inordinate amount of gas during the ride, doesn't spend the whole ride chatting on his cell phone to his buddies -- you should feel free to show your appreciation with a tip. And I'm sure a couple of dollars would be very much appreciated by the driver.
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