Asset 22
A Mystery Shopping Guide to Gratuity

A Mystery Shopping Guide to Gratuity

While the concept of tipping has always been somewhat controversial, there are now even more factors driving the confusion surrounding gratuity.

  • When is it appropriate to tip?
  • How much do I tip?
  • Do I tip even if the service isn’t up to standard?

There are a lot of opinions regarding the appropriate etiquette to follow when it comes to gratuity and as the majority of the mystery shops we conduct for our clients involve situations where a service is performed, we want to be clear about 360 Relay’s tipping policy.

For all dine-in and bar shops, a minimum of 15% is always required, while fine dining shops require a minimum of 20% tip. We do have some fine dining clients who add the gratuity to the check beforehand so it’s important to confirm that before adding an additional tip amount. You can tip on the pre-tax total of the bill, but the minimum must be hit for your specific shop type, or it won’t be accepted. Tipping can be done with cash or on a credit card, and shoppers are required to show proof of tip for each shop.

Regarding our non-hospitality shops, such as hair salons, massage parlors, or nail salons, for example, the standard tip for these shops is 20%. These shops will sometimes allow for tips through Venmo or other digital payment services. For some, they only allow for tips to be paid in cash, so make sure you have cash on hand to tip appropriately.

Two of the trickier shop types to navigate in regard to tipping are delivery and takeout shops. For delivery shops, you should tip a minimum of 15%. Delivery drivers are often categorized as independent contractors; thus, employers aren’t obligated to pay minimum wage and rely on tips to supplement their hourly pay. For take-out shops, tipping is not necessary for the majority of our clients. We have a few clients who require a tip for take-out shops, however, if this is the case, it will be clearly written in the shop instructions.

A good rule to follow when you are steering your way through the tipping process is that you should always tip people who are working for a service.  You must always tip regardless of the level of service received. It’s common practice in the restaurant industry specifically, for employees to pool tips and your entire experience isn’t always based on one server but on multiple people involved in the restaurant operations who are responsible for your experience.

The process of tipping can be challenging to figure out and it has become even more frustrating for consumers given the current landscape of new apps and technology that are now responsible for a lot of the services that we receive. However, we do have specific rules in place for our mystery shops to ensure we have created a standard guideline to adhere to which should clear up the majority of the uncertainty. If you are ever unsure of when to tip, or how much to tip on your mystery shops, please don’t hesitate to reach out.