What Should I Be Tipping Valets and Bartenders These Days?

Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

Tipping is the quintessential Las Vegas question, and its complexities—including stories about who tips well and who doesn’t—could fill a chapter. (See my March 14, 2013, column for advice on tipping your busser.)

As for how much to tip a valet, I find it difficult to pass less than $3 upon return for basic service. If that service is especially speedy, or I’m feeling generous, or a fancy place warrants it, I’ll bump it to $5. Of course, psychology is always at play here, as tipping reflects the tipper as much as the tippee. Under pressing circumstance—facing a “Valet Full” sign when you and/or your date are sporting heels—offering $10 might make a spot appear, or vault you to the front after a sold-out concert.

Meanwhile, tipping bartenders used to be simple: a couple of bucks for a round of three to four basic pours. Now, with mixology playing a larger role in our nightcap repertoire and drinks requiring more than just popping the top off a lowbrow lager, that old rule hardly seems appropriate. I’ll still follow that rule if I’m dive-barring it one round at a time. But if I am running a tab (usually in a less-divey place), I tend to tip 20 percent of the pre-tax total. With intricate cocktails costing $9-plus per drink, that’s a lot more than two bucks a round. Then again, my friends in the service industry have a rule, too: If you cannot afford to tip, drink at home!

How likely is it that I’m getting my cleaning deposit back after vacating my rental?

Our city’s transiency (even when people stay, they hop from place to place), combined with how the recession ravaged home ownership (which fell to 48 percent in mid-2012) means a mass of deposit money is in the hands of landlords. And they’re not likely to want to part with it. If it’s specified as a “nonrefundable fee” in your lease, they won’t have to. If it’s a “damage deposit” … still not likely. A friend and real estate management executive says somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 percent of renters can expect a refund. And if your lease doesn’t require a “damage deposit,” most can still expect a portion of their “security deposit” to be withheld even when lease terms appear satisfied. The executive says it’s a sneaky way of padding profit, especially at apartment complexes. I’ve also heard angry tales from home renters who spent a few days making the place “spotless,” only to have the landlord withhold deposits. My best advice? When you rent, understand what you are likely to lose before you sign the lease.

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