Tipping has long since become such a common phenomenon in the Dominican Republic that it has practically become part of the Dominican popular culture.
In commercial establishments, restaurants, stores, airports, whenever you receive any kind of help or service people will be expecting a tip.
Tipping is a very positive thing, there are people who provide exceptional service, who are so helpful and helpful that they deserve an extra gratuity.
Many workers will make a sign of the cross when receiving a tip, I have even seen in some places that when tipping, workers have a kind of “chant” in celebration mode, this is something really meaningful to them.
But, in this topic, I would like to highlight what are the negative aspects of the “tipping culture” in the Dominican Republic, and how to deal with it.
The hustle culture in the Dominican Republic
There is a Dominican word that has no English translation, but with this one word you can perfectly encompass the tipping culture in the Dominican Republic, this word is “Joseo”.
Let’s say that “joseo” could be interpreted as a person who goes out to work and look for money in an honest way doing whatever, he doesn’t have something fixed to do, or maybe he needs to do other things to be able to get extra money and that is what many Dominicans do.
If you tip, you will be treated with privileges
It is very common among commercial establishments that receive customers periodically, in case there are transactions that require waiting, lines, or shifts, usually, customers who are accustomed to tipping will be treated with privileges.
If you are used to tipping in a commercial establishment, from the moment you arrive you will see the difference in the treatment, the workers will learn your name, or they will call you “boss” (patron), letting you know that they are completely at your mercy.
The dark side of the tipping culture in the Dominican Republic
I have a very subjective opinion, tipping is a positive thing, I always support it, it does people a lot of good the little or a lot they can receive to supplement their salary, especially in the Dominican Republic where salaries are usually too low.
But, the dark side that I see to the tipping culture in the Dominican Republic is that on many occasions, people want a tip for practically nothing, or sometimes, they tend to harass too much trying to get a tip.
This is evident in many places where there are public parking lots, or in places where it is allowed to park on the street, often a person will appear who will tell you that they are “taking care” of your vehicle, in more extreme occasions they will “take over” public spaces in order to collect a tip.
At other times, you will simply be broke if you try to tip whoever you want.
I used to take my car to a car wash located in the center of the city, I stopped going to that place, because apart from having to pay quite expensive for the service, the workers tried to get tips in each of the washing processes (interior, exterior, drying), it was a very annoying situation for me.
The stigma of tourists in relation to tips
Tourists who are used to visiting the country and already know a lot about the culture are stigmatized in relation to the tipping matter and this is something that I was able to verify on my own.
Once at a very low point in my life, I had to work as an Uber driver in Santo Domingo, I always tried to provide a great service in exchange for nothing, I even provided mints and waters to some people just to make them feel good about the service.
On several occasions, when I had to serve tourists carrying luggage when I offered to help them to put their luggage in the car, I noticed how they refused outright and would not even let me touch or get close to their luggage.
At first, I thought it was a matter of distrust, that they thought I was going to steal from them or something like that, but then I understood that this was due to the fact that tourists are stigmatized, that when they receive “help” from a local, many times a tip is demanded, resulting in a very uncomfortable situation.
Not all locals are hungry for tips in the Dominican Republic, some just really want to work and offer good service.
But, the reality of the tipping culture in the country is something that cannot be denied.
What happens if you don’t tip in the Dominican Republic?
Nothing happens, the locals do not act in a violent way, I have never seen anyone demanding tips, they simply stand next to you or pretend to be doing something next to you waiting for you to give them a tip, in very few occasions they will tell you directly to give them some money, but they will not make demands.
If a person gives you a service and you don’t tip them and you don’t say anything about it, they will simply feel disappointed, I have seen it in the eyes of some people.
How to deal with this situation?
You have to support the people who provide service with a small tip, this really brightens the day for workers who usually have hard days trying to bring home the daily bread.
To deal with this situation without going through unpleasant or uncomfortable moments, I recommend that if you are not in the mood to tip, avoid any kind of help offered by any local person.
It sounds super radical, but personally, this is what I would do to avoid uncomfortable situations, especially in tourist areas.
In the event that you receive help or service and don’t have simple money to tip, a local will feel good if you explain that you don’t have simple and apologize.
If you want to know the recommended tipping amounts and some tips, visit this complete topic I wrote about tipping in Punta and the Dominican Republic.