Category Archives: money

Big Tipper? Maybe Not So Much

It has taken a while for me to realize that my usual 20 percent tip no longer elicits the warm thanks it used to prompt from wait staff at restaurants. At least not in these United States.

And let me explain that my standard 20 percent tip, provided for anything but the most unacceptable service, is always a bit more than 20 percent. I tip on the total, including tax, and I round up. At inexpensive restaurants, I round up considerably. I also add on for truly exceptional service.

This has been a point of pride with me, regardless of my wildly fluctuating income over the years. If I can’t afford to tip well, then I can’t afford to eat out. And it was my understanding that 20 percent was tipping well, 15 percent was standard and 10 percent was pretty damned cheap or a sign of serious dissatisfaction.

Continue reading


Citi Mastercard Bites The Dust

I got a call this morning about fraudulent charges that began to appear this week on my Citi Mastercard, but there’s really no way to tell whether this is related to a recent massive hack of Citigroup computers.

Citi has insisted that the hack didn’t reveal enough information to allow the thieves to make fraudulent charges, but the timing here is at least a little suspect. Perhaps my card was compromised in some other way, cloned by an unscrupulous retailer or stolen in an insecure online transaction. Hard to know.

Of course Citi is doing the right thing — closing my account, removing the fraudulent charges (including one for $257 from Macy’s) and issuing a new card. It will be a bit of a hassle for me to modify some automatic debits but it’s not a big deal.

Still, I’m troubled by the way Citi handled the larger security breach, regardless of whether the fraud on my account was related to it. The Los Angeles Times reported this morning on how slow Citi was to realize or acknowledge the extent of the breach and The New York Times reported earlier this week on how easily the hack was committed.

The lesson for travelers is certainly more clear. If you rely on credit cards, ¬†you need to carry more than one. You don’t want to be left financially helpless far from home when something like this happens.