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Hey, Marriott: Why should I tip your housekeepers?

I never tip the housekeeper when I stay in a hotel. Do you?

Apparently leaving a gratuity is customary and all these years I’ve been stiffing the maid.

At least that’s what Maria Shriver thinks. She founded an organization called A Woman’s Nation that aims to empower women. Shriver said travelers need to be educated and she has partnered with Marriott to get the word out.

Hotels in the Marriott system — Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Residence Inn, JW Marriott — have now started leaving a special tip-reminder envelope for guests to encourage them to leave money for the housekeeper.

The campaign is called “The Envelope Please,” and envelopes that contain the name of the person (usually a woman) will be left in 160,000 hotel rooms in the USA and Canada.

So how much are you supposed to tip? Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson said $1 to $5 per night, depending on the room rate, meaning a bigger tip for a high-priced suite.

Honestly, I don’t need to be “educated” or “encouraged” to leave a tip. If anything, the envelopes feel a little like peer pressure or blackmail to me.

First of all, the person who cleaned your room today may very well not be the person who cleans your room tomorrow. Putting a name on the envelope suggests tips are not being pooled. So does the person who cleans your room today have the obligation to give the envelope to the person who cleaned it yesterday? That’s quite the honor system.

Secondly, I hate the notion that you’re supposed to tip daily, not at the end of your stay. I realize that’s because the person cleaning your room can change daily. But talk about an inconvenience, especially if you’re on vacation. If I’m going to tip, I’d rather just do it when I checkout.

And hardcore business travelers who rack up hundreds of nights in hotels per year said they don’t want to tip in cash, as is customary. Instead they suggest the hotel should let guests add a tip to their room bill so they can pay with a credit card.

But all of these arguments and options really miss the point. I believe wholeheartedly that having your room cleaned daily is a fair expectation when you pay a nightly rate for your room.

I do tip the person who carries my bags, hails me a cab or parks my car. But that’s different because all of those things I could do on my own, and I’m choosing to tip for the extra assistance.

I’ve already paid to have my room cleaned. If a housekeeper brings me extra towels or a robe, I’d give them a tip too. I’d consider that an extra service. Extra is the key word.

Here’s the deal: Marriott should pay their workers enough so tips aren’t necessary. The “Envelope Please” campaign is being called a case of economic empowerment. I think it’s a case of Marriott not wanting to pay their housekeepers the hourly wage they deserve.

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