I was in Savannah several months ago and had an interesting experience with one of their carriage tours. I don't remember exactly the dollar amounts in question, but you will get the idea. I had booked an evening carriage tour for my husband and me for about $25 per person, for which we brought just enough cash along with us when we went for that ride, plus some extra dollars to tip the driver. When we arrived to check in for the tour, the girl taking our money told us it would be $30 each. I told her we had reserved for the $25 rate, and we were then informed that it was $5 extra per person for the tip! She said we could pay her then or give it to the driver/tour guide later, but that most people paid all at once and that it was $5 for each additional person. It was not "recommended"; it was EXPECTED that everyone paid an additional $5 per person.
I was shocked by the principle of this, the assumption that we were expected to go ahead and pay $10 extra up front (which we were not informed of during booking) simply to "tip" the driver for a tour we had not even taken yet! We didn't give it to the girl because we didn't have an extra ten with us, and we ended up not giving any to the driver, because what we were planning to tip was less than ten dollars and we figured we would've offended him with that (and he didn't know already who paid up front and who didn't). Maybe we were wrong not to tip at all, but I was frustrated and somewhat offended at this point that anyone would even put their customers in that position. We were already paying $50 for less than an hour of his time (not to mention the money from all of the other people on the tour with us). If the carriage tour company does not feel they're paying their drivers well enough, why not just raise their rates to $30 each and state the gratuity is included? That would've been fine with me if they had done that; it was the surprise of being pressured to pay more than what was agreed upon that bothered me (and the fact that someone was basically demanding no less than a 20% tip).
Is this the standard with the carriage tours, or is it becoming the standard in general? Or is this a Savannah thing? I've traveled quite a bit, but for me this was a new encounter. Yes, I do realize I'm talking about 10 bucks and that to many people, it's not worth fooling with, but it's the expectation that bothered me. Anyone have any experience or thoughts on this?