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  1. #1

    Default leaving in two days have a question

    I was looking at the latest TripAdvisor review, and while I normally take them with a grain of salt, it was not the first time someone mentioned not being allowed to get on the shuttle without tipping the shuttle operators. That they blocked them from getting on until they gave them a tip. I have dismissed these claims before but when you hear them more than once it makes me think everyone else just pays and drops it. maybe because they are embarrassed to admit they were bullied or intimidated into giving a tip? I know they don't work for Couples but they are my ride there. I am all about tipping, but the premiss behind tipping is that it is up to me to tip or not. If it is required then it is a charge and not really "included".
    My question is how often does this really happen? Do these guys do this a lot? If so, has anyone complained. I know if someone tries to intimidate me into doing anything it sets me off and I don't hesitate to speak my mind and or complain to management. I would hate to start my trip off this way. Did this guy encounter a couple of bad airport employees or is this a regular racket no one wants to talk about? And has anyone ever refused to tip because they were trying to make you feel like you had no choice?
    thank you in advance for your honest input.

    As a side note, I did notice that the person writing the review did a lot of complaining and nit picking. But I have read quit a few reviews where the guest stated they thought they would not be allowed to get on the shuttle if they didn't give a tip, deserved or not.

  2. #2


    When taking the bus to the S resort they locked the doors until everyone tipped them. Then we were let on the bus. They also waited for another group to come, 30 minutes.

  3. #3


    We've gone to Couples twice and have never been asked for a tip upfront. However, when off resort in Jamaica, people in the tourism industry are pretty clear about expecting tips. I don't think I've been on the shuttle and seen anyone NOT tip the driver or the guys who transfer the luggage at the airport, so I don't know how they normally react to those situations. If you go on any tours, expect everyone along in the process to want tips (shuttle driver, tour guide, etc).

    Since we are spending thousands to go on vacation, we don't think it's a big deal to tip a couple of bucks to people who are just trying to make a living. We normally do $1/bag at the airport and $5-10 US/each for the shuttle driver, since it's a fairly long trip to the resort.

  4. #4


    It is possible that the airport porters will bully you for a tip. Not the norm, but it does happen. They may stand in between you and the bus door with their hand out. You could probably just walk around them. I don’t think they’d ever get physical, especially at the airport. I take it as a reminder that I need to tip them. It is customary to tip them 1$UD per bag. I try to remember to get it out of my pocket as we are walking to the bus.

    The van driver gets tipped after you arrive at the resort or back to the airport and they have never bullied us for a tip in 14 transfers and many, many off site excursions. The airport porters have nothing to do with Couples. The van drivers work for a reputable company that Couples uses for transfers and excursions.

    Be prepared for some very high pressure sales if you go to a craft market or vendors on the beach if you are staying at a Negril resort and go for a walk off resort down the beach. That’s just how they are. It’s a very poor country and they are just trying to make a living. Help them out a little!
    <font size=2>
    CN 2006, CSS 2009, CN 2009, CN 2010, CTI 2010, CN 2011, CSS 2012, CN 2012, CN 2013, CSA 2014, CN 2014, CSA 2015, CN 2015, CN 2016, CN 2018, CN2019

  5. #5


    I'm sure you'll get lots of responses. In the kindest, most gentle terms, that claim is a load of you know what. Yes you will want to tip the van drivers, but they aren't going to block you from getting on if you don't.

    Enjoy your vacation!
    Janice and Keith in FL

    CTI 2009
    CN 2010 2011 2012 2013 2015

    CSS 2014

  6. #6


    I wonder if they really mean the red caps that carry your luggage to the shuttle? Yes you have to tip them - yes it is really silly as you can easily carry the luggage yourself but I figure it's $5 and it does not mean as much to me as it does to them (and its not much compared to the $ spent on vacation) so why stress about it. We have always tipped the shuttle driver ($10 - $20 depending on the ride) when we arrive at the resort but certainly no one stopped us from getting off the bus.


  7. #7


    We have used the shuttle numerous times, most recently in January of this year. We have never encountered the driver asking for tips at any point during the trip, let alone not letting you on the shuttle. Yes, there is usually a sign in the shuttle that says tips are accepted. We always tip at the end of the shuttle ride, anyway.

  8. #8


    The baggage handler's expect a tip before you get on the shuttle ( $ 1 per bag) and are very up front about what is expected, but we haven't had a shuttle driver demand a tip before getting on the bus or after. We tipped our driver $20.

  9. #9


    My husband and I are not complainers, nor are we pushovers and also both being bartenders, we are extremely empathetic to service industry employees. That being said, here is my take on the situation...

    On the way there I didn't realize that the porter and bus driver were contracted by the resort instead of being it's direct employees, so if the bus driver hadn't politely hinted that he accepted tips as we were unloading, I never would have known. I also didn't feel uncomfortable giving him one once I realized the tipping policy.

    As we were returning from the resort to the airport, however, the porters who unloaded our bags and touched each of our bags for less than 10 seconds were extremely pushy for a tip. After I tried to give him a few dollars, he informed me that it was not enough, "$1 per bag". This man infuriated me as he didn't even carry our bags to the sidewalk- literally just unloaded them into the road.

    It was a little difficult for us to get in the AI groove of things and then go off resort for excursions and transfers realized how much EVERYBODY outside of the resort relies on tips. Because of that, I appreciated the gentle reminders for tips. I DID NOT enjoy the way that the porters at the airport demanded a tip in a way that felt confrontational and aggressive.
    Please keep in mind that these porters were not employees of the resort and I'm not even sure they were directly connected to the transfer bus.

    Every person you encounter outside of the resort (excursions and transfers) expects a tip from you. I probably could have argued with the porters and made it past them without tipping $1 per bag, but honestly, I was more interested in keeping the peace until past customs.

    I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Couples, once again, for having this forum. Last year, we stayed with a non-Couples AI resort and had they offered a forum like this, I would have been more aware of the off resort tipping policies. It's not advertised as an "all inclusive-don't tip... except for the time between the airport lounge and check-in." Wide eyed with the beauty of the country, it was overwhelming/breathtaking being in Jamaica for the first time and I wish I would have thousands of people giving me a heads up about stuff like this!

    CSS in 12 days!!!!!!
    (Taking plenty of $1's and $5's this time!)
    Everyting irie, mon!

  10. #10


    Hi Shartalin.
    I think you are referring to the baggage handlers who will take your luggage from the Couples Lounge to the shuttle. They are not Couples employees and they expect a tip of at least $1 per bag. You can avoid this issue if you take your own luggage out to the shuttle.

    Also please remember to tip your shuttle driver--he got you to your vacation in one piece and he is not a Couples employee. We usually tip $20 as a couple.

    Have a great trip!

  11. #11


    We have been to Couples at least 18 times and no shuttle driver has ever bullied us into a tip before the trip began. No worries11

  12. #12


    We are leaving in 5 days and it disheartens me to think that we may be bullied or intimidated into tipping just to get on the shuttle to the resort. I look forward to hearing about others experiences regarding the shuttle. I really don't want our first trip to Jamaica to be our last.

  13. #13


    In all of my trips to Jamaica including Couples we have never been made to feel like we HAD to tip the shuttle DRIVER. Who we have been made to feel like we HAD to tip has been the baggage handlers at the airport and the guys who are loading the bags onto the shuttle. They will say things like "don't forget some love for me" etc. We actually had one baggage handler on the trip home get down right angry because hubby didn't give him what he thought was enough.

    IME, it has not been the DRIVER, just the airport people. They are two complete different entities working for two different companies.

    We give the baggage guys about $1.00 per bag or $5.00. We go for 2 weeks so usually have 4 bags. Tipping the driver depends on the length of the trip, how many people are on the bus and if the driver also interacts with us. Most of the drivers are wonderful, full of energy and a wealth of knowledge. These drivers will usually get a tip of $10.00 to $20.00

  14. #14


    First I've heard of it....hopefully you'll get some good responces because we are going to CSS for first time in 25 days and like you, would hate to start the trip off that way

  15. #15


    Wow. What an aweful rumor someone has spread.
    We have been to Couples 3 times now and have NEVER experienced any such thing. The only tipping that you would normally give (by CHOICE) upon boarding the shuttle is to the baggage handlers.
    We (along with what I've seen others do) tip the drivers upon arrival at your Couples Resort.
    Try not to worry. You will have a wonderful experience! Enjoy your vacation!

  16. #16


    How about this, my husband is SO excited about getting on that bus that he tips big always!

  17. #17


    The baggage handler/porter will expect a tip before you board because you will not get a chance to tip him because he works for the Airport and stays at the airport. He has been quite firm in the past that he would like a tip for carrying your bags out to the van. The driver and disembarker (I’m not sure who the second man is on the van which packs your bags in and then takes your luggage out and helps you and your wife out of the van is called). Will request tips for the ride and services. These guys are not firm on their request. I expect it is because they are actually in front of their client Couples management. Randy has asked that we/the guests should report any abuse that we feel and that Couples would address this problem or other problems with the transport company. However, the Drivers, disembakers, and especially the porters do not work for Couples directly and they have limited control on the behavior of others especially Airport employees.

    What I would recommend is be firm on the baggage services you want before it happens. Be prepared to tip for any service outside of Couples that you receive asked for or not. Tip earlier than asked and say thank you when they have completed all that you have expected and then tip immediately. For service done poorly tip only with ones and for service done courteously, professionally, and well tip with fives. Bring lots of ones for the airport…

    Mostly do not let anything affect your trip and the great time you are having with your wife or husband. Traveling internationally comes with its good and its bad. Pushy porters at international airports are one of them. You will have a blast at Couples they truly are the best and make up for any travel pains.
    Mark & Sylvia

  18. #18


    Maybe we should try to look at it from the porters point of view. We as Americans and Canadians are very used to tipping. Now please do not take offense to this!!

    There are a lot of other nationalities that come into Jamaica as well. Most of these other countries simply DO NOT understand the concept of tipping regardless of the quality of service. My guess is that the porters feel they HAVE to be aggressive in asking for "some love" because this is the only way they get anything from some people. IDK for sure but are they even PAID a hourly wage or are they just working for tips? I am also pretty sure there are signs in the airport that state baggage handlers are to be paid $1.00 per bag for their services. You are using their service thus this is NOT a tip but a contracted service.

    Feel free to say no to their carrying your bag(s) if you do not want to part with a couple of dollars.

  19. #19


    On our first (and so far only) trip to Couples, we had done the reading here and knew to tip the porters / shuttle driver. That being said, it didn't seem to me that the porters were "pushy" about getting a tip, and our driver was quite the fount of information on the drive to the resort, giving us little bits of information (such as why everyone on the bus was quite intelligent for not trying to drive ourselves, as we'd probably end up on the wrong side of the road and kill ourselves,) etc.

    IIRC, we tipped the porters about $5, and the driver $20, and everyone seemed to be happy with this.

    CTI again in:
    333 days
    17 hours
    31 minutes

  20. #20


    It is the porters at the airport NOT the shuttle drivers.....never had a shuttle driver even hint for a tip.
    The porters are TOO agressive & the Jamaica Department of Tourism should do something about them.
    Last time I got a $5 bill out of my pocket ready to tip but the porter was so adamant about $1 per bag that that is what I gave him...$4 so he lost a dollar
    Captain Jim
    "I will grow old....
    But I won't grow up"

  21. #21


    We've been twice and have never felt bullied but it could be because we offer a tip before it might even happen. The way I figure it is these guys support their families with this job. Who knows if they even get paid any sort of hourly wage. Sure, they don't do much, but really... what's $5 to me? They probably don't vacation at luxury resorts. Wouldn't you donate $5 to someone in need -- even if they did nothing for you?

    We also tip the shuttle driver $10 - $20. If they give a tour and tell us stuff, they get more. Last time, my husband left his backpack on the shuttle and didn't realize it until the guy had left. Ten minutes later (and lots of panic on his part as all his money and passport where in that bag), the driver came back. We gave him another tip for that!!

    Jamaica's economy depends on tourism. Thus, the survival of most Jamaicans depends on tourism. We are so fortunate to be able to vacation in such a beautiful place and at such a wonderful resort, let's share that good fortune in any way we can. Respect, mon.

  22. #22


    We have never encountered that in 11 trips, 6th to CTI on Saturday. The baggage handlers can get pushy. These guys make less in a day than most of us make an hour. We let them do our bags but we don't get on the shuttle until our bags our loaded, we give the bag tip to the guy outside the shuttle loading and we tell the other baggage guy this. We tip our driver and yes we have been on shuttles and followed people off who did not tip.

  23. #23



    I am going to give my opinion here
    and I don't want people to be offended

    We are extremely blessed in the United States
    and our customs are not the customs of everyone else in the world
    In the US, tipping is optional and for service, but in other countries this is not the norm.
    In many other countries, particularly those that are considered less developed nations, tipping and often bribing is considered part of the cost of business. In other countries that I have traveled to a 20% "tip" automatically added to any bill was considered standard. Applying our customs to those of another culture is not reasonable.

    I work really hard for my money and I don't consider myself rich. I do not like to waste money. I grew up in a very modest household where my parents worked really hard so that I could go to college. My wife and I work hard all year so that we can have the chance to reconnect on our trip to Jamaica. But we are extremely rich compared to most of the world.

    The average purchasing power per person (rank, country, dollars per the IMF)
    6. US $48,286
    88. Jamaica $9,029

    The cost of our one week trip to Jamaica including airfare is close to what most regular Jamaicans make in an entire year. I am not trying to be rude but please consider the extreme poverty of the people of Jamaica.
    The porters do not consider it unreasonable to demand payment. They do not agree with your statement that the "premise behind tipping is that it is up to me to tip or not." Consider paying that five dollar "tip" without worrying about it. You will be providing something to someone who has far less than you.

    thanks for reading

  24. #24


    Thank you everyone. We always tip well but I just don't want someone trying to bully my husband and I, that will flip a switch with me. Gentle reminders are okay, and we will have a lot of fun haggling with the locals outside the resort even the "high pressure" ones. Just want everything to go smooth. We know they need those tips but you don't get more money from me by being rude.

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