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Video Rental

At one time, during the era of video tape cassettes, independent video rental stores proliferated in American communities. Chain operations, like Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video, soon followed as home video viewing became increasingly popular. Technology moved on, however. Online video rental and television movies-on-demand cut deeply into the business of videos (now, usually DVDs). …

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Travel Bureaus

Before Internet travel sites existed, Americans who needed help making travel arrangements had a choice: deal directly with service providers like airlines and hotels (difficult to do on the telephone), or use a travel agent to coordinate all the details. Every neighborhood had a travel bureau, an office at which knowledgeable staff would help clients …

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Public Toilets

Public toilets (restrooms) in the United States vary widely. You can use most of them without paying a fee. Be careful about using the restrooms in railway stations, though airports are fairly safe and clean. After using the facilities, wash your hands carefully with soap to protect yourself and others against disease. American often use …

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Restaurant Tipping

Do not forget to tip your server at an American restaurant. In America, when you are served by a waiter or waitress at a “sit-down” restaurant, you are expected to leave a tip or gratuity of 20 percent. In contrast to the practice in many other countries, service is almost never included in the price …

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Tipping for Services

Though tipping is covered in many sections of this guide, let’s summarize American tipping practices here. It is important to realize that for many professions, particularly waiters and waitresses, taxi drivers, porters and bellhops, tip income is half or more of the worker’s total income. These people are paid very low salaries and depend on …

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Fraudulent Telemarketers

When you receive an unsolicited telephone call, if you accept these in the first place, there are some major warning signs that the call might be a fraudulent attempt to separate you from your money, usually by getting you to give over personal or financial information. In many cases, the caller excitedly stresses that you …

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Take Out and Delivery

Many restaurants offer takeout and delivery service. In the case of takeout service, the customer calls ahead to order food “to go,” then shows up at the restaurant, pays, and brings the food home in special packages. Traditionally, restaurants offering takeout were small, family-run operations, but now even major restaurant chains are encouraging takeout business, …

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Stationery Stores

Small neighborhood stationery stores still exist today, even in the face of large office supply outlets. The stationery store is the place to browse for school supplies like pens, pencils and notebooks. You can purchase a single pen in one of these small stores (the office supply mega-store will make you buy six at a …

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Snack Bars

Snack bars are fast food restaurants where the customer usually does not expect to sit down, just eat a quick snack on the run. Many are franchised operations selling items like donuts and ice cream, soft pretzels, hamburgers or hotdogs, while many others are run by individuals as one-of-a-kind units. They can be found at …

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Sit Down Casual Restaurants

Casual dinner restaurants might seem like fine dining at first glance, since the restaurant may have a similar menu and a pleasant setting, but you will not have to make a reservation. Casual American clothing will do, including jeans, though most restaurants insist on shirts and shoes. Some restaurants serve a general American menu, while …

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