Does he (or she) deserve a tip?

No tipMany, many moons ago I’d get my hair cut at a small place in a strip mall in my hometown. The only two stylists at this joint were the owners — let’s call them Polly and Beatrice.

I’d get my hair cut by Beatrice, for $10. This was the perfect price for a college student in 1999. And, since she was the owner (AKA not paying booth rental fees or turning her earnings over to a salon head), I did not tip.

Suddenly, I’d come home from break and she’d never have availability. This was odd seeing as I would previously get in the same day. I tried a few more times, with the same results.

After about five attempts, I gave up.

One day, when talking with my friends about what happened — and looking for another shop — I learned she didn’t like that I didn’t tip.

Tipping is such a funny thing. Some people think it’s required and obligatory and will even tip the young man who packs their groceries at Hannaford. Others have a European attitude tipping rarely, if at all.

And, well, the lack of defined lines leads to confusion for many, like regular reader Ginny who posted this to my Facebook page:


Clearly, I am not too savvy when it comes to tipping (I still stand by the idea that, in general, you don’t tip the owner of a salon and that tips are 100 percent discretionary), but hopefully you are.

Thoughts on what Ginny should do?

8 thoughts on “Does he (or she) deserve a tip?

  1. Lori

    When getting a mani/pedi, for me the tip amount depends on if they charged me for incidentals. Example – if they charge me a fee to cut down the nails then I do not tip. If it is a place I visit regularly and I go between visits for a color change they do not typically charge me so on a regular visit I will tip.

  2. DanCF

    This is always tough. For a haircut or other service, like a manicure, I would tip 15-20%, just like food service. For delivery, I generally give the person $5.00 for something small, like a pizza, if it is a heavy item they are delivering, like furniture, and carrying into the house, I may give the person more, or if two people, give them each $5.00. Giving someone less than $5.00 just seems wrong, and I’ll give more if I think they deserve it. The problem I always have is how much to tip the kids (well generally they are young) who dry my car at the car wash. I only give them $2.00. That may be cheap, but it only takes them a couple of minutes.

    1. NotSoNice

      FYI those that dry your car share the tip if you put it in the lock box. I personally don’t feel the need to tip them unless they spend extra time making sure my windows are spotless.

  3. Maggie

    I’ve read that owner-operators now don’t mind being tipped. Without researching the question, I’m guessing that perhaps the decision should be made on the basis of the grandeur of the shop. This leaves the obvious question of how to determine this, and where is that line between tip/no-tip? But it seems reasonable that there is a difference between the solitary owner of a one-chair operation in a struggling downtown location and the owner of a fleet of spas with his own line of products, to boot. What I’m saying is that I don’t have the whole answer, and that perhaps in these days of an increasing gulf between the haves and have-nots this “rule” is evolving.

  4. Shann

    Delivery men as in food? For food delivery, I usually tip well, at least I believe so. I’ve ordered $14 worth of food and gave the guy $20. I’ve also ordered the same amount and given a couple dollars. For things like that I really believe that it depends on how much money you have on you, but you should always get at least something! I feel STUPID asking for money back from the driver.

    Mani/pedi I tip what I would normally tip my hairdresser. It’s all based on the services. I usually end up tipping about 30% for hair, nails, etc.

    I do agree with Lori about the incidentals. For me, when I eat out and order my dinner, if I order my favorite chicken tenders & they bring out a sauce I don’t like I ask for BBQ. If for some reason I see on the recipe that they charged me for that, your tip is decreased. Also, if I order a drink and for some reason you don’t ring it up on the bill, your tip is increased. This actually happened tonight, the service wasn’t the greatest (she took way too long to come over to ask for our drink order, and to deliver them) but she didn’t ring up my nephew’s drink so she got a bigger tip than I would have given her. 20% is usually my goal. There are a few times when I do tip 30%. If it’s a buffet, you get $1 per person unless you’re fantastic which rarely happens…

  5. Lisa

    I’ve never heard of not tipping if the person providing the service owns the salon. I always tip my hairdresser and the place that does my pedicures. If it’s the first pedicure of the season and my feet need….extra attention, I will even throw an extra $1 or $2 in. I’m (slightly?) anal retentive about tipping, to the point where I downloaded an app on my phone. It’s called “Tip N Split”, you plug in the regular price of the service, select the percentage you want to tip and if you are splitting the bill, you can add the number of people paying.

  6. Miss Erin

    I do think you should have been tipping the owner. Although I see your point on why you did not, she did always fit you in, give you personal service with a fair price, etc.

    I do agree that tipping has gotten out of hand in terms of, we now have to tip anyone and everyone. For those who really need the tips – servers whose pay is based on tips, hairdressers who likely have terrible health insurance and work beyond a 9 to 5 day to fit us in, etc. – I think tipping is basically mandatory, unless something went terribly wrong. For things like food delivery services, I would probably only tip if they really went out of their way for me, or if I had a continuous and pleasurable business relationship with the person.

    Honestly, I too am probably not the best source on tipping, though. I often tip too much when eating out. Literally I am too generous and it’s something I have to work on, if for no other reason than to save money. My fiance has made fun of me before – I’ll say, “I really didn’t like our waitress,” and he’ll say, “Oh, so we’re only giving 25%, then?”

  7. NotSoNice

    Although some might find it wrong but I am not tipping someone for delivering something to me if I had to pay a delivery charge. The exception would be if the delivery person/s did something above and beyond their job.


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