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Tipping at Salons and Spas

Is a 20% Tip Too Low? Some Say Yes

A few weeks ago, I had my hair trimmed by a stylist I'd been to a couple of times before and liked. She gave a good cut, so I gave her what I thought was a solid tip. But when she took a look at the check I'd written, she glanced up at me and said, "Only 20 percent?" I was pretty mortified and confused, and I haven't been back.

Lately, it seems like tip percentages just keep growing. Most people I know give 20 percent as the default gratuity, but that can vary. For previous generations, rates were lower; among our grandparents, 12 percent was a more common tip, and in many places, 15 percent is still the standard.

Yet while expectations may be higher, the poor economy has some patrons tipping less than they used to. That has led some people at salons and spas to guilt-trip and even intimidate clients for higher tips. And while I get why they'd want miserly clients to give generously, I'm thinking that tactic is unlikely to earn repeat business. I'm looking forward to the day when everyone can agree on what constitutes a fair tip — but I'm not holding my breath.

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