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You Asked: I Need Help With Tipping Etiquette

Dear Sugar,

Outside of restaurants, I just never know when to tip, and I'm always left feeling awkward and embarrassed. The other day I had a facial done at a privately operated salon. When I went to pay, I didn't tip the owner, assuming that since I had tipped the employee who gave me the facial, that would be fine. I immediately sensed a strange vibe from the woman and assumed I must have made a mistake. But when it comes to employee-performed services like haircuts, taxi drivers, bellhops, and delivery services, I just never know how much I should be giving. Can you please help me out? I'm tired of feeling foolish and cheap!

— Tip Time Tamara

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Tip Time Tamara,

Tipping is tricky business! On the one hand, it's supposed to be about the quality of the service, but on the other, there's a certain amount that most people expect no matter what. In regards to tipping the owner versus the employee, your assumption is correct. There is no reason to tip the owner in addition to the employee performing the service, as the owner already receives the full payment for the facial.

As far as the other services you mentioned,'s United States Tipping Guide offers some very helpful percentages and ranges:

  • Hairstylist: 15 to 20 percent plus an extra few dollars to whomever washes your hair.
  • Bellhop: 10 dollars for just dropping your luggage in your room.
  • Food Delivery: For pizza, anywhere between one and five dollars depending on the distance and size of the order. For other cuisines, no tip is necessary unless the order is under 30 dollars. Of course, if you feel the speed of delivery or quality of service was exceptional, it's always nice to offer a few dollars.
  • Taxi Driver: 15 percent of the fare, but an extra dollar for each bag the driver assists you with is always a nice gesture.

When in doubt, follow your instincts! If the service was great, praise accordingly. If it wasn't so good, compensate as you see fit.


Join The Conversation
krystalmak krystalmak 9 years
Hmmm. My friend said not to tip pizza people because they already get money for that stuff. I have no idea. This one time we had to wait about 3-5 hours for Pizza Hut to deliver our pizza. Half of our party left, it was hours later, I had called 3-5 times checking our order, and every time they said it was on the way... the Pizza place was a few blocks down the street. I don't think no tip was too crucial?
skigurl skigurl 9 years
i have a tipping question too: i got a massage a couple times at a registered massage therapy place (similar to a chiropractors office, certainly not a spa, and it was because my doctor gave me a perscription and i have a medically diagnosed back problem)...and i didn't tip her (i didn't even think about it, i just didn't tip her, as i felt like i was at a medical appointment) but when i left, i realized maybe i should have....what's the protocol there? anyway, i went regularly for a few weeks, so i thought, maybe i will just give her a large tip in an envelope at my last appointment (or at xmas or whatever came first), BUT THEN i realized she was mis-scheduling me and thought i was 15 minutes late for every appointment, so was massaging me for 15 minutes less every time, without mentioning it to me (obviously if i came waltzing in 15 minutes late every week without saying sorry you might realize i had the wrong time written down??????) anyway so i was happy i never tipped her because that pissed me off!
Silverlining10 Silverlining10 9 years
Ack, j2e1n9, you are the most generous tipper I know! I would tip more if I had the money...In my defense.
0danielle0 0danielle0 9 years
All I know is that 20% is the current standard for restaurant servers who provide good service. If the service is poor or excellent, adjust accordingly. Someone who can't afford to tip 20% on top of their meal shouldn't be eating out. Plain and simple.
Jenny86 Jenny86 9 years
I tip well, I guess! :) Although, I tip for other cuisine deliveries too!
geebers geebers 9 years
I have never frequented a hotel where there were bellhops -probably because I cant afford to tip them haha. I can carry my own luggage, so unless the place has no elevator and the bellhop carries it up the stairs, I would either request they not touch my bags or I would tip $1 or $2 if I absolutely have to. The only time I am tipping $10 is if the bellhop carries my heavy a$$ bags up 2+ flights of stairs. I am a good tipper for the most part - I usually try to tip 18-20% for good service and 15% for the bare minimum. If I am so displeased that I want to tip less than 15%, I would speak to the manager.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
I do: $5-$6 for food delivery $10 for mani/pedi/or other spa services $20 for hair $5 for cabs/hotel staff/valet parkers 20-25% for servers/bartenders or $1 per drink $20 for AAA assistance/movers/workmen I feel like I'm leaving something out? Oh, but I would never tip a store owner, and I hate tipping shampoo girls. Its just that I never have cash on me, so I usually tip at the end and have to go back and find my stylist, so having to track down the shampoo-ist as well is a little irritating. I prefer salons where the stylist shampoos you as well so you only have to be concerned with tipping ONE PERSON. And I so wish we lived in a country that didnt tip!
7kimba7 7kimba7 9 years
Re: the bell hop thing- so you are supposed to tip them $10, but sometimes they grab your stuff and don't give you the option of taking it yourself. So how is it fair that I'm not given the option of carrying my own suitcase and then should be tipping $10?
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
I am sorry, but I think 20% is a bit ridiculous. I tip 15% if the service is very good and the server is pleasant. I have very little money because I am a student and going out is a luxury for me. That being said, I will still tip well if the service was good. I have worked in retail and at a coffee shop. In retail I worked my ass off to serve people and be friendly and yet I never received any tips and got a dismal wage. I have a hard time understanding why I am expected to tip someone who apparently depend on their tips, yet are totally rude to me and make no effort. I think things are a bit different where I live in Canada, though because servers have to make at least minimum wage before tips. My dad embarasses the hell out of me, because he still only tips 10%. It's so embarassing to go out to eat with him.
jnj213 jnj213 9 years
I work at a family restaurant, as a server. I make $2.13 an hour... I very rarely get a paycheck with money on it.. they normally say "this is not a check". If you have good service drinks are filled, friendly service and no problems, please tip 20 %. Most servers at restaurants also pay tip out to bartenders, hosts, and the expos. Where I work, 10% of our sale is take out as tip share it's usually around 20 dollars a night. If people don't tip, I not only don't make any money but lose money on that table. Tipping can make someones day. A few extra dollars makes a big difference. Sorry for the rant, it's an issue close to heart.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
I only order delivery when the weather is too crappy for me to want to go out, so, I tip no matter what the cuisine, and I always tip $2-4 based on how crappy it is, and how quick they were. It doesn't matter how much $$ my order was, because they do the same job, and waste the same amount of gas no matter what. I tend to feel that way in restaurants too...even if I tip 15-20% I am way more likely to leave a higher percentage tip in a diner than in a fancy restaurant, because essentially they end up doing similar work, and the person in the diner probably makes way less. I've never understood basing a tip mostly on the cost of the food. Aaaand I hate tipping. I wish it were just incorporated in the cost of the service. I know that it's nice if I get bad service that i can leave a small tip, but honestly that happens so rarely anyway, and when it does, the establishment loses my business, so owners would still have incentives to make service good!
mandy_frost mandy_frost 9 years
LOL @ cjmara. I ALWAYS tip. I wouldn't tip an owner. I've never even heard of this phenomenon. However, I ALWAYS tip otherwise. My dad was a pizza delivery driver. He supported our family on that for years. He wasn't mean, I'd guess, but he would be late -- on account of problems in the kitchen, problems with traffic -- things beyond his control. You never know who depends on that tip -- children, families, etc. So, tip away!
seespotrun seespotrun 9 years
I am American and I despise having to tip. I think that we have somehow been manipulated by the restaurant owners to where we're in the position where the waiter's salary burden is on us. Rather than paying their workers a decent wage, they put the financial pressure on customers in the form of guilt. It's like the small print in a contract. That being said, I tip based on service. If there is bad service, don't expect a tip. I paid for the food, the tip, in my book, is a bonus.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
Tip your bartenders and shooter girls!! I serve shots (my SO is a bartender) and we make only $3.25/hr. He makes $3.75 b/c he's been at his job for almost 2 years! We rely on tips. So when you buy a $4 shot from me and don't tip, then it's basically costing me $$ to come and sell you shot or drink. We end up relying on those that tip well just to average out for the ones that don't do it at all. And it's amazing..most women won't tip and then they wonder why they get shit service from bartenders and the like b/c we aren't going to spend time and energy on you. We have to work a 8 hour shift total, and only about 4 hours we're actually serving and able to make money, the rest is set up and maintenance. When you get just a shot from a shooter girl, you should tip between 1 & 2 dollars, from the bartender it's the same. And if you want amazing service, and your drink made while you are walking up so you are handed it before you even reach the bar, then tip becomes worth it, and then you'll get hooked up, free drink, major discounts, and no wait.
nikki815 nikki815 9 years
Please remember not to punish a server for someone else's mistakes. If something goes wrong with your food or another part of your visit please feel free to discuss it with a manager, they may actually be able to do something. But, as a server, I am often 'punished' for other's mistakes. Contrary to popular belief, I do not come to work to ruin your day, so when things go wrong I am just as stressed as you are. If your server is genuinely trying to give you good service despite all hell breaking loose behind the scenes, keep that in mind as you figure on a tip. Speak to a manager. I cannot stress it enough. Be clear about what you want, what you expected or what we can do to make your visit a good one. PS..sorry, tonight wasn't a very good night in my restaurant...I feel like i am venting.
Marci Marci 9 years
What is the reasoning behind only tipping for pizza delivery? We ordered Chinese food tonight and tipped the delivery guy $5. Why not? He did the same thing the pizza guy would do. Bring me food.
Meike Meike 9 years
We don't tip in my country. So, naturally, I don't like tipping but I do so out of courtesy if the service was great. If I don't like the service, I won't shy away from not tipping.
menthadict menthadict 9 years
10 dollars for a bellhop is outrageous to me.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
"Bellhop: 10 dollars for just dropping your luggage in your room." -- I think that website must be run by the Bellhops of America Association. And what about the poor delivery people other than pizza? That makes about zero sense to me. I always tip delivery drivers, and I tip them especially well when it's crappy weather out. In DC, delivery people are paid on tips. I assumed it was the same elsewhere! As to the poster, if the woman gave you a bitchy vibe, reward her by never going back there. I'm a little tired of places that try to cultivate a snobbishness attitude because they think the average person correlates that with exclusivity.
HappyKate HappyKate 9 years
*also an after thought...unlike some trial ride outfits our horses were treated very well. Lots of apples and love!
HappyKate HappyKate 9 years
Just a a wrangler in the summer in Yellowstone National Park I would like to say...............PLEASE tip your tour guides! Well, the ones who are putting in a lot of effort! To take out people for a one hour ride we have to bring 24 horses into the barn, feed them all, groom them all, saddle them all, bring them out and tie them to the fence, bridle them all, them talk to the guests bring them a horse, get all of the people on the horses and then take them on a (crossing fingers) safe and happy horseback ride. Then get everyone off. 6 rides a day and then feed and unsaddle. Please don't forget to tip while on vacation there are people who work very hard for you to have a good time!
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
In the U.S., people in the serviec industry (such as bartenders and waitstaff) often get a very small amount as an hourly wage. When I last was a bartender, I was getting $2.13 an hour. It was assumued that you would make your money from tips. And at the end of the night, you had to claim your tips on your checkout form so the government could keep track of what you owed. So, by the time pay-day rolled around, and I collected my paycheck, it would be for $0.00, because all the tips I had earned in cash negated any hourly wage I had earned. For good service, you should tip 15% or more. For truly bad service that is completely the result of the waitstaff's efforts, feel free to leave nothing. As for owners of salons... If they are the owner, you don't leave them a tip. You never tip the "proprietor." If they expect one, don't ever go back to that business... It's comkon etiquette rules that the owner of a business does not get tipped. Only the employees do.
tara2109 tara2109 9 years
I think it's because I'm from the UK that I really resent tipping. When I'm on holiday then fair enough as it's different in the US but over here, a person working in a restaurant earns just as much - sometimes more - than I do and I work as an office clark and I don't get tips! I may do a fantastic job with my work but my boss doesn't give me 20%! I don't see how it is fair that someone gets extra money for doing a job that they are already paid to do. If they give fantastic service then that's fair enough but in the UK I really don't see why you should. They have a minimum wage which is now something like £5.35 so why should you? In the U.S however I get a bit confused as I'm not sure who you tip and what you tip them but generally I give 20/25% to people in restaurants, 15% to taxis and then from there try and guess who to give to and what to give :)
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I tip depending on the quality of the service. I think great services can get higher tips. I would never ever tip really bad service at all. My In-Laws always tip 15% no matter if the service was amazing or horrid. It drives me insane.
Leene Leene 9 years
In my country we don't tip. Never. But when I'm travelling, I find it very confusing. How much do I tip here and there? But 20% seems rather high, at least to me. I'm just not used to the tipping. I know that in other countries many people who work on service-industry really depend on the tips. I think the minimum wage is calculated in here so that you can live with it. Well I got a summer job in a cafe and I may start to think that finnish people should tip also.
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