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08.01.2002: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners
for real-world living
1 2 3 4
tipping etiquette ...
Q: Hi! I am planning to have my hair straightened at a salon using a treatment that costs $100 an hour, and can take from 3-6 hours. How does one calculate the tip for what could turn out to be a $600 pricetag? It can't possibly be appropriate/expected to tip 15-20% ($120), can it????


A: Holy moly Ė a $120 tip for a haircut does sound kind of nuts, doesnít it? First things first, find out whether the salon includes a service charge in that $100, the way spas sometimes do, for particularly involved services. Chances are high that the answer is no, but it canít hurt to ask ahead of time.

Unfortunately, yes, itís generally agreed that, as in most service industries, a 15% tip for the person who cuts, styles, or colors your hair is appropriate for decent service, 20% when the service has been extra special good (for ultra-cheap, no-frills hair places, the range is more like 10-15%, but I've never heard of anyone tipping a mere 10% at any of the posher salons).

With hairdressers, in particular, Iím of the opinion that itís a good idea to tip generously Ė to ensure that the next time youíre in the salon, leaving your beloved tresses at the mercy of the hairdresser, you give them extra special incentive to make sure you walk out of there looking good (granted, I have a particular phobia about my hair, having received far too many bad haircuts as a child Ė memories of a particularly ill-advised body wave still haunt me). Iím thinking a 15% tip of your very large bill would be more than generous enough, but, personally, I wouldnít tip much less than that. After all, your hairdresser is going to be spending 3-6 hours of his/her time with you, and would certainly appreciate a tip that reflects all that effort.

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