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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, read more.

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, Tipping.org'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.

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