Tipping: Barbershops and hotels
May 2, 2014 9:46 AM   Subscribe

And other common mistakes people still make in 2014 when it comes to tipping?

Scenario #1: Barbershop. My first time there. Asked for a very common haircut. No other special requests or fuss. The barber did a good job and was friendly, but nothing amazing happened. The price on the wall for my type of hairstyle was $16. No hot towels, massages, etc. I gave a $4 tip.

Scenario #2: Hotel near the interstate. Discount national chain. Price on door was $99 and sign outside said either $43 or $45. I prepaid $33 through the internet. My wife and I made full use of the room (towels, bars of soap, a drink cup, etc.) but did not wreck the place. All trash was put in (or beside) the miniscule garbage cans. I left roughly $2.50 to $2.75 (two singles plus all the nickles, dimes, and pennies I had -- saved the quarters for toll roads).

My wife now tells me she disagrees with both of these tips. Normally I leave 18-20% at restaurants. So how far off was I? And, for people who work in service industry, what are the biggest mistakes still being made in 2014?

Note: I reviewed other questions going back to 2012.
posted by 99percentfake to Work & Money (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would also have tipped to the rounded $20 for the barber.

For housekeeping, I typically leave $3-5, depending on many variables. Sometimes I don't have change, and therefore I can't tip as much as I'd like.

From my perspective, you did just fine.
posted by elf27 at 9:50 AM on May 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

Both those tips seem fine to me, unless (1) the barber who cut your hair was the owner of the establishment, in which case he probably would have refused the tip, or (2) you stayed at this hotel for a really long time.

Many people don't tip hotel maids at all, especially if they are there for only one night.
posted by muddgirl at 9:50 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: One-time clarification: We spent a single night at the hotel. Just passing through.
posted by 99percentfake at 9:53 AM on May 2, 2014

what did your wife think was appropriate? More or less?
posted by rebent at 10:03 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Rounding to $20 for the barber would have been exactly what I would have done, too, so I would argue that that wasn't a mistake on your part. What did your wife think was appropriate, considering that you were already tipping 25%?

I think larger tips might be appropriate for stylists in salons if you have a complex haircut and get the whole wash-and-style thing going on, but it sounds like you just got a classic men's haircut and I'd say what you did was perfectly within bounds.
posted by Kosh at 10:04 AM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I tip my hairdresser 20%, rounded up to the next dollar, which is exactly what you did as well. Exactly 20% would be $19.20 which is kind of awkward. I have a feeling the vast majority of customers also hand over a $20.

On the hotel, I think the amount is fine but I probably would not have left small change, just bills.
posted by payoto at 10:05 AM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

My barber charges $16, I pay her $20. For a few years she insisted on attempting to give me change.

My wife's hairstyling costs an order of magnitude more than mine, so the tips are commensurately higher. I don't think it's much of a sexist generalization to say that the process of women's hairdressing is significantly more involved from a technical, time, and relationship perspective.

For a cheap hotel, one night... yeah, a few bucks is appropriate. I leave larger tips for hotel staff if I leave them extra work like stacks of newspapers or cans to recycle, or if I have to leave food trash like pizza boxes in the room. I say leaving the change makes it clear that you emptied your pockets for them. Money is money.
posted by Kakkerlak at 10:13 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

You don't really tip a percentage at hotels, because the people you tip there aren't really doing something that's directly proportionate to how much you pay for the room. Tipping in hotels is usually a small amount on a per-service basis, like a dollar/bag when tipping a bellhop, or tipping a valet, concierge, or doorman, and likewise the room cleaners. I usually time $5-10 depending on stay, but >$3 for an overnight in a discount hotel is just fine.

For the barber, you nailed it. I think $3 would've been a decent tip if you had the right bills, but the extra dollar is worth not having to ask for a dollar back from your Andrew Jackson. I like a certain kind of barbershop experience in terms of friendly chat and neck shave in addition to getting the cut right, and that's how I usually tip. (I pay $18+3, so my barber never has to ask me if I want change-- I like that too.)
posted by Sunburnt at 10:18 AM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think your tips were 100% correct.

I leave about $5 per day for the maid in high end hotels, and singles and change in motels, unless I got amazing service, in which case, I'd leave more.

I can't imagine what your wife thinks is correct.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:30 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

My barber charges $20 and I give him $25. (I believe he has some ownership stake in the shop, which is a family business employing members of several generations of the family, although he is not "the" owner.) I'd also be interested to know whether your wife thinks your tip was too low or too high. I know my girlfriend tips her hairstylist much more—but the base price is also much higher, and the percentages work out about the same.
posted by enn at 10:32 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I pay $19 + $4-5 tip of I have the change. simple haircut but I get towels and the neck shave. Hotels, I give about $3-4 a night on average.
posted by arcticseal at 10:33 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

This made me curious because I've always been told (as a Canadian) that 10% is the standard tip for hairdressers and taxis, versus the 15% for restaurants. Increasing for great service, of course. Tipping 4$ on a 16$ no-frills haircut seems crazy high to me.

Not that there's really a definitive source, but I found a helpful article on tripadvisor that said standard tips in the US are 15-20% for standard-to-excellent service at both restaurants and hairdressers etc, but of course it varies wildly and some people prefer to tip more, especially in areas where the server minimum wage is outrageously low.

The corresponding article for Canada said that tipping for hairdressers/taxis was "common but not required" and "usually a minimum of 10%", for some reason, although restaurants were similar to the US at 15-20%. Our minimum wage seems much higher on average (?) than it is in the states, though, so maybe that's why.

Of course you can always tip higher, the sky is the limit, but it's helpful to know what's "expected" as a starting point.
posted by randomnity at 10:39 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Having worked in service myself years ago it wouldn't surprise me if the haircut is priced at $16 to maximize the tip (ie "keep the change") That happened at a place I tended bar years ago. The drink prices were going to change and the wait staff were upset that the "keep the change" would be reduced so the owner adjusted the new prices ever so slightly to allow for bigger tips. (It worked.)

I tip 15% to 20% for hair and $3 to $5 for hotel, but I hardly ever stay in hotels so when I do I'm totally guessing at what I'm doing tip-wise.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:49 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

My husband's barber also prices at $16, and most people we've seen just hand over a $20 and say to keep the change.

I don't tip my stylist, because he owns the salon and charges more than any of the stylists working for him, but if someone else shampoos my hair, I tip $5.

I usually leave $2 or so in hotels, and more if the room is messy (I've given room parties for a science fiction convention in the past), because I once had a roommate who had cleaned hotel rooms, and she was paid by the room, not by the hour. I have no idea if other hotels do that or not, but I assume if it takes them longer to clean the room, I should be giving them more.
posted by telophase at 10:56 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't understand why one would leave a smaller tip for housekeeping staff in a cheaper hotel - chances are the money they make is much worse than staff at fancy hotels. I'd have left $5 at the hotel, imagining the shit wage the housekeepers probably get. A couple bucks to me doesn't mean as much as it might to
Someone making $8/hr.
posted by tristeza at 11:42 AM on May 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I manage a salon. Our techs (nail, waxing, massage, hair) prefer to be tipped in cash in person, an even dollar number, 20% or more. Next best is probably in cash at the front desk, and last is on a card. The majority of our patrons tip 20% or more I would say (we are a slightly "upscale" salon though, with lots of well-off regulars) almost no one tips below 15% unless they're seriously irritated or something went wrong, and very, very few people don't tip at all. Tipping a couple of dollars on an expensive service is actually more of a sign of displeasure than not tipping, I would say- it gets the message across. If there's no tip, techs may think they just forgot or something. For cheap services ($20 or less) people tend to err on the side of more money ($3-5) even if it's above 20%.

Tip an even dollar number if you can- calculating an exact percentage with change is time-consuming and kind of irritating for small businesses.
posted by quincunx at 11:50 AM on May 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I don't understand why one would leave a smaller tip for housekeeping staff in a cheaper hotel - chances are the money they make is much worse than staff at fancy hotels. I'd have left $5 at the hotel, imagining the shit wage the housekeepers probably get. A couple bucks to me doesn't mean as much as it might to Someone making $8/hr.

All housekeeper probably make the same wage, shit motel, or chi-chi hotel.

I usually leave a different amount because the person in the upscale hotel is doing more in the room, than the other housekeeper. More furniture to fiddle with, more towels, more amenities, etc. Fewer opportunities for tips.

It's a weird logic, but I try not to cheap out no matter where I am.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:02 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

$16 seems like a lot for a standard haircut in a barbershop, unless you're in a city with a very high cost of living. $4 tip for a $16 haircut is generous. I'm not sure I'd tip at all. He makes more money than I do...

I don't tip the housekeeping staff at hotels, have never known anyone who does, and had never even heard of the practice until a few months ago on AskMe.
posted by jingzuo at 12:14 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had no idea people left tips in hotels before reading about it on AskMe and it would never have occurred to me to do so. (On the other hand, if you tip someone (who is probably a man) for handling your luggage at the hotel, you should tip the person (who is probably a woman) cleaning the room. But that entails staying at the sort of hotel where it is expected someone would handle your luggage.)
posted by hoyland at 12:14 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here is the rule I grew up with:

Tip 20% minimum if they did a good job.

Don't leave coins ever unless it's all you have, and don't leave random coins. Make sure the coins, if you must, add up to a round dollar amount. Never tip with pennies, not even if you roll them. The only thing more insulting than pennies is useless foreign change. Carrying change around in your apron/uniform is a pain, particularly if you don't really get breaks and you get a lot of tips.

Amount: If 20% is less than 2.50, leave $2. If it's more than $2.50, leave $5. If change back would be a dollar or less, you should let them keep the change, even if you're now overtipping. Basically, round up.

Don't tip with a card unless the other alternative is not tipping. If you tip cash, the person serving you is able to say "what tips?" to their employer/the feds and thus their tip will go further for not being taxed. This doesn't work at coffee shops that split tips evenly, so if a particular person helped you and you want them to know it, tip cash directly in their hands where nobody else can see you. If that's not possible, write a nice thank you card with their name and send it to management.
posted by blnkfrnk at 1:54 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: At the beauty salon my wife frequents, the actual charge is $70 and she tips $30 for a total of $100. She doubles the tipping around the holidays or if they fit her in on short notice. So, she felt I should have tipped the barber a minimum of $5 and considered tipping $9 (an even $25).

She felt I should have left a minimum of $5 at the interstate hotel. She has seen me tip housekeeping up to $10/day (left daily) at our destination hotels, but cleaning up a three-star room seems more labor intensive and sometimes my wife requests extra things.

I won't use loose change anymore. That's fair enough.
posted by 99percentfake at 4:23 PM on May 2, 2014

My cousin is a stylist / hair-dresser, working at one of those average walk-in salon dealies. After taxes, their basic cuts come to something like $19.90... she's had a surprising number of people tip with "Oh, keep the change."

So, you weren't being the worst tipper, if that's any consolation.
posted by CKmtl at 5:40 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

If your wife wants to tip $5 for the room, your wife can tip $5, no?

Tipping $30 on a $70 haircut is very very generous IME, unless she's tipping that out separately to a shampoo girl and blowdry girl. I don't go to the type of salon that employs shampoo girls and blowdry girls who work for tips, so I don't know the etiquette at those places.
posted by muddgirl at 5:56 PM on May 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Your wife doesn't understand tipping.
posted by karlos at 6:49 PM on May 2, 2014 [7 favorites]

It's lovely that your wife believes in tipping like a rock star, but that doesn't mean that you were wrong in how much you tipped.
posted by Lexica at 9:22 AM on May 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Well, the 'don't leave change' rule works in the USA but not in Canada or other countries where the ones and twos are coins, not bills.
posted by jrochest at 11:30 AM on May 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

WOW, your wife is completely out of line with her tipping at the salon. I'm sure they love her there, but 20% is customary.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:08 AM on May 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry for delay, but I'm coming back to mark this question "resolved".

I don't know if it is "rock star" or just compensating for making lots of specialized requests. Either way, the candid feedback is much appreciated!
posted by 99percentfake at 3:09 PM on May 23, 2014

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