Should I tip a self-employed masseuse?
May 25, 2004 2:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to get a massage from a friend who runs her own one-employee (herself) massage business. When I pay her fee (which all goes to her), should I add a tip too? I never know how much of tipping is about "here's something for YOU since the bulk goes to management" (not true in this case), and how much is about, "I know you SAID the price is $50, but you should get a little extra because you did such a good job."

And for those of you who were wondering, this is just a massage -- not a massage with a happy ending. For THAT I'd definitely tip.
posted by grumblebee to Work & Money (12 answers total)
Is this a medical-type message, as in helping to relieve chronic back pain or treat arthritis symptoms? Or is this a relaxtion-type massage you might get at a day spa?

A relaxation-type massage might elicit a tip depending on how relaxing it is or is not.

A medical-type massage would not be a tipping situation, because you don't tip a doctor if they do a good job treating you.

(this is of course IMO)
posted by falconred at 2:50 PM on May 25, 2004

Tip her (20%). That way, the ball's in her court. She can either give you back the cash and say, "Thanks but no thanks" or she'll be grateful (because she expected the tip). Either way you win. A couple extra bucks, in my opinion, is not worth the potential negative conflict that would ensue after a non-tippage.
posted by BlueTrain at 2:51 PM on May 25, 2004

If she refuses the tip, several days later invite her to lunch, or send a thank you letter. The letter is nice to have on hand as a sort of recommendation for future clients.
posted by Feisty at 3:15 PM on May 25, 2004

When I was a little geoff., mother always gave me $15+$5 for the barber. If it was the owner I was to not give the extra $5, if it wasn't the owner I was. If that helps.
posted by geoff. at 3:22 PM on May 25, 2004

Nah. No tip. You're kicking $50 of business your friend's way. It's all going to her. I don't think you need to go beyond that. I've never tipped for any massage, come to think of it...
posted by scarabic at 3:47 PM on May 25, 2004

I dont think a tip is necessary. If you really like the massage and she needs the business, offer to (and do) recommend her to others. That's worth so much more.
posted by vacapinta at 3:51 PM on May 25, 2004

She's the owner... so as such doesn't warrant a tip (in my book). That said, if the massage was good, tell her you'll suggest her services to friends... and if she'd like, you'd be happy to put your name on a testimonial she writes up.
posted by silusGROK at 4:12 PM on May 25, 2004

In my mind there are two reasons to tip when the situation is ambiguous. (1) because you suspect that is might be a part of someone's salary (i.e. pizza delivery people), or (2) because you want to reward good service if you'll be seeing them again. I always tip massage services and the like if I plan on ever going back, because service is better if the people like you. This makes whether it's the owner or not irrelevant.
posted by dness2 at 4:36 PM on May 25, 2004

See also this AxeMe thread for more on (not) tipping owners.
posted by obloquy at 5:52 PM on May 25, 2004

Tipping doesn't half cause a lot of trouble... why has humanity invented such a silly, socially awkward system for paying for stuff? This is the third or fourth AskMe thread about tipping I remember reading, and I always feel tense when I have to tip a waitress/hairdresser/pizza guy/whatever. There must be a better way of doing it.
posted by reklaw at 6:42 PM on May 25, 2004

reklaw: it's easier to get your business when their listed price is lower. Then you're guilted into paying more after you get the bill.
posted by ODiV at 10:56 PM on May 25, 2004

My ex and my current SO are both massage therapists [it's a good life ; )], and their take on it is this: Tip if you feel like they did a great job, especially if the massage goes longer than expected and they don't charge you more. However, they won't be offended if you don't - they know it's not cheap. In their case, they both work mostly with regulars, and a lot of people don't tip during the year but give them something - money, wine, whatever - for Xmas.
posted by widdershins at 9:55 AM on May 26, 2004

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