web analytics

The Tipping Point

I like to think that I’m a pretty generous girl. Really, I do. But this tipping business has gotten out of control at bit. Are you feeling that way too? In the past we’ve discussed tipping, but I saw something the other day that I thought was rather outrageous. And I thought I’d share it with you to see if you feel the same way….

photo-564For my birthday my family gave me a gift certificate for a massage. Pretty fantastic, right? When I got to the salon and was preparing to hop on the table, I saw this sign perched on the shelf in my massage room.

A chart that tells you how much to tip. A scale ranging from 20-40%! Now, there are two things that bug me about this. First of all, how tacky is it to have a tipping chart on a wall or shelf to begin with? I mean, it’s one thing to have a “tips are appreciated” memo on the bottom of their literature, but signage throughout the salon is a bit much.

The other thing that makes me bristle is the skipping of the 15% as a choice and the outrageousness of the 40%. Maybe it’s just me, but I tip 15% for standard service and 20% for superior service. (more often the latter) But 40%? What a thing to even suggest.

So, I am curious to hear what you all think. Am I being overly sensitive? Or have tipping standards changed? Is a 15% tip a thing of the past for standard service? Does this sign rub you the wrong way too?


  1. Happy Belated Birthday!

    I have never seen anything like this & have always tipped 15% – 20%. I don’t think you are being overly sensitive at all.

    We had an acquaintance that did massages & whenever he was doing “free” massages at an event (Chamber of Commerce) he would be visibly angry if someone did not tip him (generously) for a 5 to 10 minute shoulder rub. Needless to say I only sat in his free chair once.


  2. Having worked as a waitress a few years ago during college breaks (graduated in 2009) I believe 18-20% to be the norm here in central Maryland, but I think it varies a bit depending on where you are. I think I averaged in the low 20s percentage wise for tips, and I did occasionally receive 40-50% tips. However someone putting such a blatant sign IN the massage room would have made me mad, regardless of what percentages were listed. The fact that the sign specified up to 40% tipping is atrocious!! Things like that make me actually NOT want to tip, and I usually never tip under 20%. If I work hard all day and take an occasional break, a sign like that before they even start the massage would annoy me.
    Heidi S

  3. To me that means I wouldn’t be returning. Very tacky. And yeah, 40%? That would have to be the best massage of my life.

  4. That’s terrible! We usually tip about 20% and round up or down as necessary.
    I think the sign was tacky and completely inappropriate.

  5. Robin A. Washington State says:

    $40% for a “Happy Ending” Maybe. Just joking folks!!

  6. I’m going for a spa day today … And hoping this hasn’t become the new norm …expecting 40% is outrageous but what is more outrageous Is posting this ” policy ” .
    I typically tip a minimum of 20% after having worked in a restaurant but never expect anything . Gratuity is just that .

  7. Krista S. says:

    That sign seems very inappropriate to me as well and would def. have pissed me off. I tip generally around the 18-20% mark. ~Krista

  8. I don’t think you’re being over sensitive either. It would really irritate me too. I usually tip 20%, and am certainly not against tipping more or less depending on either fantastic service or the lack of. However, to have a sign up suggesting 20% as the bottom line and even suggesting more than that would make me (like another commenter) NOT want to tip more. I mean really! If they’re going to chart what to give, they should at least also chart what to give and/or other steps to take if the service is less than par…not insinuate that tipping is what we’re supposed to do even in the case of a rude, irritable, crappy server 😛

  9. Stephonie says:

    We consider ourselves generous because it’s usually 20% and often a little bit more. We never tip below 15% and that’s for pretty poor service. Once, on our first anniversary because we had the money, because it was the nicest restaurant in the entire city, and because we were feeling quite generous we gave our waitress a 48% tip. I don’t think we’ve done that since.

  10. Tacky to the extreme.

    In related news: Positioned at the drive-thru window of the Dunkin Donuts I occasionally hit on the way to work is a big “Tips” cup. Am I wrong to consistently ignore it? (Additional info: I’m an ex-bartender/ex-waiter who tips bartenders and waitstaff like a mental patient … but the drive-thru attendant who hands me a styrofoam cup? No.)

  11. I was thinking the exact same as Robin! Haha. What kind of massage place was this?! J/k;)

  12. Gertrude E. says:

    I thought that tipping is supposed to be an indicator of service, the better the service, the better the tip – I’ve always been taught that its not a guarantee, but a nicety.
    I guess it all boils back to the fact that most people are not taught or choose not follow manners and the rules of polite society, along with grammar and punctuation rules.

  13. Wow, what a way to start a massage!

    I agree that this sign is over the line. I used to work at a salon and never expected people to tip. (Most people did and I was very grateful, but I never tallied up to see what percentage they gave.) Truthfully, I’d rather have a consistent client that never tipped instead of someone that came once and tipped.

    I’m with you Melanie, 40% is over the top! I generally tip $10 for an hour massage and 20% when dining out. Plus, massage therapists make way more than food service folks.

  14. TheresaEH says:

    No, it would appear so, eh, and YES!

  15. Patricia N. says:

    I would give 15%. I go to the physical therapist and don’t even have to give a tip, and they give the best massage in the world. My pt would be insulted if I tried to tip her, so why should someone who doesn’t have the medical degree expect to get such an outrageous tip for doing the same thing.
    If the person owns the salon, Emily Post would say that you don’t have to tip them, only the people who rent a room or space.
    I know that they deserve a tip, but I would be willing to bet that some of them make more money than some of us do when you figure in those tips. Oh, and how many of them report them as they are supposed to do? Do they only report 15% when they fill out those tax forms?

  16. I agree! Tacky!

  17. anonymous says:

    The sign is not only tacky, but offensive. It makes the assumption that I’m unable to figure out the math on my own. I would not make a return visit there, no matter how good the massage.
    Happy Birthday!

  18. Went out for lunch last week with a friend and our receipt had the amounts for 15, 18 and 20% tip. I appreciated that, as i am terrible at math. But a 20-40% tip chart before your service was completed or even begun? No way. Presumptuous and greedy.

  19. Tacky, offensive, and rude.

  20. I agree with you.I think 15 – 20 % is the norm and is what I tip.but there is no way I would be tipping 40%, and I probably wouldn’t go back there either.

  21. OMG!!! that’s crazy. i use to waitress so i’m good with the tipping of food people i know are making food service wages(not my coffee people since they are usually normal wage, not food) but leaving a chart on how much is expected is tooo much. I hate how much tipping is expected in places where you pay a good deal for service all ready. I love my hairdresser and do tip her well, but i’m sure she likes that i keep coming back every three months for her to cut my kids and mine hair, steady income. But when we moved it seemed like everyone coming to do their jobs(movers, installers) should have been tipped(when i was reading moving literature from the realtor). We didn’t have a lot of money, so instead i kept cold water and then gave good written reviews for service. And on a muggy, hot june afternoon the movers like the cold water better. And after paying them a couple grand to move us, the cheap case of water was easy on my budget(it was a stockpile case, lol) My massage therapist is through my chiro’s office and i don’t think to tip her since it’s all handled by the office. I have brought in christmas goodies and such through the years, but never money tips.

  22. I am happy to tip generously when it is deserved, but I also hate the idea of tipping just for the sake of tipping. My birthday was last Sunday and my husband and I took a trip to Reno for the weekend and he got me a massage and pedi at the hotel spa. Both services were mediocre and for the price we paid I could have had two pedis and two massages at home in San Francisco. In this case, I think that the spas at hotels don’t have to provide service comparable to the price because most clients won’t be repeat customers. The worst part though was at the end when I checked out and returned my robe and locker key, the receptionist actually asked me if I had remember to leave a tip! I had already tipped (~18%) but I wanted to blurt out, “Yes, my tip is that your pedicurist shouldn’t talk to clients about her custody battles and her cheating husband”

    I’m also in a conundrum because I recently started Rolfing therapy and I have no idea if I am supposed to tip. I hadn’t thought about it because it seemed to me that Rolfing is more like chiropractic or physical therapy and I wouldn’t tip them but I also don’t want to offend my therapist.

  23. I don’t care what the place is: nails, hair, massage, taxi or restaraunt. The sign is TOTALLY wrong no matter what thw ‘suggested’ amount is.

    I would have tipped ……..NADA and let management know EXACTLY why. And of course, NEVER gone back plus told everyone I know.

  24. Having worked in the food service industry since for six years, there are definitely situations where tipping is expected. Food service is without a doubt one of them. Here in the US, we pay our servers almost nothing ($2.13/hr) with the expectation that their salary comes almost entirely from tips, which is why 18-20% is standard and should be. People also forget that in most restaurants, servers “tip out’ the food runners, bus boys and bartenders at the end of the night. So of that 18% tip you gave them, they only keep maybe 15% of it. Please tip your servers appropriately.

    When in doubt, ask or do a quick google search ahead of time to see if tipping is expected. If it is, and you don’t feel comfortable with it, perhaps you should not partake in the service and find an alternative.

    My guess is the reason they have that sign posted is that perhaps there has been a run of customers that haven’t tipped and they are trying to encourage them to remember to do so. Is the range listed outrageous? Yes, definitely. But if it’s so offense that you wouldn’t come back, tell the front desk. How else will they know to change it or remove it? I think that’s only fair.

  25. Personally, tipping has gotten way out of hand. Tipping should be done for superior service. In Oregon we have a high minimum wage. Wait staff are paid that wage. For anyone to believe that they are ENTITLED to more of my money is ridiculas. I know some feel that if you cannot afford to tip very generously you shouldn’t eat out but what to give (if anything) should be my choice not someone else’s. TIPS used to stand for “To Insure Prompt Service”. My father used to feel that if the waitress kept his coffee cup full and the coffee was hot, the waitress was entitled to a good tip – if the coffee cup was empty more than it was full the tip went down.

    I have friends who clean vacation rentals at $25 an hour and expect tips (they leave tip envelopes) and friends who work as maids for $10 an hour and leave tip envelopes in the rooms. I clean houses at $15 an hour and DON’T expect tips or leave tip envelopes.

    Some of this tip business seems to border on being GREEDY. That being said a tasteful sign that says “tips accepted” might be appropriate at the desk when you check-in and pay for the service.

  26. As I started to read this post, my blood started to boil. Tipping has gone out of control!!!! It seems like we have to tip everyone these days. Can’t anyone just do there job and not have to be rewarded for it? Last year we went to cold stone for an ice cream and of course there was a tip jar there. When I went up to the cash register the guy started to shake the tip jar in front of me!!! Hell no I was not going to leave a tip after that. And since when should we have to tip for a cup of coffee, scoop of ice cream, a donut??? I can totally understand tipping in the restaurant industry because they are actually working their butts off, and I tip well.

    I think that sign is disgusting and I would definitely call management!

  27. Oh wow…that is pretty tacky. It’s one thing to have a sign saying tips are appreciated at say the register but in the massage room? No. I personally think the 40% is pretty out of hand…if the service is really good I could see a nice tip…but if they think the signs appopriate maybe they could start it at 5% and go up by 5% I mean I think it would be a little better than starting at 20%, it seems like that’s the LEAST they would accept. Oh and by the way, I loved the happy ending comment 😉

  28. My daughter is a works at Massage Envy and I don’t think they put signs out like this. They pay so little in these spa’s that the tips that the therapists receive is a large part of their income. My daughter has regular customers that give her very good tips, but that should not be expected of everyone and I think it is very tacky that a spa would put out signs like that.

  29. I would be ticked off if I saw this. I am a generous tipper. My husband and I usually tip more than 20%. It depends on the service, time of year (more at Christmas), age of person (young college student as an example) , etc. I had a pizza delivered Friday night and the temperature was something like 4 degrees. The pizza place charges a minor fee which the driver does not get. My bill was $16 and I gave the driver $5. I certainly didn’t was to go pick it up myself and the convenience was well worth it. Plus, the driver turned out to be one of my son’s friends.
    I don’t usually tip at say Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, fast food joints, places like those (unless it’s one of my kids friends).
    You have to wonder if the masseuse or the actual business put up that sign. Either way, it’s rude and unacceptable.

  30. I went to a new candy store that opened up not to long ago and I was browsing while the clerk sat on her booty the whole time and was not too helpful to say the least. As I was checking out I noticed a HUGE candy jar by her register that said TIPS and it had a few pennies and a quarter inside. I laughed to myself, when did people who get paid a pretty nice wage start receiving tips? I wish I would have had a tip jar at my Target register when I worked there in high school, I was an amazing asset to their company! Surely people would have tipped me on that knowledge, right!? PS, I didn’t leave a tip at the candy store, what a joke.

  31. Kristine N says:

    Tacky, tacky, tacky….. I agree with you 15% for ok service and 20% for good…
    40% you should be leaving with a smile

  32. I’m conflicted about this post. Do I think posting somewhere that tips are appreciated is acceptable? Yes. Would I go down to the detailed percentages? No, I do think that is tacky. And the “tip cups” left at the self service places? CRAZY! That said, I have a part time job in the food service industry and am constantly struck dumb by how poorly servers are treated and/or tipped. Let me be clear that I work this job NOT for the wage paid by the restaurant, but for the tips. Not that I expect a big fat tip for every table I serve, but if your meal is awesome and service is flawless, you should tip appropriately (20-25%). My issue comes from people that come in knowing that no matter how great their meal and service is, they will not tip more than 10%. The other big offender is the people that use discounts or BOGO coupons. If I just served 8 of you , and you get your bill comping half the total, please tip me on the service I gave to all 8 of you, not the four your paying for. Besides the fact that we make far less than minimum wage, at the end of the night, we also have to tip out our bus boys, kitchen staff, and bartenders.

  33. I consider myself a generous tipper. There are times that my family and I have gone out to eat and tipped 30% for good service. But if someone suggested an amount to tip or felt the need to draw my attention to the fact that I should tip, I can guarantee that I would not have been quite that generous. Some establishments don’t understand that an employee should be earning a tip. They are not automatically entitled.

  34. Ok so when I was in Hawaii, we were killing time before we had to catch our plane home and we went for a massage. Um… when we went to leave they looked at us and said, Tip wasn’t included in the price, are you going to tip us? That to me is outrageous!

  35. I agree that the norm is 20% for a job well done, I believe 15% was what it used to be but has recently gone up. That sign is completely tacky and I would feel uncomfortable the ENTIRE time of the massage, worried about what they are going to expect at the end as far as an amount. And I wouldn’t go back because who wants to think of that the entire time you are supposed to be relaxing!
    One of my biggest pet peeves about asking for tips is when i go through a drive through fast food place…I’m not tipping for drive through! If I haven’t gotten out of my car and you didn’t have to come to a table to wait on me, fahgettaboutit!

  36. Anonymous says:

    First; belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Now, tipping. Food servers, always! My rule of thumb is 10% for a buffet where we serve ourselves but there is still a waiter bringing drinks and clearing away used plates. 20% of the pre-tax or 15% of the total with tax whichever math is easier and round up when in doubt. I have broken out the calculator later and it works out to 18% on average. I refuse to leave tips a Dunkin Donuts or any other fast food place; I will put my change in the Ronald McDonald House collections. I smiled, okay giggled, at the ‘happy ending’ comments above too! 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      BTW; the chart is completely inappropriate! 40%!!??? And, if the food service and quality is exceptional I will go above 20%. I also tip to the full value of the meal if I am using a coupon or discount from the restaurant, the server does the same work or sometimes more when they have ‘specials’ to serve.

  37. I thought I was the only person this happened to!! Years ago I went to a local salon for a massage (I was given a gift cert. as a gift from a friend). So I checked in at the recption desk and immediately the receptionist pointed out that she had a tip envelope set aside for the woman who was scheduled to do my massage. That put me off a bit. I hadn’t even had the massage yet and the receptionise was pushing a gratuity? After I was done and was checking out the receptionist pointedly asked what I would like to leave for a tip, envelope in hand. I couldn’t believe it.
    Suffice to say, they never got my business again. I will travel 100 miles for a massage before I would darken their door again.

  38. I just returned from a vacation and tipping is asked for (and mentioned) in signs everywhere. I work with low-income people and am very aware of how tips are a necessary part of income for certain professions but these days it’s expected everywhere. I HATE feeling like i should tip someone for doing their job. Some workers are even rude when you don’t tip. We were getting on a cruise. We get out of the taxi and the cab driver helps us with our bags out of the car. We roll them over to a cart full of luggage and the guy puts them on the cart and says something like “Now would be the time if you’d like to show your kindness”. My fiance proceeded to tell him we didn’t have cash and the guy just stood their staring at us until his boss yelled at him to keep moving. We don’t carry cash while traveling. Next year we will bring some ones for tips for EXCEPTIONAL service but if you are just doing your job and not going above and beyond then I think it should be the employer’s responsibility to pay you.

    I will admit I’ve never worked in a job where I’ve relied on tips but it seems like everywhere you go there is either a tip jar or a tip line on the receipt. If I pick up my food from a counter I don’t tip. Is that wrong?

    • Robin A. Washington State says:

      When folks carry your bags it’s $1.00 a bag. If you don’t want to tip carry your own. I do. I always have $1.00’s when I travel.

      • this wasn’t optional. It’s like an airline, it’s how they get on the boat. You are not allowed to carry them on. The screening that you go through only is big enough for the same luggage you could carry on an airplane. This job is similar to a ticket agent or TSA agent loading it through an x-ray machine. The airline people don’t get tips so why would the cruise for the same job? It would be different if they were walking with me on to the ship and carrying it the whole time. They are not. They get it to the ship. Ship crew take it from the ship hold to my room. Those are tipped.

  39. Starting to read some of these comments really got me fired up. I live in a single income household where my dearly beloved is a server in a high end steakhouse (higher end than say Ruth Chris). These servers are at the top of their game and have worked hard to be even considered to work there. They make $2.13 an hour. They are expected to be extremely educated on a wine list of over 300 wines and know every aspect of a menu (from where the food is source to each detail of preparation) and they rely on customers to show their appreciation by leaving them at least 20%. VERY DIFFERENT THAN YOUR SERVER AT YOUR LOCAL APPLEBEES (No harm intended cause i have worked at such restaurants. Nothing boils my blood more than hearing my loved one come home after a crazy night where some whack job has tipped him $40 on $300 check. In fine dining you are not only paying for the food but for the experience. And also, dont always take it out on your server that your food was a little slow or something was wrong. …they do not cook the food. So like I always say, if you cant afford to tip, please stay home.

  40. Carolann R. Massachusetts says:

    Don’t get me started!

  41. Holy Moly! That does take nerve to post suggested tips in that manner. So much for a relaxing massage…I would have been irritated to say the least!

Speak Your Mind