PF Confession: Thoughts on Tipping

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Tipping is a huge deal, and as I am more and more aware of where my money is going, I can’t help but question the commonly accepted North American tipping standard (i.e., tipping at least 15% at restaurants and seemingly all “service” industries).

The following services I tip because it is the generally accepted etiquette, but I’ve got a few things to say about them, first!


I think it’s safe to say that the generally acceptable tip is approximately 15% after tax, and people are expected to tip more if they receive good service. Having said that, if I received bad service, I would tip less than 15% and in the rare case – none at all.

But my qualm is why tip at all? Does the advertised price of the food (plus tax) not include the cost of service?

Before you call me a big cheapo, I know that many wait staff have very low wages and depend on tips to supplement their wages. My qualm with that argument is why should the responsibility of ensuring fair compensation fall on the shoulders of the patron? Is it not the responsibility of the employer?

I truly believe that all I owe to the restaurant is the number on the bill (after tax, of course). Tipping is extra, period. If I walk out the door without leaving a tip, I am not breaking any laws and am completely free to do so. (Although I’d probably never set foot in that restaurant again).

To be honest, I almost always tip, but not because I really want to. I do it because it’s what society dictates, and I see it as part of the cost of eating out.

Massages and Facials

I loathe tipping for massages and facials. I don’t understand it and I just see it as a cash grab, honestly. I mean, what else am I paying for??

I am a professional, and when I do my job, I don’t expect my clients to tip me on top of the invoice I am sending them. How is getting a massage or facial any different?

Massages and facials aren’t cheap. And when I pay for it, I damn well expect good service. End of story.

I don’t even understand why tipping is even in the equation.


I live in the City with one of the most expensive cab fares in the world. Seriously, I am not making this up, there were studies done to show it!

See above.

The cost of the cab ride should include good service. I’m not saying the cabbie should polish my shoes, but he should be taking the most direct route and driving safely. I don’t think that is asking too much.

Alas, I usually do tip my cabbies about 10-15%, depending on the ride. Most appear to be immigrants who are just trying to make a living in a new place. I always imagine that the cabbie (usually a male) would have kids to feed and a family to take care of, and I feel terribly guilty if I don’t tip.

Again, it’s guilt that is tipping, and not belief that tipping should be expected.

What are your thoughts on tipping?



Filed under PF Confession

39 responses to “PF Confession: Thoughts on Tipping

  1. I am studying to be a massage therapist, and one of my teachers has the best advice for tips: she lets her clients know that any tips she receives (they are never expected) go into a collection she has for folks that really need massage work, but can’t afford it. So when she does a massage for free, she “pays” herself out of the tip money from before. What a cool way to handle that! I agree with you- if a massage is $60/hour, then it’s $60. Done, and thanks!

  2. I wish I could forget the whole tipping thing and have them just add it to my bill automatically at 15% or bloody hell, just PAY THEM MORE MONEY so they aren’t required to be tipped.

    Every time I go somewhere, it’s another 15% more than what I want to spend or I have to find a place that is 15% less than what I want to spend to make sure I can leave a tip.

    Then there are rules for hairdressers, spas, facials.. 20%, no 40%, no 10%.. wtf?

    It’s all so annoying and confusing. Right up there with sales taxes. I wish we could just look at something and know the damn price without having to wonder: Okay that is $1.99 PLUS tax.. which is what? *pulls out iPod touch*

    • Ugh! I know we talked about tipping the esthetician and I hate it.

      I remember even asking what they recommend for tipping. And they responded with a vague “what you think the service was worth. Some clients tip 15% up to 50%.”

      And I thought to myself, 50%? Are you kidding me? I think the facial is worth exactly how much it’s advertised at – $120. No tip. Thankyouverymuch.

  3. Incidentally, if the owners paid these waiters/waitresses more money, I wouldn’t mind seeing the prices a little bit higher as a result.

    I already look at a $20 meal and think: That’s $20 plus 13% tax plus 15% tip.

    Why not just give me the real, final price?

    • I guess there is a choice to tip based on service, but I feel that in North America, people expect the tip – like its a right and the service has to be pretty bad to even just get 10%.

      In Europe, where there is no tipping, I didn’t find the service all that bad. In fact, I noticed very little difference.

  4. I always tip very generously at restaurants as I have a lot of food allergies & the waiter/waitress has a lot of research/running around to do for me, as well as behind the scenes in the kitchen. I usually tip 30%’ish. That being said, we rarely go out to eat, a couple times a year I’d guess.

    I don’t get facials, manicures, etc…. as for cabs, I always tip a few bucks, the cabbies I usually get are super friendly & tend to make pleasant chit chat. 🙂

    • Great point! I can understand tipping more if I had more requests. But most of the time, I don’t. Just order off the menu. I don’t ask for substitutions or changes, usually – except for goat cheese. I don’t like goat cheese…

  5. Ugh I know what you mean. I hate it SO MUCH. Especially massages. It is such a luxury to get one and to spend that much on something but then you have to tip and it makes me feel sick!

    I always feel guilty writing 0 in the tip area when I order take out from a restaurant but I mean really…is it necessary?!

    • Ditto for massages. And I get my massages from an RMT, so I feel that I shouldn’t have to tip!!!

      Agreed on the tipping option on take out. I guess it’s just a standard option they have, and it doesn’t hurt to ask? But I don’t like it either.

  6. Tips stand for “To ensure proper service”…if I get no service, you get no tip! If the service was good then I suck it up and pay the additional 15% but I hate it.

    As for massages, my view on it is that if you are going to a registered therapist they do not require a tip. They are professionals and are compensated as such.After all, I would not tip a physio therapist!

  7. Red

    I actually spoke to a masseuse once about… Well, not about my desire to not tip, but she told me that at the spa I was using the masseuses rent the rooms and pay the spa for that rental. So, they don’t actually get paid, like, $70 for an hour. That price also includes the cost to them to rent the room. Same with some hairdressers.

    I actually kind of like the whole tipping at restaurants thing when I think about it. Because, okay, you’ve got all these waiters/waitresses who are dependent on tips to supplement their income, right? So that encourages them to (usually) do an awesome job. If they didn’t have that incentive, I’m sure service levels would drop to mediocre (or “as little as I can do without getting fired”). Not to speak ill of servers work ethic, but you don’t get as good service as places like McDonald’s where the employees are paid a living wage, do you? Nope. (Not to say that minimum wage is a living wage but whatever.)

    At the same time, I do feel guilty if I receive awful service and want to leave no tip. But I get over it because I’m not paying someone to be rude and never refill my drink. If I wanted that kind of service, I would have stayed at home.

  8. Fi

    I live in a country (Australia) where tipping really isn’t a thing. You just don’t. If the service was just amazing, you might not ask for the change back from a $50 for a $47 meal, but no one hate you if you want your change.

    Then again, our minimum wage is ~$15, and people at restaurants are generally paid more.

    We also don’t have the plus tax thing. All non-staple items have 10% gst already applied to the price.

  9. I HATE being expected to tip for things like haircuts. If the stylist wants more money, she needs to charge more! I don’t like trying to figure it out on my own. If I ask how much I owe and she says $20, that’s what she’s getting. All these unspoken rules make it impossible to know what to do.

    • I love my stylist and since it took me so long to find him, I usually tip him about 15%. Having said that, he doesn’t charge me 13% tax when I pay with cash, so really, it’s just like paying tax but instead I am paying him. Sort of. 🙂

  10. Kay

    My pet peeve is facials! The last time I went to a high end salon where the facials are $100 to $150, I did end up paying a small tip, even though I do not like to.

    My massages are done by RMTs and since they are professionals, they are not tipped. I do not understand why an esthetician needs to be tipped when a RMT doesn’t in spite of doing more hands on work and for double the time.

    As for restaurants, I tip ALL the time. If service is bad, 10%, just-okay service gets 15% and everything else gets 20%.

    • My biggest pet peeve is facials (since it is also the most expensive). My facials are also around $100 – $120. Sometimes, I tip $10 and I feel like that’s frowned upon so maybe it’s better than I just don’t tip at all. Meh. I don’t see why it should be 15% if the service is done by a professional, and it’s already costing me $120 (before tax!!!).

      I would like to not tip at all for bad service. Maybe that’s what I will do going forward.

  11. I love Australia because you don’t really tip there 🙂 AND the tax is usually included before you pay the bill (so what you see is what you get).

    I tip about 12-15% before taxes.

    I don’t tip my massage therapist. That would be weird. I got her a gift card for christmas though.

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  13. I was thinking the exact same thing – why should the cost of hiring waiters be a hidden cost passed onto consumers inconspicuously? Overall, I’d much prefer being charged more for the food, and then not having to tip. But then I remember a few horrendeous restaurant services and I guess the ability to not tip (I think I’ve only done it once) is comforting, or at least to tip very little.

    I hate hate hate the idea that some waiters expect tip AS A RIGHT, regardless of their service. My friend told me this one time where the waiter was outright rude to her, and forgot half of her order until she was about to pay the bill, and when she only left a dollar of tip on a 30 dollar bill, she was chased by the waiter who demanded more money.

    BTW, I always thought it was 15% on the pre-tax amount, as the tax isn’t really reflective of the amount of service you received at the resto? I usually tip on the after-tax amount anyway, but just was unsure that it was the convention.

  14. I have tipping for facials and massages! They already charged so much! I rarely go and I don’t really know how much to tip!

    I tip fairly at restaurants, if the service was good, I tip more and if it’s bad, well the server will figure out through my tip!

  15. I don’t understand the logic on tipping taxi’s but not manicurists. I don’t know what salons you frequent, but I can’t think of the last time my nails were done by somebody who wasn’t a recent immigrant of some sorts, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, etc. I also think when it comes to body services, the extra tip is part of the service for handling sensitive areas, bypassing normal social conventions about the body. Also, technically a manicure doesn’t need to come with tea or a hand massage or what not, but many places have those great additions. And the amount of chemical they inhale for our beauty, it’s worth an extra toonie or fiver I’d say.

  16. I agree there isn’t much difference between a cabbie and manicurist. But I don’t frequent salons for manis and pedis so I didn’t talk about that in my post. I was mainly referring to massages and facials, which are also performed by professionals. If you feel you want to tip more for the toxic chemicals they inhale, then that’s great. 🙂

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  18. I don’t mind tipping my hairdresser because she’s amazing. She always goes above and beyond and never takes shortcuts. But I really hate tipping for manis, pedis and any other service like that. Cabs are the worst to tip for – they pick you up, drop you off, listen to the music THEY like to listen to, and charge wayy too much anyway.

  19. Ahhh. We may pay jacked up prices on everything in NZ but at least we don’t have to tip anyone!

    I understand why tipping is needed in the restaurant industry in the US (not so sure about Canada). But other services?

  20. Kristen

    I understand tipping for waitstaff because I look at it that you are paying them to be the middlemen. Instead of you ordering directly from the cook, you pay them to be the go-between between the kitchen and yourself. I don’t eat out much, so I consider it a treat when I do and am happy to tip 15-20% for the privilege of having them do the “dirty work” so I can enjoy my night out with whomever. I find that if I treat them with respect and gratefulness, they get my order right and are pleasant to me.

    I understand taxi cab tips in a similar way. I’m paying them to know the area better than I do so I can get where I need to be without so much stress trying to get there (I hate being lost).

    I don’t know about facials/massages because I’ve never had one, so I’ll leave that alone. On a whole I understand where you’re coming from. 🙂

  21. “But my qualm is why tip at all? Does the advertised price of the food (plus tax) not include the cost of service?”

    But the point is, it doesn’t. It should, yes. But it doesn’t. But then again, what does service entail? The server is required to take your order, bring your food and clear your plates. If she does that and nothing more, then go ahead and not tip, since she’s doing nothing more than a cashier at a fast food place. But being friendly, making suggestions, refilling your water glass, etc. etc. are extras, and the server should be compensated appropriately. Yes, serving is a physically and emotionally taxing job, and yes, the employer should be compensating the servers fairly, but they don’t, because this is the convention. And don’t forget that if the typical wage for servers suddenly shot up to $20-$30/hour, and tipping went out of vogue, the cost of your meal would skyrocket.

    Same thing with cabs. They’re paid a shockingly low rate and it’s a tough job. Until they can make a living wage on just the wages they are paid, they deserve to be tipped.

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  25. StackingCash

    I live on tips and I have a love/hate relationship with it. Sometimes I feel like a begger on the street dependent on the generousity of others. However, unlike a begger, I do provide a service. I like to consider myself a very personable and friendly person who does have a genuine concern about my customer’s happiness. I usually get fantastic tips for my service 🙂 There are times when I cannot provide good service that is out of my control and I would not mind getting a lesser tip or none at all. However, there are way too many cheap people who straight out stiffs me or gives me a marginal (insulting) tip when I do provide them a great service. Those are the people I wish would just stay at home and not use my services. Ultimately, if you cannot afford to tip or have to complain about it why don’t you just do it yourself or stay home!
    P.S. Thank you to the generous souls out there whose tips somewhat compensates for the rude tightwads out there.

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