Thursday, February 21, 2013

Give Me Some Tips On Tips

Let's talk about tips.

Not tips as in "here's a tip, eat the new Snickers limited edition 'more nuts' chocolate bar because it tastes like love." (No but seriously, that's a real tip. You're welcome.)

Tips as in money.

I went and got my hair cut yesterday.... 

Awkward selfies! Don't mind my Donald Duck sweatshirt....

I didn't know if it was standard to tip the hairdresser. Or expected. Or customary.

I always noticed that people don't really tip in England. And if you did, it's because someone went above and beyond.

(From personal experience, we tip at nice restaurants here. But never so much as 18-20%. It was always usually a few pounds.)

But to be honest it always just felt wrong not leaving tips. Not because I genuinely feel strongly about it, but because of habit. I've grown up tipping. I've worked in a restaurant and "lived off of tips". It's just what I'm used to. I'm sure if I grew up here and went to America and was expected to tip at least 15% I'd feel outraged!

So I took my issue to Google.

This is what I noticed. (Nothing is directly quoted. This is the jist of the um-teen billion forums I read.)

Pro tipping:

"Why not show them that they did a good job?"

"Service industries should be tipped."

"They don't make enough money without tips."

Against tipping

"I work in a supermarket/office/store and I don't get tipped when I do a good job. And I don't expect to be."

"If they want more money, they should increase the price." 

"I'm already paying a ridiculous amount for _____. Why should I pay more?"

And then there was the dilemma of how much to tip (if at all). There was zero agreement on this.

For example, say you were getting a pricey hair cut/style/colour/etc.....

"If you can afford a £70 hair treatment, you can afford a £5 tip to the hairdresser..."

"If you're getting a £70 hair treatment, you don't need to tip because you already paid a lot for the service."

(At this point I wanted to throw my laptop and say "I quit!")

And a lot of people blamed America for putting it in worker's heads that tipping is the norm.

(Not my fault, I promise!)

The most common consensus was to tip about 10%, or round up to the nearest 5/10 pounds. But even that had counterarguments.

"Don't you feel giving them a measly £2 is a bit insulting?"

"Any amount is always appreciated! Even 50p!"

What is an expat to do?

So, what do you think? How do you feel about these differing opinions? Why is it the "norm" but "not the norm" at the same time?


  1. I always tipped when I got my hair cut in London, but never as much as I would in the US, and every time they seemed shocked.

  2. As a hairdresser who has worked in England as a hairdresser...TIP. I dont say this for my benefit, but for all other hairdressers. If you really liked the service, then tip a little better than you would normally. Typically just £1-3 is what I got on average, more from repeat clients and during holidays. When I got my hair done for my wedding in the USA, I did not know about tipping your hairdresser and I felt so bad. Here in England it is as expected as it is back in the US.

    Bonnie Rose | The Compass Rose

  3. haha as an american you're basically screwed - americans are notoriously good tippers so the second an american walks into a bar/restaurant/salon, you can practically see the dollar signs/hear the ch-ching of the cash register in the eyes of the staff - christmas came early! as a brit in the uk, if i'm going to a local hairdresser and getting my hair done by the owner, i don't tip - he/she is keeping all the cash anyway. If i'm going to toni and guy or other chain, or getting a junior stylist, i only tip the person that styled if a) they did a good job and b) were nice. Last time i had a cut, the girl was ridiculously rude and patronising and made me feel terrible about myself so no tip for her. (as i write this, i realise she may just have been having a bad day and a tip would have cheered her up. now i feel bad. balls.) I always tip the person that washes my hair and sweeps up because they get paid pennies.

  4. you're TOTALLY screwed in England as an American when it comes to tipping! I still almost always tipped as an American, though, if the service was even just okay. who knows - that extra £ could make the difference!

  5. I'm not sure about hairdressers but don't some UK restaraunts have a service charge factored into the bill?

  6. Ah, I've been here 18 months and still have yet to get a solid answer or grasp on the tipping. I've asked my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and neither of them tip, which I don't feel comfortable with. I read something that said to ask the receptionist at the salon what the policy was on tips and who benefits from it, so I did that on Friday. It sort of helped, but I don't think my question came across exactly as I meant it I asked! Oh well. I have just decided to make my own rules up. I give a few quid, unless I feel they have done an exceptional job then I'll give more. With taxi drivers, I always round up to the nearest pound as I've been told that is sufficient. So, all this is to say, I feel your pain! x


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