I live in a neighborhood in New York City where a decent haircut is $55 dollars at nearly every shop you go to - except for the barber shops that will shave your hair with clippers and have you in and out in about ten minutes.

I usually tip anywhere from $10 - $15; I almost always tip $15.

Recently, I met some people in the neighborhood who also go to the same shops as me, and they told me that they actually don't tip, and just pay the $55 dollars for their haircuts. At most, they have occasionally left a $5 dollar tip, which amounts to less than 10 percent tip. Their reason was simply that the haircut already costs $55, and that leaving any extra money for them is excessive and unnecessary. (They claim that nobody from these shops has ever demanded that they leave a tip either.)

So my question is: living in a city where tipping is customary, is it OK to not tip, if the service you are paying for is already very expensive / overpriced?

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    I disagree with closing as "primarily opinion based". While it's up to an individual whether to tip, the question of what is customary to do is answerable, which is what this is asking ultimately. – Joe Feb 8 '18 at 4:25
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    This question is probably off-topic here, but I'm with these frugal folks you found, fixed percentage tipping never made sense to me, waiter serving me a $20 steak is usually doing just as much work as a waiter serving me a $80 steak, I tip primarily as a function of how good the service was and how long I occupy a table (at a restaurant). Do as you wish, tipping is not required. – Hart CO Feb 8 '18 at 4:26
  • @Joe The question answers that itself, these other people don't tip, so clearly nobody has to and it's okay not to. Opinions vary, but they're just that, opinions. – Hart CO Feb 8 '18 at 4:28
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    @HartCO "Customary" is not the same as "what a few other people I know do". (In fact, in this case it is directly opposite.) What is customary is not really an opinion - it's not exactly a straight fact, but it's as much of a straight fact as most of what we get here, and it's possible to source an answer effectively (as I do below). – Joe Feb 8 '18 at 4:31
  • @Joe Yes, I'm aware of what customary means, but they didn't ask what is customary. – Hart CO Feb 8 '18 at 5:02

Separating this question into two pieces, as it's really two separate things.

  • Is it okay to not tip for something that is expensive, when tipping is customary?

In general, no. Tipping is separate from paying for the item, in particular for services where the worker is expected to receive remuneration primarily from tips. Waiters and waitresses, for example, may be paid as little as $2.13 an hour, expecting to make the remainder of their wages in tips. The price of the food goes to the owner of the restaurant, and the tip goes to the server, so deciding to tip less/not at all because the food is overpriced punishes the server and rewards the owner.

In fact, better servers go to more expensive restaurants because they can expect a higher tip there - thus ensuring you get higher quality service at better restaurants. To the extent the market works, you get the service you pay for in each location.

When you're deciding where to eat out, you should factor the cost of the tip into your choice of restaurant - if you go to a place with $20 entrées, think about it as being actually $26 ($20 + $4 tip + $2 tax).

  • Is it okay to tip my hairstylist less than 15-20%?

Hair stylists are typically tipped similarly to other personal service employees - 15 to 20 percent. See for example this recent Today article; they recommend a minimum of 20%, though they report that it certainly varies. TripAdvisor recommends 15-25% as well.

If you're a repeat customer of the same salon/hairdresser, tip well: you're probably going to want special service at some point (emergency appointment before the big interview/wedding/party/something; reschedule a last minute cancellation; etc.) and being a good tipper is important.

This partially depends on where you're getting your hair done, of course. Remember that many salons are effectively just providing the space, and hairdressers rent chairs; they're probably not taking all of the money you're paying them, as much of it goes to rent that chair (in NYC, that is likely thousands of dollars per month).

If the cost is of a concern, choose a less expensive hairstylist or go less frequently. It is possible to go less expensive; look in the poorer areas of town, you'll find lots of lower priced hairstylists. And if that doesn't work for you (or you can't find them), go every 8 weeks instead of every 6 weeks if the price is an issue.

So to sum up: tip your hairstylist, and tip then around 20%.


I sincerly doubt If you have to, well since the price is relatively expensive, you are not mandatory to tip any way but if you feel you got a good service and was impressed you could.

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    This is surely true in some countries, but it's not generally true in the U.S. and Canada, and certainly not true in New York. – ChrisInEdmonton Feb 8 '18 at 5:51
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    @ChrisInEdmonton This is definitely true in the US (and even in NY), tipping is not mandatory. There are a variety of pay-structures for stylists, some lease a chair in a salon, like any business leasing space, the pay their rent/lease and collect all the fees. Others work on commission with or without a base wage. Some do not accept tips, some state it is not expected but appreciated (maybe just being polite). Something can be customary without being mandatory. Is it rude not to tip? Maybe, but not always. – Hart CO Feb 8 '18 at 15:53

While it is customary to tip I would question the following:

  • The shop you go, is it an independent shop? Meaning, is it one person that does the cuts and is he or she the owner of said shop? If so, I wouldn't bother with tipping.
  • If not, is it only a few people that do not tip? Is there any mention of a service fee already included? If you do not know these answers, wouldn't it be alright to just ask them?

Find a hairdresser that will agree to include the value of their labour in the cost of the haircut. Tipping is an abomination.

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