Money To Live

August 21, 2008

Reader Question: Tipping Etiquette – The People vs. Emily Post

Filed under: entertainment — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: ,

A reader asked for me to write about tipping for a re-do of a bad hair cut. If there is something you would like to hear about, let me know in a comment or email to

Tipping is a well established custom in the United States, and a worker who earns tips in restaurants must be paid directly by the employer only $2.13/hour, which is below minimum wage (and even further below a living wage). When and how much to tip can be confusing, so here I give some tipping advice from “the people” (metafilter) and from The Emily Post Institute, an expert on all aspects of etiquette.

Tip for take out?

The short answer: Unless the take out service blew you away, you do not need to leave a tip.

I ordered $19.26 in takeout pizza and paid with credit card. The receipt leaves a line for the tip, but I do not think I should tip in this situation.

Reasons not to tip:

  • A takeout customer does not take up a table.
  • A takeout customer is not waited on (refilling of water, bringing extra silverware)
  • The takeout customer makes the effort to drive/walk to pick up the food and will carry it away, while paying full price.

Reason to tip:

  • The server put effort into preparing my order (napkins, utensils, condiments, …).
  • The server may be directly earning only $2.13/hour, with tips making up the rest of the wage.

In a few forums on metafilter, this issue is addressed. The general consensus is that most people do not tip for takeout. Depending on the restaurant policy and hiring structure, though, not tipping could hurt the waiter preparing the to-go order by reducing his tips at the end of the night. Or it might not affect his pay at all.

The Emily Post Institute gives these guidelines on tipping for takeout:

No obligation
0-10% if the person went above normal service

Tip the owner of a business?

The short answer: It depends; you should ask.

Sometimes it is customary not to tip the owner of a business. For example, at a mom-n-pop restaurant with service by the owner, a tip may not be expected. At a salon, some owners take the full charge of the haircut as money for themselves and do not expect tips. If you hire movers and the owner of the company is part of the crew, he may not expect a tip (though the rest of the moving crew still will). If you hire temporary waitstaff to serve food at a private party, it is appropriate to tip the individual workers, but not necessarily the owner.

Sometimes it is customary to tip the owner of a business — in each of the previous examples, the owner might expect a tip.

Metafilter has mixed responses, but a lot of people say do not tip the owner.

In Emily Post’s Etiquette, Emily Post says that it may or may not be appropriate to tip the owner. When in doubt, ask.

Tip for a re-do at the salon?

The short answer: Ask your stylist or the owner of the salon.

If you are not happy with the cut or color, the stylist will usually give you a free re-do. Is it appropriate to tip?

It was harder to find answers to this question on Metafilter and from Emily Post. Emily Post does not directly answer this question, but I think her answer would be close to “Ask your stylist or the owner of the salon.”

Bottom line for tipping: When in doubt, ask.

My favorite source on modern etiquette:


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