I need a tip…

…about tipping etiquette in the UK. Yesterday I managed to get my hair(s) cut for the first time since August (hollah!) and the guy was excellent. He not only gave me a good haircut but taught me some tricks about bringing out the natural wave in my hair, something I’ve been embracing in the last few months after 3 or 4 years spent as a slave to a flatiron. As I paid my bill and prepared to leave, I realized that I had no idea if there was a way to give him a tip. It was only the third time I’ve had a haircut in the UK–it’s one of those things that I strangely only seem to find time for when I’m back “home” in the states–and the previous two had not left me thrilled. So I had not worried about it previously, but now I’m curious. In the states, there were usually a few obvious and easy ways to leave a tip post-haircut, either on the credit card slip (like you can in a restaurant) or with the little envelopes on the desk for which you could put cash, the name of the cutter and your name and leave them with the receptionist. You could also just toss some cash over the counter and say “see that Brian gets this from me” and the receptionist would know what to do. None of these options were obvious to me yesterday. Furthermore, the guy who cut my hair was lurking about, making me a bit uncomfortable (for some reason the tipping ritual in this context in the states was always done in the absence of the person to whom the tip was addressed…) Any ideas or advice?

14 responses to “I need a tip…

  1. Not only am I not able to answer that question- I have another on tipping to add to the pile! I was in Glasgow a year back and I knew from some previous reading that tipping at bars isn’t standard- but my friend looked at me like I was nuts for leaving some $ at the bar after having paid for drinks- do you know if bartenders/servers are paid more in comparison to the US? Just curious!

    I hope someone gives you some insight on salon tipping:)

  2. The norm is to give the girl/junior who washes your hair a tip as well as the hairdresser by giving them a pound (or whatever you think their worth). I personally don’t do either of these, being of the view that the proprietor should pay them enough in the first place!

    As for tipping in a bar…. What are you doing!!!!!

  3. I always find tipping my hairdresser here easy but a bit awkward. She clearly feels awkward too. She hands me the credit card slip, with the total and a space for the gratuity, and then takes a step back, turns her head sideways, and deliberately stares into space. It’s both tactful and awkward at the same time, if that’s possible.

    In your situation, I’d either have easy cash (a fiver or a tenner or a clutch of pound coins – I have no idea what you have done and what your bill would come to). Needs advance though, obviously. Or if I were paying by card, I would ask in advance “how much has that come to?”, and when he says the total, I would say “could you make it up to X for me?” I think the tradition of tipping started by people rounding up to the nearest big number. It’s only recently that people seem to work it out more carefully. But usually these days there’s a space on the credit card slip, surely?

    No, don’t tip in a bar.

  4. All the books I’ve read here suggest that while you can offer to buy a drink for the barkeep (!) you do not tip them.

    Iota, sounds about right in terms of the embarrassment of the hairdresser when it comes to tipping… there was no way to put a tip in on the chip-and-pin thingy for my haircut yesterday and as I was buying some “curl defining” hair products I don’t even quite know how much the haircut itself was…

  5. I think tipping over here is neither as extensive nor as generous (10%ish with a little rounding up is the norm) as the in the States.

    In this country you must, however, *always* lavishly tip immigration and customs officers, tax inspectors, judges and policemen, not for any particularly good service they perform, but just for being there for you. So next time you come across a bobby on the street, remember to slip a fiver or tenner into his breast pocket, reciting the time-honoured words “There you go, me ol’ china: get yourself to the nearest hostelry and neck down a couple of strong bevvies on me!” He’ll appreciate this customary gesture enormously, and may even offer you secure accomodation at his police station for the night.

    Oh, I almost forgot: high-ranking executives of banks and of other financial institutions also expect handsome tips. These are in recognition of the superlative efforts they make to keep our money safe, and to invest it wisely on our behalf. Whenever you meet a very rich banker, make sure you leave him even richer — it’s traditional!

    By the way, did you know that the collective noun for bankers is a “wunch”?


  6. Howard–very amusing! I’ve had to deal a lot with immigration officers with all my travels the last few months… what about Icelandic Government officials, they get tipped under these rules too, eh? πŸ™‚

  7. I feel your pain – though the other way round. Being a Brit in NY, I’m constantly worrying that I’m not tipping enough.

    I used to give 10% tip if I felt I had a good haircut in the UK, and I’d try and make sure some of the cash went to whoever washed my hair.

    And having worked a lot of waitress and bar jobs, I think Brits would never say no to Americans who tipped at the bar! But I’ve only ever really seen that at swanky London bars, where they give you your change back on a little tray, inviting you to leave it there.

    One thing I would note is that it’s way more acceptable to tip via cards in the U.S. – as a waitress in the U.K., we never saw any of the tips that were left via cards (although that was a long time ago and things may have changed).

  8. One of my favorite things about China is that tipping is just not allowed – I feel like it takes a lot of the guesswork and uncertainly out of many of these situations! Of course, in the fancier hotels and restaurants in Shanghai I hear this is changing, but not yet in my (relatively) sleepy backwater. πŸ˜€

    I hate doing the “slip him some cash” kind of tipping; I much prefer the credit card method. I think I’m just not smooth enough to execute the other kind without it being very, very awkward.

  9. Hi NFAH
    Glad you have asked this question as I always had the same one too in regards to hairdressers…!
    “I am in charge” says that you should tip, but then they also said that they don’t do that themselves. I think that is a common attitude in Britain and maybe that is why the “rules” are so unclear?
    Despite the rules, I leave a tip anyway, I would hate to be known as that “American woman with the wavy hair who never tips” since I live in a small town and run into her (and all the other haridressers that work there) in other places. I need to save some face you know? Hey, that sounds like the start to a Seinfeld episode…

  10. > what about Icelandic Government officials, they get tipped under these rules too, eh?

    LOL, NFAH!

    Poor old Icelanders. I imagine that with their present economic woes they’ll accept any tip/gratuity/pour-boire offered, bless their souls!

  11. When my sister was waitressing, she never got credit card tips either – so I always leave restaurant tips in cash to ensure the staff at least see them. And yes, I hate having to tip too.

  12. I have solved this issue by befriending the hairdresser and now I go directly to her home for cut & colour work… this does meant that I have to hang my head over her bathtub to rinse but I pay less than half, she pockets everything and I don’t have to tip πŸ™‚

    but before that I just said “make sure H gets this please” and slid over a Β£5 note to the receptionist.

  13. I always pay in cash and round up at the hairdresser – it seems to be the least awkward way to leave a tip.

  14. Pingback: Expat Haircut Surprise! « Not From Around Here

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