The Sympathy Tip: Do You Tip More In Certain Situations?

September 5, 2010 at 10:00 PM 4 comments

Do you tip more in certain situations than others?

This past week I went to the salon in search of a new hair cut. I haven’t had my hair trimmed in quite some time and for some reason I really love to get it cut when I’m on vacation.

So I searched for shops in the phone book and settled on a salon that was just down the street from our vacation home. When I arrived a very lovely stylist came over to greet me. She led me over to her chair and I immediately took a liking to her.

We started talking about ex-boyfriends and she began to share small snippets of her life. It turns out that she was only a few years older than I am. She had children early in life and went through a series of bad relationships with very bad men. We chatted as she shampooed and trimmed my hair.

For the most part she talked and I listened. I spoke up from time to time, but her life story was really interesting and I enjoyed listening to her. As she was cutting my hair I began to feel very grateful for my life and the situations and circumstances that have led to my current place in the world.

I could tell this woman’s life hadn’t been easy and as I paid my bill I considered her circumstances and then left her a rather large tip. She did a great job on my hair, but under normal circumstances I certainly wouldn’t have tipped so much.

In fact, if any other person had cut my hair that afternoon I probably would not have left as much money, but her story really touched my heart and I really wanted her to have it.
I guess you could call it a sympathy tip. Whatever you call it I was happy to give her the money.

Entry filed under: charity, thoughts. Tags: .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  September 7, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    It's possible, that since she's in a profession that relies on tips that she takes the cynical approach of using a personal sob story to increase her tips. I'm sure she's noticed how tips go up when she tells her story, even if she doesn't "mean" to increase her tips in a way to be friendly. It's all in how personable and sincere she is in telling it.

  • 2. One Frugal Girl  |  September 9, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    An interesting thought. You think that the stylist told me her sob story in order to elicit a bigger tip. I don't think so, but I guess it's possible.

  • 3. Anonymous  |  September 9, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    I think this is an interesting story. I know you’ve only been to this girl once but this is how I figure this situation. Unlike certain places such as restaurants or bars, the tip normally goes directly to the service provider. I know this is your first time, but I’ve always tipped my stylist generously because not only is she good at what she does, but she provides a great experience when I walk into her salon and I love knowing I support small businesses. At first, I tipped as much as you did for similar reasons. I only come in 3 times a year but after 5 years of seeing her, she’s been generous to me in return. From giving me a great discount for my annual birthday haircut to even one time not accepting ANY money from me when I came in to get my hair done for my college graduation 🙂 You wagered your tip based on the entirety of the service/ the overall experience and sympathy or not, we all have agency in how much we tip!

    And oh, I love your blog, keep up the great writing!

  • 4. One Frugal Girl  |  September 12, 2010 at 2:50 AM

    @anonymous – Thanks for sharing. I love to hear stories like yours. It goes to show the give and take can work for both the patron and the servicer.


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