Tipping at the spa: What's the right amount?


I always agonize over tipping at the spa. You go to get your hair done, enjoy a pedicure, have a massage, or receive some other service. You pay the spa well for the service itself, and then comes time to tip. How much is enough? How much is too much?

When I ask my friends about this issue, they seem to agree that about 15% is the standard. Some say 10% is more than enough, others say they do 20% religiously. But there's the issue of the prices at a spa. The higher the prices, the higher the tip on a percentage basis. Some say if you're already paying higher prices for the services, why pay more for the tip too?

There's also the issue of a regular spa visitor versus an occasional one. Some say that if you visit very regularly, you should tip a little less because the person is getting the benefit of regular business from you. Others say that you should actually tip more if you're a regular visitor because you want to ensure continued good service.

Seriously, this all makes my head spin and I never know if I'm tipping too much or too little. When did we become such a tip-crazy society anyway? What happened to just paying a fair price for the service you've received? Couldn't companies pay their employees more and include the "tip" in the fixed price of the service so that we don't have to worry about this dilemma?

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.