Ask Amy: Can I cut my tip because of my stylist’s high prices?

 Dear Amy: I wear my hair short and have had the same stylist cut it regularly for the past 10 to 12 years.

The stylist was an employee at a pretty upscale salon, and their prices rose two to three times a year. I continued to go because I had built a rapport with her.

Knowing the salon owner took at least half of what I was paying her (because the stylist made no secret of saying so), I always tipped my stylist 20 percent to 25 percent.

Now the stylist has left the expensive salon and gone out on her own in a small rented suite. I was taken aback that she kept the same high price for a haircut as the salon was charging.

Am I still required to tip this person who is the business owner and has set the prices herself?

I feel that leaving the price as high as it was at the salon would be enough to cover her costs and make a profit without me adding a tip.

I feel awkward not tipping the same person because she doesn’t have a boss, but on the other hand I feel taken advantage of if I’m expected to add 20 percent to the already high price.

What is the correct way to handle this?


Dear Trimmed: Let’s say your stylist charged $50 for a trim at the upscale salon. You routinely tipped her another $10. So, as of your stylist’s departure from the upscale salon, your regular haircuts were worth $60 to you.

You cite business reasons (she surrendered half of her fee to the salon owner) for why you chose to pay and tip the way you did.

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Your stylist has now opened her own business and is paying rent, utilities and overhead. Have her skills declined? Are your haircuts no longer worth $60 to you?

If not, you should patronize another business, and your stylist will have received a useful example of how her current pricing is working in the marketplace.

My overall point is that it is not your job to scrutinize this person’s business model and decide what her profit margin should be.

If you choose to continue to patronize this business, it is now considered standard to tip the person who cuts your hair, even if that person owns the business.

Dear Amy: I am 67 and retired from a long nursing career.

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I have noticed that I am increasingly called “Dear,” “Sweetie” or “Hon.” This happens in various situations, but probably most frequently in health care settings.

For the record, my husband (who has had gray hair since his late 30s) has not been addressed similarly.

I was raised in the South, and I know these endearments are common and made without thought regarding the effect on an older person.

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I realize that I used this same condescending address a few years back to a patient while working in a nursing home. I did not intend to demean my patient at all. In fact, I was fond of this patient and it slipped out.

There is no ill will behind these words, but it is humiliating and makes me feel as if I am becoming invisible.

Is there a way to speak up without causing embarrassment to the speaker in a way that may educate them about how many older people are made to feel when they are addressed this way?

 Retired Nurse

Dear Nurse: I hear from many women who feel exactly as you do. I’m wondering if any patient actually prefers to be addressed this way.

You are in a great position to reflect on this practice, certainly in a health care setting.

You can say, “I’m a retired nurse, and I know that this way of addressing older patients is common, but I’d prefer to be called by my name.”

Dear Amy: I appreciated your response to “Anonymous,” who was complaining about “free-range kids” at family events.

Your opinion on this style of parenting aside, I agreed with your assessment that oftentimes parents tend to “check out” at family events.

We have a large family property, and the hazards are abundant. I love seeing the kids running around, but they do require supervision.

I learned this the hard way, by racing down to our pond and pulling a 3-year-old out, just before he went under. The little guy just wandered in.


Dear Vigilant: These tragic accidents happen when parents are distracted, drinking, or – yes – checked out.

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You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

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