Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Tipping: Paper or Plastic?

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.


Flipping through the mix of canned news releases and advertorials in the monthly Santa Clarita Magazine last week (what up, SCV!), I came across an ad for a 30-minute reflexology session with foot massage at a local spa/salon for $20. Yeah. You read that right. $20. Now that's a bargain.

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I made an appointment and ripped out the ad. The salon turned out to be a mass production nail place in a strip mall anchored by a K-Mart. But whatever. I handed a guy at the front the ad and told him that’s what I wanted. He called over a few of the ladies to discuss the ad (at least I think that’s what they were discussing).

So I waited for 20 minutes past my appointment time, and finally this nice woman lead me to her station. She asked if I’d rather upgrade to the deluxe pedicure. Not interested, I told her. As she was about to dip my feet in the water she told me that the price of the reflexology treatment went up $5 from what was printed in the ad. I didn’t bring up the topic of alse advertising because $25 was still a good deal. Besides, by this point, I’d been waiting 30 minutes, so I bit the bullet. I just wanted to treat myself and relax.

Support for LAist comes from

The nice woman proceeded to give me more foot massage than reflexology treatment. I’m not sure if she even knew what reflexology was, but whatever. I was reading US Weekly and finally relaxed.

When the session was over, I handed over my credit card. She asked if I wanted to add a tip. I asked her to add another $5 for an even $30 on my credit card. She looked really happy about that. But when I got to the front register, the older woman behind the counter asked if I could leave my tip in cash. I checked my wallet and I only had $3. I told the cashier that I would rather just add $5 to my credit card. She looks at my $3 and I said, no, I want to add $5 on my credit card.

She begrudgingly added the tip. But when she handed me my card, she said (and loudly enough for other waiting patrons to hear): “NEXT TIME YOU COME BRING CASH SO WE DON’T PAY INCOME TAX ON TIP.”

At that point, I was stunned. I didn't say anything because debating income tax and/or the finer points of customer service with the woman would have been a moot point. And I was never going back to that "salon" - so I didn't want to waste my time.

But just in case that cashier is reading this, I want to let her know that, yes, I usually try to leave my tips in cash, but don't berate me if I don't. Lest you forget, tips are at the discretion of your customers, biznatch! And I am so freaking sorry you have to pay income tax. But deal with it. I do.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I really see nothing wrong in tipping with plastic. It's the new cash.

Flickr photo by The Consumerist.