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Tipping: Paper or Plastic?

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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.

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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.