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pb_and_j Apr 15th, 2005 07:22 AM

Tipping in Australia - Spa services
I've made reservations at the Daintree Spa over my vacation and was wondering what is the "industry standard" for tips for spa services (I imagine it's the same as for hair salons also?)

In the US it's 15-20% and usually cash is needed, so it's good to know in advance!

Neil_Oz Apr 15th, 2005 03:49 PM

Hi, pb_and_j.

In brief, the industry standard in Australia is ... zero. Zip. Nada.

Sometimes in a restaurant, perhaps under the influence of a bottle of good red, and/or because the waiter/waitress has gone above and beyond the call of duty, someone may leave a tip, but never more than 10%. Bar staff are never tipped.

The reason for this is that Australian (and NZ) restaurant, bar and other service industry staff such as bellboys are paid a living wage - the system is completely different from that in the US, where such staff generally rely on tips for most of their income.

Nobody I know has ever tipped tipped a hairdresser, and so the same would go for spa attendants. And cabbies, for that matter. There is no more reason to tip these people than there is to tip the person who sells you an airline ticket or a pair of shoes.

I know that in not tipping you'll go through agonies of guilt and the feeling that "cheapskate" has been branded on your forehead, but there'll always be an Australian nearby to help you through this difficult time. We may not find it, like the Chinese do, a sign of positive derangement, but Australians visiting the US find the custom unsettling, demeaning to the employee concerned, and would be very loath to see it introduced here. Diff'rent strokes.

Lyndie Apr 15th, 2005 05:55 PM

I'm an avid, absolutely enthusiastic, non-tipper, especially in the US as I've previously posted. The staff there EXPECT a tip, god darnit! (read god da--it) however I make one or two exceptions in one or two professions!
Number one is my hair stylist/colourist (read hairdresser!)who has total artistic control over how my hair looks! She can make or break my day (read month) and I always give her a few bucks as she is saving for a house and we've developed a trusting & great relationship so it's more personal than business! The other is my pedicurist (read foot doctor). She much deserves the coupla bucks I give her for the gross inconvenience of having to file the awful dry skin off my soles! Look don't just tip because you feel you must! Tip if the service staff make you feel damn wonderful!

Neil_Oz Apr 15th, 2005 07:43 PM

I can't believe what I'm reading. To visit the USA and despite being a guest in their country, and despite local custom and preference, to flatly insist on imposing your own customs is just as insensitive as an American visiting Australia and doing likewise (often purely out of ignorance of local custom).

Actually it's worse, because many American workers depend on tips to pay the rent. You really are being a skinflint if you do that, unless you want to punish really lousy service. It also gives Australians a bad name, which I resent. That's the way they do things there, and whether you or I like it or not is irrelevant.

Lyndie Apr 15th, 2005 08:37 PM

Dear Neil-you are very much entitled to you own opinion. So am I.

I shall continue to be a sensitive and informed traveller and will only tip when I feel it is warranted. Have a nice day.

LoveItaly Apr 15th, 2005 08:54 PM

Hi Lyndie, you live in Australia I assume from Neil's comments. But I assume you spend a lot of time in the US? Only going by your comments regarding hair coloring and pedicures etc.

I sure do not want to get into an argument with our Australian cousins but I sure do agree with Neil. Rather like the "When in Rome do as the Romans do".

If I am in a country that does NOT tip, or barely tips at all, as we do in the US, I follow that custom.

Neil has spent a lot of time visiting the US. I respect his thinking of following the local custom of where one is visiting. Just my opinion. But sure it will not change yours.

Lyndie Apr 15th, 2005 09:01 PM

Hi LoveItaly-yep I live in Australia but do not travel to the US regularly. Only been twice, I'm a regular Asian traveller. My comments on tipping my hairdresser & beauty therapist relate to Australia and I most certainly was not canvassing agreement or disagreement to my post. Only posting what I do!

Some people tend to get all het up about nothin', imho. Enjoy yourself.

pb_and_j Apr 16th, 2005 07:14 AM

OK, 0% it is.

Thank you!

cmack Apr 16th, 2005 08:56 AM

Oh wow -- the spa technicians at the Daintree Eco-lodge spa must have loved my husband and I. We tipped as if we were in the US!

Lyndie Apr 16th, 2005 03:15 PM

I often (not always) feel like a "zillion dollar baby" after spa treatments. And just to advise that many Australian women tip beauty therapists IN AUSTRALIA (my sibling is one, so I have FIRST hand info). It is not unusual to tip $A5-$A10 on a $100 treatment. She's a great technician & has a fabulous attitude and she deserves it! Hope I have not upset anyone by being honest!

Neil_Oz Apr 16th, 2005 03:52 PM

Well, you haven't upset me, Lyndie. "Beauty therapists" sound like a bourgeois indulgence that no self-respecting working-class Cammack could or would want to comment on, BUT I can tell you that I wouldn't think of tipping my exclusive hairdresser, Joe 'Lurch' Calabrese, particularly as his price has just gone up to a ruinous $16, even though my session has to be limited to 20 minutes including waiting time. The waiting time is unavoidable because Lurch does not take appointments, possibly because he no longer has a phone. He found that his fingers were too big and clumsy for the keys, and he had a habit of dropping and treading on the handpiece, instantly destroying the device. I limit myself to 20 minutes because that costs 40 cents in the parking meter and I refuse to subsidise the Australian Capital Territory Government's profligacy further than that. I say "price", not "prices", because Lurch only knows one style, which as luck would have it happens to be mine. I believe he learned it during a brief apprenticeship at Goulburn Jail.

Lurch, incidentally, is of Italian parentage and has just returned from his first visit to the Old Country. I thought I'd pass on his trip report for the benefit of my fellow Fodorites:

"Ah, yair, mate, it was orright I suppose. I can talk the lingo more or less, so I got around orright, but I got sick of it pretty soon. Yer can't get a decent steak and chips anywhere in the bloody country and the blokes that run the bloody coffee bars are robbin' bastards, that's for sure. Bloody Eye-ties are pretty hopeless, I reckon. That'll be fourteen bucks, sport, I'll give yez a coupl'a bucks off 'cause of the cuts, bloody stitches cost money these days, don't they? See ya again, mate. Orright, who's next?"

Lyndie Apr 16th, 2005 06:49 PM

Dear Neil-sounds like Joe is a pretty smart bloke and gives his customers exactly what they deserve!

Have fun!

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