To be clear, when we have a gift card or discount coupon, we always tip on the original full price. I know this is the proper way in that circumstance.
So, am I undertipping my masseuse? Or is the masseuse using fuzzy math?
This reader has raised many issues regarding the practice of tipping. Typically, for a service such as a massage, haircut, or similar service, I agree that 20% is acceptable. That said, I tip for these kinds of services based on the price I am paying.
As you joined the massage service based on a $65 per month fee, I believe that you are correct to tip based on the price advertised when you signed up. You would have had no way of knowing that the walk-in price for a massage is significantly more, and I do feel that they’re indeed tweaking the math in their favor hoping that customers simply press the 20% button without questioning it.
(An aside: I too always do the math when I am presented with a button that automatically calculates a 20%, 25%, and 30% tip – I too have seen these numbers calculated with additional “padding” that should not be present if it was truly calculating at the advertised percentage.)
Concerning bars and restaurants, promotional pricing, such as dinner specials or happy hour specials, are just that — lower prices designed to bring in more business. You’re correct to tip on the value of what you have paid. Consider this too: Many restaurants offer the same dishes at a lower price during the lunch hour. Would you be expected to tip on the dinner prices for the same entrees being purchased earlier in the day? No — you’re tipping on the price that you paid.