"I've been told to my face that I'm an owner, so I don't get tips," Hernandez says. But in her case, she is also the owner and her own employee. The best rule of thumb here: Use your own judgment. If you're at a sizeable salon with a lot of employees and the owner does your hair, you're probably on sound ethical ground not giving a tip, and if you feel uncomfortable, you can always ask.
If you're the customer of a smaller salon with one or two employees, keep in mind that much of what you pay isn't going directly to the owner but to the owner's landlord, the utilities, the vendor who supplies the hair products and so on.
What to tip just about everywhere else. Life and being a consumer in general, if you haven't noticed, is expensive. If you'd like to take a gander at what you're expected to tip random service people you may encounter, here's the consensus from a variety of sources on tipping.
• Bartender: $1-2 for each drink
• Car wash attendant: $3-5 at pickup
• Dog groomer: $10
• Grocery store bagger: Many grocery stores have a policy not to tip the bagger. If a bagger carries your groceries out to the car, you may want to offer a buck or two, however.
• Furniture delivery people: $5 to even $10 per worker, depending on how heavy the item is.
• Movers: If a moving-company team is hauling your furniture in, many experts suggest tipping 5 percent of your total payment, but this isn't a science. Many movers don't expect a tip or simply aren't tipped by tip-weary or tip-oblivious consumers. They'll likely be happy if you at least offer them some water or a soda.
• Housecleaning/maid service: According to www.itipping.com, a website all about tips, if you have a regular maid service, you can forgo tips but holiday gifts are a nice touch.
• Tattoo artists: 10-20 percent is generally expected.
• Tow truck drivers: $3-5, even if your car insurance or AAA is footing the bill, experts say.
• Shoe shiner: $2-3
More to consider. Tipping norms vary by region, occupation and organization, says Holona Ochs, a political science professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn., who co-authored the book, "Gratuity: A Contextual Understanding of Tipping Norms from The Perspective of Tipped Employees." "Any time someone is unsure about tipping standards, I recommend a friendly conversation with the person who might receive the tip," Ochs says.
[See 50 Smart Money Moves]
But people tip mostly for social and emotional reasons, she says. If Ochs is right, if you learn your waiter's life story, and he's a college sophomore who reminds you of you or your college-aged son or daughter, you're more likely to give him a bigger tip than the single mom working in a restaurant – unless, of course, you're a single mom.
In short, you're probably not tipping to reward good service or, as Ochs points out, people who meet your social expectations. In other words, we tip "because we don't want to be thought of as jerks," Ochs says.