A Tipping Point

My massage therapist is a terrific guy.  He’s young, with a young family and I know he doesn’t have a ton of cash.  He rents a room in my chiropractor’s office and he’s a Registered Massage Therapist, not one of your spa ladies who lays stones on your spine and relaxes you but can’t give you a receipt for your workplace health coverage reimbursement. 

So here’s my question: should I tip him?  I’ve been going to him since my car accident in February and I haven’t tipped.  My reasoning is that he is a medical professional providing therapeutic services.  I wouldn’t tip my chiropractor or a doctor or nurse.  In a spa, you tend to tip someone who gives you a massage or a pedicure because it’s not really a health-related service as much as a purely enjoyable one.  They even provide little envelopes in which to stuff your tip and it’s part of the culture. He and I never exchange money.  After my massage I go to the lobby and pay the fee to the receptionist.

I found a very mixed reaction to this question at work.  Some felt I should be tipping him and others agreed with my perspective. I certainly don’t want him to feel that I don’t appreciate him but I believe tipping him is inappropriate.  I’d rather give him a Christmas card with a gift card for a nice bottle of his favourite beverage or something like that than risk handing him cash in the very professional and medically-focused environment where I retain his service. But maybe I’m wrong.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “A Tipping Point”

  1. Susan Riesberry

    I agree Lisa, tipping is not appropriate in this case. I give my doctor, dentist, physiotherapist, registered massage therapist, cleaning woman extraordinaire a gift at Christmas. My doctor receives a bottle of fine wine, dentist (who is Jewish) a donation to Sleeping Children Around the World, physiotherapist (an avid reader) a gift certificate to chapters, massage therapist and cleaning woman both receive $50 cash in a card as that is what they are most in need of. This year, we gave my wonderful cleaning woman who has a disabled son in a wheelchair, snow-melting mats to line the wheelchair ramp to her front door. We spent $300 but did this in lieu of her Christmas cash and also rather than giving monies to other charities at Christmas. My massage therapist participates in several bike riding and running charity events and I sponsor her for all of them. If your RMT is in need of additional cash, then a bonus once a year is appropriate and would likely be equivalent to a small tip each time you see him. Or, a gift at Christmas, personalized for him, such as a gift card to Future Shop, Chapter’s, movie certificates, etc…is a great option. Good question Lisa!!!

  2. Well beyond your dilemma, by tipping him, you could place him in a very awkward position for the receipt of monitory compensation beyond that of normal billing could be a contravention of his professional code of ethics and conduct and/or that of office policy. For remember, he rents, and has to abide by the established office policies and any terms in his agreement for use of the office space. So in this case, and I’d never have even considered tipping any therapist, I would say that a tip would not be the best approach if you wish to show appreciation for his work, a gift card wouldn’t be out of line and very common.

  3. I have the same dilemma regarding tipping my RMT…she is the owner of her business. I always pay by credit card….the machine asks if you would like to add a tip…so therefore it is very awkward. I do add a tip….but, personally I don’t think an owner of a business should be tipped.

    1. Thanks everyone. I’m going to stick with my non-tipping routine and make sure I give him something nice at holiday time.

Comments are closed.