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by Abigail Van Buren

Hairdresser's Heavy Hints Are Enough to Curl Customer's Hair

DEAR ABBY: My hairdresser (whom I have patronized for 14 years) recently started a conversation about tipping. It began with his telling me how much his previous customer had tipped him. It was a very large amount. Then he started talking about how cheap some people are and how little they tip. He said he wouldn't put himself out for people who don't tip him appropriately.

The conversation left me feeling uncomfortable and I ended up tipping him more than I would usually tip, which, of course, made me angry.

Abby, do you think this was an appropriate conversation for a hairdresser to have with a client? I would also be interested in hearing what your readers think is an appropriate amount to tip. Please don't use my name or location. Thank you for your help. -- CURIOUS

DEAR CURIOUS: According to Letitia Baldrige's "The New Manners for the '90s" (Rawson Associates, N.Y.):

"At an expensive, posh place, you would tip:

"20 percent of the total bill to your hairdresser if you're having a cut or color or perm; 15 percent of the total bill if you are just having a wash and set or a wash and blow-dry.

"$2 to the shampoo person.

"$2 minimum or 15 percent of the cost of the manicure to the manicurist.

"At a modest establishment, you would tip:

"10 percent of the bill to the hairdresser.

"$1 to the shampoo person (if your hairdresser and shampoo person are one and the same, $1 more for the shampoo).

"$1 to $2 to the manicurist."

For a hairdresser to tell a client how much (or little) the previous customer tipped is inexcusable -- and also stupid. If you like him, give him this "tip" from me: NEVER discuss how much (or little) other clients tip.