Before buying a house last year, I’d always been a renter, which meant my landlord took care of any repairs to my home. I never had to hire plumbers or painters or gardeners. On the rare occasion when I bought a piece of furniture, I had plenty of friends with trucks to help me haul. Now, though, every professional visit stresses me out a little. Do I tip? Don’t I? What’s the proper etiquette?
When the movers lugged our stuff across town, they did such an above-and-beyond job that it was a total no-brainer to give a generous tip. They managed to drag an enormous steel tanker desk down a tiny flight of stairs without a single complaint. Hassle-free moving? Worth the extra Andrew Jacksons to say thanks.
But then, a couple of months ago we hired a guy to remove an extremely large hedge. I was expecting him to show up — from what I understood, he was a one-man operation — but instead his young assistant was the person who did all the labor. He was nice and worked hard. I probably should’ve tipped him, but I didn’t have any cash on hand.
And what about the plumber who came a few months before that? He was an employee, not the owner, but the company charged an exorbitant sum for the services they provided (a little Yelp research would’ve clued me into that, by the way). I later found out that the plumber worked on a hefty commission, which is why he made such an intense effort to sell us on thousands in upgrades when all we needed was a snaked drain.
What about the electrician? His company charged $500 for a couple of hours of work. Was I supposed to tip him? And if so, how much? Certainly not 15 percent! And what about the guys who recently painted our house? That cost more than $5,000 — were we supposed to tip on top of that? Our coffers would be totally empty!
I’ve researched this topic and can’t find any consensus, so I turn to you, Apartment Therapy readers: What home services do you tip for? And how much do you usually tip?
Image: AnnaMaria Stephens