Another Contractor Going Home With No Tip

Last month I asked all of you the question:

Do you tip contractors?

The outcome of the poll was that 88% of you said that you do not tip contractors. At first I felt somewhat guilty about not tipping the crew that installed our windows but after the job was completed I did not regret my decision.

Right now we are in the process of having our house painted and again I asked myself the question about whether or not we should tip the crew. We have decided that we will not tip the painters but this leaves me asking myself why am I always inclined to tip?

Previous Experience
One explanation that I look back to is that one of my jobs while in college was delivering furniture. This was very expensive furniture and usually involved moving old furniture at the customer’s house as well. Rarely did we ever receive a tip but when we did it really made our day.

When I think of those times, I feel like I should tip people that are coming into my home to provide a service for me. On the flip side, I also find myself thinking that they are already being paid to do a job so it is not necessary to tip them for doing what they were hired to do.

What Are The Rules
This naturally leads to the question about the rules or etiquette of tipping. Who do you tip? Without getting into a full blown list of who do you tip and who do you not tip, I think it comes down to one thing in many cases:

Does the person or people rely on tips as part of their wage?

Consider some of the people that you might tip on a regular basis – waitress, barber or hairstylist, taxi driver. While I am not sure about the taxi driver, usually wait staff and barbers/stylists earn less than minimum wage and/or work on a full commission and tip basis for their income.

In this case, the other person is relying on an expected tip as part of their salary. That doesn’t mean that you have to tip if the service is poor but I think it is a good rule of thumb for answering the question of who do you tip.

Now consider some other jobs or professions: handyman or contractor, fast food restaurant staff, mailman. These people are all earning a given wage to perform a specific job function. They are not paid less than minimum wage and are not depending on tips to supplement their income.

Is It That Simple
That seems like an overly simplistic view of answering who do you tip versus who do you not tip but I think it works well as a general guideline.

In our current situation, we hired the painters to perform a specific job function. They are doing far more than I would do if I were painting myself, such as patching all of the drywall, but they are being compensated for that time and effort. Therefore I do not feel that I need to give them a tip for their work.

Do you think this is too simplistic a view on tipping? Who do you tip?

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4 Responses

  1. Nick says:

    I have to admit that I’m pretty bad about tipping. If I go to restaurant I always leave a tip and the pizza delivery person always gets something. I’m kinda bad about it at bars though, if I’m at the same bar all night and have more than one drink I will tip but if I stop at a bar and only have one drink I probably won’t.

    I don’t think that contractors should necessarily be tipped, but the idea of tipping delivery people (furniture, appliances, etc) seems like it might be a logical thing to do.

    • mnc says:

      Thanks for the feedback. I tend to be quite generous with my tips, particularly when the situation involves something I don’t want to do myself – such as going out to pick up a pizza in bad weather.

      I’ll have an update to this post later tonight or tomorrow.

  2. Grant Beale says:

    It seems to be that the rule of thumb for minimum wage service personnel (most pizza delivery guys and waiters and waitresses actually make less than minimum wage) should always be tipped unless their service is atrocious. As for contractors, the “above and beyond the call of duty” standard should apply.

    • mnc says:

      That is a pretty good rule of thumb as far as tipping is concerned and I generally use 20% as my standard tip unless the service has been really poor.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback!

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