Tipping contractors?

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  #1  
Old 10-12-09, 10:45 AM
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Tipping contractors?

In general, I'm new to hiring contractors for home improvement projects and such. I've never really paid someone for doing a job. But the other day, I had someone tear down an old metal shed in my backyard and I paid him for the job based on the agreed upon price. However, he looked disappointed that the cheque was all that I gave him. I was wondering whether he was expecting a tip, which got me thinking whether it is common practice or not. Beyond tipping at restaurants, concierges, cabs, etc., I don't know if there is a rule or etiquette.

What are your thoughts on the subject?
 
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Old 10-12-09, 11:11 AM
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I have sometimes tipped the worker on a job....but only if he goes a little above and beyond what was called for.

Examples....had fill dirt and topsoil delivered for about a 35 x 75 ft sloped area . Boss and I agreed on price for delivery and rough grade. Delivery guy/equipment operator did both rough grade then helps smooth grade by hand using rakes. Took excess topsoil and put in pile on other side of house for my later use. Tipped him $20, even though he said it wasn't necessary.

Had about 75 ft of block wall constructed, the 2 guys doing the work (not owner) asked me if I'd like some caps on a small (maybe 10-12 caps) retaining wall/flowerbed reset since they were loose. Not a lot of work for them but I tipped each $10. This was in 105 degree heat.

Would I ever tip the guy/owner I negotiated the price with? Again..not unless he went above and beyond what the job specs were. Or something like "I noticed your garage door needed adjusting and tightening of hardware so I went ahead and fixed that while I was installing your thingamabob". Not that I'd ever need someone to install my thingamabob or adjust my garage door...lol
 
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Old 10-12-09, 11:22 AM
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Hi dc, I see you are in NJ, and having lived there for several years and having married into an old established family, you are lucky he left. My in laws tipped the trash man, mail man, flower guy, gas station attendant, mechanic, so let's just say everyone, and they expected it. Plus $50 bucks or more each for xmas and other holidays. The days leading up to xmas there would be 6 guys riding the dump truck, just to make sure they all got their envelope. If you didn't tip the trash man, you could forget your trash cans, right into the truck or they looked like a ball of tin foil.

Now I've moved back to the NE and no tipping and it isn't expected. So I would say it is a regional habit and you live in a region where it IS A HABIT.

Now if you want a good NJ story, I could explain the list of who had to be paid off to get a liquor license. Mind you it's just a story, no truth in it at all. It sounds better when they say it.

Bud
 
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Old 10-12-09, 11:37 AM
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Bud,

Thanks for the perspective. I was wondering whether it was a regional thing or not. I've lived a bit of everywhere, and when I think back on when my parents hired people for projects or jobs, I don't recall them tipping. But then again, I probably wasn't in the vicinity when they were being paid. So maybe I just didn't notice. That said, I have heard about how much people in NYC apartments have to tip during the holidays (i.e. almost everyone), and I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it's the same in NJ.

DC
 
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Old 10-12-09, 12:05 PM
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Ahhhh I missed the NJ thing.....

Yeah if yer anywhere near the city...then I'm sure the guy expected it. Although..maybe he should have just added some to his bid?

I tip people who do a service or whatever you want to call it. Bellhops, Skycaps, cabbies (sometimes), waitresses, bartenders, etc..but those folks are normally pretty low paid to begin with. I've been in some of their positions and know what it's like.

I'd never consider tipping someone for just doing his job or what I paid him to do. I have left something for the Mail Carrier when I always had the same one and they went out of their way for me somehow.
 
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Old 10-12-09, 03:05 PM
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I have given a bonus to contractors but I've never considered it a tip. If a contractor exceeds what we have agreed on in the contract then in my opinion his efforts warrant a little extra.
 
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Old 10-12-09, 03:28 PM
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Guess it is a regional thing. I do a job, give an invoice and am happy with what I have billed. Now, I have had some customers tip my guys, and I think that is great, but I don't expect it. But I'm in the South, so Corizine (sp) don't have a hold on me!!!!!
A high school friend of mine is the head of the Gannett news thingy in New Jersey and co-authored The Soprano State......ooooh, good reading on your politics up there. Seems most of the politicians are so crooked they have to screw their pants on. Just an observation, though.
 
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Old 10-12-09, 03:52 PM
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I've always done whatever job for the negotiated price. On rare occasions I've been paid extra, don't know if it was a tip or what...... I just smiled on my way to the bank My oldest son used to help me in the summer before he was old enough to drive. Now he got tips fairly often. I guess folks like cute little kids better than they do tired old men
 
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Old 10-12-09, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by marksr View Post
I've always done whatever job for the negotiated price. On rare occasions I've been paid extra, don't know if it was a tip or what...... I just smiled on my way to the bank My oldest son used to help me in the summer before he was old enough to drive. Now he got tips fairly often. I guess folks like cute little kids better than they do tired old men
so, the lesson we learn here is; bring along the kids to help and then shake them down after the job.


dc1712: if you hired a specific person, no tip required unless, like the others have said, they went above and beyond. If the person doing the work works for a company, if the worker was especially nice or careful around the rose bushes or whatever, that may earn a tip. It's a lot like restaurant rules. Owner doesn't get tips. Hired wait staff does if the service justifies it.

If the person was simply a handyman or what have you, adding a tip to the negotiated price without justification would simply be paying more for the service. I believe that you get paid for doing a job and no tip is required.
 
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Old 10-12-09, 06:37 PM
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I think I have only tipped paperboys and waitresses. They expect it. Do you know there have been cases where a waitress has chased customers out the door 'demanding' their tip?

And I have given money to those who are needy, like people near our Walmart at a busy corner who say they "need money, God bless", or whatever. I pay them simply because I feel sorry that they have to humiliate themselves, sitting there or standing there with a cardboard sign, in public, to beg, either if they are honest or not honest. If they are that lazy to rather beg, than work? Hmmm.....that is something, isn't it.

I guess I've heard that some of the sham artists doing this make like $800. My friend said that his relative used to do this and made $80 a day, in Nashville, on average, some years back, he said.
 
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Old 10-12-09, 09:28 PM
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John Stossel on 20/20 (I believe) did a story on a guy that panhandled. This was at least 10 years ago, probably more. He made around $60k annually and that is TAX FREE since he did not report it.

The panhandler actually explained that there is an art to panhandling. You want to be clean but not shiny clean (nodody likes a person that smells). You should have no more than 1 day of not shaving and your clothes should be in good condition, clean, but wrinkled. Not expensive clothes but decent priced.

While there are some legit panhandlers, I tend to not believe any of them anymore.
Dang, the last guy I drove by drove a car that is better than either of mine. He parked it down the road a bit so folks didn't realize it was his car.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 03:45 AM
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I think I saw that same show although I thought it was on 60 minutes.

When I lived in central fla I worked for a fairly big outfit. At one time I was in charge of the painting in 5 different subdivisions so I traveled the greater Orlando area quite a bit. There was one 'bum' that I came to recognize. He would frequent one street corner in the am another in the pm and never the same corner in the same week. he had about a dozen or so corners on his route. I guess that was his job and had scheduling to show where he would 'work' each day. he also carried one of those 'will work for food' signs...... ya right

Because of people like that, I have a hard time convincing myself to give money to strangers. My wife isn't jaded like me and is apt to help most anyone she see's in need.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 04:47 AM
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I occasionally get tipped after a tow, but it's fairly seldom and certainly not expected. Usually a couple of bucks or the bill rounded up to an even number.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 06:31 AM
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We didn't have tipping in my rat race " commercial constr"
You had a contract w/ owner or gen. contr. for a set price.
The sub-contr's had their own form of tipping called "extras"---they always tried to find something wrong in the area they had to work--they demanded an "extra" b/cause of
all the HARD extra work they had to do b/cause the guy b/4 them did something wrong.
This was UNION country---don't pay extras--WE STRIKE.....................
Those days the union was 80+%---------today less than 20%.....................
 
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Old 10-13-09, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by the_tow_guy View Post
I occasionally get tipped after a tow, but it's fairly seldom and certainly not expected. Usually a couple of bucks or the bill rounded up to an even number.
I asked a friend of mine if he has ever tipped a mailman. He said yes. I asked why. He said it was Christmas. I asked why(again). He said, I don't know. I said I tip only the paper boy because there are different ways on paper delivery, unlike the mailman, who has to put the mail in your box, and it is part of his well paid job. Also they are mor eregimented in their time delivery, as part of their job. One paper boy may roll the paper, toss it from the sidewalk and it gets rained or snowed on, deliver it at al kinds of unexpected times, or have a sub that forgets to even give you one!. Another paper boy may set it inbetween your doors or porch every day, at pretty much the same set time everyday. I tip the latter.

With towing, one tow guy might be like the stereotypical junkyard type guy, and not handle your car with care, shoed up in an hour. I can see why under the right situation and with gratitude, that a person might tip their 'savior'.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by j HOWARD View Post
Those days the union was 80+%---------today less than 20%.....................
The union. Here we go again. I cringe to think that someone I know got to be in truckers union and is not 60 yet and drawing about $23,000 a year. That is pretty good money for around here. Still cannot figure how the union got it's foothold here and for what reason, since to my thinking anyone here would work for something several dollars above minimum wage pay, as this town has history of either being full of professional workers like doctors, lawyers (do you know they have their own section in our yellow pages?) and college professors. Or to the low end of the totem pole, where people work at hamburger joints, the mall, big chain stores, some small factory, etc., for a pittance. The company must have had to shell out a lot of money per hour per employee with that union package deal, you'd think.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 08:58 AM
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tow guys comment woke up one of my brain cells.

I drove a "wrecker" (I'm from OH...way back when) in Long Beach, CA part time when I was in the Navy around 1979-80. I got a AAA call. Went to the location and it was 2 older (60's maybe) ladies in an almost new Caddilac..in fact I think it was brand new. As I remember it was one of the first with a serpentine belt (maybe not) and thats what the problem was, the belt to the alternator.

Anyway, since I could wrench pretty good in those days and it was pretty slow, I said I could just replace the belt. None of the chain places had a belt so I wound up towing them to a local shop who said he could fix it Monday. As I was taking the ladies and the car to the shop we talked about the military and how concerned they were about what might happen in the world. I was reassuring about the condition of the Military and that things would be fine.

Long story short...as they were signing the paperwork, the owner of the car tipped me $50!! She said she knew I didn't get paid much in the Navy and she really appreciated me trying to get them going again. That was more than I normally made working a whole day towing heaps. Since we had the AAA contract for Long Beach, no one felt they needed to pay ANYTHING.

$50 was a durn big tip in those days...not that they didn't dress and act like they could afford it. I think a lot had to do with the fact that I was helpful above and beyond plus I was young and cleancut. (Not like that big dirty slob working down in FL...lol..j/k)
 
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Old 10-13-09, 09:10 AM
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You used "brain cells" and "Navy" in the same paragraph; isn't that an oxymoron?

Wow. $50 would be huge tip now; biggest I've ever had was $20.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 09:42 AM
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When I was stationed at Pearl Harbor just before Christmas I noticed a lot of the trash can s by the curb had full cases or six packs of beer sitting on top. Thinking what the heck I asked a long time resident about it. He explained last garbage pickup before Christmas people leave beer as a tip for the years service.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 09:54 AM
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When I had a really great mailman back in VA one year..we were having a block party in the cul-de-sac and invited the mailman. I asked if he'd be working a certain day before Xmas and noticed what he was drinking..so we put a bottle of good scotch in the mailbox. Saw him a few days later and he was a happy camper..always smiled and waved til he changed to working at the branch PO..never had an oversized package I had to go pick up either.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
When I had a really great mailman back in VA one year..
What made him better than any other mailman?

I had these college girls think of me enough to give me a card once.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post

I had these college girls think of me enough to give me a card once.
are you sure they were college girls?

Oh, I bet you meant like a Christmas card. I thought you meant a business card.
 
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Old 10-13-09, 09:53 PM
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I tip all the time but no one tips me!
- A guy did my basement framing. I tipped him $100 cause he was headed to the lake but as a favor came over to do my basement as I was moving into the house and I knew I never had time.
- guys hauling in my drywall to the basement. I wanted 12 foot sheets and they were a ***** to bring down. Gave all three $10 each. They appreciated it.
- Tipped the guy that cut my laminate counter while I waited at his shop $10.00. Told him I was just buying him a burger.
- Bascially, I tip almost everyone that does work for me. Sometimes its just 5$. I just tell them I'm buying them a coffee.
- Probably works out to $200 a year. Not a big deal and it usually pays back when I need something again.

Having said that, no one tips me and I work my butt off. But most people feel I'm overpriced already.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 02:28 PM
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I only tip when what they did was above what was required. I don't tip them if they are doing the job I am paying them to do in the first place.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by nap View Post
are you sure they were college girls?

Oh, I bet you meant like a Christmas card. I thought you meant a business card.
I had to go back down and read my post. I forgot to put...yes...a Christmas card. All of the girls in the house, it was 5 (rooming house license needed by landlord), signed their names and said something to the effect I was their favorite handyman. I remember thinking that I had to have been their only handyman. I used to tell them crazy stories out of my past, and they'd laugh so hard some of them I thought they were going to wet themselves.
 
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Old 10-14-09, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by mjd2k View Post
I tip all the time but no one tips me!
This is like those who help people all the time, but yet when they need help, nobody is there for them. That is what happened to a knowledgeable member in our automotive forum, who is pretty disgruntled over that.

For Halloween, do you treat good?
 
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