Tipping service people

Who do you tip? I don’t mean waiters/waitresses (I always tip them) but, say, someone installing something in your house.

What about general delivery people? e.g. folks delivering a large appliance?

What about lesser deliveries? e.g. the UPS guy drops off a box.

What about a plumber or other repair person (assuming that person isn’t self-employed)?

We had hardwood flooring installed in one room recently. The guys showed up right on time, removed the old carpet, then said they had to go back to the store for the wood itself as it hadn’t arrived. They said they’d be back early afternoon. Late afternoon, the store called and said “can we do it tomorrow morning instead?”. This essentially meant I missed an entire day of work for nothing.

They came on time the next day, and installed the flooring, and did a decent job. Because I was ticked off at the scheduling foulup the day before, and they didn’t offer to move any furniture back into the room for us, we didn’t tip them.

They come back next week to do another room. I was thinking that if they show up on time and do a decent job we’ll slip each of them a 20. I think I gave carpet installers 20 bucks each a few years ago, when they recarpeted our entire townhouse - was that too little?

We didn’t tip the guys who installed our new AC system last year. We did slip the guys who delivered the new freezer 5 bucks each (would’ve been a bit more but I didn’t have any more cash).

An old Scots custom, and a very good one, is to always, always, feed your tradesmen (usually lunch).

It is not only the polite thing to do, but will pay off in better work.

I never tip well-paid professionals who were just doing their job unless the outcome of the job varies from time to time (as in haircuts) or the effort expended varies (as in pizza delivery). Reason being the pizza delivery guy is not being paid higher in a raging snowstorm and is likely losing money because he can’t deliver as many or as fast. I tip the hair stylist more if s/he makes me look fabu (no small accomplishment). Younger people who are probably at or near minimum wage and/or working their way through college will almost always get 20-25% from me (waiters, fast food delivery, coffee house dude, etc) because (1) the bill isn’t that large to begin with and (2) it makes their day.

But somebody installing a heat pump should perform to a standard level of acceptability based on their job requirements. I mean there are no bonus points for adding racing stripes or anything. I might make an exception if they had to put in extra work or solve some bizarre installation problem created by a quirk or oddity of my home, such as (made up example) the heat pump has to be installed on stilts. When I worked at Circuit City, there was a company rule prohibiting the delivery people and home repair techs from accepting gratuities. The explanation in the employee handbook was that the company did not want to make the customer feel like they would get substandard service if they didn’t tip.

I’d certainly provide lemonade or iced tea for laborers who were spending all day sweating in my house, or offer to pay the bill for lunch if I felt like they were really doing some quality work such as laying mosaic tile, or grunting especially loud. But not for something fairly cut and dry like a toilet installation.

I guess it really depends on a lot of factors that aren’t known unless you’re in a particular situation.

About the UPS and/or USPS carriers - I have heard that it’s common practice to give a holiday “bonus” but I’d feel awkward doing this, and I’ve never actually known anybody who has done it. Maybe I’ll start this year. What do dopers recommend as holiday bonuses for the US mail carrier and UPS guy?

I’ve never heard of tipping, say, carpet installer guys. Huh. I’d offer them a soda or something, and maybe a sandwich, but I never heard of giving them cash. They’re already getting paid, it’s not like a waitress getting substandard wages and being expected to make up the difference in tips.

On really hot days delivery people get an offer of a drink if they don’t drop the package and run, because it gets damn hot pretty much everywhere I’ve lived and I hate the thought of working out in the heat.

The last time I tried this was when I was having my California Closet installed - I actually went out and bought both coffee (which I don’t drink very much, and never at home) and some breakfast rolls just so I could offer him some (he was coming first thing in the morning).

So I prepaired everything, and when he arrived I offered up the goodies. Honestly, he acted like I asked if he wanted a shit-sandwich. Anyhow, I didn’t tip him either.

I had a new mattress and box-spring delivered, and they were king-sized, so had the delivery people been nice I probably would have tipped, but they were really jerky - and this was from a company that brags about their great delivery service in their adds.

Other than that, I haven’t really had the opportunity to tip anyone. I can’t imagine tipping a plumber or electrician tho - I think they start at $100/hour around these parts.

My husband is a letter carrier for the USPS. I’ll note here that technically, letter carriers aren’t supposed to receive tips. (I’ll also note that this tends to be enforced only to prevent disputes between substitute carriers and the regulars over how, if at all, tips should be split, and that typically the supervisors don’t care if they get tips.) He has noted that he gets pleased when he hears the yearly news stories about Christmas tipping that recommend $20 for your carrier, but if you don’t think you get that level of service/you can’t afford that, no big deal. Frankly, the only time he’s ever griped about a tip is when it’s obviously been given grudgingly (a few crumpled singles stuffed into an unsigned card, or worse yet, into his hand as he’s leaving the doorstep); even getting a nicely-signed card without money ranks way above that for him.