Was I supposed to tip the tow truck driver?

So, my car died. I called AAA, and the tow truck driver came. For some reason, my car has a weird feature called a ‘shift lock’ that does not readily allow it to be taken out of park, which I assume is some kind of an anti-theft mechanism. The tow truck driver had to call a more experience driver to come help, which all told took over an hour.

Now my car is on his flatbed truck and being taken to the dealership. I have the generic AAA coverage that only cover 7 miles of towing and the dealership is 9 miles away at a cost of $8 extra per mile. No big deal, and I know exactly where the dealer is from where my car has died.

The tow truck driver is nice enough, but twice refuses to take my directions and goes his own way, which I would later learn took us three additional miles out of the way. Again, no big deal, but he gives me this song and dance when we get to the dealership about how they told him it was 9 miles, but it is really 12. Still, he’ll be a nice guy and just charge me for the 9 since even he admits he should have followed my directions. He also tells me he is bummed out because he has a date in an hour, and because of having to call the other tow truck driver in to help, he will now be late. So I hand him a $20 for the $16 charge and ask if he has change. He gets all quiet, gives me three crumpled dollar bills and says he doesn’t have a fourth. I say go ahead and keep it. He dumps my car off his truck very uncarefully, gets in his truck and yells at me, “Gee thanks, you’re my biggest tipper all night :dubious:”

  • Uh, o.k. did I do something wrong? Are you supposed to tip these guys? If the dealership had been 7 miles or less away, there wouldn’t have even been an exchange of money which would have made this expected tip even more awkward. What say you?

I’ve only been towed one time. I tipped the driver and he seemed a little surprised (although he took the money). When I mentioned it to co-workers later, they said that they don’t tip tow truck drivers.

I did tip a tow driver just once, it was very cold outside and my car wouldn’t start. I called to have it towed to the dealership but when the driver showed up he was able to get the car started and explained it was just because it was that cold, and how to get the car to start again in the future if that kept happening. Extra over and above got him $20 because he helped me out and I got to go to work on time losing him the tow fee from my insurance company. Or not and he still charged them, but I thought that was pretty cool of him to do.

Any other tow driver might get to bum a smoke, other than that I figure the tow was $120 to move my car two miles. If you’re not getting by on $60 a mile you need to have a chat with your boss, not with me.

I always tip the tow driver - even when using triple A. Generally around 10$. They are doing me a service, hence I tip. If you got a gift certificate to a restaurant, you would still tip the waiter, right?

Ugh, everyone wants a tip these days. Pretty soon when you come out of a public restroom, the janitor will be hitting you up for a tip.

I don’t always tip, mainly because when I break down I frequently don’t have cash. Going to a restaurant, it’s assumed you have enough money to cover the meal and the tip, but when I break down, I can’t be expected to happen to have some cash on hand.
I did tip one driver a few years back, because I happened to have some cash that day, and it was kind of awkward. He took the money but I got the impression it was something out of the ordinary for him.

I always assume that bending over and grabbing one’s ankles is enough, but I suppose there are some situations where a tow tip would be in order.

Yeah, but the tow truck driver is making at least minimum wage (probably several dollars more, actually) whereas the waiter’s only income is the tips. No paycheck.

I tip the tow truck driver but I have AAA Gold so the tow is always free. My dad is big on tipping everyone so that’s just how I am.

I wonder if the guys doing runs for AAA expect tips since you aren’t paying that much (or at all) and the guys doing a “regular” run don’t expect it as much?

I tip the tow truck driver if he’s done something special for me, but not for a regular tow. For example when my Dodge broke a timing belt one time, the wrecker driver was particularly careful winching the car onto his truck so he wouldn’t damage the front airdam. He got a tip. When a wrecker delivered a dead car to my place and the driver stuffed it right into the garage from his truck, he got a tip. Neither of them expected it. When a guy towed my car from Kentucky to St. Louis, it was just a normal job, albeit long distance. No tip there…nothing against the guy, but there wasn’t anything special about the job.

I once tipped a locksmith, too. He made it clear on the phone he didn’t want the job as the car I had was particularly difficult to get into. But my only spare keys were a thousand miles away at the time, so I begged. He did the job without asking anything extra over the normal charge, but I paid him double, in cash. He was surprised and pleased.

In all these cases, I was paying out of pocket for the service and the tips; no AAA or corporate charge accounts involved. When a wrecker driver gets a $20 to $50 tip from me, he knows he’s done a good job and it was noticed and appreciated.

I’ll also bribe people: I once had a U-Haul dealer come rescue me on the highway. On the phone, he told me “well, sir…we don’t deliver the trucks” after I asked him to take his truck, go to another dealer for a tow dolly, and come down the highway for me and my car. First thing I did when he arrived was hand him the cash I’d promised…he smiled and told me he liked the way I did business.

My ex husband drove a tow truck for a while.

You don’t have to tip them.

As a former server I hate to point this out but in the name of fighting ignorance - only in some states are restaurants allowed to pay servers less than minimum wage (it’s like $2.15/hr, so even they do sort of have a paycheck, technically, although in many cases that may not even cover tax deductions from their declared tips, so they might not), but in other states, such as California, servers have to be paid minimum wage (which is currently $8.00/hr) as well as receive tips.

Don’t tip your California servers any less in light of that fact though - it’s expensive as hell to live here and still very hard to get by on $8/hr + tips. Especially since in the restaurant business you rarely get full time hours, and only certain times of day experience peak business. (a one hour rush for lunch and that’s pretty much it for a daytime shift)

Not only that, but it’s accepted that if the waiter does a crappy job he/she gets less of a tip. This guy didn’t know what is a pretty common and obviously key step in towing a car (i.e. the shift lock). Screw him, he sounds like a baby.

No tip. They get like $85 per tow. Isn’t that enough?

A friend of mine was a tow driver for a company contracted to AAA. Never expected and never received tips.

Too bad - the pay was pretty rotten. After he realized that it was pretty much impossible to gross more than about $12 an hour, even with his various operator certificates (off-road recoveries, etc.) he gave it up and took a far easier job at Home Depot.

If I had a job where there was a good possibility I would have to stay an hour or two late to finish a job, I would plan my dates with an hour or two cushion. As is, I can just skip the gym if things arise, but there’s still that cushion there.

His boss is the guy getting the $60, but you have a good point.

I’ve only needed a tow once, when a trailer I bought for a new motorcycle lost a wheel on the interstate. :eek: I have the AAA plan that allows, I believe, a 100 mile tow, and the guy drove me about 60 miles. Even if it hadn’t taken him an hour and a half to find me (I gave AAA the exit number, so I don’t know why it took him so long to get there), and even though he did great work modifying his rig to be able to tow my trailer, tipping didn’t even cross my mind.

I have to say that I’m shocked to be reading how many people don’t tip your tow truck driver.

In response to this comment, although the the driver may charge you $120 he’s getting paid $10. The reason for this is about best compared to limo drivers. A limo costs $100+ per hour, and the drivers get tipped 20%. The tow truck driver gets paid less per hour than a limo driver and on top of that is risking his life to service you on the side of the highway. If you don’t tip, Your practically saying his life and yours isn’t worth $20. Now obviously if you are getting impounded you shouldn’t tip, if you are paying cash for the service then its up to you. Chances are when you pay cash the driver is getting compensated accordingly. BUT… AND HERES THE BIG BUT… WHEN YOU CALL AAA OR USE ANY OTHER ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE COVERAGE… That is when you are almost expected to tip. When the service cost you very little to nothing out of pocket the driver should get $10 for a flat or jump and $20 for a short tow, and more for a long tow, because your insurance company is only paying his boss $30, so he gets paid $10 or less.
I used to manage a tow company and let me tell you that I wish we could pay the, more, but we just can’t. Most owners are greedy and insurance companies don’t pay squat. That $120 is being charged because the truck itself costs $120,000 just like a limo costs $100,000. See the comparison per hour? 100 for a limo and 120 for a tow.
In addition to this tow truck insurance is 4x the amount of a car because of how many drivers get killed on the highways trying to help you (avg 1 per week) and because we are forced to drive in hazardous conditions when most of you don’t even leave the house. Some trucks are running around $2000 per month to insure. On top of this if your using AAA or any other coverage we’re only getting $30 for the tow.

Most drivers get paid 25 to 30% commission per job of the pre tax charge. So when there’s only 4 jobs in a day, all of which are insurance coverage. They go home with $40. And they risked their life for it. In addition this was over the course of a 9 hour shift plus an overnight. That’s less than $5 per hour. If you had tipped he would be able to make 120. Which would be about 13 per hour And that’s if EVERYONE tipped the max. Which you can tell from this article almost never happens.

In short every service industry job should be receiving a tip. Wether it’s your waiter, taxi driver, valet, limo driver, maid, or babysitter whatever. What the service was determines how much.

I hope I put things into perspective for some so please, spread the word.

We call AAA and you arrive 8 Years Later!?

No tip for you, pal.


Zombie or not, here’s my experience. I’ve only had to use a tow truck twice.
First time the driver towed my car to the alley behind my garage and helped me push it into the garage. I paid him the agreed price and offered him 10 or 20 bucks as a tip. The pushing took quite a bit of effort. He wouldn’t take it.
The second time I was with my sister who had AAA. The tow (to my house) was free and I offered the driver a tip but I only had about 8 bucks in cash. He happily took it.

Yeah no.

I do tip tow truck drivers but not out of obligation.

Tow truck driving is a skilled position not a service position. One can not do the job with little to no training. Because the particular industry cuts each others throats and drivers prices down does mean I should pick up the difference. It’s in the same category to me as a plumber or carpenter, sure they might appreciate a tip but I have no obligation to give one.

I have multiple forms of insurance not just AAA, because a service that I’ve paid for covers the cost of towing, auto-body, fire damage, negligence etc. Does not mean it cost me nothing nor does it mean I should throw extra money at the person doing such work.

I don’t give a shit about how much your equipment costs. Your rates should already reflect the cost of equipment and maintenance. If I am drilling a new well for someone it takes a drilling rig and a feeder truck. Loaded with casing, bits and drill string that’s a million dollars in equipment. You think I should be getting a thousand dollars an hour and the guys running the rig should get tipped an extra 20 percent? I’ll take that in a heart beat.