Angie's List Report: Should You Tip Your Service Provider

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Updated: 12/19/2013 8:53 pm

Tipping is a topic many of us wrestle with throughout the year, and especially during the holiday season. Trying to figure out who to tip and how much can be confusing.

Angie’s List asked some highly rated service providers to weigh in during the season of giving. 

“This time of year the question of tipping your service company comes up really often. Most people automatically think I need to pay cash. What they don’t realize is there are lots of other options. For example, I think one of the most powerful ways to say thank you to a provider to write a nice letter to their company telling them what great service they provided to you throughout the year,” said Angie Hicks, founder of the consumer website Angie's List.

Tipping is pretty standard in the restaurant and personal services industries. But what about people who help with your home – like your plumber or handyman? Do they expect tips?

“I would say maybe a quarter to a half of our business that gives us either my company or my workers tips. It’s not expected necessarily, but we always appreciate it,” said landscaper Ryan Curry.

Angie’s List says you don’t always have to give a gift of cash to show your gratitude. You can give gift cards or tickets to events. There's even the gift of loyalty.

“The best form of appreciation that customers can show me is by having me back for more projects at their own property in the near future and also just referrals to friends, family, neighbors,” Curry added.

“If you are working so busily from morning till night sometimes that extra homemade Christmas candy is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to 4 o’clock and you haven’t had lunch,” said salon owner Jennifer Barker in reference to baked goods.

You should never feel obligated to tip, but if you do decide to tip your tradesperson this holiday season, talk with the company owner first to make sure it’s okay. Some companies don’t allow their employees to accept tips.


Holiday-related services:

·         Contractors who help hang your decorations, lights, etc.: A tip of $20 to $50 for the crew may be in order, based on the complexity of the task.

·         Bag boys or others who help carry your packages to your car: A tip of $1 per package/bag may be in order, though probably no more than $5.

·         Personal shoppers/concierge/errand services: A tip of 15 to 20 percent is recommended, possibly more, depending on the complexity or amount of work you have them do for you. Some of these services will do shopping, gift wrapping, mailing of gifts, etc.

·         Event entertainment: A tip of 15 to 20 percent is appropriate for Santa impersonators, carolers or musicians.


Year-round services:

·         Yard workers, handymen, etc.: A tip of $20 to $50 may be in order depending how often they visit your home.

·         Housecleaners: Many suggest $25 to $50, a day’s pay, or a gift of equal value. If you use a service that sends a different housecleaner each time, this may not be necessary, unless you ask them to do some one-time tasks to help you prepare for the holidays – such as helping unpack and put up decorations, a deep cleaning before a party, etc.

·         Childcare providers: For babysitters, the recommendation is a gift at the holidays from your kids, plus one or two nights’ pay. For a full-time nanny, one to four weeks’ pay plus a small gift from your kids is appropriate. For standard childcare providers, a gift at the holidays and $25 to $75 each. This may not be appropriate for some pre-Kindergarten child care/education providers. Check with the manager of the facility to see what’s appropriate, which might be a small gift from your kids.

·         Mail and paper delivery:  Though the U.S. Postal Service frowns on gratuities and gifts for mail carriers, authorities request that the gift or gratuity be $20 or less.  For daily newspaper delivery, a holiday tip of $15 to $25 is appropriate 

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