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Best tips about tipping

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Whether or not to give money, and how much, will depend on the work done for you

We’re all familiar with the tip jar at our local coffee shop, and we’re accustomed to tipping a waiter or waitress for good service.

But when it comes to movers, house painters or the person who mows your lawn, most people are not sure whether they should tip and, if so, how much.

Here are tipping guidelines for common household services:

Appliance delivery

Although they usually don’t state it on their websites, many big-box stores prohibit employees from accepting tips, so best not to offer. Often, though, appliances and electronics are shipped directly from the manufacturer, not from the store, and third-party delivery companies may have different policies. I would still play it safe and not offer. A better way to show your gratitude is to give positive feedback on the company survey sent to you after the delivery, making sure to include the name of the delivery person.

Satellite TV/telephone installers

Companies often do not allow their employees to accept tips. Be wary of the installer who asks for a tip in exchange for “free” extra channels, or an extra line as this is most likely against company policy.


Contractors typically bill by the hour or job, and there is usually an agreed-upon fee, so tipping is not required or expected. I find the occasional breakfast and/or lunch for the crew is appreciated and helps encourage timely results.

Electricians and plumbers

Electricians and plumbers are highly trained professionals who are paid hourly, so they do not expect tips. It’s better to share your positive experience on their business website, with your local business bureau, on an online review platform or with friends.


Some stores have flat delivery fees and typically work with dedicated partners for local deliveries or, for long-distance deliveries, professional shipping companies. The person delivering your furniture will probably be a third-party hire and therefore receive only a portion of the delivery fee, and tipping is customary. If there is installation or assembly involved, or if I ask the delivery crew to try the piece in a few spots, I tip on the higher end.

Weather is also a factor. I once had a king-size headboard delivered to a client’s apartment with no air-conditioning on a blisteringly hot day so I gave each guy an extra R200.

A tip is not expected for a one-time service call. But if you rely on the same person repeatedly, show your appreciation at holiday time. If the repair people are doing work outside the normal scope of their job, you should offer to pay them. For example, my building’s superintendent rewired a light fixture and refused to charge me, so I tipped him.

House painter

Tipping is not required or expected, but if you are pleased with your new paint job, you can give each painter extra money, depending on the scope of the work. Better than a tip would be to recommend the painter on your Facebook page.

Gardening service

Many people I know send a holiday tip to their gardening service in December. I prefer to tip at the end of each season so my tip is more closely tied to the work.

And I tip generously. That way workers may be more likely to come to my house the following year.


For a big job, tip 10% to 15% of the total cost of the job. Rather than hand money to each mover, give the sum to the foreman to divide among the crew, specifying how much you want to tip each person. For smaller jobs, tip each person individually, depending on how heavy the piece is or how many flights of stairs are involved. – Washington Post

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