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Should I Tip My Mover?

Tips on Tipping Your Movers

Tip etiquette is a touchy subject under any circumstances. It’s even more fraught with questions when deciding whether to tip your movers.

Because movers are entrusted with your personal possessions and do much of the heavy lifting (pun intended), you may feel obligated to reward them for their hard work.

Although they are being paid to provide a service and to haul your belongings from place to place, they could be worthy of extra recognition for a job well done.

So, yes, please tip your movers if you are happy with your move.

Movers usually don't expect a tip but is appreciated when given. More than anything, it's a sign that you recognized their effort and thought it worthy. You may think you're paying a small fortune to the moving company, but what trickles down to the guys actually moving your belongings won't have them driving home in a Cadillac.

Of course, if the moving service was sub-par, you are not obligated to provide a tip. “Tipping is not expected and is up to the customer,” said John Bisney, a spokesman for the American Moving and Storage Association. If you think your movers deserve a tip, what amount should give them? Again, there’s no set rule.

Moving is stressful loaded with small details that need attention. Here's a quick reference that should keep the guys happy and moving:

  • Moving is hard, back-breaking work so it would only be common decency to have cold bottled water, soda or sport drinks on hand.
  • Some people prefer to buy the crew lunch in lieu of a tip and this is perfectly fine. Some do both. It's whatever you are comfortable with. If you do offer to buy the crew lunch, make sure to ask if they have a preference as to food choice. Many people think, "Oh, we'll get some pizza or subs," so you can imagine how much pizza or subs these guys might have had that month.
  • You will hear varying advice on how much to tip. Percentages don't really work as they do in restaurant work. The difference between a $2,000 full-truck move and a $20,000 full-truck move is likely the distance the moving van travels, not how much time it took to load the vehicle. Basically, if it's a half-day (4 hours) move, $10 per person is considered appropriate. If it's a full-day move (8 hours), then $20 is the consensus. If you have a lot of heavy furniture, narrow or winding stairs, a steep lot, etc., you should consider adding to the amount. If the crew works 12 hours to get your belongings packed, figure $40 as fair.
  • A tip about tips from movers themselves: Don’t give the lump some to the foreman or driver. Give each worker their tip. First, it shows that you recognize and appreciate their individual efforts. Second, there are some unscrupulous foremen, who will keep the entire amount for themselves.
  • Avoid giving the guys beer at the end of the day. It's a bit stereotypical and most legitimate moving companies have rules against drinking on the job. It also opens liability issues. Make the tip cash and the movers can spend it how they wish.

Aspects that might alter your tip
There are aspects of your move that might raise or lower the amount of your tip. If your move involves several flights of stairs, very heavy furniture or any other remarkably difficult aspects, you might want to increase the amount of the tip. You also may want to tip more if your movers somehow went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure your belongings got to your new apartment safely.

However, if you received poor service, you might want to consider lowering the amount. If the professional movers are unprofessional, rude or careless with your possessions, you might not be in such a generous mood.

The bottom line
Tipping movers is a personal choice. Tip your professional movers an amount with which you feel comfortable in the situation. Tipping is, after all, an act of kindness meant to show your appreciation for the assistance provided.

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